How to Invest in Comic Books (Yes, It’s a Real Way to Invest)

Technology is making it easier to invest in a wide variety of assets. But have you ever considered comic books as a serious investment strategy?

How to Invest in Comic Books
Updated May 13, 2024
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While investing is generally thought of as something that involves the stock market or real estate, it can also include adding pop culture collectibles, like comic books, to your portfolio. If you’re a comic book fan, it might sound very enticing to invest in Wolverine, Venom, or The Avengers.

However, when you invest in comic books, it’s important to understand the market and what to expect. Investing in comic books — or any collectible item — can be very subjective and potentially expensive.

Here’s what you need to know about how to invest in comic books.

In this article

What investing in comic books means

They might seem like strange things to invest in, but comic books are reasonably popular when it comes to alternative assets.

Comic books have been around since 1837 when the earliest known comic book — The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck — was published. However, when many people think of comic books they think of superheroes, and the arrival of superheroes to the graphic page marks the dawn of the so-called Golden Age of comic books.

The Golden Age of comics is generally thought to have started in 1938 when Action Comics #1 introduced Superman, a creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Other superheroes who appeared for the first time during the Golden Age are still some of our favorites today, including Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America. After World War II, there was a decline in comic book popularity, as well as concerns about how comic books impacted children, which led to cancelations of favorite series. The Golden Age of comics ended around 1950.

Today, vintage comic books from the Golden Age in mint condition are highly prized by comic book collectors. However, comic books from the Silver Age, which historians generally place between 1956 and 1970, also have some pull in the comic book market. This is the era that saw team-up comics become popular and introduced us to Thor, Spider-Man, and the Hulk, as well as Iron Man and the X-Men.

Over time comic books have been elevated to an art form. Even though they aren’t from the Golden or Silver Age, the somewhat darker aesthetic of Frank Miller’s work is highly sought after. His artwork from The Dark Knight Returns sold for $478,000 at auction in 2013.

How big is the comic book industry?

Since 2001, more than 3 million comic books have been bought and sold with more than $1 billion trading hands, according to GP Analysis (Grade Price Analysis), a company that analyzes the collectibles market. As of this writing, GP Analysis reports that nearly 56,000 comic books have been traded in just the last 30 days, with a top price of $59,500.

When it comes to comic book investments, those likely to provide the best return are from the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics, plus the artwork of Frank Miller. Additionally, there are some issues of popular characters or artwork from different eras that also sell well.

Golden Age Action Comics are the most likely to be in high demand, with a pristine condition Action Comics #1 — featuring the first appearance of Superman — selling for $3.2 million on Ebay. On the other hand, in 2020 it was more common to see popular issues in good condition selling in the range of $55,000 to $83,000. There are also stories of comic book investors selling entire collections, with a mish-mash of issues across years, for as much as $3.5 million.

In general, comic books are likely to go up in value if the characters are popular and issues are scarce. As a result, the older comics, which are harder to find in good condition, are more likely to increase in value over time. Depending on the comic book involved, it could be possible for comic book speculators to beat the average market return by quite a lot. But, much like investing in artwork, comic books can be illiquid (hard to sell) and you often have to get lucky to see market-beating returns.

Pros of comic book investing

  • Potential to see big returns if you choose the right comics
  • An enjoyable way to add to your investment portfolio
  • Alternative assets that aren’t connected to the traditional financial markets
  • Tangible items that you can keep for a long period of time

Cons of comic book investing

  • Value of comic books is subjective, so it depends on demand
  • More people are saving comic books, so it’s harder to make money with newer editions
  • Buying more valuable comic books can be expensive and the returns might be harder to realize

How to invest in comic books

If you want to invest in comic books, it’s important to have a strategy and be realistic about the situation. Depending on your goals, comic books could be an intriguing option as you determine how to diversify your portfolio.

How to find the best comic books

When looking for the best comic books for investing, it’s important to have an idea of what makes a comic book valuable. In general, your best bet is to pick up comics that were published before 1985, although looking for new comics could pay off down the road. It’s also worth noting that individual pages from comic books and artwork related to comic books could also provide you with a valuable return on your investment.

Some of the things to consider when evaluating comic books include:

  • Issue significance: First issues are generally considered more desirable and are more likely to offer a return. However, issues that feature a turnover in writer or artist, or mark a significant story arc, could also become more valuable over time.
  • Popularity of the artist or writer: If a writer or artist is well-known and popular, the comic books that contain their artistry can be valuable. Frank Miller is a good example of a popular artist. Similarly, the rising profile of Neil Gaiman has helped increase the value of the Sandman comic books, which he wrote.
  • Rarity of the comic book: One of the reasons older comics are more valuable is due to their rarity. There are fewer of them around. More recent comic books, especially those from the modern era, are more likely to be saved, so they aren’t as rare and may not be as valuable.
  • Comic book condition: The condition of the comic book matters. A comic book in good condition is more valuable than one in poor condition.

