For some comic collectors, Archie comics are those weird mainstream comics often found on grocery store impulse-buy shelves and magazine racks. For others, they're a critical piece of childhood. Archie and his gang were the grounded, down-to-earth comic stars, a stark contrast to the bombastic, world-shaking stories told in superhero books.
Of course, this doesn't tell the whole story. There's a lot more to Archie comics than just, well, the Archie comics. Archie is a whole imprint and publisher with a vast history of adventures, misadventures, comic lines, relaunches, and all the other details that you're probably familiar with in terms of Marvel and DC.
A Brief History of Archie
Archie has gone through a lot over the years. Today, he's a bit passe, the every-teen written by people so much older and out of touch, but he's had his share of adventures, misadventures, and experiences with both typical teenagerdom and fantastical happenings.
The story of Archie goes deeper than just the character, though. Archie Comics started life in 1939 under a different name: MJL Magazines. At the time, they published superhero comics, with a slate of superheroes covering similar archetypes as their more popular cousins. Many of their comics at the time star characters like The Shield (a Captain America-like hero in the stars and stripes), the Comet, and the Hangman.
A combination of saturation in superheroes and a longing for the idyllic days of the past when there wasn't a war going on, plus cultural yearning for the simple days of teenage adventures, led to the creation and slow implementation of the character Archie Andrews, who appeared on covers and as a side character in the superhero adventures found in lines like Pep Comics and Jackpot Comics.
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America latched onto the character of Archie, and his immense and near-immediate popularity led to first his own line of comics and then the name change of the entire publisher. Archie Comics was launched in 1942, and the publisher changed to Archie Comics in 1946. In the near-80 years since, Archie has been a staple of comic stands, stores, and shelves everywhere.
Along the way, virtually every side character from Archie has been given their own line of comics, some with more success than others. Other forms of media have also spun off, including several shows for Sabrina and the recently popular Riverdale TV show. It just goes to show that no matter how much time passes, there's always room for teenage adventures and a resonant form of media for the youth.
To read more about the history and context surrounding Archie Comics, our page for the publisher's history and top books can be found here with a write-up.
Are Archie Comics Valuable in 2023?
This is a fine question, and there are a few different things to answer about it.
When you ask about Archie Comics and their value in 2023, there are really several different questions you're asking.
- Are Archie Comics published in 2023 valuable?
- Are comics titled Archie valuable in 2023?
- Are comics featuring the character Archie valuable in 2023?
- Are comics published by the company Archie Comics valuable in 2023?
There are slightly different answers for each of these, so let's run down each of them and discuss them in greater detail.
Are Archie Comics published in 2023 valuable?
Our first question is one that you probably already know the answer to, if you have any awareness of comic collecting, investing, or even really in collectibles as a whole.
Comics published in 2023 are rarely any more valuable than the price on the cover. Archie's various lines – and there are a lot of them – have newsstand retail prices ranging from $3 to $15, with slightly higher prices for things like anthologies, reprints, and the Archie Encyclopedia.
Image source: https://www.reddit.com/r/comicbooks/comments/95vr3e/my_small_archie_comics_collection/
Pop quiz: What makes a comic valuable?
Answer: It's a combination of a few important factors. The condition of the book, age of the book, scarcity of the book, and demand for the book, character, story arc, or other facet of the contents of the book all go into the value of the comic.
No one factor alone is enough.
- Old books are generally more valuable than newer books, but age alone doesn't mean they are valuable. Victorian-age comics aren't actually anywhere near as valuable as Golden Age superhero comics.
- Great-condition books are more valuable than damaged books, but the price range is set by other factors; the condition is a modifier.
- Scarcity of the book is hugely important. A book printed in the thousands is generally a lot more valuable than a book printed in the millions.
- Demand for the book is critical. It's why Superman, a beloved character resonating throughout a century of history, is the star of the most valuable comic of all time and why comics from other publishers or starring forgotten heroes are much less valuable.
Archie comics of today don't really meet any of these criteria except maybe the last one. They aren't old since they were published this year. They're in great condition, being brand new, but since millions of copies are available in that condition, there's no scarcity. And, of course, demand is negligible; who wants to buy your used copy when they can buy a brand new copy directly from the publisher for just a few dollars?
Are comics titled Archie valuable in 2023?
Now let's get into what you're more likely to be asking about: comic books named Archie Comics.
Archie the character has starred in Archie the comics published by Archie Comics for over 80 years now. There are over 900 issues of Archie, ranging from the original Archie #1, published in 1942, up to the most recent Archie on the modern equivalent of newsstands.
You might expect Archie #1 to be the most valuable of the comics, right? Well, it is, sort of, but we'll get to that in a bit.
Image source: https://www.carousell.sg/p/archie-friends-dubble-digest-comic-1113199724/
Archie #1's record sale, all the way back nearly a decade ago at this point, was $167,000. The issue in question was a CGC-graded copy at 8.5.
