The following is a small excerpt from the upcoming Comic Book Master Course.
Before we get into the comparison of stocks, gold and comics, there are four major events that had a very serious effect on comic prices. Look at the appendices and you will begin to see some large jumps in prices over different periods of time that illustrate this.
The first event affecting the comic book hobby was the introduction of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. This was the first serious price guide and is known as the “bible” of the industry. In addition to prices there is a plethora of other information about titles, character, artists, writers, first appearances and more. This information in the hands of collectors allowed prices to increase by leaps and bounds in the early to mid 1970’s. It also gave great publicity and legitimacy to the comic book collecting hobby. People realized comic books may be worth something and changed their storage habits accordingly. This return will be hard to duplicate. The comic book market “matured” after this event becoming an acceptable collectable hobby.
The next major event for the hobby was the introduction of Ernst Gerber’s Photo Journal Guides. These guides displayed photographs of covers for thousands of Golden to Silver Age comics. Many of these covers had not been seen by the majority of collectors creating an “age of discovery” when these lost gems were brought into the public eye. A large group of what could be called “cover collectors” appeared. These collectors are looking for the interesting, detailed, grotesque, and other books that are eye catching. Many books that had been overlooked were suddenly highly sought after, giving a price boost to many. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was Suspense Comics #3 and it’s bondage cover. The “good girl” art genre also saw a jump with this publication, since the covers are usually the most important part for this group of collectors.
The next major event was the arrival of the Comics Guaranty LLC or CGC. The CGC is a professional comic book grading company. A collector or dealer sends their comics to be graded by a team of professionals. The books are inspected for restoration, graded and encapsulated in a plastic case. This professional grading has eliminated many of the disagreements that occurred between buyers and sellers in the past. Now a book is sold with a CGC grade and both parties know what to expect. This change has positively influenced the hobby by increasing the prices realized of many “certified” books and also increasing liquidity.
The arrival of the CGC combined almost perfectly with the final major event, the ubiquity of the Internet. CGC created a third party standard eliminating the fear of the unknown regarding comic book condition and the Internet created a medium to facilitate the exchange of these comic books. The Internet also created a worldwide marketplace that uncovered the real supply of comic books.
Before the Internet comics were purchased at local stores, conventions or through mail order catalogs (which for the most part had no pictures). The limited marketplace helped keep prices for common books in average condition higher than they are now. If you were a collector looking for a specific book, your choices for finding it were limited and once found you usually bought it. The Internet, and more specifically E-bay, created a global marketplace where you can find almost any comic book. This revealed how common and easy to acquire most comic books are, and also revealed the true rarity of many others. The convergence of CGC and the Internet made a drastic shift in comic book prices.