Where should you go to sell your comics? How do you get the best price for them? And how do you ensure they’re going to a good home?
Going through a comic book separation is tough. Really tough. You have absorbed every page, every panel, every line. But circumstances change. Maybe your collection has got out of hand, or you can’t keep up the habit, or perhaps your better half is questioning your first love. If so, it may just be time to rehabilitate your collection into the comic-reading community.
However, you don’t want to just give them away. You need to make sure your collection fetches the right money. Here are just a few tips for successfully selling your beloved comic collection.
1. Know Where to Go
You have quite a few options, both online and in the real world. Life’s going to be easier if you can find somewhere to sell them offline: that way, people can see what condition the comic are in, you don’t need to risk a dodgy postal service, and it generally bypasses some of the fuss you have to go through otherwise.
Try your local comic store: many stock back issues, and might be interested in your collection to top up their sales. Comics are popular right now (and hopefully will continue to be for a long time), so you can get them in more shops than ever before: it’s worth giving a second-hand bookshop a go. But bear in mind these are dealers; they won’t give you amazing prices because they need to make a profit. The opportunity is there, however, for you to get good money if, for instance, the dealer wants a particular issue for their own or customers’ collections.
And if you really want to make sure your comics go to a good home – and if you have a sizable collection – you could consider getting a stall at a convention! They can be pretty costly, so you really need to think about whether it’s worth it. As an added bonus, dealers generally get further incentives like skipping virtual queues for autographs.
Otherwise, you can turn to bidding sites like eBay (although you do risk some disappointment here), or more specialist online stores like Stanley Gibbons, best known for stamps, but dabbling in other collectibles. Webuycomics.com has an expansive Want List, so say they’ll buy all your comics, and pre-pay postage; and Sellmycomicbooks.com will not only appraise your collection, but also offer a wealth of articles and price guides so you can fully educate yourself in the process.
2. Face Facts: Price Decreases
Let’s get this out of the way early: in terms of price, comic books are a little like cars. The second you buy them, they devalue – generally at least. There are exceptions. First appearances and early adventures nearly always demand big bucks. Action Comics #01, the first appearance of Superman, from 1938, sold for a record $3.2 million last year.
The chances of you having that, Amazing Fantasy#15, or Marvel Comics #01 are pretty remote. You might have The Walking Dead #01, Iron Man #281 (War Machine’s debut), or Ultimate Spider-Man#01 though. They’re not worth millions, but they could get you a few hundred dollars apiece.
Nonetheless, your common-or-garden comic book is priced either $2.99 or (more likely) $3.99, and they plummet once you rush home to read them.
This sad fact led Crave Online to call comic collections “worthless”, but that’s unfair.
3. Know Your Conditions
If you treasure your collection, it’s likely you keep them in good nick, and that makes them more valuable. Any little creases, page yellowing, and marks affect price. Telling people exactly what their conditions are will help sales; grading them, however, is difficult.
Far too many plump for “mint.” Even more list great quantities as NM (“Near Mint”). Proper grading is in numbers, with mint being classed only as 9.8 or above. A NM starts at 9.0. Most are Fine. Here’s a really handy guide to grading your issues.
Most buyers don’t expect such thorough grading, though. As long as you accurately say whether it’s Fine, NM, or Fair, you should be alright.
If it’s a particularly valuable comic, though, it’s worth checking out CGC Comics, who professionally grade and seal your comics into certified holders. But with prices starting at $18, I’d advise only taking signed or rare issues in for examination.
4. Bag and Board
Buyers need to know you’re serious about condition: that you’re not just looking after them now you’re selling them, but that you’ve cared for them since you bought them yourself. You can generally pick bags and boards up cheaply. In fact, many stores like Forbidden Planet offer a supplementary service when you initially pick up your Standing Orders.
What’s more, this will attract serious collectors who will look after them as much as you have.
And don’t just use horrible old bags that are covered in decades-old Sellotape. The boards should be acid-free so they don’t affect your comic; that should give you an idea about how outside forces affect pages. Normal Sellotape is absolutely horrible to get off, so consider investing in some frosted or satin finish tape.
5. Take Your Own Photos
Dealers generally turn to Google for pictures, and it’s tempting with a large collection, but if you want buyers to trust you, especially when selling online, be sure to take your own photos. It means they can see the condition for themselves. Here are some further tips for selling on bidding sites like eBay.
If they’re bagged and boarded, try to shield them from reflections.
6. Give Proper Descriptions
Listing them correctly isn’t solely about condition. Proper descriptions let buyers know they’ve found the right issue, if it’s one of their favourite creators (I’ll collect anything by John Romita Jr.), and that you’re actually invested in them, not just buying and selling in bulk.
If you’re using a bidding site, you only get a certain number of characters in the heading to describe the comic, so narrow down exactly what’s needed to attract people. The title and issue number, obviously, but what about volume number, publisher (especially either Marvel or DC), and story arc? One little spelling mistake can mean your comic is ignored by a search engine.
7. Separate the Valuable Ones
Do your research and make two piles of comics: one with your everyday $1 issues, and another for the more costly ones. Your collection might surprise you. I was shocked last year that a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic I was selling was worth about $45. To file that with all the others would have obviously been a big mistake.
8. Consider Grab Bags
Having two piles make grab bags possible. These are generally cheaper comics thrown into one bag together and sold at a set sum – a bit like a goody bag. After repeated attempts to get rid of a troublesome issue, you’ll be glad to hide it amongst others that might attract attention.
Grab bags typically contain three or four issues, but try not to go above five.
9. Sell Storylines Together
If you have corresponding issue numbers, pile them together and sell as one lot.
It will attract more bidders if there’s a complete run because they feel like they’re getting a better bargain. And they know that these are part of a cherished collection. Even a storyline with a missing issue or two is better collected together than forcing buyers to fish for them across numerous listings.
Knowing you’re a collector might also mean a buyer will explore your other items.
10. Wait for the Perfect Opportunity
Iron Man comics are more sought after since Robert Downey Jr. became Tony Stark. Popular media boosts sales, so much so that it’s worth grabbing some comics starring Ant-Man before that movie is released.
Sell your comics at an opportune time. The Avengers: Age of Ultron has been released, so if you have any iterations of the team – especially ones with the artificial intelligence, Ultron! – now’s the time to sell them. In the next few years, we’ll have films starring Black Panther, Dr. Strange, the Suicide Squad, and the X-Men, so if you can, it’s worth waiting before you shift them.
11. Consider a Job Lot
This isn’t an ideal situation, but if you’re looking for a quick fix (for reasons of space or money), or just want to keep your collection together, a job lot might be the way to go.
This could mean selling a complete run of one title together, or maybe every issue you’ve ever bought. If the latter, include the comic boxes!
You might get $50 for a complete title, or $300 for everything: it really could go either way, especially if you’re open to haggling.
12. Look on Social Media
Concerned your comics aren’t going to a good home? Turn to Facebook. When you move in those circles, it’s probable that a friend will take at least some of what you’re selling off your hands.
Try Facebook Groups too: plenty celebrate characters or publishers, but there are also some set up specifically to buy and sell items. Comic Book Collecting is a particularly popular one.
If you go this route, just beware of that terrifying phrase, “mates’ rates?”
Have You Got Any Tips to Share?
So, you have had to sell your comic collection, but at least you’ll now be able to get the most money you possibly can for it. And of course, all is not lost. If circumstances change, you can start conglomerating comics again. You could swap them all up for graphic novels, or even go digital.
If you do go digital, own an Android device, and really enjoy reading comic books on-the-go, make sure you have one of the best comic book readers for Android.