Collectible, entertaining, fun, expensive; these are all words that could be used to describe comic books. Some people see comic books as a way to make money while others just want to enjoy the stories. Some people want both. This article will take a look at the factors that influence the price of comic books in addition to merits of enjoying comic books for what they are.
There are many factors that influence the value of a comic book. From a business perspective, demand is a huge factor. If there is a lot of hype over an upcoming comic book, it is a good bet to expect the value to increase. Some recent examples of this are Superman 38, a highly expected book that revealed a new power for the Man of Steel. The week of the release the book had already increased in price from anywhere around $8 to $15. Wytches was another hyped book released in October of 2014. This book was brought to us from fabled Batman writer Scott Snyder. When a name like that is attached to an independent title it is a thing of beauty. That book is floating around $12 right now but that is still four times the $3 it was released at. Another factor is the volume of the print run. A book with a low print run is more likely to increase in price. This is the supply aspect of economics. When supply can’t meet demand, prices increase. People are more willing to pay more for something rare. It is hard to know if the print run will be low before the books are released without spending a lot of time researching every upcoming title, which to be fair, who has the time? Another aspect of demand as it relates to comic books is the number of printings the book has. Obviously that isn’t something someone will know upon the books release. However, some books go to second printings very quickly. One recent book is Lady Killer from Dark Horse that was released in January of 2015. The first and second issues of this book quickly went to second printings. The first issue is close to $50 right now and the second between $10 and $15. The new Ms. Marvel series has had seven printings though and the first issue is also around $50. This is another reason prices are hard to gage. New characters and things of that nature will often increase values of books. The popularity of the new characters will be the determining factor of the books value. The final influential factor is the condition. If a book is in bad condition, the price will falter. This is a simple explanation of the factors that influence prices for those who are only interested in making money.
Some people want to really enjoy comic books and have the ability to make money off of them. These people will often find that they are trying to play catch up. They only want to pick up certain books once they know that they are valuable. This will result in running to every comic book store around hoping they still have one or two copies hiding around. It works some times. However, my simple advice to those people is to just pick up what they enjoy. I picked up the entire Edge of Spider-Verse series and the variants because I love Spider-Man and variants. I never expected the second issue to be worth over $100 and the variant to be even more. One day, I might sell them or send them in to get graded.* To sum up my advice for those who want to read and make some money; get what you enjoy and if it becomes worth something then the opportunity to sell it is there.
There are many people who look at comic books for what they; stories. These people don’t care about the condition of the books and think that slabbing** them is not appropriate. This is not a common opinion but it is out there and I want to be fair to everyone. What is important to these folks is the story and what it means or represents. This is the purest form of enjoyment they get from comic books. While other people may get more satisfaction from owning a 9.8 first appearance of Wolverine signed by Stan Lee, others will get satisfaction just from reading a torn up copy of Hulk 181 in the bathtub. Everyone is entitled to do what they want with their comic books and it is not fair to look down on what anyone else does. Collectors will collect and readers will read. For people who want to read the stories and keep their books pristine, there are trades and omnibuses, even digital copies. It is important to understand there are multiple ways to approach the same thing.
I hope this little article was enlightening and helpful. What I really hope to accomplish by writing this is for everyone to get something out of it. I hope it helps the collectors, the readers, and the sellers. Overall, I hope it brings all of us nerds closer together by building an understanding that there are different ways to enjoy this great form of literature, and that, even if someone takes in the work differently than you, we are all comic book fans. Stay Nerdy!
*Grading is when a book is sent in to anyone who does grading and they rank the book based on it’s condition and they put it in a protective case to preserve that condition.
** Slabbing is just another word for grading and it refers to the casing that is put on the book. It looks like a slab.