Tens of thousands of costume-clad characters will gather starting Thursday in San Diego for Comic-Con International.
The annual four-day convention that celebrates comic books and pop culture is one of the largest shows in the world, attracting 167,000 attendees in 2015, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The interest in the event and graphic novels is growing, fueled by the proliferation of film and television adaptations. The overall value of comic book and graphic novel U.S. shipments in 2016 rose 3% to $388 million, Kidscreen reported.
Are you pumped for Comic-Con?
Some comics may be extremely valuable — DC Comics Inc.'s Action Comics No. 1 in which Superman makes his first appearance in 1938 sold for $3.2 million in 2014 — but most are almost worthless. Comics that are older, are signed by an artist or writer, feature first appearances of characters and are of decent quality according to the Certified Guaranty Company, an independent authority that grades comic books submitted for auction, have higher value.
But chances are most of the comics hiding packed away in old boxes of peoples' homes are from the 1980s and '90s, the heyday of comic sales when books flooded the market as speculation over their value grew. So much saturation decreased the value of the books no matter their chromium covers or special editions.
Here are several categories of comic books that might appear like they could have value but are worth less or not much more than their original price.
Superman No. 1 Millennium Edition, 2000
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $495
At the turn of the 21st century, DC Comics, now owned by Time Warner Inc. (TWX) , reprinted key issues from its history that featured the first appearances of popular characters and the beginnings of significant story lines. Each issue had a gold foil logo on the cover and a description on the inside about why it was significant. The reprints, however, do not live up to today's value of the originals.
Superman vs. Wonder Woman Collectors' Edition, 1977
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $249
DC Comics published this series from 1972 to 1978. They were mostly reprints in a tabloid-size book, though some, such as the Superman vs. Wonder Woman comic, had original content. Reprints, however, are not only less valuable, but they also increased the amount of comics in the market, devaluing older comics, as well.
Conan the Barbarian No. 15 Treasury Edition, 1977
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $60
Batgirl #1 Rebirth, 2016
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $3.99
Even that Comic-Con exclusive cover probably will sell for bupkes. Comic book publishers began printing books with different cover artwork in the 1980s during the boom of comic speculation. Knowing that some collectors wanted every issue that featured a certain character, the variants expanded the selection, but also helped flood the market.
Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special No. 1, 2009
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $9.99
DC Comics announced last year that it was bringing back its publication of holiday issues. The tradition began in the 1930s and '40s but has come and gone as the decades have passed, according to CBR.com. Despite being considered a special, there is nothing particularly special about many of the comics' resale value.
Avengers/JLA No. 2, 2003
Highest Price on eBay (as of 07/18/17): $64,000
By virtue that comics published from 1992 to the present are newer and easier to find, that makes them less valuable. Additionally, the market exploded in the late 1990s, saturating the market and devaluing the books more than ever before.