Bloggers write their personal opinions from a safe place in their homes.  Journalists go out into the field and conduct research. This data will allow collectors, investors, speculators, and hobbyists to better navigate the worlds you travel. The following is a comic market report from the Motor City Comic Con on what buyers were thinking and how this impacts comic book markets.

Comic Book Market Report  From Buyers' Perspective

The Right Answers

GoCollect tracks the sales data from numerous sites.  That gives you the "what" is happening in the field.  Interviewing consumers gives you the more important answer of "why" it is happening.  The Motor City Comic Con ("MC3") is a great place to observe the fan experience.  The fans here are very passionate about their pursuits.  They also talk and share ideas.  The insights into what buyers are feeling are important to sellers, collectors, and investors.  Buyers drive the market.

Fans Hungry

The attendance was great at this show.  Most were there to meet the celebrities in attendance, but there was a large amount that were there to buy.  The economy is down, but many fans indicated that would not stop them from buying books. Fans indicated that attending a show is different from buying online because it allows them to see the merchandise.  This was important because of the nature of their new targets.

Raw was the word

Fans were seen primarily focusing on raw books.  Volume and discounts were the keys to where they looked.  One fan who did not want to be identified because he told his boss he was sick at work stated "I want to buy, but the price of gas to get to the show limits my choices."  A volunteer who was looking at products on his off hours said "I am like an alcoholic in an open bar." He too said he was more a looker than a buyer. Raw books could be bought at a discount when compared to graded books.

There were many books to choose from, but the words of the day were discount and volume. The economy was impacting buyers' choices.  Higher-end books were not what buyers were looking for anymore, even at raw prices. The price of food and gas did not keep people away from the show, but it did impact their targets.  Low-end spec books were on everyone's radar.  Instead of going to the front of the GoCollect data, the targets were more off-the-list books with potential or conditioned keys.

MCU Non-Factor

MC3 was held after the release of Dr. Strange 2. At past MC3 events, after a movie release, there were specific books that were targets of the fans.  This show was different.  Buyers questioned did not come out with specific MCU targets.  One buyer said about the influence of Dr. Strange 2 on their buying targets was "Fool me once."  Another said great movie, but now they were lost as a buyer.

The MCU hot book factor usually appears on the first day, when the hot books are scooped up, but not now.  One buyer stated, "...wait till Sunday when those books are marked down because no one wants them now." There were a few Kamala/Ms. Marvel keys on the walls, but drawing very little interest.  Strange Tales #126 was looked at by many fans, but very few were sold.  The MCU influence is there, but the price is now of greater significance in this new economy.  FOMO is not as important when you have to make hard choices.

Be scared!

Buyers are out there, but they are now starting to redo their budgets.  Previously, comic prices were always going up and buyers had to buy them or they risked losing out on good deals.  Buyers expressed reservations at this show.  Gone were the days of spending discretionary income because, as one buyer shouted, "buy a book or fill up my car!"  Fan excitement was there. but it was redirected.  Even known high-end buyers set their sights to lower targets.  The belief is that prices will go down as demand for those books goes down as well. Buyers expressed the common belief that sellers were still pricing books as if the economy was not impacting their lives.

Some retailers looked to move product and were swapping higher-end items for a bulk of lower-end items that they could move.  One retail worker said to a buyer something to the effect that they were there to sell and not to collect. High-end books will always be in demand, but Silver, Bronze, Copper, and Modern Age books that do not contain the first appearance of the Fantastic Fours, Wolverines, or Poison Ivies of the world may suffer. Those that were getting the higher-end books were looking at the long-term investment of the deal.

A Scoop of Pessimism.

Confidential Reports

Buyers shared more of their experiences from this show than others.  Some of them did not want to have the comments they made be attributed to them.  Journalists take these types of comments with a dose of skepticism because there is no accountability to accompany the statement.  Comments like this must be verified or at least heard from a different source.  One such story was heard from three different sources at this show that did not know each other.  The storytellers repeated a story about Miles Morales!

Ultimate Fallout?

Ultimate Fallout #4 is a book that draws many different opinions among fans.  The FMV had kept going up because of the demand for the character.  The concern among many was always the supply numbers.  The numbers do not appear to be there to justify the high value of the book.   In addition, the people who were buying this book do not seem to fit the target audience for the book.  Buyers were older, while the suggested belief was that Miles is the Spider-Man for the new generation of comic book fans.

The question always is if UF #4 is an Amazon stock that defies logic or a stock that had potential but busted during the dot com bubble.  UF #4 was an interesting topic among dealers at the show. There were several copies being offered below FMV but were still sitting on the walls at the close of the show. Buyers at the show said the price was too high.  One buyer wanted to buy it but not at this time for even the reduced price.  This was a first and there may have been a reason for it.

An upcoming wave

Three different comic book buyers told me the same story.  None had a chance to verify their story with the others.  They all indicated that certain stores had access to a large selection of warehouse copies of  Ultimate Fallout #4.  This is where one source told me something interesting.

When these books were first offered, many were not distributed to comic book stores.  They sat and were then offered at discounts, so stores bought them.  Most books sold like this end up in the dollar discount bins.  The source indicated that because this was a new Spider-Man, several stores sat on those issues in hopes that they would one day be worth something.  One said they know some stores are still sitting on copies waiting for the MCU reveal. Another informant told me that they will still buy these books at a discount and sell them at a profit while they hold others for the big MCU reveal. There is a big payday coming and one informant said they want to cash in on the book when the time is right.

The problem is that the FMV is dropping for higher grade books right now.  This again may be a small decrease due to the economy, but it was not on the hot list of the buyers interviewed.  Copies are still moving in the market.  The 90 to 30-day averages for UF #4 for a 9.6 copy have dropped from $1,231 to $1,120.  That is a significant drop in the most populated grade available.

Even the 9.8 grades have dropped at the time of this report, from $3,194 to $3,009.  Buyers are still interested in this book, but at the right price.  A 9.6 CBCS copy will cost you $850. Even these books were not in great demand among buyers.

Buyers are Changing...Should You?

Buyers are ever-evolving. Many at the show stated they were changing their buying habits.  A lot of complaints were made about Facebook auctions that were sources of fraud and scams.  eBay was an alternative, but buyers who wanted bulk and discounts said competition drives those prices up to the point they are not worth it anymore. They wanted deals, but not the risks of buying on non-protected platforms. The show offered them chances to keep active in the hobby while finding discounted books not available at their local comic book store.  Inflation is changing buyers' habits.

Collectors may now start to target those books that were once on their lists, but only at the right price.  Hard-to-find books will start to come to market as people make hard choices.  Other books will drop in price and now be within the reach of more collectors and long-term investors.  Dealers at the show tried not to discount their higher-end books, but how long can this continue for some?  As one buyer said, "...we can wait them out because we have the money."

Tough choices will now have to be made.  Different opportunities will exist.  Amazing Spider-Man #129 and other blue chip books are losing some value.  Other lower-tier books are also dropping in their FMV.  Prices are not going up like food, gas, and supplies because comic books are collectibles.  Collectibles are vulnerable.  Now may be the time to evaluate if you should be a seller or a buyer.  Better to plan one day too early than one day too late!

Keep up with the comic market!

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect.