It was quite the year, 2021. This stubborn pandemic did not go away, not at all. We fought on though, finding things that helped us push through. One of those things apparently was collecting comic books as the year 2021 blew away all expectations, I don’t think the most ardent champion of comic book collecting could have seen such a surge in collectible comic book demand and values.
Someone remind me again why the market was/is so strong for collectible comic books. Initially is was because we were all at home and we were all getting some kind of government hand out but many of us eventually went back to work, having to earn our comic spending money and still the price increases only accelerated.
Is is something to do with low interest rates? Do we see big corrections when inflation nudges higher? Will we stop hitting the “buy it now” button when most of us eventually get out of our pajamas and have to commute back to work?
I don’t know the answer to any of the above things.
As the year is ending I’m seeing some soft sales though, December results show that many of key books are giving back some of their gains. Is this the start of the corrections people have been predicting? On the other hand I see some books still holding strong, key Spidey issues led by the grail Amazing Fantasy #15 don’t seem to be getting hit as hard. CGC 9.8 copies of Silver and Bronze Age key issues continue to get crazy money. It seems like the top end of the market is showing more stability than the tiers below meaning scarcity of grade is still a major value driver.
I think 2021was an overall good year for the future prospects of the hobby. I think more buyers entered the collectible comic market in 2021 and I think we’ll end up keeping a lot of them thus adding to the demand side. A lot of these new players are not super savvy comic afficianados so I expect them to gravitate towards established blue chip issues, these books are known to be important and desireable by people outside the collecting hobby and these books are usually on new collectors/investors starting off list.
What interests me more are the books that will find favor this coming year that are not well known, not on t-shirts, not homaged to death already within the industry. These are the books that we need to figure out.
New people bring in new ways and I’m wondering whether a new breed of influencers will emerge with enough social media clout to actually affect prices. It seems to me the younger the investing crowd the more likely they will take advice from these marketplace personalities. I’m not saying this in a bad way, I think there are a lot of people online sharing sensible, insightful and well thought out opinions that could easily affect comic values. I’m just wondering how important they will become in the new marketplace.
Speaking of influencers! Last night our weekly internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction produced some great results. I was particularly interested in how this nice copy of Action Comics #425 graded at CGC 9.4 would do. It sold for $102 USD which I though a fair price, these 20 cent DCs are not easy to aquire in high grade, love this cover, advantage buyer.
Man, I can’t believe those newer 20-centers are selling for about $160.CDN. I see them all the time at yard sales and flea markets in the summer and they’re all really nice shape. My main focus is on lesser condition golden age that look good cover-wise and are relatively cheap.
“Someone remind me again why the market was/is so strong for collectible comic books.” I think the blanket answer is that it’s strong for all pop media collectibles. I think there are four drivers here: 1) excess disposable cash that people saved from consumption pursuits like theme parks, ball games and concerts, 2) screen pop culture associated with these collectibles being devoured during the pandemic, 3) time to appreciate these collectibles (or the possibility of owning them) during the shutdowns, 4) idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
“It seems like the top end of the market is showing more stability than the tiers below meaning scarcity of grade is still a major value driver.” Agree and I am loving this. I am only interested in holding scarce books in anything below about a 9.4, so I was irritated by the greater appreciation of the lower grade common books in the late ’10s. Scarcity of grade is scarcity, and should be valued (IMO). For the past couple months, I’ve watched 9.8s get 110% of my estimates, 9.4s get 90%, and 9.0s get 75%. Of course that has kept me from picking up books, but has been good for the higher-grade books I already have.
I guess we will continue to see some “first appearance of X” books go crazy in 2022, but I can’t get interested in a lot of this trend. I’m more interested in something like the PCH jump or the L. B. Cole mania – crazy scarce stuff that has been in front of our eyes but has gotten no love. Speaking of love, I think the best candidate is Romance. I think I will be sorry that I backed away from paying high three-figures for some books.
You are right about 20-cent DCs. Maybe you have them in high grade up north, but I don’t run into many super-high-grade copies. Like I said above, I shied away from paying what are now crazy bargain prices for those Spectre Adventures or Mister Miracles. I have learned my lesson – but I only have so much cash…
Chris, what is the PCH jump? I’ve never heard of it.
Sorry about the acronym – I meant the jump in pre-code horror values that started around 2015 or so.
Oh, I have a slew of those; about one and a half long boxes full. They were right in my wheelhouse. A comic shop that was closing out about 20-some years ago had just bought a humungous box of them in beautiful condition – around 450 or so and had a lot of money tied up in them.
I won’t tell you what I paid for them but I bought every one and got them quite cheap. They weren’t too valuable then but have really shot up lately. I knew they were called pre-code horror – I just wasn’t familiar with the acronym.
Romance is a good call Chris, and the better covers will shine. Klaus those 20 cent DCs aren’t that easy in tip top shape, not that I’ve seen, I’m thinking the whole Superman line in the 1970s, all the titles, are a good play in 9.4 or better high grade right now.
When it comes to PCH and Romance, especially Baker books, I’d rather be a buyer still than a seller except for the duplicates since I’m more generally more a completionist with too many duplicates (and triplicates)
Unfortunately I have too many duplicates and triplicates of the rest to sell that I have accumulated in the past that I need to find a new home for.
Is there a market for book runs that haven’t already been reprinted?
For Bud Plant: This may be a little off-topic but have you seen this site? It has an amazing array of pulp covers with some downloadable issues.
Interesting that L.B. Cole and Matt Baker both got mentioned in the comments. I just last week acquired one of those odd Frankencomics from the Canadian FECA (Foreign Exchange Conservation Act) Period, Remarkable Adventures #65 published by Bell Features, which sports an L.B. Cole cover from Target Comics #91 and interior art from Phantom Lady #18 (printed without the first splash page!) by Matt Baker. These are great artists to have in any collection, and the cost of these late Canadian Golden Age books is remarkably low. My Remarkable Adventures only cost me fifteen bucks! You can pick up all kinds of bargains from this era for chump change with some of the greatest artists of the age. It’s fun too to try to figure out what the original source was for such material. My only clue to this cover was the little targets down the left side, so I went to Gerber and checked out Target Comics and there it was! It was an easy guess to figure that the interiors were from some issue of Phantom Lady, then I just had to go online to figure out which one. So each book is like a little mystery to unravel. Great fun for any collector. I highly recommend it!