Comic books are one of the most versatile and entertaining art forms in existence. Instead of sitting through a movie for two hours or reading a thick book, comics offer heart-pounding entertainment for minutes at a time. Whether you’re reading the amazing adventures of Spider-Man or witnessing a sci-fi/fantasy epic like Saga unfold over time, comic books are cheap yet engaging ways to suspend disbelief and escape to another world.
Some comic books are also highly sought after by collectors. Out-of-print, misprinted, and rare comics can sometimes fetch higher-than-normal asking prices. Notable comics, like first issues of well-known series (Superman, X-Men) sometimes go for millions on an auction block. If a comic is fairly old, in good condition, and in higher-than-normal demand, there’s always that chance that you can get more than the cover price.
Yet not all comics are worth a large sum. Back issues of comics released in the last 30 years are often not worth as much as they were when they were first released. Buying a brand new comic today to make a profit is seldom a good idea, as it’s not particularly hard to find and as in-demand as, say, the first issue of Detective Comics.
So what’s a comic fan to do?
Why, invest in comic book companies, of course! Instead of buying variant covers and Saga #41 misprints on eBay, you could invest in the companies themselves. You could even have a say in their general direction as a shareholder. But where do you start?
Marvel and DC are the two biggest comic book companies in the U.S. by market share.
Most comics sold by subscription or in comic book stores are titles from Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Image, IDW, and Dark Horse Comics also sell large quantities of their respective titles, but nowhere near these two comic giants.
Disney bought Marvel Entertainment, makers of Spider-Man and Iron Man, in 2009 for $4.2 billion.
Disney acquired the company for their characters and the popularity of comic book movies, which they’ve made significantly more popular since. If you want to invest in Marvel Comics, you have to buy stock in Disney ($DIS). The stock sells for $105.80 as of this time, but they’re one of 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, making it a stock market mainstay and a buy for many investors.
DC Comics, home to Batman and Superman,
is a subsidiary of Time Warner, and they’ve been that way for years.
DC makes the comics, and Warner makes the movies based on those comics. Judging by the reception of their recent movies, Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics don’t really communicate well together. They do, however, sell a lot of tickets to said films, as well as millions of comics each month. So if you wanted to actually own stock in Batman, you might consider picking up Time Warner stock ($TWX).
IDW and Platinum Studios are two small yet publicly-traded comic companies.
IDW Publishing is part of IDW Media Holdings. They put out tons of comics based on existing properties, like Transformers and 24. Platinum Studios sells their own, lesser-known titles, like Cowboys & Aliens.Both companies trade publicly on the OTC market (or penny stock market) as $IDWM and $PDOS, respectively.
Should you invest in comic book companies? Though comic fans aren’t always happy with how Disney runs Marvel, they’re still one of the most popular stocks on the market. Warner Bros. is having a hard time getting people to care about their films as much as Marvel’s, but Time Warner’s stock is up significantly in the last year. If you want to invest in comics and avoid taking incredible care of a single issue, these stocks would probably be your best bet.