Over the last few weeks I have jumped in headfirst to researching the value of comic books around the time of a TV show premiering. I have spent way too much time crunching the numbers but it has educated me on the investment proposition on speculative comic books. Here is what I found out.
A comic book increases in value as soon as a TV show is announced. This tends to be two to three years before the show will air. Production takes forever for these types of shows as they involve superheroes and complex plot lines. Back in November 2013 Marvel and Netflix signed a multi year deal to air four popular Marvel characters in their own TV show – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Daredevil didn’t come out until April 10th, 2015. Jessica Jones came out on November 20th, 2015. Both Iron Fist and Luke Cage have yet to premiere.
If you know about a comic book coming to TV before it is announced you can quickly double your money with smart investments. That said, almost no one knows with 100% certainty that a TV show is going to be green lighted. It may also be the case that you buy the comic books only to find the show falls through and there are no buyers. Since most people do not work for major production companies we can accept that the first jump is luck of the draw.
The only real investment opportunity is to purchase between the production announcement and the airing of the pilot or first episode. From my research, a comic book will spike shortly after a TV contract has been announced. Let’s look at Preacher #1. You could have purchased Preacher #1 CGC 9.6 for around $220 prior to the AMC show being confirmed. As soon as the show was confirmed prices shot up to around $400 to $450 for Preacher #1. This was in the middle of 2015. Since then, prices have fallen back to around $350 to $375.
This is common for almost all comic books that become TV shows. After the initial interest and speculators gobbling up copies there are no more buyers. Only the most diehard fans would even consider making a purchase at these inflated prices. It would not surprise me to see Preacher #1 CGC 9.6 fall back to $325 or so before the show premieres.
The best time to sell is the week of the premiere. A great case study is Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones premiered on Netflix on November 20th, 2015. Three months prior to the premiere Alias #1 (First appearance of Jessica Jones) CGC 9.8 copies sold for between $190 and $220. One lucky eBay bidder grabbed it for $155.35. The week of November 20th, 2015 the sold prices were as follows:
This is a quick 75% gain and there were plenty buyers at this price point. Many have asked, what happens months after the show comes out? Unfortunately, they come back to reality. The latest prices for Alias #1 CGC 9.8 have been between $240 and $260. Note that Jessica Jones has been an extremely successful show which is not guaranteed with other TV shows which has likely kept the price above the buy point three months prior to the premiere.
Let’s take a quick look at Daredevil. Daredevil premiered on April 10th, 2015 so we should first look at prices of Daredevil #1 CGC 7.0. Three months prior to the premiere these copies were selling for around $2000 to $2200. The week of the premiere copies were selling for $2900 to $3200. Note that at this price point there are not nearly as many buyers on eBay but you could still have gotten a 30%+ return on a three month investment.
An even better example is Daredevil #1 CGC 5.0. These issues are more affordably priced. Three months prior to the premiere you could purchase this copy for around $1000. The week of the premiere the prices of this issue were $1499, $1580 and $1580. This comic book has maintained its value as it is going for around $1600 today. Remember that Daredevil was the most watched TV show in Netflix history though. That is not guaranteed with other shows coming out.
Some people have asked, what if the TV show is terrible? It doesn’t matter. Your goal is to buy three months before the premiere and sell the week of the pilot. You should have unloaded your copies before the majority of people have even seen the first episode.
My estimate is you can get around a 30% gain with the potential for a 75% gain if you can find the correct price point and scarcity of a comic book. A great investment right now is Preacher #1. CGC 9.6 copies are around $375 and CGC 9.8 copies are around $800. This means 9.6 copies will be going around $525 and 9.8 copies will be $1100 when the show premieres in May or June of 2016.
It looks like the return on investment is higher for the price range between $200 and $500. You can make more money on the higher priced comic books but you are not going to get as high of a return. This makes sense as most collectors are not going to shell out $1500 on a comic book right as it is premiering on TV. They either already have their copy or will wait for the fervor to cool down.
Basically, the week of the TV show, you should have had your comic book for at least three months. You should list it on eBay for 30% to 40% higher than the price you purchased it. If you are truly ambitious and you think the show is going to be extremely popular you might want to consider listing it for 50% to 75% more than the purchase price.
Hopefully this helps!