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2023 was a relatively quiet year in comic books. But 2024 just began with a BANG! befitting of the category.
In 2023, Heritage and ComicConnect delivered only three seven-figure sales between the two auction platforms. In one event - the January Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction - Heritage just matched that total. Three million-dollar sales, with three others punching into the high six-figure range. As starts to the year go, that's a pretty good one.
But it doesn't necessarily portend a red-hot comic book market, nor one in freefall. What do we mean? Let's take a closer look at the results.
The top sale of the event was the $2.34 million result for Superman #1 in CGC 7.0 condition. No doubt a massive price, but it's slightly lower than the $2.60 million realized for the very same book in December of 2021. Then there was All-Star Comics #8, graded CGC 9.4, which sold for $1.50 million. Again, a substantial result, but slightly behind the $1.62 million realized for the same book in June of 2022.
Yes, the results came up short of levels achieved near the height of collectible markets, but the margins were slim, and the sales still crossed $1.5 million. Those outcomes provide little reason to be discouraged. Rounding out the million-dollar club was one of only two copies of Amazing Spider-Man #1 graded CGC 9.8. Given the rarity, there had not been a prior recorded auction sale, but this one sold for $1.38 million, obviously establishing a record for the book.
The "strong result but a bit lower than prior sales" theme recurred sporadically at the high end of the sale, at least where the consigned book wasn't so rare that recent results don't exist. To that point, this event offered myriad desirable consignments near the top of the grading scale for each respective book, and big-ticket sales stacked up despite any potential cannibalization from their simultaneous availability. Those rarities aside, here are some examples that were on theme:
Other books went punch-for-punch with previous highs. Captain America #100, graded an impressive CGC 9.9, sold for $78,000, exactly what the same book sold for in April of 2021. Amazing Spider-Man #1 in CGC 8.5 condition notched its highest result to date at $66,000.Other sales highlight more speculative pockets of the market where hasty buying in 2021 and 2022 has given way to falling values in 2023 and the beginning of 2024. For example:
There were a few bounces off of bottoms there, but you still begin to see similarities to other collectible categories and subcategories where speculation was more rampant. At least at the high end of the market, it seems that type of activity is more limited in comic books than elsewhere, even more limited when you consider the rise of comic art, which continues to command a large proportion of an auction event's first few pages.
There are nuances throughout the market, and you can't judge the market by the gorgeous cover drawn by three million-dollar sales in one event. However, beneath the surface - or once you start flipping pages - the comic book market remains quite capable of generating significant interest, even if it's not still the most golden of ages.
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