If you’re trying to get an idea of what the fair market value of a comic book might be, one resource is GoCollect. GoCollect is a comic book price guide that aggregates data on recent sales and comes up with a fair market value for comic books.

For example, I bought a copy of Sandman #1 several years ago for $50. Today, the fair market value is $625, according to GoCollect. It’s not as dramatic as selling for thousands of dollars, but that’s a pretty decent return. At the end of 2020, I bought a copy of Batman: Three Jokers #1 for $15. Even though it’s a new release, if you have the right cover variant, it could already be worth more. My version has a fair market value of $44 right now, according to GoCollect.

One thing to keep in mind is comic book grading. Two comic book grading services are Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) and Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS). These services review comic books and generally grade them on a scale of 0.5 to 10.

When purchasing comic books for investment, your best bet is to look for purchases that are rated very fine, near mint, or mint. While you can sometimes see a good return for comic books that are fine or very good, they usually need to be rarer in order to make a good investment.

In the end, though, a comic book is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

How to resell your comic books

There are a number of places to resell your comic books, including in-person and online. Here are a few suggestions for selling your comic books:

  • eBay: If you have a large collection of comic books that aren’t particularly valuable, or if you have individual issues that aren’t in mint condition or very popular, eBay can be a good choice.
  • Heritage Auctions: One of the go-to places to sell more valuable comic books. If you have Golden Age or Silver Age comics, this could be one of your best choices. Do note, you should have an idea of your actual grade and the value of the book before heading to a site like this.
  • Local comic book store: Some comic book and game shops will buy used comic books. You might also be able to sell them at pawn shops and other places that resell collectibles.

When selling a comic book that you believe is valuable, it might be worth the time and cost to have it properly graded and certified. Consider doing a cursory search at GoCollect to get a feel for the potential fair market value. Grading can cost up to $1,000, depending on the value of the item in question. However, if you can get an “official” grade, you might be able to sell your item for more.

If you decide to list a comic book online, make sure you take good pictures that show the condition of the comic book, and be accurate in your description. When shipping the comic book, be sure to carefully package the book to avoid damage. Expect that selling on a site like eBay or Craigslist will mean you might not get as much as you’d like.

Finally, it’s also possible to donate your comic books for a tax deduction. If you itemize your deductions, Comix Relief and Superheroes for Hospice will take your comic books and issue you a receipt with the value. You can then claim that value as a tax deduction.

An easier way to invest in comic books

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of putting together a tangible comic book collection, you can actually buy shares in famous comic books through the Public1 app.

You can read our Public review for all the details, but here's a concise explanation. Public allows you to buy an interest in culturally significant items, ranging from sneakers to comic books. Rather than having to buy an expensive item in its entirety, you can purchase a share of the item, similar to buying fractional shares of stock. Later, if you want to sell your interest, you can do so by accepting an offer from someone else.

For example, The Incredible Hulk #181 from Marvel is currently available for $70 a share (as of December 16, 2022). You buy shares now, and you could later sell them to other Public members.

You can get started with Public by downloading the app and connecting your Public account with your bank account. You can put money in your Public account to expedite share purchases or buy with the money in your linked bank account.

Public could be a smart option for those who like the idea of investing in comic books, but can’t afford thousands of dollars to purchase Golden or Silver Age editions.

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FAQs

Are comic books a good investment?

Just like anything else, whether comic books are a good investment depends on your own personal financial goals and risk tolerance. In general, though, comic books are considered an alternative investment, so while they can be useful in your portfolio, you might be better off limiting your exposure.

Which comic books will be worth money?

Comic books worth the most money are those that are by popular writers or artists, feature popular characters, or are rare. The comic books most likely to be the most valuable are those from the Golden or Silver Ages of comic books. However, some later comic books, such as those featuring Frank Miller artwork, can also be worth a lot.

Where can I sell old comic books?

Depending on the comic book’s probable value, it can make sense to use a site like eBay to sell comic books that are Bronze Age and later. For older comic books, a higher-end site like Heritage Auctions might make sense. You can also simply go to your local comic book shop to sell old comic books.


Bottom line

If you want to invest in comic books, it’s important to remember that the market for collectibles is highly volatile, and there’s a good chance you could lose your money, especially if the hype around a character decreases or if interest in comic books drops. Additionally, some comic books are already so highly-priced that it would be hard to make a return.

Personally, I like to collect comic books of interest to me (such as Batman and Sandman) that have some potential for future gains. Maybe you're more into Jack Kirby and the Fantastic Four. I don’t consider myself a comic book investor, though. When I’m thinking about how to invest money, I keep the bulk of my investments in more traditional stock and bond funds, then allocate about 5% to 8% of my portfolio to alternatives like collectibles and cryptocurrencies.

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Author Details

Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit has covered personal finance for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.