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Saturday, May 22, 2010

What to collect.

I’ve never collected for financial gain, never considered myself a “comic-investor” or bought multiple copies of a hot new book with the intent of selling them. But realistically almost every GA/SA/BA collector does a little speculating and is hoping his collection will go up in value. Of course what a lot of people seem to forget is that if your collection goes up in value so do the books you still want, and you end up paying more for the books on your want list.

But it’s a lot of fun (and for most also part of the attraction) that if you collect carefully and make informed decisions, you stand a good chance of at least not losing money. In fact a lot of comic collectors use this as an excuse when a wife/girlfriend/friend keeps hammering on how much money they spend on “funny books”. The de facto reply is almost always “yes but this book will be worth x-amount in y-amount of time” or “If I go down the pub every night the money is gone as well and now at least I have something to show for it”

So it’s not surprising that most questions and queries I get, both here and on my Youtube video channel is what books to buy and how much I paid for a certain book. Now as a rule I never divulge how much I paid for a certain book…that’s my prerogative and it’s nobody else’s business. If I get a book way below market value and I post the price, it almost seems like bragging and laughing in the face of the guy that sold it to me…which I think is very uncouth. Also if I paid a significant amount of money I don’t want to be avalanched by mails and messages telling me I could have gotten a small car or end world famine for that price.
Again, it’s my money and mine to play with.

But I’m always very happy to help people that start collecting or are narrowing their focus on what books to get. The general rule is and will always be “collect what you like”. Get the comics you love, the ones that ring your bell or transport you back to Nostalgia Road and don’t put possible future appreciation as your number one goal. Sure it’s sweet when your comic increases in value but if you buy it to never look at it and just keep it in a safe somewhere for 5 years and then proceed to sell it off…then think about investing in gold.
It’s the same low-thrill hobby and you’ll probably do better in the long run.

So, OK you LOVE Silver Age comics and want to start buying and will love the comics for ever…so where do you go from here ?
Well there are two trains of thought here. A lot of people will tell you to always buy the highest grade possible as these will appreciate the quickest and the most. Well these people are 100% correct, but most comic fans I know would rather have 3 nice mid-grade books for the price of one high-grade book. So if you are only interested in high grade books the following advice is not for you.

Congratulations, you’ve made it this far, this means you are ready to buy low to mid-grade books that are fun to own/collect and have a chance of making you some money.
Well for starters you can not go wrong with very early Marvel Silver Age, especially the “Big Two”…Amazing Spider-man and Fantastic Four. Most collectors will always be interested in the first 20 issues (at least) of these wonderful series. They are the cornerstone of the Marvel Universe and are riddled with keys. If you do not overpay then you will make a profit down the road as these keep going up year after year.
Some do it slowly but surely, others take huge jumps at a time (Amazing Fantasy #15).

In fact it will be much easier to unload three or four books in the 2.0 range than one book in the 5.0 range. There are still a lot of collectors out there who want to own a certain book and don’t really care about grade. So low grade books are perfect for 90% of the collectors that just want to build a collection and don’t want to mortgage the house to buy certain issues.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week.

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