Comic books. They're everywhere... From the recent $2.16m World Record priced sale of Action Comics #1 (Superman's first adventure) to multiplexes, people's book shelves alongside their novels, and even top art auctions.
Whether it's the vintage adventures of Tintin or Charlie Brown, or 20th century superheroes like Superman, Spiderman or Iron Man, the comic book markets were hot in 2011.
Here are our top five reasons why you should start your own collection...
1. The comic book markets have always been 'hot'
Just ask the respected US auctioneer Philip Weiss.
"The comic markets have always been very hot, especially for high grade books," Philip told us in his exclusive interview with Paul Fraser Collectibles published earlier this week.
"It doesn't surprise me that a comic sold for over a million dollars, it really doesn't. The comic market has always been strong [since] back in the 1960s. Good comics are always very expensive to buy.
"Back in the '60s selling a Superman #1 comic for $500 was big money."
In other words, high profile sales of rare and coveted comic books are nothing new.
2. Values of rare comic books are increasing
You only have to look at some of the market's top performers. Like Detective Comics #27, featuring the first-ever adventure of Batman.
HA.com sold a copy of Detective Comics #27 (graded 8.0) for a whopping $1.075m in March 2010. The sale was a World Record - and even more impressive when you look at the comic's price history.
The very same copy of Detective Comics #27 sold for $140,000 in 2000, and for just $2,500 in 1985. That's an average value increase of 30.78% per annum between 1985 and 2000.
It certainly beats the volatile and unsteady stock markets.
3. Prices are still low - that is, until other buyers catch on
There are still plenty of bargains out there on the rare comic book markets.
While Action Comics #1 - Superman's first-ever appearance - recently sold for $2.16m, you don't need to be a multi-millionaire to pick up comics of a similar calibre.
The Amazing Spider-Man #1, the first-ever comic outing of Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego, recently appeared for sale estimated at a relatively low $25,000-$30,000. The comic was graded at 8.5.
And you can buy collectible rarities linked to such comic book luminaries as Alan Moore, creator of the classics Watchmen and V For Vendetta, for just three or even two figure sums.
However, when more and more buyers latch on to the power of collectible comics, values like this will increase in the future. Which is why you should consider getting in on these markets now.
More and more collectors worldwide are switching on their 'spider
4. A great comic book will get you noticed - worldwide
The strongest collectibles are those which attract publicity around the globe - be it Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery or a World Record priced Ferrari.
With a rare comic book, you're sure to attract plenty of attention. Right now, comic books have more mainstream appeal than ever before.
Whether it's director Steven Spielberg's recent Tintin adaption, or much-hyped upcoming blockbusters like Marvel's new Avengers movie or DC's The Dark Knight Rises.
This hype means that the latest big comic book auctions are sure to get plenty of press coverage - encouraging new buyers to participate in, and strengthen, these markets.
5. These markets are growing - and fast
"There's no slowing down, that's for sure..."
That's what David Tosh, Comics Cataloguer at top auctioneer HA.com, told us when we asked him about the future of the comic book markets.
Comics are gaining more and more popularity among collectors in Europe and the UK. And the big comic conventions like San Diego's Comic-Con and Festival International de la Bande Dessinée in France are drawing more visitors - and business interest - year-on-year.
Whether your passion is for DC superhero titles from 1969-75, vintage Tintin adventures, the genius of Charles Schulz or the twisted visions of Alan Moore, 2012 could be the best time for you to seize opportunities in the rare comic book markets.
Recent and related articles
Philip Weiss interview: 'people are finding better places to put their money...' | 30 December 2011
'From fine wines to Peanuts comic art - choose rare collectibles in the New Year' | 29 December 2011
Spider-Man #1 comic stars in first Morphy and Sparkle City joint auction | 11 December 2011
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