Let’s talk vintage comic books. How is it possible that the popularity and value of collecting these books could increase in a downward economy? How is it also possible that those popularity and value increases could happen in an age where kids are reading from computer screens versus paper products? The recent popularity growth in collecting is due to three factors: the stability of comic book reading and collecting over the long history of the hobby; the popular releases of new movies, television shows, and computer games which include vintage super heroes and villains; and the influx of new closeouts that are now available, due to collectors selling collections to compensate financial issues, caused by a weakened economy.
It is hard to argue that collecting these publications is a fly-by-night hobby. These fun publications have a long history. The origin of these books, some believe, developed from newspaper comic strips dating back to the late 1800’s. Most modern collectors contribute “Yellow Kid” as the first modern comic-strip character that appeared in the New York Journal in 1896. Most collectors consider Famous Funnies issue #1, which went on sale in May of 1934, as the first actual comic book. With a history over one hundred years old, comic books seem to have a here-to-stay persona. Most adult collectors remember the comics they read as kids, and although many of those books were eventually discarded as these collectors aged, many are now replacing the vintage books they once enjoyed as children. This may be one of the factors creating the onset in the recent popularity of buying vintage comics. It may also be one explanation of why that popularity has boomed over the past ten years, despite a currently struggling economy.
Supply and demand dictates prices and popularity. It is important to understand that early era comic books were designed to be a disposable entertainment, quite like newspapers. Read it and toss it. Early economic issues, however, turned the “read it and toss it” philosophy into the “read it, then trade it for a comic you have not read, and then toss it” philosophy. Sometimes these transactions occurred multiple times, but the end result often led to tossing said book. One major reason vintage comic books were not discarded was due to long-term thinkers who held their books, saving them for future reading or passing the books to family or friends to introduce them to the same entertainment they enjoyed. With low-print runs and the disposable entertainment philosophy back in that era, it is no wonder why these vintage comics are currently hard to find and why their prices have steadily increased over the years.
Hit movies such as “Spider Man,” “Hulk,” “Bat Man,” and more recently, “Thor” and “The Green Lantern” have introduced a new excitement to collecting comics. For reasons apparent, Hollywood super hero movies seem to generate enthusiasm to their comic book counterparts. Hit television shows, like “The Big Bang Theory,” have made comic book collecting geeks more popular than sports jocks in today’s times. Also, the fact that super heroes and super villains appear in today’s popular video games has surely contributed to the popularity of comic book collecting. The video game trend has flocked a new generation of collectors towards collecting these graphic novels.
One of the biggest factors of why people were not targeting vintage comics in recent years was the difficulty in readily finding them. During hard times, when collectors or their family members hit economic struggles, one of the first assets they normally sell is their collectibles. This avenue of availability is short-lived, due to the buy-back mentality we have when economic times change to the positive. If a collector or investor acts quickly enough, they may be able to take advantage of the current market’s situation and thereby benefit by finding the vintage comic book deals that they were unable to find during the positive economy.
Whatever the reason for collecting vintage comic books, whether for investment or enjoyment, knowing why and when a market might change can be a valuable asset in making sound decisions when seeking your comic books of choice. Being in a position to take advantage of that situation may lead to finding vintage comic books at prices a downward economy might dictate.