'Superman' comic sells for $1 Million: What pop culture item are you saving for a big payoff?

Action-comics-1938-1Here’s a get-rich-quick scheme to remember the next time you accidentally time travel to 1939: 1) Buy a copy of Action Comics #1 for 10 cents 2) Bury that comic in a vacuum-sealed time capsule 3) Find your way back to the present day without killing butterflies or murdering your grandparents 4) Dig up that comic 5) Buy yourself a martini: You just became a millionaire. Yes, at a value increase of about 10 million percent, Action Comics #1 (featuring the first appearance of Superman) just sold for $1 Million.

That’s by far the biggest sale ever for a comic book, and it really punches me right in the heart. Like many other comic fans, I grew up hoping that, someday, all the comic books I purchased would be worth kabillions. The theory, as I explained it to my parents, went something like this: “If I buy five comics that cost $1.50 each, it might seem like a lot of money now, but in 10 years I’ll sell all those comics for $150,000. Then I’ll buy you guys something nice!” I filled an entire quadrant of our house with carefully preserved issues of Spider-Man, X-Men, Green Lantern, and (sigh) Fantastic Force. I collected the complete Death of Superman saga, the complete World Without a Superman saga, and even the complete Return of Superman saga.

Years later, fresh out of college and looking for a down payment on my two-story yacht, I went back to my neighborhood comic book store to find out how much cash my collection would yield. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that a confluence of market forces and economic collapses had depreciated the value of my collection to, and I quote, “Not Worth the Pulpwood the Pages were Processed From.”

Since my comics are worthless now (except for the memories), and since my plan to stake out Thomas Pynchon’s house has resulted in two restraining orders but no signatures, I’m pinning my fragile money-for-nothing hopes on another piece of pop ephemera. As everyone knows, the first 600,000 copies of Weezer’s stealth classic 2002 album Maladroit were individually numbered on the back of the CD case. If I wait long enough, the other 599,999 Weezer fans will either die or lose the CD case, and I will reap the financial reward. And Weezer’s critical reputation can only keep growing, right?

What pop culture items are you saving up for a big payoff, PopWatchers? Any hand-me-downs from great-grandparents that you’re thinking of getting evaluated? Any original Dark Side of the Moon record covers signed by Pinky Floyd? And are there any artifacts that you’d be willing to over-pay for? I think that if someone could sell me a fresh-out-of-the-box original NES, complete with the Duck Hunt light gun, I’d be willing to clean out my bank account.

By the way, itsalljustcomics.com has a fascinating list of the top 18 record comic book sales (the top 5 below). You might be confused to note that Flash Comics #1 is further up on the list than the first appearance of more famous superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and Captain America. Keep in mind, though, that Flash Comics #1 features the totally awesome Golden Age Flash with the winged helmet, and not the somehow less cool Silver Age Flash with the lightning ears.

1. Action Comics #1  $1 million
2. Marvel Comics #1  $350,000
3. Flash Comics #1  $350,000
4. Action Comics #1 $317,200
5. Batman #1  $280,000

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Sara (other one)

    My Game Boy Classic, from 1989 or so, is still in good working order. I still take it on trips in case I get bored. :)

    After my senior year of high school (2000), my family moved into a new house, and held the requisite garage sale. We had an Atari 2600, in good working condition. The controller wires had seen better days and were duct-taped, but we had like 50 games for that thing. Wish we’d kept it…

    • wg

      Still have my Atari and some games boxed up in storage somewhere. No idea if it works though.

      • KC

        Probably not. I tried mine out a year or two ago and even “blowing in” the cartridges doesn’t work anymore.

      • meetsingledoctors

        I would buy it

  • Oscar

    I still have my umbilical cord.

    • Cord

      So do adults who buy comic books.

    • Ant


  • elena

    I have no idea, because I have no money. If, for some reason, I had a ton of money, I’d love to get one of those limited edition Lost prints (if we’re getting specific, the Locke one). They’re pretty and useful (art)!

