It’s Getting Hotter

This week Chris and Walt delve into the current hot market in collectibles. The march forward continues but it has some feeling a little nervous.

Please use the comments field below to let us know what you think of the show.

Are you actively buying? Are you cashing in on this run?

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1584

20 Comments

  1. Another good show guys ! I have stopped buying graded books for the last 3 months , just because prices are spiraling out of control to the upside . as I’ve said before , I don’t think there will be too much of a correction at all , if any . I may be priced out of this market for good . i’ll still buy raw golden age books from my local Vancouver area dealer , though .

    for example for all to see what I mean . in the last year , I bought a asm 129 cgc 9.6 with white pages for $4700 USD . A marvel premiere 1 cgc 9.6 with white pages for $800 USD , and lastly a marvel chillers 1 starring Dracula with his daughter lillith in 9.6 with with pages for $700 USD . all 3 books are now going for way more today , if , you can even find them for sale anywhere now .

    who knows how much longer this bear market will keep going up . as you said on the show , if you have the books and need the money , it IS time to sell , imho !

  2. I expected this podcast for some time.

    The high increase in comic values had some inkling in late 2020. Almost every January there is a, somewhat out of the ordinary, rise in comic values. The January 2021 rise did not happen quickly, but has gone gangbusters since.

    For instance, Heritage listed the Batman 1 in cgc 9.4 in mid-January 2021, which sold for $2,220,000. My calculated value for this comic was $1,930,000, so an increase of 15%. A great sale but not out of the ordinary, especially since 9.4s were unheard of until this sale.

    On April 15, 2021 comicconnect sold a Batman 1 in cgc 8.0 for $1,050,000. My value was $450,000, so an increase of 130%. Over three months this is a huge increase. And yes lower grades are a little crazier.

    The most unbelievable sale I have seen to date was a Marvel Mystery Comics 4 (sub-Mariner’s first cover, first Nazi flag, 2nd German swastika, Electro 1) selling for $21,600 in cgc 1.5 with brittle pages on Heritage April 18, 2021 during a weekly auction. A copy sold in 2017 for $2,350 and my value was $2,150. So an increase of 900%. Brittle pages?? Someone is buying with not much comic knowledge.

    What is happening? Our economy is not back to normal. I know one person who sold their stock market portfolio at the beginning of Covid and bought back in near the low, so their portfolio has almost tripled in size. Crazy money is now available. Multiply this guy by the people who also did this and had real money available. Why are stock markets so high? Because other investments are low; banks pay next to nothing, GIC’s, bonds the same.

    People want to put money somewhere else. Inflation is under 2%, unless you are buying a house in Ontario. So, buy a truly collectible comic for more than 50% value, (now) and then re-list at a buy now price at 50% over the price you paid…..check your favourite auction site and almost all those recent high end crazy sales have a buy now price at 50% over their bought price. If you sell this comic within the next 40 years, ignoring fees at auction sites, you will be ahead of 2% inflation. You will also be ahead of almost all other fixed term investments.

    So, 40 years ago, in 1981, Amazing Spider-Man 1 was worth $700, and you bought it for $1,050 (crazy) and re-listed it for $1,575 (insane), in 1989, that value was realized.

    In 1981 that Batman 1 was worth $3,500, you buy for $5,250 and re-list for $7,875, your value is realized in 1984-1985.

    The new collectors are money people and looked at the numbers. This type of increase happened in 1995, 1996 when comic values grew by 25-30% year over year. By 1999-2000 we had 5% growth. Comics have never had negative growth, and the market will gobble up this rapid rise over time.

    Then again maybe we should buy tea leaves.

  3. I refer to the crazy sales of slabbed books as the ‘coin and stamp effect’.

    Most buyers of slabbed books leave them slabbed, keeping them as pure investment vehicles and seeking a lesser copy to read, unlike purchasers of stamps and coins but then, for those collectors, there is nothing else after face and obverse sides.

    Comics are so much more and, if a buyer doesn’t open the slab, they are really missing out on the enjoyment inside.

    I shake my head at the prices being paid for what were ‘quarter bin’ books. All 80s and 90s books were easily found.

  4. It’s all very interesting… As you know Walt, I sold my collection a couple of years ago, but had I hung on to my books, I estimate the value would be 5-7x of what I received in the summer of 2018.

