Investing in Superman
Investing in Superman is a story about a speculative adventure I made during the early 1990s. It was educational, fascinating and fun. This is my story.
The Spark of an Idea – Investing in Superman
In 1992 I lived in Redondo Beach California (near Los Angeles). One day I was listening to the car radio.
A radio announcer said that the fictional comic book hero Superman was going to die in an upcoming comic book.
I thought to myself “My dad knows Superman. This is going to be a big event!”
Superman is one of the most famous comic book superheroes. He was the brainchild of American writer Jerry Siegal and Canadian born artist and Joe Schuster. Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938. My father was 18 at the tune.
Superman is an icon who has appeared in comics, radio serials, television, comic strips, movies and video games. Along with a huge following, almost everyone in the US knows who Superman is. Many people would be interested in his fictional death.
The time leading up to Superman’s death was a huge marketing event to boost the sagging Superman comic interest and generate interest in DC comics (the owner of Superman). It was hyped for a few months. There was a multipart series ending in the death of the superhero.
Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat – Investing in Superman
Curiosity got the best of me and I did some research to learn more about the comic book industry. I went to a big weekly comic event in the Los Angeles area (it was in a large warehouse).
While there I met several of the comic vendors. I quickly learned that comic book sales were a significant market. Some people had made a good living at it for several years. I made great contacts with a few vendors at the event.
I then went to some of the comic shops including the oldest comic shop in the LA area. I found that I could purchase wholesale comics in quantity. This made it extremely easy to get into the comic book selling business.
In a move that seemed like insanity at the time I purchased $500 worth of the upcoming Superman Deathissue comics from the oldest comic shop in LA. It was a fair amount of money to me (1992 dollars).
However, I felt I could afford it and the lessons I would learn (one way or the other) would be educational.Education is always important especially when it accommodates fun—and this was fun!
Superman’s death was a big deal in the comic world. The special death issue was a comic sealed in a black plastic bag with the superman insignia on the front. It was designed to provoke mystery and intrigue. The cost was about twice as expensive as the regular issue (which was also to be sold).
To diversify my risk while investing in Superman I purchased a more than a hundred of the regular andpremium versions of the death issue comics. I also purchased several of the entire series leading up to thedeath issue. It would be a couple of months before my order would arrive.
I had plenty of time to wonder if I was a little crazy, or had I make a good speculative investment. I wouldfind out later that both would come to be true.
One of my contacts at the weekly Saturday comic show offered to let me use his booth to sell my comicswhen they came in. I took him up on his offer and looked forward to the day.
A Slow News Week – Investing in Superman
The week that Superman died was a slow news week and it was one of the biggest stories. On the day that the death issues were delivered to the comic shop. I picked my copies at about 7-8 pm (after work).
There was a line that had been there all day long to get a copy of the death of Superman comic. The price of the comic was already being sold for several dollars more than the retail price.
The demand for the comic had driven up the price immediately upon release. I was watching the economics of supply and demand in real time.
The owner of the comic shop put all my comics in a box and gave them to me. As I walked out the door to my car in the parking lot I realized the comics I had purchased a couple of months ago were worth several times what I paid for them.
I was excited. My relatively small amount that I was investing in Superman (that I thought was so crazy) was going to pay off!
The death of Superman comic was a big event all over the United States. Even the Wall Street businessmen had to satisfy their Superman comic fix. Everyone was willing to pay much more than the cover price to be part of this historic comic event.
The Big Event – Investing in Superman
On Saturday I arrived at the weekly comic convention with my box of Superman comics. I immediately went to the booth with my contact and started to sell my comics for a > 400% profit.
It was a blast! I must have learned 25 different ways to say “Thank You” that morning as people had to get their superman comic. In the end I had a wad of money.
Money had never been so easy to come by. I thought I had broken the money code and felt rich—at least for a little while.
Afterwards – Investing in Superman
I didn’t sell all the comics that day, but I did sell most and made a great profit. Later that evening I went out to dinner at the Cheesecake factory with a friend to celebrate.
I was pleased that I had a little spark of genius on the day I decided to invest in this crazy event. I made a great profit, had fun and learned a lot. Who could ask for more!
The buying frenzy that happened that day tapered off quickly. I was able to sell the rest of my Superman comics later, but not as easy, fast and for as much money as that day.
I saved one of the regular and one of the special black bagged comic as memorabilia. I still have them to this day.
Some months later another comic came out where Superman was brought back to life. Many people saw how much money people had made on the first event, jumped on the bandwagon and bought too many of the return of Superman comic.
Those non comic enthusiasts, who wanted to be so much a part of the first Superman death event, had little interest in the second event where he came back to life. The vendors who had overbought ended up with many comics that did not sell. They lost a lot of money.
I did not get swept in with this euphoria and was spared a loss. I had figured this was a one shot deal and was proven correct.
What I Learned while Investing in Superman
I learned some great lessons from this experience:
• Investing in a future trend or craze can be profitable (if you know why it can occur).
• Get in early and get out early to make the best profit.
• Sometimes being a little crazy (while using common sense) pays off—as long as you can afford it.
• Strike when the iron is hot and sell your investment when others want it.
• Don’t get too crazy and put more money than you can afford in such a venture.
• Make sure it is a fun venture. If it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, at least you had fun.
“You don’t have to be a genius, but a few sparks of genius can help you make money!” – Chuck Clayton
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