4: CBSI Writer Wars Round 1 : Joseph Zdyrski : Affordable Investments

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When people think of CBSI they are often focused on the S in CBSI.  The comic book speculation aspect of our group. That the gambling the looking to the future and trying to find the grand slams before the balls pass the plate.  And of course because the big speculation wins can become stuff of legend and bring him huge financial wind falls to those who the day before had a stack of worthless books and a lucky guess or a well thought out educated one.  But yes we all love speculation. However the is another aspect to CBSI one that is actually a lot more popular with people and that is the Investment aspect of CBSI or the I is the main focus for this article. And honestly judging by the books that are posted most often on pick ups and the books we all worship and wish for, we all seem to favor investment books even if we don’t realize we do.

The main difference between a an investment book is an investment book has value for one reason or another and that value has held for a decent amount of time and can be expected to hold value into the future.  A lot of time we also deal with investment books that have spec potential as well. These are great books because they offer a chance to see huge value gains on a book but little to no that the book ever end up worthless.  The down side is that the buy in on these books is of course higher than a pure spec book, and grabbing multiples can be harder and pricier. Although I will not be focusing mainly on the spec potential of books for this article, I will give my opinion on the spec potential or lack there of, of any book I discuss.  A solid investment with some spec potential is always a bonus.

Now when people usually discuss investment books they are usually talking blue chip, major  keys that are frankly very expensive. So the other thing I’ll be focusing on in this article are investment books that are a bit more accessible to new collectors or collectors that don’t have large amounts of disposable income to invest in big money books.  These will be second or third tier investment books. And I’ll also discuss ways to get them as cheap as possible and/or get the most bang for your buck when investing in said books.

Without further ado … onto the books.

Detective Comics 363: 2nd appearance of Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)

 

Batgirl is a beloved character for many people myself included, and I personally would love to own her 1st appearance. I don’t so just for fun I took a break from writing to see what the prices were for her 1st appearance at the moment.  Well if you have 360-400 you could probably find a nice 2.5-3.0 in that price range but that is about the best you can do. And I’d look at them closely if your interested at that price. One listing claims the book to be a 3.9 🤨 that was a red flag for me to actually look at the pics.  Let me tell you it ain’t a 3. anything…. looks in the 1.5 range. Bottom line is the book is very expensive even for the lowest grade copies not to mention a decent one.
This brings us to her second appearance Detective Comics 363.  This book is interesting for a couple reasons aside from the obvious 2nd appearance of Batgirl.  One of the first things that got me to notice this book is that it has been selling higher than guide value for a while.  And I know for the most part the price guides are out of date and hardly relevant, but I find for older books let’s say very early Bronze on back they are still an excellent barometer of sorts to track the level of interest in a book or lack there of.  For this book in particular it’s very interesting because a lot of the other Tec books from this era do not preform better than guide. 359 and 363 are the big exceptions and with continued popularity of Batgirl I don’t see either losing much value.

The other thing that Tec 363 has going for it is the beautiful Carmine Infantino cover.  It’s arguably a better cover than Tec 359 and with Infantino being remembered for among other things his amazing Bat covers.  This is one that I see often mentioned more and more in lists of his top Batman covers and the like so the book has an amazing cover to go with the content inside.  Having both in a book is always a good thing in my opinion.

The best aspect of this book is that there are still deals out there.  And there are deals at a number of levels. I see listings for slabbed copies that are a great deal at the moment as well as raw copies that are great deals at the moment.  There are some not as good deals as well so be savvy and look closely. I think the biggest bang for your buck potential is to buy raw and slab it yourself. I was able to find a decent copy and slab it myself for about a total investment of 120$ could have cheaper but I used the most expensive shipping options and fast tracked it.  However in the end I ended up with a ~400 book for less than a 150 total investment. And I’m telling this story to brag. If this was a case of dumb luck I wouldn’t have included that example but what I did can still be done today if one chooses to do so and it is a great way to invest in books whose slabbed copies may be out your range.  And it can still be a great way to get a nice copy of this book.

Spec potential?
Will this book go up in value? Yes. Will it go ballistic and out of this world? No I don’t think so.  Will it rise in value following any huge spikes in the value for Tec 359? Yea I think it will but I don’t think it will follow in an overnight way the way the first appearance may, if say a movie trailer is released and looks awesome but I think values will inevitably go up as the value of her first appearance continues to grow out of the reach of many collectors.  I just don’t see it happening overnight more like a slower reaction following the overnight gains that may be seen by Tec 359. So considering all the factors I assign this book a Spec potential grade of 8.0* not bad but not a huge spec book in and of itself.

*spec potential grades basically use the comic grading scale so 2.0 sucks and 9.6-9.8 is great.   We all know this scale already so same deal.

