Is The Bubble Getting Ready to Burst?

Anyone who has been watching the incredible increases in prices for Original Art and High Grade Vintage comic books can't help but ask themselves if this can keep on going. Is the bubble about to burst? What is going on?

Anyone who has been watching the incredible increases in prices for Original Art and High Grade Vintage comic books can’t help but ask themselves if this can keep on going. Is the bubble about to burst? What is going on?

When the recession hit in 2008, it seems that a lot of people who had money were looking for a place to put it that could give them a better return than GIC’s or other more traditional ways of accruing interest.

Suddenly ultra high grade books and key images from some of the most beloved stories were receiving astronomical sums!

The cover for The Dark Knight Returns #2 went for $480,000.00! That’s right, four hundred and eighty thousand dollars! Now trust me when I tell you, my question does not come from a position of envy or a feeling that this is “unfair”. Life isn’t fair. Get over it. My question is,” can this continue”? I have included the image of the cover. Not one of my favorite images but that isn’t the point either.

Batman The Dark Knight Returns issue 2 cover by Frank Miller
Now I have no idea who bought this, but I sure hope he loves that image, because after all it is his money. More power to him. I just hope that this type of thing doesn’t cause the rest of the market to get beyond the reach of the true lover of comic art or vintage comic books for that matter.

When you look at some of the prices fetched for Top tier Key books like Action Comics #1. In 2013 a 3.0 went for $388,000.00. Not many of these babies around, that is for sure. Definitely out of reach for almost all of us.

Action Comics issue 1 CGC 30
Again, this isn’t sour grapes! This is not envy about the “1%”. This isn’t about income redistribution, or shaming those that have, and blaming them for those that do not. This is just a question about our hobby.

One of the most interesting things that I am noticing is that the mid grade Silver Age keys are not only available at still reasonable prices, but they seem to be in increasing in demand as a result of the ultra high grade being further out of reach. The Bronze Age books seem to be really starting to take off now as well opening up again books at prices many more collectors can get involved in.

The same can be said for original art that may not be the top tier, but are nonetheless desirable pages, and I think moving forward will retain and increase with any luck whatsoever. And yes, there is an element of luck involved. You pay your money and you take your chances.

I will close with a quote I have used often and will continue to use every time I get the chance. “Buy what you like, and you will never be disappointed!”

The flip side of owning original art that you do love is it’s hard to part with it. But there is always another Grail Page or back issue just around the next auction!

Continued Happy collecting! And…good luck as well.

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Dennis De Pues
Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.
Articles: 260

23 Comments

  1. it’s supply and demand… considering how few copies there are of truly rare books, prices sadly make sense. it doesn’t take much to have prices go insane on some books. two very rich guys, bidding for a copy of Action #1, … and prices just go nuts.

  2. Nestor, my examples above were at the extreme end of rare.No doubt your explanation is valid, and believe me , I have no problem with the markey forces of supply and demand.My question is , is the influx of speculators artificially driving up prices in such a way that the bubble will burst, causing the prices to drop again once other sources of investments become a draw for the speculators.I don’t think you can go wrong with Action #1 or any of the top keys, but lets use Hulk # 181 for example where there are thousands of ultra high grade books in the census and no doubt many more to come in collections waiting to get slabbed.

  3. Dennis
    we returned from Calgary Con at the end of april , and all the other dealers were telling me that the low to mid grade keys were selling above guide prices , just because they’re more affordable , like you stated . I sold a JIM 85 in vg+ for $800 and FF 2 in vgf for $1250 and my customers were only too happy to get them ! if the market doesn’t keep on going like it is , then we’ll still sell our books for what the market will bear , but for the last 2 years , it doesn’t seem to be slowing down !

  4. If you value Overstreet (which I don’t), in it’s 40 year history prices for key books have ALWAYS gone up, even through tough times (which makes no sense). On some occasions, specific books have gone down 5-10% only to spring back up the following year.

    So, according to Overstreet, comics will never crash. Reflects overall inflation you say? Nope. Comic value and dollar value are not proportional. The real answer is painfully obvious but the collector mentality and human behaviour defies logic, which then begs the philosophical question… what is real?

    (I know… I’m incredibly deep)

  5. Hey Charlie,incredibly deep as a field of hippy lettuce!And oh so humble!:)

  6. I’m with you Chris.As long as the market keeps buying , Iwill keep selling, as well as buying.Collecting anything has a tendency to defy logic anyway.

