Comics As Assets

wealthymattersBought for 60 paise in the 1960s,sale price Rs 70,000 in 2013. Even accounting for inflation, that’s a super return on investment. Appropriately so, as the reason 60 paise can turn into Rs 70,000 is superheroes. A mint condition 1960s’ Indrajal comic book with a cover price of 60 paise will get you Rs 70,000 from the right buyer. Indrajal was published by Bennett Coleman & Company Ltd, which also publishes the TOI.

Old comic books like those published under titles Indrajal, Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle and Chitra Bharti Kathamala have become highly sought-after and high priced collectors’ items. In this trend, India is following the US, where old comics have been collectors’ classics for a long time.

In 2011, Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage’s copy of Action Comics No. 1 featuring the first appearance of Superman sold for a super price of $2,161,000 in an online auction.

Bangalore-based history teacher and graphic novel collector Arun Prasad, whose old comic book fetched Rs 70,000, recently got his collection of over 15,000 comics valued. His assets in the form of graphic novels are worth over Rs 1.7 crore. Prasad is a determined collector. Recently, he took a trip to Kashmir to purchase old comic books.He possesses the entire Indrajal series in a few languages. 

The prices of comic book collections are appreciating due  to the coming of Comic Con to India. Comic Con started in San Diego, US, as an annual convention of graphic novel enthusiasts. It’s now a worldwide festival of graphic novels. The first Indian Comic Con happened in 2011.

Online markets that make information gathering as well as buying and selling a lot easier are another booster to the trade in classic comics. Websites like eBay, OLX, egully and quikr offer classic comic books.

Slowly, classic comic books are on their way to becoming an alternate investment. The size of the market and value of rare items can only grow in India. For collectors, emotional value is the key that drives prices of rare comic books. The print run of Tinkle’s three-decade-old “Kalia the Crow” series was around 25,000. Only a few thousand survive today. A passionate collector would happily pay up to Rs 1 lakh for a well-preserved copy.

Another Bangalore collector ,architect Subin Jameel and other comic book aficionados are trying to make a database of comics and would go to any lengths to buy comics, whether it means a few thousands or several lakhs for a collection. Jameel owns over 5,000 Indian comics and says the collection can fetch a “good six figure price”.

Mumbai’s Aalok Joshi, a dentistry student, spends every rupee he saves on comics. A freelance writer on comic blogs, Joshi spends a big portion of his monthly income (between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000) on comics. He has 60-plus Indrajal comics and says there total value will be Rs 3 lakh-plus.

Many collectors who can spend more on buying comics, happily do so. Jatin Varma, the man who brought Comic Con to India, is an avid collector too. “Just doing a rough estimate based on what I might have spent over the last decade, it could be anywhere between Rs 25-30 lakh and this doesn’t include some really rare ones that are individually worth anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000 each,” he says. Varma and all other collectors say this is money well spent – if you love graphic novels, owning a rare item is a matter of a great satisfaction. And, these days, selling such an item is a very profitable activity


About Keerthika Singaravel

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