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"I appreciate the vast knowledge of Metropolis' staff. Case in point...I was looking for a particular issue from my childhood, but was unsure of the title. After describing the cover to one of the staff, he pulled the issue from his inventory in two minutes flat -- thereby ending a 10 year search!"
- Paul L., New York
The Metropolis Survey
2008 Year in Review
by Vincent Zurzolo

The stock market fell over 500 points in 1 day.  Lehman Brothers is going bankrupt. Companies like Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Bear Sterns and AIG are being bailed out by the Federal government.  The real estate boom has gone bust and the repercussions are being felt throughout the world.  Gas prices are through the roof and our country’s gross national debt hovers around $9 trillion dollars.  On the day I am writing this market report, these are the headlines.

Earlier in 2008, I was invited by Fox Business to speak about investing in comic books.  I was told I would be asked a few questions and then placed in a round table discussion afterward.   I asked who would be on the round table. Would they be other collectibles dealers?  I was given a very vague answer and assured it would be a very friendly discussion.  I knew at this point I should be on my guard.  When I got to the studio, I was seated next to two gentlemen and we went live. The host of the show asked me questions about investing in comics, what’s hot, what’s not, those types of questions. It was fun.  Next, the host brought the two other gentlemen on to the show.  Apparently they were finance guys, brought on to tell people why comics are not such a good investment.  They questioned how you could invest in comics if you had to compete against someone like me, where you would get your information and how you could liquidate your comics quickly without taking a hit.  I didn’t get to give all my rebuttal answers (yes I loved to debate back in junior and high school) as the host cut me off, apparently we ran out of time.  But, I first said that someone interested in buying comics as an investment should do their own market research, talk to experts, read the Overstreet Price Guide, use online pricing guides, just like you would with stocks.  By their own argument, in that case, how could you ever buy a stock if you have to compete against large finance firms, who have way more info than you or I could ever hope to gather.  I think I defended investing in comics pretty well.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to explain how easy it is to sell high grade comics in the marketplace.  I would have also liked to have explained how my company, aside from buying comics, also takes consignments from sellers and works on as little as a 10% commission, leaving an investor with the lion’s share of the sale.  

In short, what I am getting at is this: comics are an amazing American art form to be appreciated for the illustrations and stories.  They are collectible escapist pleasures of recapturing one’s youth, and they are an alternative form of investment.  As mentioned in my opening, the stock market dropped over 500 points in 1 day.  I don’t remember the last time period an Amazing Fantasy #15 dropped even $5.00 in price. Do you?  Comics have come into their own with the tremendous success of a myriad number of movie franchises like Batman and Spider-Man. The advent of the Internet provides buyers and sellers market information and a wealth of resources to buy and sell, and 3rd party grading services can provide their opinion about a grade of a comic if you don’t have grading knowledge but want to get started.  The days of being scoffed at by more “traditional investments” are gone.  You can collect something you really love and can believe in and invest as well. Are there any guarantees? Of course not, go into this realistically.  But by researching and looking at the history of the comic market, you can see that comics are very stable… you do have to pick the right ones.

Iron Man & Batman
Last year I wrote about how well the origin issue of Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #39 was doing and recommended it wholeheartedly.  The movie was well received, and collector/investor interest has not waned.  That comic has skyrocketed and anybody who bought a copy did very well.  Average prices for a NM- 9.2 copy increased from $25,000 in 2007 to $35,000 in 2008.  VG 4.0 copies went from $850 in 2007 to $1400 in 2008.  Altogether, Metropolis Collectibles sold 21 copies in the past year.  I feel very strongly that high grade copies of this book will continue to see very healthy increases.    

The Dark Knight was an amazing movie.  Not just an amazing superhero movie, it was simply an amazing movie.  It raked in over $500 million in the US and over $850 million worldwide, truly a herculean effort by any standard.  What was also incredible to see was the massive demand for Batman #1 and Detective #27 leading up to the premiere, and even after the film had been in the theaters for months.  While Batman is a perennial favorite, demand has definitely increased.  In the last 12 months, Metropolis has sold 5 copies of Detective #27 and 10 copies of Batman #1. In fact, we sold our last 3 copies during the week of San Diego Comic Con; a low grade copy for $7500, a CGC graded VG 4.0 for $18,000 and a CGC graded restored NM- 9.2 for $33,000.  In the 9 years Stephen and I have been partners, it was the only time I can remember being sold out of Batman #1.  I do believe Batman and Detective will continue to appreciate, though I think it will be slower than Tales of Suspense.  My reasons are the following: The Bats are more expensive books even at lower grades, they are not as common and they don’t sell as often.

If you want to find a niche in which to invest, follow the movie trends, Hollywood buzz and feedback from the San Diego Comic Con trailers.  Watch for upcoming green lit projects and capitalize early.  I think Captain America, Thor, Avengers and Watchmen all have the potential to explode in price.

Super Heroes: Fashion & Fantasy at Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit
In the spring of 2008, along with a friend, I was able to convince the curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to include comic books in their exhibit "Super Heroes: Fashion & Fantasy."  Yes, that is correct.  Comic books hung in the most famous museum in North America.  I was so proud to see comics in The MET and to see the “from the collection of Metropolis Collectibles” sign below each book.  This was a professional and personal achievement, and it helps move the art form one step closer to its place of respect and appreciation as one of the great American Art forms.  I count this as one of my proudest achievements in my career.  Personally, it was validation of what I already knew: a comic is real art and should be respected as such.  Most of you reading this are saying “Of course a comic is art! Who doesn’t know that?” But this is not how it is viewed by most.  That way of thinking is changing, and I am happy to help push it along.

In closing, 2008 has been a record year for Metropolis.  Our orders increased by an average of 100 a month more than the previous year, and sales have never been higher.  With over 150,000 comic books in stock, and a friendly staff always willing to lend their expert advice, I hope you check us out online or give us a call. A special thanks to all of you who helped to make 2008 a great year.

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Metropolis Collectibles, 36 W 37 St, Fl 6 New York, NY 10018
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