    I was buying slabbed books heavily during the 2008 crash, so I was picking up ASM#129s and GSX#1s for about 4k in 9.8. I sold them for roughly double, but… if I were to buy one today at 50k or 70k… I see that as being a loss of 40-60k per book, which is the difference that I would be paying above my sell price… so yeah, I’m done buying. As a collector, I do miss my books as well, but once it’s sold, I try not to think about it. Do I regret having missed out on 7x returns? Any sane person would. Who wouldn’t dream of 7x on any investment? But, I was able to roll that money into other things, and the current market has given life to about 30-40 boxes of junk books that I have remaining, that were destined for the cheapie bins. Case in point, I was trying to unload my box of Uncanny X books for 2k CAD, which was about 1.5 USD at the time. I had several guys come over but they all passed on it. So I started picking out the nicer copies and the X#94, to my surprise graded 8.5, which is ending in tonights auction… Looks like it will end close to 3k, which is double what I was hoping to get for the whole box. Also, the market is such, that you can cherry pick weekly books, get them slabbed and easily flip them for double your cost, or more. So, I say… take advantage of the current frenzy while you can.

    I wish I could brag about how smart I am and how I’m able to leverage my knowledge and experience flipping comics. But no one could have predicted the current climate. Even if you believed that this isn’t a bubble of sorts, and that these books will continue to appreciate forever… You have to consider the larger context. I know guys who’s basement would put any retail store to shame and they claim that they’ll never sell their collection, which is probably worth several 100k. Even if you were rich enough to disregard such value, it makes no sense to ignore it… For what? The love of the hobby? So you can show people how dedicated you are to collecting? It’s all ego, meaningless and no one really cares. Practically speaking, if the average lifespan is about 80 years, it make sense for guys our age to wind it down. Start liquidating and maybe retire early so you work a few years less. To think that my kids or family will want this stuff, let alone know what to do with it is delusional. Yes, there are exceptions but the small percentage of new comers is not meaningful enough to stop the pool from draining. And considering the recent collection you picked up, along with your store inventory… you got enough stuff to keep you busy for the rest of your life. You can retire now and turn your inventory into a retirement hobby.

    Hope to see you on the sandy beaches of East Malaysia Walt! But be warned… those Asian women love tall western men so it may be too much happiness for you to handle. But hey, YOLO baby! If you’re gonna go out, might as well go out happy ^_^

  5. Thanks Chris, stay in the game, keep buying those raws.

    Alex, great thorough analysis, you may be right about the market absorbing these gains over time. I think a good supply of tea leaves could only help. The women on my wife’s side of the family read the coffee grind patterns after a cup of Turkish coffee is drank. They turn the cup upside down and then revisit it after the coffee residue seeps down and leaves a pattern on the cup. Believe the science.

    Klaus, I’m shaking my head too.

    Charlie, I like your philosophy. and I like the East Malaysia idea even better!

  6. Does anyone know of these high-wealth, sharemarket-exposed individuals that suddenly want to move out of a booming stockmarket? Walter, have you been approached by anyone wanting help building a portfolio?

    One of the aspects to my suspicion is research, time and effort; we (as members of the comic community) don’t refer to it as such because we enjoy the hobby…but to someone coming in there is a lot to learn before you can just ‘diversify’; why do I want to pull money out from a nicely diversified fund (over many industries and multiple investments) earning me 30% over the past year without any effort what-so-ever on my part and then start trading/haggling/storing/insuring with fairly high exit costs…doesn’t sound that great to me and I have no intention of pulling money from my portfolio to buy a range of Hulk/GSX1/AF15/werewolf/moon knights etc.

    Seems like a lot of work for gaudy coloured bits of paper!

  7. Charlie, measuring your success at timing the market during the pinnacle will make 99.9% that have EVER sold a comic look bad. There are like 4 guys who sold Walking Dead #1 at $10,000 going ‘yep, i got it right’, the rest of us got ever single trade wrong!!!

    Imagine being Walt (oh, let me close my eyes, drink a brew and just dream a little….) he spent his whole life under-selling books! Oh course I’m facetious however we’re all in the same boat….I have copies of Marvel Comics Presents #72 that haven’t even arrived in the mail and they have multiplied by 10 times what I paid (yes, that is correct).

    You did the right thing, you got in, enjoyed and got out. No one could have predicted this perfect wave (or is it a tsunami?).

  8. Spider, I’m not sure I understand your point. Success is relative, and if you believe that comics will always keep appreciating in value… then how do you decide when to get off the train? For me, the answer is based on the “cycle of life”. I figure I’ve got a good 20 years left before I knock off. So I’m slowing getting rid of all my possessions, and transferring all my passwords to my daughter. I don’t want to burden my kids with my baggage so I’m being proactive with what little I have. You gotta be careful in the digital age. You forget or lose a password, and your account could be lost forever.

