That's a bold statement right? Knowing exactly which comic book grades are the best buys is difficult to do. However, if you look at the numbers and do some research, it's not THAT difficult. I believe that CGC 6.5 and 5.5 are the best buys right now. Before we get into why, let's take a step back and talk about why I did the research in the first place.

Buy What You Can Afford, Right?

The old adage is "buy the best you can afford" when it comes to collectibles right? Well, that really all depends on your end goal. The grade really doesn't matter as much as your budget. If, that is, you are a collector and strictly looking to own the best grade of a book that features the first appearance of your favorite character. Now, if you are looking to purchase a comic book for your collection that has the best chance of increasing in price while spending the least amount possible, you are in the same boat I was. The good news is that you can use analytics to determine the best comic book buys when it comes to the grade for a key!

hulk 181 5.5 cgcI was looking to purchase a couple key Bronze Age books. More specifically I was looking at The Incredible Hulk #181, affectionately known as HULK 181, and Amazing Spider-Man #129, or ASM 129 for those in the know. Two of my favorite characters as a kid growing up in the 1990s, were obviously Wolverine and the Punisher. I was looking to diversify my investment portfolio a bit. Adding some blue chip key comic books with a long track record of value seemed to be a great place for me to park some money. For the next few decades, at least. Plus, who doesn't want to look up at their office wall and see a Hulk 181 and ASM 129?!

Where Financial Analysis meets Comic Books

I have to say that has the best user interface and most up-to-date comic book sales data that I could easily access online. Needless to say, I was able to use their data in my analysis when trying to find the best value in these two Bronze Age key comic books. Prior to using their data, I was literally searching through completed eBay sales of each grade for each book. After doing all of that leg work, I found that the data on GoCollect was literally within a few dollars of what I had found. So, naturally, I utilized their data to determine value increases over time.

My goal was to find the grade/grades for those two key books that cost the least amount (based on the increase per grade) but also gave the highest return over the past 10 years. In short, you could say that I was searching for the best "bang for my buck."

The Higher the Grade the Better the Return?

Well, not exactly. What I found was that on average a 9.8 was 185% more expensive than a 9.6. The return over 10 years is currently 86%. In comparison, a 6.5 was only 6% more expensive than a 6.0. However, it boasted an 81% return over the past 10 years. So I basically boiled it down to an x-factor (pun intended.) I used a formula that incorporated the increase in cost for the higher grade and the 10-year total return for that particular grade. The lower the ratio of that x-factor, the better.

I found that the ratio for both 6.5's and 5.5's was .08. On the flip side, the ratio for a 9.8 was 2.15 and the ratio for a 9.6 was .85. I didn't go any lower than a 5.0. From an investment and collectible value, the desire and demand just aren't there below the 5.0. Personally, I didn't want to go after anything lower.

It does need to be said though, that when I added in some lesser key books (from a value perspective) like Fantastic Four #49 and Special Marvel Edition #15 (First Shang-Chi), the 8.5 started to look very comparable to the 6.5 in using the same formula. With that being said, the best buys for the two books I was going after, Incredible Hulk #181 and Amazing Spider-Man #129, are 6.5 and 5.5 using this formula. I would encourage any comic book investor or collector for that matter, to do their own research. Be patient, and make a purchase you will be comfortable with now and 3-5 years from now. Personally, I would limit your modern age speculation as one would limit their exposure to very volatile financial markets like commodities for example. (More to come on treating your comic book collection as an investment portfolio!)

In closing, I hope this blog on the best comic book buys was both entertaining and educational. Especially if you are going after some key books for your collection!

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