The answer comes down to three things.
- What is your motivation for buying comic books?
- What is your emotional attachment to that comic book?
- Could you sell your entire collect this very moment?
Before you read my opinion on the various types of Collectors, I have a favor to ask. At some point while reading this, you may start thinking what a Dick I Am. Before you rip me a new one in the comments, think of the various Comic Book fans you know, you've seen in your Local Comic Book Store (LCS) or especially at the cons.
The Different Types of Comic Book Collector
They started buying when they were growing up. They probably still have most of them. They may still buy a few comics here and there. They love to go to all of the comic related movies. They don't really spend a lot of time at their Local Comic Store, preferring to buy comics at bookstores or online. In some cases, they may just focus on Graphic Novels since it's easier to read a completed Story Arc than trying to hunt down each issue. The casual plays an important part in the industry. Trade's are a great second revenue source for the industry and help to keep it profitable. It also lends a bit of credibility to the industry with the NY Times tracking the best selling Trade Paperbacks.
You know the type. Comic Books were meant to be read, not graded and slabbed! They live and breath comic books. With a high emotional attachment, they scoff at the idea of ever selling their collection. I've ran into a few Fanboy's who get ticked at the idea that you want to make a little money off of "their" hobby. Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that the Fanboy exists. They are the steady cash flow that keeps the industry going. Without them, we wouldn't continue to see quality comic's being released each month. Heck, most serious Investors probably see me as a Fanboy the way I've held on to my own collection.
The Flipper holds no emotional attachment to their purchases other than the High of making a quick buck. Fast turn around is the hallmark of the Flipper's strategy. They are always the first at their LCS on Wednesday's so they can go through the new stacks of the latest issue. They're more interested in how the corners look, if there are any color breaks in the spine or any other blemishes on the comic. They go through every single issue to find the best copies. They buy all of the hot issues, immediately selling them online while driving the prices above cover price for unslabbed "reader" copies. This last part is why I really believe Fanboy's can't stand people who Flip Comic Books. But, the flipper has their place. They help drive up sales of current issues that benefit the industry creating profitable windfalls from time to time. They are also a part of the hype machine the industry taps into to keep the Fanboy's revved up.
The Speculator is the most high risk of all the Collectors. The Flipper is in it for a quick buck, but the Speculator has more emotional attachment to their purchases. Their strategy is to buy a lot of different comics under the impression that the value will increase over time or due to a specific event including a major motion picture, a television series or even some significant part in a later story arc. The danger of being a Speculator is that you have to pay attention to the timing of this significant event and must be willing to sell at the exact right moment. If you miss that moment, then you may find yourself back where you started.
The investor is a lot rarer than you believe. They do not buy into the hype of the Flipper and they are more focused than a Speculator. The current price doesn't matter as much as the potential return on investment. A Comic Books Investor is interested in the rarity of the Comic Book, the Pop Culture Value of the Character and what type of profit they can make down the road. Yes, they have a high emotional attachment to their comics, but they are focused on real Key Issues, The Holy Grail issues if you will, because they will make a larger profit in the long run. Amazing Fantasy #15 is a great example of the type of Comic Book Investment they are looking to make. Even at a low grade, it's not a cheap comic and yet it's still considered a Holy Grail issue that is highly sought after. The great part of Investing in Amazing Fantasy #15 is the higher the value of the top grade increases, the more they pull the lower grade value's up with them. Even a graded 1.0 will raise in value.
If you made it this far, I would love to hear what type of Collector you are? Even if you disagree with my assessment of the different type of Comic Book Collectors, Tell me your thoughts in the Comments Section.