Today’s market of collectibles and its buyers are not as wild and monetarily affluent as they were in the 1960s and ’70s. It may be a long time before the market is that good again
All facets of collecting still have participants ranging in interest from mild to avid, but all collectors have become more cautious, seeking very good to average savings on their purchases.
A few particular fields of collecting are more readily sought after than others, furniture, stoneware, and jewelry, to mention a few.
Comic book collectors are a slow but steady group. They may not purchase very much at a time, but they always return.
Every time the prices of older comic books rises, I think of the hundreds my Mother purchased during WWII to send overseas to family members and other service men she corresponded with – 10 of each, of two or three characters a week. She had also bought at least one each before the war.
Rarest of rare.
At one time I had two No. 1 Superman and Captain Marvel comic books. Those, too, however, ended up in the South Pacific. Now they would bring enough to buy a new car.
Comic books are not just for kids. Adult collectors provide a very avid market.
Youngsters are still the most active collectors, acquiring comic books like they accumulate baseball cards. But the usually buy new issues as they are released.
Back issues are where the serious collectors are separated from the comic book reading audience. Many adults are seeking issues they possessed when they were young, in the same way the seek some older articles and toys. The area of interest in comics also depends on the age of the person.
For some time some older comic books have been considered by many as classics, therefore prices are governed accordingly. For the rarest, supply and demand can place them in the investment category.
Comic book collecting has slowly grown in popularity, so much so that some baseball card dealers have set cards aside and are placing comics as their main interest. This comic book fad is rather new, only a decade or so. Therefore comics of early issues can often be low in price, considering new issues are around two dollars each.
The first comic books were similar in art and text to the Sunday comics.
In the 1920s they were printed in book form and distributed as a promotional article.
Dell Publishing Company and Max Gaines issued Famous Funnies No. 1, the first to appear for sale at newsstands. It sold for 10 cents. Famous Funnies No. 2 became the first to appear monthly.
In 1937, a comic book I remember well, Detective Comics, was the first to incorporate a single-theme. The letters “D.C.” came to represent National Periodicals, which remains one of the largest and most popular publishers. This company published two of the favorite 1938-1939 heroes – Superman in Action No. 1, and Batman in Detective Comics No. 27.
The so-called Golden Age of Comics was introduced with Action Comics, which lasted until the post-WWII era, when the Silver Age began in 1956.
The Comic Code.
In 1954 a United States Senate subcommittee investigated the allegation that comics were detrimental to young minds, and a “Comic Code Authority” voluntarily agreed to do away with comics that had crime and tales of horror in them.
“Pre-Code” comics became more collectible and went up in price. Some comics have changed their format in order to by-pass the Comic Code.
In 1962 Marvel Comics introduced their famous super-heroes – Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, etc.
While supply and demand regulates the pricing of all collectibles, there are price guides that dealers or others and the general public usually base their prices on.
Suggested prices can be as follows: Adventure Comics No. 103, 1946. $170; Batman 1944, No. 23, $70; Captain Marvel, No. 53, 1946. $10; Man from U.N.C.L.E. No. 20, $2; Lassie, Dell, 1955, $5; Red Ryder, No. 14, 1943, $20; Red Ryder, No. 118, 1953, $5.
These last two are examples of how the age of comics can influence the price. And not that Man from U.N.C.L.E. at $2 is what many of today’s comics sell for.