10 Comic Book Investments That Would Have Paid Off
Updated: 6 days ago
We've all heard about how everyone should have invested in Amazon stock 20 years ago, but did you know that certain comic book investments could have also netted millions of dollars? It seems that comic books have caught the eyes of investors and prices have skyrocketed over the past few years. Some comics are selling for exponentially higher prices than they were just 10 years ago. This growth is interesting to see, but it's hard to say if it will continue. We've, however, made a list of comic book investments from the past 20 years that would have completely paid off.
This list provides the lowest recorded (public) sale of a comic book in a certain grade. It then compares it to a comic of the same grade that was sold at a later date to determine the hypothetical return on investment. This helps determine what comic book investments historically had some of the best gains in the past two decades.
Note that we are NOT offering comic book investment advice here. This is simply a look at the historic rise in prices of certain comic books and how they would have been good investments in hindsight. Please don't go investing in comic books based on what you read here. This is simply for entertainment purposes. You should always do thorough research before deciding to invest in comic books (or any collectibles).
If you're looking to sell any of your comics, then know that we buy all comic book collections. We pay cash and travel to you. If you have just a couple of Golden Age comics or 100 boxes of modern comic books, then be sure to give us a call, text, or email. If you're just looking for advice on selling your comics and don't know where to start, then know that we offer completely free, obligation-free advice. We will not offer you advice on investing in comic books, however. That being said, let's get on to our list of the top 10 comic book investments that would have paid off.
Action Comics 1
CGC 5.5 Sold for $120,750 in 2003
CGC 6.0 (Rocket Copy) Sold for $3,180,000 in 2022
Action Comics 1 is one of the most valuable and well-known investment comic books in the world today (it's also very rare). It features the first appearance of Superman and is essentially the beginning of the modern superhero, making it one of the most important comic books of all time. This comic originally sold for 10 cents and while no one could have predicted its multi-million dollar price tag nearly a century later, it was still relatively affordable a couple of decades ago. There's no doubt that this was a great investment comic book 20 years ago as prices were a fraction of what they are today. Action Comics 1 sold for a little less than $121k in 2003, but a copy that is only 1 grade higher sold for 3.18 million dollars (the 3rd highest price realized for a comic), making it a great return on investment (almost a 3 million dollar gain). We've been told by collectors that prices were even lower in the 90s and you could find unrestored copies of Action Comics 1 for around $20k-30k. Tons of 1990s comic book investors purchased hundreds of Valiant comics (which are now worthless). If they just put that money into Action Comics 1, then they would be laughing all the way to the bank today.
Amazing Fantasy 15
CGC 9.6 Sold for $110,000 in 2011
CGC 9.6 Sold for $3,600,00 in 2021
While Action Comics 1 features the first appearance of Superman, we noticed that the character isn't as popular as he was a few decades ago. Spider-Man, however, just keeps gaining new fans and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Enter Amazing Fantasy 15. This comic features the first appearance of Spider-Man and has skyrocketed in value over the past few decades. The highest graded copy (9.6) was barely worth six figures a decade ago, but today it's worth a staggering 3.6 million dollars (a gain of almost 3.5 million dollars). Based on that, we can safely say that this was a profitable investment comic book. This comic currently holds the record for the 2nd highest price realized by an issue, behind Superman 1 (5.2 million dollars). Note that this comic can be tough to find in high grades and there are currently 3 CGC 9.6 copies out there. That being said, Amazing Fantasy 15 is still far from rare with thousands of graded copies on the CGC census.
CGC 8.0 Sold for $57,500 in 2002
CGC 8.0 Sold for $1,200,00 in 2021
Batman 1 features the first appearances of two of the most iconic villains in comic books; the Joker and Catwoman. The comic also lays claim as the first title dedicated to the Dark Knight. Like many of the Golden Age Comics (1938 thru 1956) from this list, this comic is very hard to find unrestored. That being said, a CGC 8.0 sold for $57.5k in 2002, but almost 20 years later, a copy in the same grade sold for a staggering 1.2 million dollars. That isn't the highest price realized for this comic. A CGC 9.4 (the highest-graded copy) recently sold for 2.2 million dollars in 2021. This comic shows us that Batman is one of the most popular heroes in the world today, and we don't see that changing anytime soon.
