Stocks, Mutual Funds, IRAs — and Comic Books?

Asking clients if they have a collection of vintage comics may yield cash in their attic.

By Vincent Zurzolo

Today’s retirees may have a secret: They kept stuff from childhood — stuff that today may be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, including comic books. And you won’t know unless you ask them.

Today’s 70-year-olds were tweens or teens during what is known as the Silver Age of comic books (1956-1969). That memorable period saw a boom in Marvel Comics titles:

  • “Amazing Spider-Man #1” (1963)
  • “Amazing Fantasy #15,” the first appearance of Spidey (1962)
  • “Fantastic Four #1” (1963)
  • “X-Men #1” (1963)
  • “Avengers #1”(1963)

Each of these issues in good condition is worth its weight in gold. For example, we sold the second-highest graded copy of “X-Men #1,” in near-mint condition, for $872,000. This is the highest price an X-Men comic has ever sold for in the history of comic collecting.

Decades of possibilities

Currently, we have a few copies of “Amazing Spider-Man #1” listed on ComicConnect.com for tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, if a client is lucky enough to sell such a treasure, the IRS will want its cut. More on that in a bit.

Comics from the Golden Age (1938-1956) are even more valuable. We recently sold one of the most expensive comics ever brought to market, “Action Comics #1,” with the first appearance of Superman, for $3.5 million.

Vincent Zurzolo in his Manhattan office
Vincent Zurzolo in his Manhattan office

It’s possible your client’s stash is left from their now-grown children, and even those are worth a look. Generally speaking, comics become collectible when they reach about 30 years of age, so there are many valuable comics from the 1970s and 1980s. Incredible Hulk 181 from 1974 showcases the first full appearance of Wolverine and can sell for over $100,000.

Another factor in collectability is whether a character has gone on to cinematic fame. Characters like Black Panther (first appearance 1966), Deadpool (1983) and Harley Quinn (1993) have found new interest among collectors because of their hit movies.

And it’s not just superheroes that are collectible. Besides Superman and Batman, Archie, Donald, Mickey and Little Lulu also entertained many kids. Many of these early issues from the 1940s are worth five and six figures.

Homework tips

If you find you have a client with a potentially valuable comic book collection, here are some tips to help get them started on researching valuations and finding a market.

  • Don’t underestimate condition. Clients should familiarize themselves with the 10-point grading scale for comic books and other collectibles, which ranges from .5 (poor) to 10 (gem/mint). A rare Golden Age comic, however, even in so-so condition, can still be valuable.
  • Research values. Check the “sold” section of ComicConnect.com, or other sources such as the Overstreet Price Guide,  GPAnalysis.com and GoCollect.com. On eBay, clients may find one of their comics is worth $5 or $10 — a pretty good return when you consider the books cost 25 cents or 50 cents. Those $10 comic books can add up.
  • Protect the assets. Potentially valuable books should be stored in acid-free mylar bags with acid-free backing board.
  • Work with an established broker to find the best buyers.Ask potential brokers about their experience in the market, their sales history, how long they’ve been around and whether there are particular titles they’re interested in.

As a financial professional, you should be sure to inform clients of the tax implications of a sale of a collectible, which is treated as long-term capital gains when owned for more than a year. The maximum tax rate for collectibles is 28%, plus any applicable state taxes.

A client may think they have nothing of value because they don’t collect artwork, jewelry or cars. But they may just be sitting on a pile of comic books that could bring a handsome return.

Vincent Zurzolo, a comic book fan since boyhood, is president and co-owner of ComicConnect.com, the premier online marketplace for comic books and pop culture collectibles. His company was the first to sell a comic book for $1 million. In 2021, ComicConnect.com was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for having achieved eight sales of $1 million or more. Reach Vincent at 888-779-7377 or vincentz@comicconnect.com.

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