How I Made
~ Now $10 Million ~
After twenty years investing in everything from the stock market, to collectibles, I can say that the greatest reward, personally and financially, has come from the investment in comic books. I had been an avid reader of comics as a kid and continue to this day. I can remember back in 1955 as a ten year old buying two identical issues of Uncle Scrooge for the first time. "The second one could be traded for an issue I may not possess." I reasoned.
I loved Scrooge. The stories transported me into exotic far-away places in search of fabulous treasure and great adventures. I reasoned that anyone who felt as strongly as I did about these wonderful stories would never sell a treasured comic, but could be induced to trade. I had traded 45 rpm records in this manner with a neighborhood peer, so it all made sense to me. My precious box of Scrooges were stored carefully under my bed apart from the thousands of others stashed in the closet.
This great passion, and the stacks of comics, were forgotten as I packed up and headed for college in order to study art. Years later I happened to pick up an Overstreet guide and I was fascinated that prices could be attached to old comics. I began a quest of buying up my favorite titles that had been thrown out by mom. After a year or so of this, it became apparent to me that the prices of comics rose quite steadily, much more so than stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or anything considered respectable. I dabbled in many varied investments often trading as much as $100,000 a day on the stock market. I did well with all of my investments, often using intricate strategies to earn profits.
I had paid my dues with the Wall Street crowd, now it was time to leave them in my dust. I began a strategy of buying up new comics from a distributor at the rate of 1000 comics or more each month. I picked them in the same manner as I did stocks. If it looked like a winner, I bought heavily usually 100 to 500 of a single issue. Comics were still cheap in the seventies such that $15 could purchase 100 comics. My "retirement investment plan" was in high gear with a mere $150 a month investment.
I incorporated several basic philosophies into my investment of comics, some of which I had learned so well from Wall Street. Rule number one in the quest to "buy low and sell high" was to never follow the crowd. Comics fit that format. Absolutely no one was buying comics as an investment. Comic dealers, of course, were somewhat aware that money was to be made by buying low and selling high on a daily basis, but few were really holding on for the long term.
There is a major difference between a dealer and an investor that I had always kept foremost in my mind. Dealers make money by holding back books for a short period, and then selling when the price of a book goes up a few dollars. This works well and pays the overhead, but an investor simply buys and holds as long as the investment is performing well. In 1981, I purchased five each of the first four lithographs by Carl Barks directly from the publisher. This struck me as a great investment. My childhood favorite, Uncle Scrooge was depicted on a sailboat with Donald and his nephews. I could hang the litho on the wall and enjoy my investment as it went up in value. The twenty lithos cost me $3,600 and carry a current value well over $50,000.
One of my investment strategies, "Always buy quality" worked well for me. I stayed with the best comic characters, writers, and artists. My art degree was always at work for me with these decisions. I could sniff out talented artists long before anyone else and buy up large quantities of issues that would soon be in demand. I liked Dave Stevens, for example, and the whole Rocketeer world he had created. These issues were somewhat worthless until the movie came out nearly ten years later. I've enjoyed watching the careers of many talented writers and artists over the years and will be rewarded for investing in their published works. I never lost a penny in the black and white craze in the eighties, because I didn't see quality work.
Another type of quality that was apparent to me from the very beginning was the condition of the books I was buying. When I bought #1 issues of Spiderman or X-Men, I made sure I possessed the best copies available. In the late seventies, those sitting on "good condition books" watched as prices plummeted while the better paper held steady. Collectors have money and always want the very best. Bargain hunters, (who don't have the money) will never pay much for anything. This accounts for the ever widening gap between the common place "good" and "mint."
"Trading up to higher quality" was another important strategy. I had decided that I would invest in artist, Frank Miller in the early 70's. However I felt that perhaps I was late in discovering this talented artist as I didn't have any Daredevil 158's (or much else). Daredevil was just beginning to bloom with the Eletra issues 181 at a nearby comic shop. I inquired as to whether any of the earlier Daredevil issues were on stock and the dealer said he had a couple of hundred including around thirty of the 158's. "Sorry buddy. They're not for sale at any price. Frank's going to be hot soon."
Customers were standing at his counter clamoring for the current 181 with money in their hands. He was out of stock and customers were threatening to go down the street to his competitor. I told him I had a couple of hundred 181's in the trunk and would give him those and $50 for the whole lot. Being a dealer (a bird in hand...) he took the offer and three months later I was sitting on a collection valued at several thousand green ones.
From the very first day of investing in comics, everyone had been warning of the end of comic Dom and how risky it was to be an investor. Everyone who sold me comics felt lucky to sell just before the big coup de gras. In retrospect, comics were the second best investment of the eighties (baseball cards were number one). The traditional respected investments, stocks, bonds, and money markets followed far behind and real estate had gone bust!
Of course it's far easier to pick up the phone as you reach retirement and ask your stock broker to sell those dusty issues of General Motors that did very little over the many years. I'm rather proud that I didn't follow the crowd and made about 100 times more than all the rest. I'll be cashing out my investment for some time over the internet . It's a little more work, but I enjoyed the ride. Thank you Carl Barks for making the dream to become a millionaire for a ten year old kid, come true.
Copyright © 2000 Reynold Jay
If you are interested in retiring wealthy, as I have, read Born To Be Rich and begin acquiring the wealth that has always belonged to you. Most anyone can have fun becoming wealthy by simply following a few simple guidelines. For example, if you like to read (including comics) why not turn your passion into an endeavor that will end up placing great wealth in your pockets? Purchasing comic books at low prices can be that beginning. It worked for me and it can work for you too.
