Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rare Comics for Auction: Investing in Four-Color Dreams

Above: The Adventures of Buck Rogers #1 (1936), the first Buck Rogers comic published in Australasia.

This coming Labour Weekend a rare collection of comics will be going under the hammer at Webbs Auction House.

'The Tom Mackie Collection' represents one man's life-time of comics collecting, with a focus on Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and the art of it's creator, Alex Raymond. Growing up in New Zealand in the 1940s, Mackie was interested in comics from a young age, and has amassed an impressive variety of comic books from early examples of Australasian editions of Buck Rogers, through to golden age issues of Famous Funnies and Ace Comics.

This is a very timely auction, coming hot on the heels of several high profile comic book auctions earlier this year, which saw the first appearances of iconic comic characters Superman and Batman sell for over a million dollars a piece. With the effects of the global recession still been felt in many investment markets and the rise in GST, investing in rare commodities like fine art and comics certainly isn't a bad idea.

Above: An early Australian reprint of Buck Rogers, which may not be as valuable as it looks.

But before you part with your hard earned cash, let me give you some quick comic investing tips!

First, I would suggest separating the treasures from fool's gold. While the early issues of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon on display in this collection may look like ancient artifacts, don't let first impressions cloud your judgement. They ARE early examples of Australian comics which might fetch between $50-$100NZ, but they are reprints of their original American counterparts, which is where the real money is.

Condition is also paramount in getting top dollar for rare comic books. Due to poor printing and the general lack of care taken with early comic books, very few MINT condition (perfectly preserved as new, with no printing errors) issues of key golden age comics (from the late 30s and early 40s) still exist, and are therefore highly valuable. So it may LOOK like lost treasure, but unlike a rare jewel, it's very difficult to bring the shine back to a comic book once it's lost it's luster.

The publishing dates are also very important for obviously reasons. Don't let vintage images trick you into thinking you're discovering a rare comic for the first time. Mickey Mouse and other Disney comic books have been reprinted many times, including 1980s editions by Goldstone Publishing which are represented in this collection. So check the small print first!

Above: King Comics #45, whose value is estimated at $410US in NM condition.

Now that we've dealt with the various pitfalls, let's focus on the potential investments.
There are a good selection of golden age comics here, which in good condition could be worth up $1000NZ.

Above: Famous Funnies #41, valued at $102US in NM condition.

Famous Funnies is well represented here; as one of the first ongoing comic books in the early 30s (pre-dating Superman), it's key issues are worth thousands of American dollars in Mint condition. The issues available in this auction: #41-108 & #110-218 could well be worth your time and money. A key issue like #102 featuring 'Chief Wahoo VS Hitler' is valued at $850US N/M according to the Overstreet Price Guide. Each issue in good condition could start at $200NZ a piece and go into the hundreds.

Above: Ace Comics #33, is valued $325US in NM condition.

Other early issues on offer here that could yield good investment results include: Ace Comics, King Comics, All-American Comics, Magic Comics, Comics on Parade, Popular Comics and more.

Above: A rare NZ Comic, Radio Retrol (undated, value unknown).

Now for the curious NZ comics collector, there may be one item of interest from an historical perspective, Lot 282: Radio Petrol (printed in Wellington by NZ Transfer Co, undated). It's the first time I've heard of it, and it may warrant further investigation...

So if you'd like to invest your money in something a little more exciting than boring gold, this is well worth checking out. You can bid at the online site HERE and view the collection at these times over Labour Weekend: 22nd of October from 9am-5.30pm and October 23rd-24th from 11am-3pm. For more details and information visit the Webbs Auction Website HERE.

Above: Yankee Comics #4, valued at $130US in NM condition.


  1. That's some nice artwork on Radio Petrol - wonder who drew it?

  2. It's got to be English by the look of house/car/clothes design - and reprinted here if the Lot description is correct.

  3. wow...Huge comic fan myself!
    I just got back from the NYC Comic Con