Thanks to over a decade’s worth of super hero movies, the comic book industry is thriving like never before. And it’s obvious it will continue to do so as it rides off the success of its big screen counterparts. This means comic collecting as a hobby will remain a viable way for savvy investors to make a profit.
While large profits from buying and reselling comic books is not something that happens quickly, there are ways to make money both in the short term and long term. Here’s how to do it.
Know the Value of Comics
The quickest way to find out how much a comic book is worth is to check the Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. It’s the very book comic shop owners and online comic retailers check to determine the value of older and current comic books.
You should know that the prices listed in the book are for mint condition comic books. The older a comic book is the less likely is it to be in that condition. Some comics aren’t even in mint condition by the time they reach comic shops.
Also note that the prices listed in the Overstreet are pretty much the ceiling value of a comic. The only way you’re going to get more than the price listed is if your buyer is desperate for what you have.
The savvy shopper can buy current comic book issues and sell them for more at a later date. But you have to know what comics are likely to become in demand as collector’s items. The obvious comics to go after are the ones that have “1st Issue! Collector’s Item!” printed on the cover. But if the publisher is that desperate to move copies of its comic, it’s doubtful they will be worth much later.
This practice of labeling comics as collector’s items during their initial publication is something of a rarity anymore. It’s a holdover from the days when comic book speculating was rampant, and publishers sought to lure in ignorant buyers to buy multiple copies of a worthless book.
If you want to buy new comics that are going to be worth something more than the cover price, you have to keep up with the trends. There are certain characters whose comics and appearances in comic books are naturally more in demand than others. These characters typically include Wolverine, Batman, Venom, Darkseid, Phoenix, Magneto, and Thanos, among others. Some of these become in demand because they are very popular among comic readers, while others signify major changes whenever they appear. While Superman and Spider-Man may be more popular among mainstream audiences, their comics often have higher print runs and therefore have less demand among collectors.
Another trend to watch for is particular comic book writers and artists. People like Frank Miller, Barry Windsor Smith, and Joe Quesada constantly produce comic books that increase in value. In most cases, it is the artists that are the super stars of the comic book world, and those with unique styles often have the most rabid fan base.
Some final trends in comic books that bear watching are major deaths and first appearances. While it can be hard to tell if a new character will become a sensation, the deaths of major characters are often a sure thing. Even if the character comes back to life later (as comic characters are wont to do), the comic they died in can still be quite valuable. These things tend to be based on print runs though, as the death of Superman in the ’90s is not worth very much because of its massive print run.
Selling for Profit
If you’re buying new comics to resell, it’s often prudent to put them on the market a few months after they come out. Unless they become some sort of timeless classic, the best time to sell them is while people are still looking for them and talking about them. A year later, everyone may have moved on to a new hot comic book and might have no interest in what you’re selling.
For older comics that have established high values, their value will probably eventually increase, unless the character loses their popularity. For example, old issues of Spawn have considerably decreased in value as the character’s relevance and fan base have diminished.
For very old comics though, like the first dozen issues of Amazing Spider-Man or The Fantastic Four, their value will simply increase over time.
There are a few places to try selling comics to interested buyers. The easiest way is to take what you have to your local comic shop. You’re almost guaranteed to get less than the Overstreet price for your books, as that is the price that the comic shop will likely sell them for.
For the highest price, your best bet is an online auction site like Ebay. When you list a comic book online, you should always tell buyers what condition the comic is in and show a picture of your actual copy of the book.
Another place to try are online comic book buying and selling forums. It will be easier to establish a back and forth conversation about what books you are selling and what the buyer is interested in here.
One place to avoid would be online comic book retailers like Mile High Comics and East Coast Comics. They have no real way to determine the condition of your comics, so they will generally offer you the lowest possible price for them.