Time passes, and values go up, so it's entirely likely that this price is very low for what the same book would sell for today. The same book, or a nicer copy, would probably sell for over $350,000, if not as much as $500,000 today, if it got enough attention and collector demand.
That's always the hard part, isn't it? Archie may have been a fixture of the childhood and teenage experiences of millions of Americans (and Canadians), but demand is nevertheless a lot lower than it would be for something like Superman, Spider-Man, or Batman.
Of course, nothing is ever this simple. Archie is only one line of comics titled Archie. There are also lines like Archie's Girls, Archie's Pals, Archie's Rival, and so on. Again, just about every character from Archie eventually got their own spinoff, some much longer-lived and more popular than others.
While basically none of these comics reach the all-time peak of Archie #1, some of them come close, which we'll get to a bit later.
Are comics featuring the character Archie valuable in 2023?
Yes, and also no. Archie is a land of contrasts.
The earliest comics to feature Archie came out before Archie even had his own comic line. That's not surprising. Comics often debut characters as antagonists, deuteragonists, or even background characters in other lines. Famously, Wolverine's first debut was as a foe for the Hulk to fight, and he's now a popular force of his own.
Image source: https://bleedingcool.com/comics/archie-takes-over-with-pep-comics-41-up-for-auction/
Three key issues stand out here.
The first is Pep Comics #22, starring the Shield and the Hangman, largely now-forgotten heroes. The comic itself is primarily valuable because it includes the first actual story and appearance of Archie, along with Betty and Jughead, enduring characters that have outlived so much else in the same book. While the story is only six pages out of the entire issue, it's enough to make it worth far more than even Archie #1. Its record sale was a whopping $252,000 for an 8.0 comic sold in 2017. It's also likely to go for more than that now if it comes back to auction.
One of the two other relevant issues here is Jackpot Comics #4, another superhero comic but the first book to have Archie's face on the cover. Its price is a lot lower, though, with the record sale sitting at a tenth of what Archie #1 sold for, a "mere" $16,700. Similarly, Pep Comics #36 is the first appearance of Archie in full on the cover of the comics, literally on the shoulders of the heroes whose comic he rode to fame. This issue sold for $39,500.
Are comics published by the company Archie Comics valuable in 2023?
There are plenty of other comics published by Archie Comics beyond just the ones mentioned above, including all of the character spinoffs and plenty of other comics they published without Archie at all. Unfortunately, most of these aren't worth a ton. That is, many of them will be a few hundred dollars, and a handful of them will be a few thousand dollars, but the list of comics that tops $10,000 is a lot smaller, and the list of comics over $100,000 has already been covered above.
Image source: https://www.carousell.ph/p/free-shipping-14-archie-comics-bundle-archie-comic-books-betty-and-veronica-1140944965/
Some more noteworthy comics, at least from a popularity standpoint, include the Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch comics and the Sonic the Hedgehog comics. Sonic, in particular, has a fascinating history, with absolutely wild storylines, a lot of viral memes on the modern internet due to Ken Penders' artwork, and a lot more. Unfortunately, since they were published in the 90s, pretty much none of them are over a few hundred dollars. They're too new and too common to have that true investor potential.
What Are the Most Valuable Archie Comics?
We've pretty much already covered them, but if you're just looking for a list, here you go:
- Archie #1 (1942) - $167,000 (old sale; price likely much higher today.)
- Pep Comics #36 - $39,500
- Archie #2 - $32,000
- Jackpot Comics #4 - $16,700
- Archie #23 - $9,400
Just about every other comic – whether just from the Archie publisher or starring Archie himself – is under $9,000, with the majority of them under $1,000. As with pretty much any set of comics, there are going to be far more worth not a lot than there are worth a serious investment.
And, of course, these prices are the records. For example, Archie #1 has sold a few more times more recently than the record, at lower conditions. A 3.0 sold for $21,800, and a 4.0 sold for $35,500, both in 2018. While they would probably sell for a bit more today, neither copy would likely top $50,000.
Do You Have Archie Comics to Sell?
If so, why not talk to us?
Archie comics run the gamut from a few valuable issues all the way to a bunch of dollar-bin box-fillers, but a lot of the comics from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and on are still worth anywhere from $500 to $5,000. You don't want to assume they're bad just because they aren't fetching auction record prices! After all, ten $500 books are still worth $5,000, and ten $5,000 books are still worth $50,000; a large enough collection can still be worth quite a bit.
While you can certainly go through and price out, estimate quality, and find comparable listings for every Archie comic you have, you can also talk to experts instead. At Quality Comix, we're big fans of all things comics, and that includes Archie. All you need to do is click here to get started. Take a few pictures, describe your collection to us, and send us a message. We'll help you figure out what it's worth and what the next steps you can take will be, whether that means selling through us or elsewhere. And if you have any questions, we'd be more than happy to answer those, as well!