Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is original comic book art recession proof?

With all indicators pointing to the United States being in a economic recession, it's time to tighten your belt and start pinching pennies says traditional logic. But with original comic book art still flying off eBay at skyrocketing prices, maybe this is a sign we are already there. Don't agree? Hear me out.

When the Fed lowers key interest rates, they want us to spend more money. This subtle push is to keep the economy running, get people out buying and using they cash rather than investing it in a bank (and get some interest from it). Money stops circulating otherwise. But non-traditional investments, including collectibles such as comics, sport cards, original art, even movie memorabilia, tend to appreciate more during these times due to the high amount of quality items on the market (ie. those trying to sell to raise more cash) and so bargains can be had. I don't know off hand how many Kirby pieces were sold in the last month or two, but those blue-chip type pieces sold easily and often, and raised a lot of $$$ for their previous owners. It also made for great investments for those seeking an "in" to sought-after and rare gems of the original comic book underground. We can't forget that investing in original art also still probably has a higher rate of return than many domestic funds, and actually are relatively low risk, unless you buy something you don't like in the first place (Buy art you love).

It's not uncommon to see more than 20 bids and realized prices more than $4k for original artwork from the 70s-80s-90s, including gems from BWS, Romita, Miller, Byrne, McFarlane, and others. But I don't recall in recent history many Jim Lee (90s, early 2000s) hitting above that number. But did you catch that Hush splash selling for $6500.00 the other day? And I thought those art prices were artificially inflated when they first were sold into the market. Maybe the hype has caught up with the (limited) supply, and demand is finally coming around. Or people like that art more than their run on All-Star B&R. With that in mind, I still think Lee/Williams Uncanny X-Men have room to appreciate in my opinion. That time in X-history was significant, and really hooked many folks onto comics (including me), maybe starting to cement comics as a legit medium for story-telling as well. And then others will say that Image and the multiple cover syndrome killed any momentum it had. But you gotta admit that there have been many many comic book related movies since those 90s. I can't think of any core titles that hasn't had a movie yet, other than Justice League, and that's coming soon.

If we are in a recession, will you buy more original comic book art, OR are you selling?

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