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I found some old comics. How much are they worth?   Date: Tuesday 26 June, 2007
FAQ Summary:

If they are from the 1980s to present, probably not that much.

FAQ Content:

You would be astonished at how often I get this question. There are a lot of things to be considered when grading and pricing a comic, and it simply cannot be accessed online. I can't hold it so I have a tough time appraising it.

There are 3 questions:

  • How much is worth to you personally?
  • How much is it worth retail?
  • How much time and effort are you willng to devote to selling them?

The most widely accepted authority on grading comics is the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which I can order you a copy of, or you may be able to find it at your local bookstore. You can search online for some price guide websites or auctions.

Before you can tell how much your comics are worth, you must make out a detailed list, including:

  • the grade (otherwise known as condition). Please see my comic grading FAQ.
  • title & issue number.

Selling to dealers.  If you think that this is too much work, you can always take your comics to a dealer and they might buy them from you at much less than the retail price, depending on demand and how fast the dealer is able to sell the book. Most dealers pay 10-50% of Overstreet Price Guide for comic books that they can sell quickly. Other slower selling books are purchased at pennies on the dollar, because they will have to be heavily discounted or the dealer just doesn't need them.

If a dealer already has 10 copies of Wolverine #1 (and it is a popular book), the dealer will likely not pay much for another one.  If he doesn't have any in stock, and has other customers asking for it, he will likely be willing to pay more for it.  Because he can turn it around quickly. 

Are your expectations too high?  If you are new to the comic business, let me educate you a little.  Your expectations of worth are probably not realistic especially if you collection is comprised most of the 1980s to present.  There are not people lining up to buy your Reign of Superman, Valiants, or Captain Atom #17-26.  Even in older comics, only a few major titles are steady sellers, and that is basically the most popular characters.

Do you want top dollar for your books?  Based on Overstreet or Wizard, your collection may be worth hundreds or thousands, and it may be an impressive collection, but no dealer is interested in paying FULL price guide because they need to make a profit.  A dealer must make a profit to pay for costs and time.

If you are a seller that want top dollar (near full price guide) for your collection, you need to go into business for yourself.   It may take years to move your collection.  You need to take the time to sell them, scan them, bag and board them, grade them, set up at shows, ebay fees, website fees, taxes, rent, packing supplies, taking them to the post office, etc.  You will also find that some books sell quickly and some will sit and sit and never sell at full price.  If you decide to go this route, and allow your collection to be cherry picked by selling off all the "good" books, the leftovers that you cannot sell will be even less attractive to a dealer in the future. A collection with good books will be FAR more attractive to a dealer.  So unless you are willing to do the selling yourself, forget getting near full price guide for any comics from a dealer.

Selling online.   You will likely make more by selling them yourself on ebay, but you will have the hassle of scanning, listing, and shipping them.  You will have to pay ebay and paypal fees, which can be about 15% of the cost of the books.  If you misrepresent what you are selling, the customer may try to return or give you negative feedback.   Most people get 10-40% of guide on ebay, depending on the item.

What's the best comics to try to sell? 

  • 1930s-1960s issues of popular characters as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Flash, Hulk, Wonder Woman, etc.
  • Key issues like Incredible Hulk #181 (first Wolverine), Amazing Spider-Man #300 (first Venom), etc.
  • Ongoing titles from the last few years are generally in demand.
  • Generally, if a comic is published before 1980, the better.

What's the worst comics to try to sell? 

  • Most 1980s and up comics.  Even mainstream characters like Batman and Superman are plentiful.
  • Most comics published between 1990-1994, during a comic book glut.  Comic books were bought speculatively during this period and most are still in oversupply.
  • Comic titles that are cancelled and most mini series
  • Most titles from comic book companies that are no longer in business, or contain minor characters.

Generally issues like those above have very little resale value and can usually be purchased cheaply in quarter bins at comic shows.  Consider selling them in lots of 100-200 books.


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