I get this question a lot. It’s a shame on both ends of the counter. “Sorry your comic book has no value. Wish it did because then I could sell it for more money, too.” I also often get the question, “Which comic book will be worth money?” Long ago I came to the realization that if I tell you a comic book is going to be worth money and I’m wrong, I will lose not only credibility, but a customer as well.
I will give you an example of what investing comics can be like. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to all comic books, as many of them have immense value that often can grow at a decidedly faster rate than products in many other markets. On the other hand, there are many that may never be good for more than personal enjoyment and starting a fire.
Ghost Rider is a moderately known Marvel Comics character. He first appeared in 1972 as a demon-possessed motorcycle stuntman. After an initial test and a subsequent series, “Ghost Rider” came to an end in 1983. The character’s first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #5, which had a cover price of 20 cents, was worth around $25 to $45 by the mid 1980s. It was at best of moderate interest to collectors and it was not difficult to find copies in nearly any condition.
People like to invest in a comic when there is new interest in old characters, so when Marvel relaunched a new “Ghost Rider” series in 1990 based on the previous series, but more modern, it sparked interest in the original character and shot the comic books up in value. Marvel Spotlight #5 jumped up to selling for around $125 to $145. Now, at this point the comic book was 18 years old — not long in terms of comics, but in the early 1990s, comic books were printed in much higher numbers than in the 1970s. Value is almost exclusive to supply and demand, so as the modern “Ghost Rider” sold huge amounts of comics, the limited number of Marvel Spotlight #5 help drive the price up.
While other issues of the “Ghost Rider” comic resale value either dropped or at best leveled off during the run-up to the end of the new version in 1998, that first appearance kept its value. However, as soon as the 2007 film starring Nicholas Cage was announced, it escalated immensely under the hope that the movie would propel Ghost Rider into the A-list of superheroes. That hope blasted the value up to around $1,000 for high-grade copies. Now if you were one of the lucky who bought one on the 1980s and sold it around 2007, you hit the jackpot. However, if you waited until after the film came out, you were a little miffed. On the tail end of the poorly received movie, the value of that same comic book dropped to about $450.
Since that time, nice copies of Marvel Spotlight #5 have sold for as low as $200 and as high as $700.
Now, while with the relative popularity of Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show featuring the Ghost Rider character, you might expect a renewed interest in what is considered the choice comic of all “Ghost Rider” comics, its price range has not budged for several years. It doesn’t help that the incarnation in the show is not based on either of the original two versions, but on the 2013 reboot comic that Marvel produced — one where the character drives a car, not a motorcycle.
Even moderate successes like this do not happen often. Turning a reasonable profit on comic books can be more time consuming than a real job, but you can get lucky.
I have found the best way to collect comic books is to enjoy the collecting process or to acquire them for their entertainment value, not for their cash return. In the end if you are happy with your purchase, then any residual value is a bonus.