What Makes Comic Books so Valuable? (Mania.com)

By:Mike Parker
Date: -
Source: Valuing Comic Books


Comic books are huge. A look at some of the top grossing movies of the last decade will prove their appeal to a wide audience. But more than simply being a popular pastime, some people are turning to collectible comic books as an investment medium. Like other collectible items such as sports trading cards, movie memorabilia and works of art, the value of the underlying commodity lays primarily in the eye of the beholder.


Many people began collecting comic books while still children or adolescents. The initial impetus for collecting them is pure enjoyment of the stories and art work. Many avid collectors are also some of the genre's biggest fans. As the collector grows, the idea that her collection might actually be worth significant money to other collectors can be a powerful incentive to understand standard methods of comic book valuation.

Expert Insight

The first and foremost factor in determining the value of a comic book is to determine its authenticity. Like great works of art and $100 bills, counterfeiters can make extraordinarily good copies that can fool most lay people and some professionals. If you are considering spending a substantial amount of money for a rare and valuable comic book, it is always a good idea to have it authenticated by an expert.

Significant Events

The popularity of the character will drive the value of a comic book, as will major plot changes and significant events in the life of the story. While a #1 issue of a particular comic may be valuable, the issue that introduces a popular character could be even more valuable. For instance, Detective Comics #1, which debuted in 1937, is not considered by collectors to be worth as much as Detective Comics #27, which came out 2 years later. The reason -- Batman was introduced in Detective Comics #27.


The age of the comic will play a role only if the underlying comic book has an avid following. As a general rule, a newer issue of a popular comic will fetch more on the open market than an older issue of a less popular comic. However, older issues of comic books tended to have shorter print runs than contemporary titles, adding to their scarcity. This will add to the value of a comic book. But more basic to the value of a comic book than age, popularity and scarcity is the condition of the comic book. Like trading cards and coins, comic books can be graded as Mint and Near Mint, Very Fine, Fine, Very Good and Good, or Fair and Poor.

Supply and Demand

As with all investments, the primary determiner of the value of a comic book is the basic principle of supply and demand. Comic books have no inherent value -- they are paper and ink -- and their only value lies in what someone is willing to pay to own them.