Not every dime-store comic book is worth a million, but some are - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Not every dime-store comic book is worth a million, but some are

Updated: Oct 21, 2011 04:45 PM EDT
Some see heroes while others see dollar signs, but there are many factors that determine a comic book's worth. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock) Some see heroes while others see dollar signs, but there are many factors that determine a comic book's worth. (©iStockphoto/Thinkstock)


By Elaine Zimmermann

Jake: I bought an October 1937 "Dime Detective Magazine" in a yard sale for a quarter. I heard about one of these selling for a million dollars. How can I find out the value of mine?

Elaine: Before you pick the color of new your Ferrari, let me tell you how you find out what your comic book find is worth.

Here is the comic auction story to which you referred: In February, Detective Comic #27, which originally sold for ten cents (hence the name for this genre) and featured the first appearance of Batman, sold for $1,075,500. The previous record for the sale of a single comic book had been $317,000. So the values have risen dramatically.

Another example of how elite comics have appreciated is the 1960 Green Lantern #1. It previously auctioned in 2003 for $18,975 -- a fortune at the time that has since quadrupled seven years later when it sold for $50,787.50.

Even Snoopy and the Red Baron are airborne in this buying frenzy. The original art from the comic strip of July 31, 1966 featuring Snoopy shooting down his arch nemesis brought an amazing $101, 575.

Original magazine illustrations have also hit the outer stratospheres. An illustration by Alberto Vargas for the October 1963 issue of Playboy Magazine sold for a breathless $179,250.

So you want to go out and buy every present day comic book you can get your hands on and sell them in a decade for a fortune? Not going to happen.

According to industry experts comic books after 1980 are basically worthless. So many "would-be" collectors jumped into the market buying thousands of comic books resulting in massive multiple printings of every issue that the market was ruined by the collectors.

So what about your yard sale treasure? A quick perusal of ebay.com shows Dime Detective Magazines are being priced by sellers from $20 up to $130. Much is dependent on the condition of the magazine, the characters in the stories and the writers who wrote the "Thrillers".

As important as condition of the magazine is to the value of each issue also is the first appearance of later famous characters such as Batman and other very collectible characters. Less considered, but important to some collectors are the writers of the tales of murder and intrigue.

In the mid and late '30s and early '40s, many Hollywood screenwriters made a quick detour from newspaper writing to the world of Dime Detective Magazines before they found fame and fortune as movie screenplay authors. A quick Internet search of these authors yields their fascinating careers.

The ten-page dramas they wrote disclosed a thriller complete with interesting characters in exotic locations wrapped in intriguing plots that twisted to a dramatic conclusion where the "good guys" always won and the "bad guys" were discovered and punished.

The bad news is your comic book is probably not worth a fortune. But some are, keep looking.

Elaine Zimmermann is a personal finance expert who was written about everyday ways to save money on cars, homes, vacations and more. For information on investing in foreclosed real estate you can visit her website at www.AskElaineZ.com.

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