Bonus book(s)…

Adventure Comics 300

One of my personal favorite teams in comics has always been the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The main problem for me and many others fans of the Legion is their 1st appearance (Adventure Comics 247, from way back in 1958) is so very expensive with low grade copies selling for 1,000s and higher grade examples fetching over 10,000, this is a book few collectors will be lucky and/or financially secure enough to ever own.  Even their second appearance Adventure comics 267 is hard to find and very expensive in its own right, certainly not what I would call affordable. And their appearances after that aren’t really significant. So as far as books to invest in this team affordable we are going to skip all the way to their 18th appearance in fact although I’ve seen it listed as a 3rd and 4th appearance but it is not it is their 18th appearance but it is is the first in their Adventure Comics run.  This is a very iconic and beloved run not just for the Legion of Super-Heroes but for 1960s DC comics in the General.
Now unlike the batgirl books I discussed this book doesn’t seem to sale anywhere near it’s very high guide value that is until you get the 8.0s and up and then the book actually sells a bit higher than guide and I wouldn’t even call it an affordable investment in the high grades.  But most copies aren’t high grade anyway and I believe the highest graded copy is only a 9.4 and I think there only a single copy that high. So I’m not really focusing on the high grade copies because anything under an 7.5 seem to be at bargain basement prices comparatively and low grade copies can be had very cheap at times.  I would alway pay close attention to condition when buying raw. Try to get a copy with a center fold at least partially attached. Believe me it’s harder than you may think to find a copy with all the pages strongly attached. Loose centerfolds and interior pages are very common with this issue and other adventure comics issues from around this time(early 60s).  So I’d look carefully because condition is a concern, and being up on your grading may help you score a decent raw copy here.

As far as Spec Potential goes I’m hesitant to even assign it a rating.  It’s like those square bound books I don’t really know how to grade em and I don’t really know how Spec on the Legion of Super heroes.  And aside from flight belts I don’t much new is introduced here. If I had to assign it a score of 6.0 because I really think it may raise in value if something happens with LOSH in the greater media because their is very unobtainable to most but I don’t think it will attract all the interest as their are a lot of appearances before this and its status as a quasi #1 is somewhat fading.  If your looking for a investment with a bit more spec potential I think Adventure comics 346 may be a better choice given that it has like 5 1st appearances in it including Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, Ferro Lad and a couple others I can’t recall off the top of my head. But I think with any of these early-mid 60s DC books what makes for a safe investment is that finding nice decent complete copies and preserving them.  Because the copies that I see that are not taken care of are slowly falling apart and I think these old books especially complete copies, are just going to keep getting harder and harder to find, making them good investments to buy now and hold on to. I really don’t expect these to see huge sudden gains but instead I strongly expect to see slow steady appreciation as more copies inevitably find their way into strong handed collections.

7 comments

  • Gary Nusser

    I like the idea of assigning comic Investments point values. It definitely helps to quantifiy a subjective topic. In terms of any kind of Legion of Superheroes investment I have totally given up. It is my all-time time favorite book but reboots, preboots, retcons, etc it just never seems to take off in today’s Marketplace. The controversial Five Year Later storyline is what got me into comics and had me reading all of the collected volumes of the early stuff. Now I do collect a lot of there early appearances but purely for my PC. Thanks for a thought-provoking submission.

  • Eman

    Great..great article.
    You would think by now that most people would know the difference between an investment, spec, ect.
    When I try to explain it to my (ignorant) buddies, these are usually the examples I give…An Investment would be Hulk 181 (first app. Wolverine) I don’t see that book ever dropping in value, it only has potential to go up in value. Of course anything can happen, but in this case this is a sure bet.

    SPEC..I remember when Briggs Land was a big spec. I remember reading here on CBSI that some people were buying 25 copies at a time. To my knowledge Briggs Land hasn’t done much.. (I have three copies myself) so now it becomes more of a long term spec…or just wishful thinking lol.

    Of course you can hit the big Home Run….if you bought Saga just because you found it interesting, or you bought a few copies because of spec potential… sometimes, not often though, specs really pan out.
    At the end of the day it’s what’s been said all the time…BUY WHAT YOU LIKE!!
    For me that goes for investing as well. I love both Hulk and Wolverine so I’d invest in it.
    I’m not a big fan of Fantastic Four, so although their first app is a good investment and will go up in value I wouldn’t invest in it…(unless I found it for some crazy low low price) in case I’d get stuck with something I’d make sure I like it.
    Buy what you like…covers, story, interior art, the artist, ect. You can’t go wrong if you buy what you like.

  • I really like the idea of assigning a grade to how much investment potential the books have! plus it sounds like from your experience I should check the spread on tec 363

  • Skot Whitman

    Nice article. I think secondary appearances is something more people should start look into. Too much emphasis is put on a first appearances and later appearances get ignored, primarily due to a lack of knowledge from new collectors/speculators. The “if it doesn’t say first appearance on a slab i’m not interested” mentality has been driving this narrow view point imo.

  • Duc

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • natethegreat80

    Have both of these. Good books to snag if you can’t afford the 1st appearances.

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