    Yes… highest GPA by about $15:

  9. Consider that to buy the 3,000 most valuable comics in nm- 9.2 condition you needed $50 million at the end of 2020. If you tripled your money last year to billions, this amount is small. It only takes two at an auction to raise the price, not an army. That Marvel Mystery 4 in CGC 1.5 brittle pages for $21,600, I would love to review the 3rd highest bidder’s price.

  10. At age 55, I can safely say that I am no longer an active collector, not in this market, but I still like to dabble on ebay. I have a couple favourite sellers on ebay that I stick to & am able to get some stuff from time to time. I have been collecting for forty years, so it is pretty hard to just ‘stop’, but I cannot participate in this insane market for higher-end material & fighting other bidders for low-grade Atlas War & Crime comics on ebay remains my only source of fun. I will not pay substantially more than guide for anything, thus it takes time & energy to sit at the keyboard for an entire Sunday afternoon/evening fighting other clods to carve out a few victories. It can be done- I just received a box of 30 comics won during a recent Sunday sale, all low to mid-grade Atlas War & Crime plus some Lev Gleason Crime too for not much more than guide This comes at a cost- an entire Sunday aft/evening, lots of cursing & watching 80,100 or 120 other books that you want get bid well out of your comfort zone ! I do not know how much longer I will continue this fight, as it is getting tedious….& those prices continue to rise!
    I have never collected for investment, I have always collected for the fun of it all. Yes, I made sure that I was aware of the current market prices of the books that I was buying, making sure that I was not overpaying for anything but I never expected that comic books would become an investment vehicle at any time in the future.My ‘Golden Age’ was in the 1980’s where we were blessed with lots of great Comic-cons all over the GTA. Comic book collecting was truly a hobby then & you could go to one of these shows & stuff a shopping bag full of Marvel/Atlas 1950’s Horror, Crime or War for about $75.00 ! I did it so many times, eventually gravitating to early Fox, Quality, Fiction House & eventually Timely’s, which cost me a bit more than a bag of Atlas War comics! Yet I could reach all these books with the money I made working part-time at a local grocery store. This was a hobby- I do not know what you call the present market, but it is no longer a hobby.
    I do not know what has caused the current hysteria. Maybe due to Covid, with so many people stuck at home with nothing to do & with money burning a hole in their pockets, they have turned to competing against each other for various collectibles with ever escalating bidding. Maybe when Covid has been subdued to a point that we can resume our lives- travel, socialize & spend money on ‘real-world’ things other than collectibles, the market may settle down. The end of Covid should send a signal as to where this ‘hobby’ stands.
    The big question is- is how many fools are there out there willing to spend $50,000 on a CGC 9.8 1970’s comic book ? Will this well ever run dry?
    Will we live long enough to see these twits selling off their stuff on Heritage for half of what they paid ? There certainly were some good sell-offs on Heritage back in 2009-2010- check their archives, lots of horror stories in those pages! All you have to do is look. Maybe it will happen again……but when ?

  11. LIVE FROG > I hear you brother. 50’s is the new prime time. We’re old enough to know better, and young enough to enjoy what we know. I haven’t bought anything on eBay in ages. Between the taxes, higher cost/shipping and amateur sellers, buying is dead to me. I’m purely a seller these days. In terms of fun, you can pick up weekly books, hassle free… let it age for a year or two, then flip for $1,000. Take your wife, girl friend, boy friend, kids out for a nice meal… and everybody is happy:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/174747682530?hash=item28afc606e2:g:T~oAAOSwSPFfgNcR

    There’s no shortage of comics, but time becomes more valuable when you realize you have less of it. Hope you make the most of it.

  12. Thanks Charlie! Yep, at my age, there is no investment at these prices. Apparently, I did all my ‘investing’ back in the 1980’s without even knowing it! I have come to the conclusion some time ago, that aside from the odd foray into ebay to buy from a trusted seller, I will stick with what I have. I have spent so much of my life buying & so little actually enjoying, that I should really catalog what I have and read it- I have read only a fragment of what I own, thus it seems stupid to look for more stuff to put in the basement when I already have so much to enjoy!
    I also have a basement full of new & old model kits that I will probably never build, but that is another story. Don’t ask me about my stamps….

    I have to consider reality- I still have a mortgage & kids to put through College or University. I have to put food on the table every day. There will be no $50,000 slabbed bronze age books in my future any time soon!
    Like you, I am keen to sell some of my stuff, but as you know, the market is in the US. You have to get your stuff through customs & into the hands of CGC, where your material can sit for months due to the backlog! It is much easier to sell original art as it does not need to be slabbed, but I do not have any art that I wish to part with just yet. Oh, the pitfalls of comic book collecting! – can’t we just go back to the 1986 Overstreet Price Guide & pretend that everything that happened beyond that point never actually happened????