  • Jackie

    Don’t have anything currently, but my mom has some original Barbie dolls that are worth a fair amount. She’s also trying to block out the story of how she bought a bunch of “Revenge of the Jedi” stuff for my older brother and then got rid of it when they changed the name of the movie to “Return of the Jedi.” :) Oh mom…

  • Stacie

    I have this great Master tshirt from Doctor Who. I found it in a shirt shop in Long Beach, WA like ten years ago. I recognize the potential value if I kept it in good shape, but it’s so cute I have to wear it!

  • paige

    I have the original Madonna Bedtime Stories CD with the picture right-side up. In case you dont know, the pic was supposed to be upside down. yea thats all i got… oh and all 3 lord of the rings dvd gift sets.

  • GeeMoney

    I still have an Atari game system with controllers and Ms. Pac Man and Galaxian from the early 80’s, all in working order.

    • UGH

      That’s probably the most worthwhile item on here.

  • wg

    Remember that vinyl Poison album with the banned/censored cover? I think I still have that somewhere. Bet it’s worth at least $1.

  • KC

    I have Van Halen’s “Women and Children First” LP complete with ahomoerotic poster of David Lee Roth chained to a fence inside.

  • Eric

    If only I held onto my entertainment weekly #1. If I cashed in on that today, I could have gotten extra cheese.

  • Daisy

    I have complete sets of trading cards for the original (i.e. REAL) Star Wars films~ I keep them in their respective lunchboxes~ but I don’t want to sell them because I love them. I also have an original, numbered etc Keith Haring Swatch.

    • therealeverton

      Let it go Daisy, let it go. :)

    • ks

      Oh my, so do I and star trek too

  • Auriana

    We have a complete working NES with all controllers/gun and a bunch of games and two working SNES’s with games. I know my husband has a working original GameBoy as well as an actual working Game and Watch handheld. I’ve collected a number of the more harder to find RPGs (Rhapsody, Valkyrie Profile, Suikoden 1 and 2, the full Lunar games with all the extras, and so on). Back in the day I thought that if I collected a bunch of random Star Wars stuff and kept them new in boxes (I’m talking about Pizza Hut toys new in box, toothbrushes, etc.) that they’d be worth something. So far, not the case. I have also been trying to figure out the current value of a limited run Record of the Lodoss War: Deedlit’s Tale numbered and autographed by Lisa Ortiz that I picked up at an anime con and a Celebration III art print of Padme that’s hand signed and numbered by the artist but no such luck in finding them at all on the web thus far. The most valuable collectibles I have are my anime cells and that’s probably the one thing I’d throw money to. I’d sell my soul for a cell of Deedlit playing the mandolin from Lodoss. I’m also kind of hoping that my first British editions, autographed by Jaspar Fforde will be worth something someday.

  • Tracey

    I have a first pressing mint copy of the Beatles Revolver LP with a rare version of “Tomorrow Never Knows” but I could never part with it.

    I also have an original script from the LOST pilot episode signed by all 14 original cast members plus JJ Abrams who directed and Damon Lindolof as the Executive Producer. I have no idea if it’ll be worth anything.

    • elena

      That Lost thing is insane! Where does everyone find such awesome stuff?

      • Tracey

        I won that LOST script in an ABC contest during the first season. The coolest thing is to read it and see some of the changes they made and how some of the dialogue was rewritten.

    • Simon

      Hold onto that. In a mavlar sleeve protected somewhere. I guarantee in about 10 years time when LOST is seen as what it is – the best serialized drama of the last decade – it’ll be worth a haul. Also, all the autographs? Wish I had that!

  • Jarrod

    I have an Atari 2600, working, with about 100 Games. Of course, I also have Vs. Super Mario Bros., Return of the Jedi and Donkey Kong Upright arcade machines. I probably spent more restoring them than they are worth though.

  • DRS

    I have a complete collection of New Kids on the Block trading cards, from the FIRST time they were together. Jealous much?!?

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