Podcast: Cashing in on comic book collecting, with X-Men artist Phil Jimenez

The stock market is still a shambolic minefield, so what can an investor do these days? Try getting some super powers. Disney is -- it's paying $4 billion for the Marvel superhero empire.

WalletPop's Jason Cochran sits down with a cross-section of heavy hitters from the comic book world: artist and writer Phil Jimenez from Marvel's Astonishing X-Men, whose world-famous Barack Obama Amazing Spider-Man cover sparked a collecting frenzy in January; Paul Litch, vice-president of Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), a rigorous grader of comic books whose imprimatur helps books fetch higher prices; Laura Hudson, a blogger and industry expert from the popular ComicsAlliance.com website; and Kevin Frost, who's in the market trenches every day as the back-issue buyer for Midtown Comics, one of the busiest comic stores in America.

The round-table discussion hits many of the issues concerning collectors today. Is the market crashing? Is it a mistake to buy comics just because they could appreciate in value? And just how long does it take for a comic to be worth anything? The answers -- much as they do on Wall Street -- lie in distribution, popularity and the ability to stay on top of the game.

We discuss whether the mercenary side of collecting comics ruins their appeal, or if in this sketchy economic era they're one of the only investment opportunities that may bring buyers a little joy -- even when the market tanks.

And along the way, we briefly pull a few titles out of the safe deposit box for show and tell.