  13. It helps to get started early and have a system in place. I still have tons of RAW books in the basement, which I’ve been systematically sending down to CGC. As you say, you have to wait several months initially, but after that, if you ship stuff down regularly… say monthly, you should get them back monthly as well. I sort through what I receive and flip them to ComicLink. I don’t bother with eBay as it’s too time consuming to sell slabs one by one. Once you get into the groove… you should start receiving a cheque from ComicLink on a regular (monthly) basis.

    Keep in mind that the cost of doing this kind of side hustle will continue to rise. CGC recently raised their prices, and I suspect prices will increase across the board as we come out of the pandemic. Also note that salaries remain flat. There’s no reason for employers to offer higher wages unless they have to. The wage gap isn’t political, it’s logical. Which means that it works against the hobby. With less and less disposable income, sellers will feel the stress. Yes, we’re currently a sellers market, but I think we can all agree that the current climate is an anomaly, which is why I say take advantage of it while it lasts.

    Point being, it’s better start early and stay ahead of pack and the trends. I stopped trying to max out every dollar from my books, which turned out to be a waste of time. It’s better to liquidate and put that money to work elsewhere. Even if you put it toward your mortgage or other bills, it can be a huge savings in terms of interest, allowing you to move forward with other things.

    I still have reprints and collected trades to enjoy, but anything of value is all slated for liquidation. It’s funny… at one point, I thought my Omnibus collection would replace my comics, but then the first prints started going up in value and I noted that the publishers were planning to churn out subsequent prints. So I was in a panic to get them sold before the new printing hit the market. ** Whew ** … I managed to sell most of my big books just in time ^_^

    College and University is going to be expensive. I went back 10 years ago and tuition was over 8k. By the time my girls are ready… I suspect it will be double that… per child… each year… not including books or other expenses. Yeowza!

    We’re all the in same boat so good luck ^_^

  14. Excellent advice Charlie. I have been trying to get motivated to do this for years, but the fear of having to send through customs has been crippling.There is also the fear of loss or damage in shipping. I will simply have to steel myself & get things done and soon. Interesting that you sell through ComicLink- I have no experience with them. I have never considered ebay a good venue to sell decent books- there are too many snakes out there. Even the dealers I buy from on ebay are only selling low grade vintage stuff, probably due to the same fears that I have selling on ebay.

  15. What you say is true, but we can’t let the fear stop us from being productive. Eventually, you will run into problems. You will meet deranged scumbags who try to rip you off for a couple of dollars… but the more you do it, the more you talk about it… the more you will learn. Eventually, you’ll become familiar with the process and know how to handle negative situations… and minimize the damage. You will the learn the best ways pack your books, the best ways to ship your books, the best ways to communicate with people.. and where to find cheap or FREE supplies.

    You will crawl, then walk… and in no time, you will be running… to the finish line, way ahead of the pack. And when you look back… you’ll see people stumbling as they try and unload all their books all at once. Many will get frustrated and give up. Others will fail or sell their books for half their value out of desperation, or because the market conditions have changed. But none of this will matter to you, because with the extra income, you will have paid off your mortgage, saved for your kids schooling, have a nice nest egg for retirement and will have made smart investments decisions… so that when you shoot past the average lifespan because you lived worry free, you will have prospered. This will take years but every journey begins with the first step. Corny? Yes… but true! YOLO my friend!

  16. You are a heck of a motivational speaker, Charlie ! I will lose the fear & get things done. Thanks again.

  17. Let’s be honest… what do most CEO’s do? MOST get paid millions to mind the store, so when folks like to herald the likes of Meg Whitman as being some sort of credible leader, I beg to differ. She should have positioned eBay as the legit competitor to Amazon during their prime, but instead she implemented a bunch of guidelines to nickel and dime their user base.

    But hark! What’s this… another opportunity to expand their business on the cusp of new technology? Is Jamie Iannone the visionary that Meg Whitman isn’t? Considering that crypto is about 12 years old and PayPal is already on board, and the NFT market is about 4 years old with exchanges popping up left and right… like Enjin, Rarible, Opensea, Decentraland and many others… I wont say that they’re late to the party, but people who “mind the store” are generally not visionaries.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/ebay-says-open-to-accepting-to-cryptocurrencies-in-future-exploring-nfts/ar-BB1gjCxq

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