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Begin Your Internet Comix Shop
Star Wars #1 was distributed 3 months before the Star Wars Movie came out. The poor timing caused most comic collectors and film fans to miss out on the first printing which was long gone when the epic sci-fi film reached the screens. I knew little about the movie when I placed an order for 200 of these at 15 cents each. My only feeling was that the premise ran counter to everything that was occurring in the media at the time." Never run with the crowd," is an important investor premise that paid off well in this case. Market value is $60-$70. Why not enjoy a copy before the next round of Lucas classics drive the prices higher.
remember the excitement of discovering Todd McFarlane with Amazing Spiderman 298!
By the time issue 300 had hit the stands I was buying up bushels of these early
issues from dealers for 25 cents. I always inquired while I bought out dealers
of McFarlane ASM issues, " Is this issue selling well?" Most often the
response was one of disinterest.
It was kind of incredible... like everyone around was blind. These issues all headed for the 25 cent bin and no one wanted them! Market price for the the #300 in 2022 is $6,000.00!
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How I Made Nearly Ten Million $$$ with Comic Books
(And writing novels)
~ Update 2022 ~
~ Nearly 2 decades later ~
Let’s talk about taking something bad and turning it into something good. At the time I sold 16mm films to collector’s all over the USA including John Wayne, and others for a few years. I would purchase films from photo shops that wished to dispose of the inventories in a quick sale. I published a monthly catalog of films that I had on stock and did well. I had a friend who worked in a television station and one day he proudly showed me a VHS recorder and we both determined that this was the future. I realized that my film collecting business would be a thing of the past and headed to a film convention in Wisconsin. I liquidated everything and raised around $6,000. The sale was a “wash.” Everything was sold at cost. The $6,000 was the left-over of nearly ten years of buying and selling films.
The IRS informed me they wanted nearly everything I owned. Their position was that I had stolen the films and I owed them a ton of money—everything I had...The accountant told me he presented the hard data that showed the merchandise was bought and paid for and he told me the agent threw it on the floor and marched out in a fit. After a year or so of this I decided I did not need this on my agenda and decided to give them everything they wanted.
I went into a three day depression and made an important life-changing decision. The $6,000 sales cost me $20,000 (fines for fighting them for 2 years). It was a financial disaster that left me nearly penniless; however, I had a string of confection stores with thirty employees that was doing well, a good teaching job, and I was a local celebrity with my musical group.
I knew I would recover quickly and the $20,000 would be little more than a memory. I did not wish to have assets laying around ever again that could be seized by the IRS and reasoned that they would have little interest in comic books stashed away in a warehouse. Nope, they could care less about comic books!
I had an art background, a college degree in art, and I reasoned that the good artists and writers of the day would be what collectors would treasure decades later.
I embarked upon a program of purchasing five-hundred dollars worth of comics a month... a rigorous program of purchasing thousands of comics directly from distributors in the same manner as any comic shop. While the comic shops routinely sold the comics, I stashed them away in a climate controlled warehouse. Nope—this was a buy-and-hold program. Retirement.
My first purchase was 200 Star Wars #1. The expense was nineteen cents per book and the total for the 200 was $38. I purchased 200 of each issue of this series for many years. I did the same with anything that had good prospects for selling 2 decades--4 decades later.
I followed artists like John Byrne, Jim Lee, Frank Miller--the list goes on.
My original plan was to open a comic shop during retirement and I did purchase a live-in retail property. My wife ran a bridal boutique on the property while I counted off the years....
Something wonderful occurred.
Then eBay opened up a world of international collector’s as never before. I was not yet ready to sell in a big way. I envisioned selling the books for $2 or $3 each which would have been a wonderful return on investment. Then I remember an epiphany moment reading the Comic Buyer’s Guide that collectors’ were going wild with prices on certified books.
Toss out the rule book...
My wife and I sold the retail property at a big profit and I sold books from my web site and eBay from that moment. Most books brought in $100 and more. I was the distributor to the entire world of Star Wars comics, for example. The #1 now trades around $6,000. ($1.2 Million)
How does this add up to ten million bucks? I have been selling around $100,000 a year for twenty years ($2 million) and have another 10 million or more on hand if sold out today. I have no plans to sell it all. I would rather pass it along as a legacy to my loved ones. I imagine the value will double and triple in the next decade.
Can this plan work today? Probably not. It is a very different marketplace than it was in 1977.
Do I purchase comics now? No—I gave up purchasing in 1994.
Is there a lesson to be learned here?
Do not let something bad bring an end to your endeavors. Learn from it and move on. The $20,000 taken from me by IRS agents in 1977 looks paltry in retrospect. In fact, it could be said that I very likely would not be a millionaire today had this event not occurred. This is but one event in my life that created great wealth for me. I mention this as I wish everyone could read my book “Born to Be Rich” and “How to Think Small for Big Profits” and see how they can create great wealth for themselves.
I spent my free-time 2011-2019 writing novels that did well in the international marketplace. My goal with every book project was to write something well above the norm—something exceptional in every way. I won a number of writer awards and was considered to be a writer’s writer. Writing soon turned to publisher which is assisting writers in marketing their books. I have written and published an eight-part children’s series called The Wurtherington Diary. The current endeavor is to turn the books into films much like Marvel turned all its popular characters into the largest film company in the world. ( That was it's plan from the beginning).
What does one do with all the money rolling in?
Answer: Make investments( never sit on cash)
Here is a property on Lake Cecil purchased for my favorite niece and family.
I can look back and see that I employed the very advice given in the books and did well. More than that I can say I never “worked” in the sense that most think of it. I often tell others that I am a child trapped in a grown man ‘s body. I have done nothing but “PLAY” all my life. It has been a wild ride indeed!
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