We just had a person come into the comic shop to sell their collection.
They had been to a competing comic shop previously and the guy there bought
five comics out of their collection for $75. Included in those five comics was
a first appearance of Deadpool, which is worth around $500, and a first appearance
of Gambit, worth around $100. The owner had to break it to them how badly they
So I decided to write a PSA for those of you who are thinking about
selling comics that you either collected yourself or inherited from someone.
1. The Honest
Truth – When you go to a comic book shop to sell your stuff, it’s just like
going to a pawn shop or dealing with one of the American Pickers guys. They want ‘meat on the bone’ because they
are going to resell the comic at full price to a collector. Ideally they want a
35% profit but it’s often negotiable. So while the New Mutants #98 (Deadpool) may be worth about $500, a decent person
is going to offer you $250 to $300, expect you to counter up, and back out
around $400. If you want full market value for your comic, then you’re going to
have to sell to a collector, which takes time and effort in locating and negotiating
with. So this is a decision you have to make.
2. Prices are
Constantly in Flux – So I said that Uncanny
X-Men #266 (Gambit) is worth around $100. I use ‘around’ because of mitigating
factors. One being that the demand for a particular comic can cause the price
to flux. Marvel Team-Up #95 is the
first appearance of Mockingbird, a comic you could get for like $5 bucks two
years ago. Once she appeared on Agents of
SHIELD, the book started cresting $100 before settling in the $30 range. Once
the Gambit movie comes out, if it’s a good film, UXM #266 could easily double, if not quadruple, in price. Now, like
all things economic, there will be a spike in the price of the comic, but once hype
die down, then the price could fall. Perhaps not back to pre-film or event
levels, but it could still fall. The first appearance of Roz (Thor: God of Thunder #12) started to go
up when people thought she was going to be the new Thor. Spoilers, she isn’t, and
so the price dropped again. The point of this is that just because you paid so
much for a comic in the past, doesn’t mean it’s worth that now. Could be more,
could be less. Research is key and I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
Condition, Condition – The condition of a comic affects the price. You
could have an X-Men #1, but if it’s
been through a meat grinder, you’re not going to get anything for it. So here
are things to take note of that can decrease the price of the comic:
- Bends vs Color Breaks – Bends are when the comic
has been bent and it creates a crease. Color Breaks are when this crease
actually causes the color to break and you get a white line. Bends can often be
pressed out (using a professional pressing machine – don’t try this at home)
but color breaks are permanent and affect the price more.
- Color Luster – Color gets leached out of everything,
and not just by the sun, but also by regular light bulbs if something is kept
out on display for a long time. A faded comic, especially one that is faded irregularly,
decreases in value.
- Broke Spine – If someone is picking up your
comics by the spine, break their fingers. A bent up spine, missing/detached
staples, all decrease the value of a book.
- Roached – Ever seen a book that looks like it’s
been eaten on by a mouse? This is roaching. Generally if you are missing pieces
of the book, the price point goes down.
- Water Damage and Mold – Should be self-explanatory.
- Writing – Lots of comics were given to kids,
kids like to draw/trace pictures, ‘nuff said.
- Original Plastic – Comics don’t have ‘original
plastic’. A very very small percentage of them might have been put
in a plastic baggy because it came with a trading card or something, but this
would be a single issue of a title, not all of them. If this is someone else’s
collection, then what you are seeing is what we call a ‘bag and board’. You buy
these separate to protect your comics. Yes, being in a bag and board does help
keep comics in good shape, but it doesn’t mean that the comic is ‘new’ or ‘never
been read’ or that kind of thing. Bags and boards, by themselves, have no
affect on the price.
For a comic with a really high
value, like an Avengers #1, you can
still get enough money out of them even if they have some damage to be worth it
to try to buy/sell. But some comics, even if they are worth $100 in good
condition, just aren’t worth it if they’re roached.
4. Key Issues
– As a whole, most comics, even old ones, aren’t worth more than cover price,
if that. This why we have the term “Key Issues”. These are the first appearances
of characters, or famous events, such as Uncanny
X-Men #141 & #142 which are the Days
of Future Past issues. If someone only pulls out a couple of issues from
your collection, then these are the high dollar key issue comics. They know they
can resell them and the rest is just filler. Don’t let yourself get cheated,
know what you have. Granted, if you have a hundred-plus comics, it is a pain to
go through each one to do research. If you Google the title followed by Key
Issues you will get several websites that list the key issues. You can then
look and see if you have those particular issues. If you do, then you can
research the current market prices (see point 6).
