CBSI Writer Wars Round 2 : My Take On Speculating On Comics by Timothy Guerrero
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Lately I’ve been seeing posts debating what it means or how to properly speculate on comic books. Several questions have to be made an answered in order to formulate the most proper approach to speculation and I personally think that each individual should accommodate their speculation on their own personal taste for collecting.
First and foremost I will repeat an old adage that should always be applied “Buy what you like”. It is imperative for anyone looking to profit from comic book sales to know that when making large purchases of single issues, not everything purchased will turn into gold and therefore not everything will likely be sold for a profit so if you collect something you like then keeping it within your collection shouldn’t be too much of a problem or at least leave you with fewer regrets.
I’m sure that a lot of people that collected in the ‘90’s when the market crashed and left with boxes and boxes of comics that were worth cents on every dollar surely wished they had bought things they would have liked better. If you’re buying good reads and good art for speculation maybe it won’t work as a short term speculation but it could turn into a middle or long term speculation that could pan out in the future. This means that you should be reading and enjoying something that you will be buying to speculate on.
What is a better investment: Modern, Bronze, Silver or Golden Age comics? Again I would recommend purchasing for speculation based on the era you most enjoy reading. Although I must state that it you look at the hot 10 comics list every week you might see a pattern that most of those listed (about 50-70% of them) are comics that have been published within the last year.
I personally prefer to speculate on Silver Age comics from Marvel and DC as I feel as that is really were most of the modern TV and movie adaptations come from. Others may feel differently but I can tell you that a well-established character’s comic from that age that already has some type of value, be it because it has a first appearance or features the death of someone or some other important event will surely not dip in price unless said price is currently based on TV/movie speculation.
Does a print run affect a speculation? Most probably it does but look at the latest hot book, Batman Damned #1, what is the print run on those? I know the Batwang has made this book explode but if you look at the overall book you will find that Brian Azzarello is a very good writer and Lee Bermejo is a top notch artist so this speculation might settle down in the coming weeks but will surely maintain some value long term although I wouldn’t recommend investing at current prices for speculation purposes. Ask those that invested on New Mutants 98 and if that speculation panned out for them, guess what? It surely did and that book had a big print run.
Lately it seems that most speculation is being based only on cover art with no regard on what’s inside the book. I relate this type of speculation mostly with the advent of third party grading as a book within a slab cannot be viewed but content should still be pondered for long term potential of value.
I’ve learned the hard way that speculating on books that aren’t published by the two big houses may be profitable in the short term but have less than a five percent chance of becoming a long term speculation, take care to see that I haven’t labeled them as zero spec potential but its probabilities of becoming one are dim. Leaving that aside I would venture to say that a book like Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire will probably pan out if that world is continually explored in the same manner as it has been as of this article so again if you have highly enjoyed a book you should consider it as speculation potential.
I have seen speculation book values moving at higher speeds lately. Take for instance Batman Rebirth #1 Michael Turner cover. When that book was put up for sale it didn’t go out of stock 5 minutes after, it lasted for at least a couple of hours. What happened with Amazing Spider-Man 800 Mike Mayhew homage to ASM 238? That book’s sale didn’t even last for 5 minutes, tell me about it as I was only able to get one copy of the Ultimate variant as I went for that one first as I figured it was a much more limited offering and that I would still find the modern trade dress available, wrong!
Lastly I will tackle the question, what is the right time to sell a hot book? I personally think that a speculator should set a threshold for sales. Take for instance Thanos 13 by Donny Cates. I bought a total of 10 issues of that comic and I started selling about three or four of them when they were hitting a price tag of $20. Bought at less than cover price I made a killing on those issues even if they are currently worth around $50 each.
What did I accomplish with my sale?
I was able to get my investment money back and some profit. Additionally I was still left with more books to sell at a later time in case the speculation was long term. Mostly the accomplishment is that by selling books at a profit I will be able to have a sustainable business even if all my speculation doesn’t pan out which it frankly never does. How did I know to keep some of those books? I read the book and enjoyed it extremely, not only that issue but the subsequent ones until the end of Cates’ run on it.
This article is only meant to entice others to think critically about why and how we speculate and serve as an aid for those starting out. So I would love for those with different ideas than mine to post your thoughts on what the reasons are for you to invest on a comic as speculation. I’m sure it will help others to make decisions on what to speculate on. I’m sure I’ll be able to get some additional input about what to look for when looking for comics to speculate on as by no means am I an expert on speculation.