Following our collaboration with Jurassic Coast Comics (JCC) they have kindly written a guest article on a brief history of American comics books and tips on investing in this sector. So with no time to spare, to the Batmobile, let’s go …
"As we’re sure most of you are aware comic books have been entertaining both children and adults alike for decades. Pre-1930s as kids your grandparents would have been reading more traditional literature in the form of hardback annuals and comics came in the form of children’s stories with strong moral undertones featuring the likes of Felix the cat and of course Mickey Mouse.
It was during the 30s and 40s that most of the popular comic book characters we have today began to be formed and crafted – we’re talking Superman here – both figuratively and literally, a BIG hitter. However let’s jump into the various ages that comic book collectors refer to as the Gold, Silver and Bronze ages.
Golden Age – 1938 - 56
The Golden age ushered in a new wave of fictional characters and the beginning of the Superhero era as we know of it today, with household names such as The Flash, Captain America and Batman primarily dreamt up by productions companies Marvel and DC.
Although throughout history there has always been a bad guy for every hero it was during the Golden age that we first encountered the ‘supervillain’ as we came to lovingly know them with characters such as Doctor Nitro and Black Streak. The superheroes (such as Submariner and Human Torch) were also created to match up perfectly against their adversaries leading to a fair and thrilling fight.
Silver Age – 1956 - 70
It was during this period that the concept of comic books having an intrinsic value came into play. “Now where the hell did I put that detective comics #27?” and “Jeez mum why did you throw away my Action #1?” (which just happened to be the first appearance of Superman) were common outrages from their previous owners. The acknowledgement of both rarity and scarcity with comic books led to a collectables market that began to flourish during this period. This age, however, was arguably one of the best for new superhero characters and excellent stories with the introduction of the Fantastic Four and Spiderman (RIP – Stan Lee).
Bronze Age – 1970 - 85
It was during this age that most comic producers, especially Marvel, made sure they were maxing out their profit channels and began to not only launch a plethora of new comic books but also expand into cartoons, tv shows and trading cards … hooking in that generation of kids.
It was also an interesting period as it coincided with the time of the ‘Baby Boomers’ of the 1930’s and 40’s. This audience – now mid-aged – would look fondly back on their adolescence and long to get their hands back on their childhood; this time with the expenditure to do so. As such the collector’s market for Silver and Gold Age comics exploded resulting in comic book collectors hoarding rare copies and demanding a fortune to let them go.
How to invest in the Modern Age?
Comics continue to play an important role in both kids and adult lives. Although the 90’s were a little slow for comics all the movie hype (thanks to CGI) over the last decade has led to a resurgence in comic book characters … which has had a knock-on effect on the prices. Here’s an example to back this up, in the 90’s a Hulk #181 would have cost between £80-£150, now (thanks to it being a well hoarded comic) it can go from £2,500 to £20,000 depending on the condition … some serious profit there!
So what can you do to start investing in comics? Well, if the comics mentioned in the ages above are out your reach then we recommend you invest in comic books whose main protagonist has yet to make a movie debut. From New Mutants to Deadpool there have been recent movie launches that have helped a comic book's popularity… and are a fraction of the cost of some other superhero comics we mentioned previously. It’s also worth looking out for comic books which have a cameo of another superhero i.e. in Hulk #181 mentioned above we saw the first appearance of Wolverine, which helped to increase its value.
One other tip is looking out for small idiosyncrasies on certain comic books. Take a look at the image here, as you can see it’s the same comic edition but on one there is a newsstand bar code which does not appear on the other … this makes it considerably more valuable due to its rarity.
A final note from Jurassic Coast Comics is to a) store your comics properly B) keep an eye out for the next big thing and C) enjoy them … end of the day they are there to entertain 😊
Check out our range of comic books for sale and we certainly recommend perusing Jurassic Coast Comics selection on our collectable page.