– Like I said, most comics aren’t worth much. It’s up to you if you want to
sell those comics in a bulk throw-in, or if you want to hold on to them in the
off chance that one could turn into a Key Issue. Keep in mind that you can also
use your collection as a bargaining tool. While the individual issues aren’t
always worth that much, there is money to be made in selling a run (i.e. a consecutive
run on a particular title). So if you just want to get rid comics that are taking
up room, and you have a nice run of something, then use that fact as you
negotiate. If you have all of New Mutants
1 through 100, there are a couple of key issues in there. If you negotiate
right, you could basically sell the key issues for more than what you’d get on
their own and get rid of comics that are taking up space.
6. Pricing – There
are several price guides, such as Overstreet, but right now, with this being
the Golden Age of Live-Action Superheroes, prices can skyrocket or fall
overnight. Unless you want to delve into dozens of websites and
cross-referencing everything, your best bet is to simply look on eBay and see
what the comic is going for. This will give you a price range to work with, but
keep these things in mind:
- Sold Listings
– You can find this button on the left side and it will list all the sold
listings for that item. This is what people are actually paying for it, not
what people are trying to sell it for. Sometimes there isn’t much different,
sometimes it’s a stark contrast.
– See Point 3 above.
- Shipping – Some people will put a lower price on
the comic to catch people’s eyes, but then tag on a large shipping cost to make
up for it.
- Bids vs
Buy It Now – Often a book will be listed small in hopes of bidding wars. Again,
see sold listings and what people are listing as Buy It Now.
Comics – There are companies that grade (determine the condition of the
book on a 1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest) and encapsulate comics. These
cost more simply because they are graded. If your comic is not professionally graded,
then you can’t expect it to fetch a graded price.
Covers – Especially lately, companies are selling ‘variant covers’ of the
comics, such as the Skottie Young Babies Variants. These are often 1in25,
1in50, 1in100, etc. This means they are rarer than the regular covers and often
fetch higher prices. Make sure the price you’re looking at is for the same
- Second Printing
– The comic companies only print as much as they think they can sell up to a
cut-off point. If the issue does exceptionally well, or better than expected,
they will send it to a second printing with a new cover (though usually by new
that means they changed the color background or something). This is same as a ‘first
edition’ of books. First printings are almost always worth a lot more than the
second, third, etc printings.
– Key Issues have been known to get reprinted in later years, but they are
usually noted as reprints, given special covers, that kind of thing. These can
be worth more than cover price, but are often not high-ticket items. They are
basically reader copies.
Selling – eBay sellers know that comic collectors are not as trusting of
online sales because you can’t see the comic to know for sure that what you’re
getting is the condition they say it is. Therefore they sell a little lower
than what a shop owner can. I kid you not, men from out of state come in all
the time because they are in town on business and want to see what’s available.
They would rather drive around an unfamiliar city, or spend money on a taxi, to
go to a comic shop, than trust an online seller.
– If you’re like me, you don’t like negotiating. If the price sounds reasonable,
I go for it. This can be bad and I am very
lucky to know a shop owner who is my friend and who I know will give me a fair
price while I understand he still gets his 35%. But for most of you, you are
walking into a store and you don’t know what kind of person is behind the
counter. They could be a good person, or they could try to cheat you. Or they
could simply low ball expecting you to counter their offer. So if you aren’t
good at negotiating, grab a friend who can. Tell them how much things are worth
and let them go to town on the shop keep. Never feel bad about wanting a reasonable
price for your comic. Yes, you’re not going to get full market value, but like
hell are you only going to get 15% of that market value.
8. Shop Around
– Don’t be afraid to shop around, if that’s an option for you. If you live in
or around a major city, there is going to be more than one comic shop. Comic
specific shops are typically going to give you a better deal than general
collectibles type shops because comic shops know better what things are worth.
If you live in a more rural area, then comic shop owners will sometimes even
come to you if they think it’s going to be worth it if you have some high
ticket key issues.
Well, I hope this helps if you’re ever planning on selling your comics.
Just, above all, please be civil with the buyer. He’s trying to run a business
and you’re trying to make some money. These are conflicting objectives. Getting
belligerent with a shop owner is only going to get you a worse deal. If the
shop owner gets belligerent or condescending to you, walk away.