Perusing the usual headlines of various newsfeeds I came across an interesting Bloomberg article about the state of the comic book collectible industry. The crux of the article that the majority of collections being sold by many people are worth far less than they believe, and this is pretty much true in my experiences. Heck, one of the guys in the story even owns my local comic book store, New Dimension Comics.
The article is actually pretty much true, but the interesting thing is that comic books are not the only collectible market that has experienced devaluation. The same is true for sports cards, railroad collectibles, movie posters, and much more. What is worth hundreds of dollars one year is often worth $20 the next. The market is volatile.
The recession did not really help things out, but a lack of interest is also a major issue. Grading services, like CGC, have taken the guess work out of rare issues, thanks to the population report everyone knows exactly how many of a certain book is out there in what shape.
Plus, the time period a lot of these collectors passed through (generally the late 80’s through the 2000’s) did not exactly feature a number of firsts for the comic industry. Yeah, it had it’s share of cover tricks, die cuts, foil embossed, and such, but as far as new characters, there simply were not that many characters that made debuts that lasted. It was not exactly the Golden Age where Superman and company made their debut.
Price guides are also a source of tension with me. Something could be listed at $3000, but finding a buyer willing to pay that price was always a challenge, which often meant taking much less. In addition, many sellers are looking for a quicker turnaround, which again leads to the devaluation of any collection.
Simply put, key appearances and those featuring popular characters will always hold a little value, but buying comics is not like buying a scratch off lottery ticket. Even today there are cover variants and such, and while some have value, many are in the half off bin at comic stores.
Something I find a bit encouraging, is that even though these comic book store owners talk about the market being devalued, they are comic book STORE owners. That means there is a few bucks to be made. Perhaps what was witnessed was more of a market correction. Either way, comic books are still on shelves today, and probably will be tomorrow as well.