Few things can match the appeal of a 9.8 graded comic book collection displayed in its full glory. Since the dawn of time, comic collectors have touted 9.8 graded comic books as the only choice for serious investors. We all want the highest grade we can afford.
Here’s the catch: 9.8 graded comic books are hard to find. To top that, most of them are incredibly expensive. The average cost of a 9.8-grade copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300 was more than $6,000 in 2021.
But what about lower-graded comic books? Are they worth nothing at all?
9.8 Graded Comic Books: The Holy Grail or Just a Brick in the Wall?
Frankly, that’s not true. Low-grade comic books aren’t the stuff of trashcans. Some collectors prize them just as much as their high-grade counterparts. What’s more, you can still make money off them. Let’s walk you through some factors that make a 9.6 or lower worth investing in.1. Age of the Graded Comic Books
You can’t expect comics printed in the late 1930s to be in mint condition. Several of them come in a low, low grade. Yet, vintage comic books from the Golden and Silver Ages often sell for an eye-watering amount. Think of them as antiques of the comic book world.
It’s simple math. If the highest existing copy of a Golden Age comic is a 9.0, any copies with a 6.5 or higher would automatically be investment-worthy. On the other hand, Modern Age books almost always need to be a 9.8 or higher to fit the investment-grade category.
Now for the tricky part: how do you determine if the old-looking comic you want in your graded comic books collection is vintage?
The quickest way to find out is by looking at the cover price. Comics from the 1930s-40s are priced in cents. They’re also larger and thicker. Again, exceptions do exist, but you can keep this in mind as a general rule of thumb when you browse online graded comic book stores.
2. Number of Copies in Circulation
Let’s face it - the rarer the comic, the higher the demand. If a comic book has a low issue number, you’ll want it no matter the grade. Who knows, you might be able to bag the last one.
Take Marvel Comics #1 as an example. Given how there are only 26 copies of this issue in original condition, it’s worth having in a lower grade. It also clocks in at a neat $1.2 million, so that’s a bonus.
Ready to dive into rarer graded comic books? Here are a few issues you should keep an eye out for.
- Amazing Fantasy #15
- Tales of Suspense #39
- All American Comics #16
- Suspense Comics #3
- X-Men #1
If you’ve been collecting for a while, you’ve probably heard the term ‘key issue’ thrown around quite a bit. It may have shown up on some online graded comic book stores as well. But what does it mean?
Simply put, a key issue in a comic book run is - as the name suggests - key to the overall storyline. It usually features:
- First Appearances
Collectors live for first appearances and cameos by principal characters or someone who does not appear important at first but becomes central to the plot later (like Ultron in Avengers #66). Most of these graded comic books sell for good cash.
- Significant Events
A comic showcasing an iconic event is also a key issue. The cover of Amazing Spider-Man #121 foreshadows the death of Gwen Stacy. This event becomes even more significant when we discover she died because Spidey attempted to save her- a tragedy that dogged our hero for years to come.
- First Issue
The first issue of any run is highly valued and coveted. But it may not always feature the title character. Black Panther #1 isn’t the Wakandan King’s first appearance, but it proves the publisher’s faith in the hero.
Like rare comics, key issues are worth having in nearly any grade because of how they influence the complete plot.4. Bonus Tip: Collecting vs. Investing in 9.8 Graded Comic Books or Others
You would be forgiven for thinking that investing and collecting are one and the same. However, there is a slight difference between the two.
Comic book investors are typically looking to turn a profit on their graded comic book collection. For them, the grade plays a role because it reflects the condition of the comic. 9.8 graded comic books are certainly better maintained than 9.2s or 9.0s.
That said, the significance of the grade is contingent on the factors mentioned above. A low-grade comic book is valuable, as long as it’s old, rare, or a key issue.
But if you’re a collector who buys graded comic books as a hobby, the number on the front shouldn’t matter at all. You can pick up any issue from your online graded comic book store if it catches your eye.
To answer the burning question- yes! It is worth investing in low-grade comic books, provided it checks certain boxes. So, if you come across a low-grade copy of your favorite comic book, make sure it holds up to these standards before putting money behind it.
At Wicked Monkey, our online comic books inventory features incredible graded comic books from renowned creators. From mainstream favorites to cult classics, we have it all. For more information, contact us or check out our web store today!