Captain America Comics 1
CGC 9.4 Sold for $915,000 in 2019
CGC 9.4 Sold for $3,150,000 in 2022
Our next entry features the first appearance of everyone's favorite patriotic superhero, Captain America. It also features the first appearance of his sidekick, Bucky, as well as the villain known as the Red Skull. The comic has a great cover that has Cap punching Hitler, which adds appeal among history collectors. This issue is one of the shortest comic book investments on this list (only 3 years). A CGC 9.4 copy sold for a record-breaking $915k in 2019, which might have sounded like an insane price tag to most. The investment return of over 2 million dollars in 2022, however, speaks for itself. There was not a recorded sale of a 9.4 before 2019, but to put things into perspective, in 2013 a CGC 9.2 sold for only $306k (we're sure that copy is also worth a pretty penny today). Captain America Comics 1 (along with Marvel Comics 1) shows us that Golden Age Marvel/Timely comics are now contenders for some of the most valuable comics in the world as they are very significant and rare.
Detective Comics 27
CGC 7.0 Sold for $492,937 in 2010
CGC 6.5 Sold for $1,740,000 in 2022
Detective Comics 27 features the first appearance of the Caped Crusader, otherwise known as Batman (as well as Commissioner Gordon). This comic is also extremely difficult to find unrestored and has always been a popular investment. A CGC 7.0 sold for under $493k in 2010, which sounds like a steal when compared to the 2022 price tag, and a great return on investment (over 1 million dollars). Don't let the 1.74 million dollar price tag fool you. The market has seen major growth and the copy that sold in 2022 is also 1 grade lower (6.5). Comics like Detective Comics 27 have exploded in price and we're eager to see what prices are like a few years from now. It's hard to say where this comic will stand, but it'll be interesting, to say the least. There are plenty of comic book investors keeping an eye on this book.
Fantastic Four 1
CGC 9.2 Sold for $191,200 in 2013
CGC 9.2 Sold for $1,500,00 in 2022
Fantastic Four 1 is a very significant comic book as it marks the beginning of the Marvel age of comic books. This comic began Stan Lee's legendary run on Marvel and his creation of many of the characters we know and love today (ex: Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, X-Men). That makes this comic book extremely important in the eyes of collectors. This is another comic that has exploded in price over the past few years. Less than 10 years ago a CGC 9.2 sold for about $191k, which sounds like a lot of money. However, when you consider that a copy in the same grade sold for a record 1.5 million dollars, it makes the 2013 copy look like a great investment comic book. At over a 1.3 million dollar increase, we feel safe to say that this was a great return on investment for anyone who held their copies. Note that there are a few copies of Fantastic Four 1 that are graded higher than CGC 9.2. Those will likely sell for even more than the current 1.5 million dollar record holder.
Incredible Hulk 1
CGC 9.0 Sold for $13,600 in 2002
CGC 9.0 Sold for $490,000 in 2022
A relatively low-dollar investment compared to some of the other comic books on this list, this comic book features the first appearance of the Incredible Hulk. This book is generally regarded as one of the tougher Marvel Silver Age mega keys (especially in higher grades), making it easy to see why it would increase in value. The $490k price tag was unprecedented and it shows a great gain from the $13.6k price that it sold for in 2002 (we call that another profitable investment comic book). Incredible Hulk 1 shows that you didn't need to put down 6 figures to get a healthy return on your investment.
Journey into Mystery 83
CGC 9.4 Sold for $43,125 in 2005
CGC 9.4 Sold for $432,000 in 2022
Journey into Mystery 83 features the first appearance of Marvel's Thor and is another Silver Age mega key. 2005 saw a CGC 9.4 sell for $43k at auction, which seemed very high at the time, but comic book investors who played the long game would have made out. This comic book had the price multiply by 10 by 2022 with a strong selling price of $432k (sold through auction). This comic once again shows that Marvel superheroes such as Thor are absolutely on fire and the prices reflect their popularity. We're happy to see such a healthy interest in comic books and always enjoy seeing new collectors enter the market.
Marvel Comics 1
CGC 9.0 (Pay Copy) Sold for $205,000 in 2007
CGC 9.2 (Pay Copy) Sold for $2,427,77.00 in 2022
This example is an interesting one as we have the same copy selling 15 years apart. This "pay copy" of Marvel Comics 1 was graded at CGC 9.0 in 2007 and sold for $205k. It was then regraded (possibly after being pressed) and received a CGC 9.2. That copy then sold in 2022 for a record-breaking 2.42 million dollars. For reference, the "pay copy" came from the Timely offices (Timely was the precursor to Marvel Comics) and has the pay for the artists and staff written on it. This adds some historical significance to the book. While $205k wasn't pocket change in 2007, seeing this book sell for more than 10 times that amount in 2022 shows a great return on investment if the same owner were to have held the book for those 15 years. This comic also shows that sometimes you need to play the long game with certain investments, as the price barely increased by 10 percent in 2010 ($227k).