  7. if you buy an Hulk 181 in 9.8 for $18,000 there`s a good chance you`ll get burned. there are a few available on ebay right now ranging from $10-18,000 (wow, what a spread)

    9.4`s about $3500
    9.0s from 2100-3000
    8.5 around $1800

    of these categories, who`s going to take the most risk buying and trying to flip?

    and yes, comics DO go down in value… especially if the market stinks and you can’t sell anything. prices are sticky, and comics are illiquid. selling takes time. especially if things cool off.

    having said that, good golden age and silver age books are hard to go wrong with.

  8. It is a bubble and it’s going to pop…the sooner the better. The high-end is in need of an adjustment. The only silver lining I see is that mid-grade books ( 6.0 to 8.0) get more respect. Too many people with more dollars than sense.

  9. there was a time when a marvel 1 was the holy grail (and i believe it will always be so). today af 15 is in fashion, blown way out of proportion, and all of the marvel comics since then over hyped and valued. buyer beware!

  10. today peter parker hot hot hot. i lived thru mickey, donald, tarzan, any number of these periods where todays favorites are yesterdays memories. there are incredible selections of comics past and present to read, collect, and invest. the constant bidding up of the same marvel comics is short sighted, plain stupidity!!

  11. Reading, collecting and investing are very different mindsets. Personally, when it comes to investing, I prefer to stick with books that are in demand, ie; Marvel keys. I don’t want to risk buying something and be stuck with it, unable to pull my money back out. This is why I stay away from Golden Age books, and especially the Platinum era. Yes, I know there is an audience but this pool is quickly drying up and it’s easier to flip Marvel keys so why bother with books older then my dad. If I like something from this era, I can always pick up much cheaper reprints for my personal enjoyment… but lucky for me, I don’t enjoy the Golden Age so I have no conflict here. I know that many collectors like to show off about their Golden Age knowledge… but if you really question them on it, you soon realize that most don’t actually know as much as they think… to which I roll my eyes at because they just prove my point.

  12. charlie, wait till people od on this super mutant film cycle. and i’m sure younger generations feel the same way about SA as you do about the GA! and i believe that younger people are getting better educated with a broader scope on eras and genres to invest in.

  13. YES! I totally agree. If you’ve read any of my previous comments regarding the baby boomers, then you know that I don’t see a bright future for comics. There are younger collectors but too few for the business model to sustain itself, especially with the increasing cost of production. Last time I checked (I haven’t checked recently), DC book division didn’t even rate in the TW annual report. That’s how small the market is in the grand scheme of things.

  14. I freely admit I know virtually nothing about the Golden Age.However,..there are some great works out there that I am just starting to appreciate. There was an innocence combined with nuance that simply is hard to beat. However from an investment perspective I know diddly. I find myself more and more just enjoying the books for enjoyments sake more than anything else but certainly do buy with an eye on liquidating when retirement comes along.

  15. Absolutely Dennis. We’re talking about one of the most productive periods in human history, primarily after the war… not just in comics, but in art, culture, industry. It would be silly to think that nothing good came out of the Golden Age or early Silver Age.

    I’ve got samples of old advertisements, packaging and metal type in my basement. I even considered buying a letterpress machine as well… you can find them for under $500! But heavy as heck! I like the look of worn boxes made of pulp fiber with faded, off registered printing. I even like the smell from old print. However, I didn’t put a lot money into this stuff and I don’t expect to recoup any of it. Time marches on and everything fades… Like Steve Jobs said, “death” is life’s change agent.

    (There I go… being deep again)

    ^_^

  16. Ah but Charlie, …Life is actually Deaths change agent.Hence, Life goes on!!

  17. may you all bath in d.bowies waters of eternal enlightment! i choose lulu & tubbys universe for eternal hope and never ending sense of fair play in a cruel corporatist world of lies and deceit. or perhaps im just Putin you on. its a zippy world full of ziggies!

  18. hows ’bout a world run on a comic book standard?aaaPutin on the Ritz, chomping down on Bilderburgers(Heines Ketchup and some Coke BROTHERS and SISTERS. then take a texas Cruise down Dominian way? Diamond Dogs are forever? Seriously, one simply cannot revigarate on the path to enlightenment with out a daily reading of Barks and Stanley.

  19. oop’s. “revigorate” for those who still care about spelling. sorry.

  20. Okay… if anyone knows Stephen personally you may want to got rescue him. He may have gone off into the deep end… ^_^

  21. hi charlie, sorry if i made the assumption that my “play” on pop culture, politics and words is misunderstood. i will avoid politics and stick with discussions of comic books and the market from now on.

  22. Hey Stephan, I liked Putin on the Ritz!!Keep having fun man,..chomping down the Bilderburgers!!

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