CGC 8.0 Sold for $170,000? in 1996
CGC 8.0 Sold for $5,300,000 in 2022
Superman 1 is one of two comics that we've put as an honorable mention on our list (X-Men 1 being the other). This is because Superman 1 sold for a record 5.3 million dollars in a private sale (confirmed by CGC), making it the highest price realized for a comic book. The problem is that the CGC 8.0 copy (which is from the Mile High Pedigree collection), was sold way back in the 1990s (through a private sale) before CGC even existed, but the sale was covered by CNN at the time. A lot of the details on this comic, however, remain sketchy and it's hard to say what the book originally sold for. This is why we prefer to mostly use examples from the internet auction period (2001) and up. Superman 1 features the first solo title dedicated to a superhero, making it an obvious investment among comic book collectors.
Suspense Comics 3
CGC 6.5 Sold for $9,858 in 2006
CGC 6.0 Sold for $280,000 in 2022
Suspense Comics 3 has the lowest price gain on our list. However, it also has the lowest money down, when compared to every other comic we've presented here (making for a solid return on investment). This comic book sold for less than 5 figures in 2006, but recently sold at auction for a staggering $280k in 2022 (the grade was also slightly lower for the 2022 copy). We love to see the prices of comics like this increase. It shows that interest isn't waning. Suspense Comics 3 shows that a comic book doesn't have to be the first appearance of a major superhero to grow in value. Sometimes a rare comic book with a classic cover is enough.
CGC 9.8 Sold for $492,938 in 2012
CGC 9.6 Sold for $807,300 in 2021
X-Men 1 is another honorable mention from our investment comic books list. This features the first appearances of the X-Men and Magneto. This comic book is the most common from this list, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. High demand has caused this issue to climb in the past few years. This is partly because of the X-Men joining future Marvel movie projects, but also because Magneto is regarded by many as one of the best Marvel villains. The reason X-Men 1 is only an honorable mention is that a CGC 9.8 sold for slightly under $493k in 2012, while a CGC 9.6 sold for $807k in 2021. This shows that a CGC 9.8 would sell for over 7 figures today if it went up for sale (making for a solid comic book investment). We haven't seen anything up for sale yet, however. We're waiting on the edge of our seats to see what the final price would be.
These past years have seen certain investment comic books skyrocket in value. There is speculation as to the reason why these comics are currently breaking all records, but it's hard to say for sure. While the comics we've listed above have gone up significantly, there are still plenty of books that haven't seen much movement. Some say it's because of new comic book investors entering the market, which in turn has caused major issues to go up in price. If you're wondering why your comics haven't been good investments, then our next part might help in understanding.
Why Aren't My Comics Worth a Million Dollars?
So you have some random 1990s Valiant comics that you find in your closet. You think to yourself that these might be worth some money. You look them up only to find that they're barely worth the paper they're printed on. The big question we always get is why? Why are Valiant comic books from the 1990s worth almost nothing, while comics like Action Comics 1 sell for millions? The answer to this question has a few parts.
The first part boils down to the rarity of a comic book. Valiant comics from the 1990s were printed by the hundreds of thousands. Everyone became comic book investors and bought these issues thinking the books would become the next Action Comics 1, only to realize that the comics would become worthless. If you have hundreds of thousands of copies of an issue out there that are perfectly preserved, then the comic is common. At that point, you need major demand to keep up with the supply, which brings us to our next point.
If a comic is extremely common, then the demand needs to be healthy. A good example would be Incredible Hulk 181. This features the first appearance of Wolverine and while it sells for good money, it's very common. If you go to a local comic con, then you'll probably see a few copies of this book for sale. The reason why such as common comic is worth so much is because there is a major demand for the first appearance of Wolverine, which somewhat negates the supply. The reason for the demand is because everyone loves the Wolverine character, which brings us to our final part.
Demand usually occurs when there is some kind of significance to the comic book. A comic that has the first appearance of a major character will have demand and if it's high enough to beat the supply, then the price will increase. Detective Comics 27 is a good example of a comic book that meets all 3 requirements (rarity, demand, and significance). On the other hand, Valiant's Turok 1 is a comic that meets none of the requirements, making it a dollar bin comic book.
We sometimes get asked if someone should keep some of their low-value comic books in hopes of future price increases. We won't tell you what to do with your comic collection, but historically, a good majority of investment comic books haven't increased in value. Only some issues have proven to be good comic book investments, and it's really up to you to figure out what you think is good to hold. Note that any information we offer on our website is for entertainment purposes only. You should always do your thorough research before buying or selling comic books (or anything).
If you have any comic books you're looking to sell, then know that we're always buying collections. Whether you have an X-Men 1 or boxes of Valiant comics, be sure to give us a call, text, or email. We pay fair prices and travel to you. If you just need advice when selling your collection of comics, then be sure to contact us and we can try our best to point you in the right direction. Just note that we won't offer any advice on investing in comic books and you should always do your research before buying anything collectible.