Comic Book Question
April 17, 2009 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Comic Book Filter. Help, my wife has 2000+ comic books from the 80's & 90's...all your favorites - Superman, Batman, Green Lantern. How do we get them appraised or sell them?

She has boxes and boxes of comic books in sleeves, but in no order or organization. She would like to sell them, but find the whole process of sorting, etc very daunting. How should we go about this and who should we call? Are there comic book appraisers/Services?

Any help would be appreciated
posted by mikedelic to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Comics Etc and Comics DB have processes, and I'll add my thoughts.

Option 1: find a professional grader. That site is one option, and Comic Cons probably have folks there, too.

Option 2: take them to a variety of comic shops (call ahead!) and let them appraise the lot. If you have local options (more than one shop in the area), tell them you're looking around at the possible sale of them all, but no one is a final location, so they don't invest a lot of time with the idea they'll be the ones to sell the bunch. They might charge a small fee, I have no idea.

Option 3: check out online shops, if you have the time. The one I know best is Mile High Comics, and they are constantly buying comics in bulk, and they have a lot of stock for comparison of possible selling costs. Just googling around, I found Metropolis Comics, which may be a similar set-up, and may have more issues for price comparison.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2009

I think you could get a booth at a local comic convention, set the boxes up on a few tables, and have a "3 for $5" pricing policy (or whatever price you think they're worth) Nerds will come in and look through them, all of them, to find the one they're looking for. There's usually no need to sort them if you go this route, but if there's a valuable jem in there or two you might lose a few dollars. However, if you want to sell them one by one instead of all at once, consider this option.

I'm not 100% sure if you need to be a bona fide comic seller to get a booth, check with the convention organizers.
posted by hellojed at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2009

DON'T take them to half price books or the like - an ex of mine got something ridiculous like 25/50 cents a comic on 10 long boxes.

if she doesn't want to sort them and find the valuable stuff herself, she's going to be trusting that who ever she has appraise them will be honest.
posted by nadawi at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2009

My partner is in a similar situation. He hasn't wanted to set up a table at a convention because he doesn't like the idea of his collection being cherry-picked, leaving him with the non-valuable stuff (he has a hard time letting go of things, so would probably feel stuck with them at that point).

He has talked to a co-worker about the co-worker doing the sorting, selling, etc. for a percentage of the sales. It hasn't come together yet, but of the available options, he likes this one best.
posted by not that girl at 11:53 AM on April 17, 2009

The Overstreet Comic Book grading guide is an industry standard starting point for the value of each of the individual comics. In other words, yo ucan look up each of the books by title and number and it will give you a value depending on the condition of the book.

And it's less than $20.00.

IIRC, it will also have a chapter on how to grade the condition of the books as well. You should expect a lot of pushback on the grade (condition) of the comics unless you get them graded ("slabbed") by the CGC which also has some valuable information on its site.

You might also want to think about selling the books individually, or as sets, on ebay. They have a thriving comic book market.

Good Luck.
posted by cjets at 12:12 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Honestly, comics from the 80s and 90s, generally, aren't going to be worth a whole hell of a lot.
Specifically, any Marvel/DC (and to a lesser extent Image and Darkhorse) stuff from the 90s is going to be worth pretty little.
Even more specifically, plan on anything with a foil or otherwise "enhanced" cover, any "number one" of a previously long running series, anything with several covers for the same book, or anything advertising on the cover how "collectible" it is (ex. 'first appearance of XXXXXX inside!!') being worth next to nothing.

Now that that is out of the way, answer yourself the following question: do I want to get rid of these old comics, or do I want to make money off of them?

If you just want to dump them, email Mile High Comics, let them give you whatever they want to give you, and the comics will be off your hands. You might make more money donating them to a hospital or library and taking the tax write-off. Either way, your closet space is saved, and you have a free pizza out of the deal.

If you want to get return on your investment, you will have to do significantly more leg work. You'll need to buy the up-to-date comic pricing guide. There are several on the market: Comic Buying Guide and Wizard both have monthly magazines, but the last time I checked Overstreet was still the go-to source (this may have changed, but Wiki implies that it hasn't.) Comb through every single issue. Use Post-Its on the bags, and mark the Guide price. Separate them by title, and then by issue number. Make note of any issues by popular writers or artists. If, for example you have some Mike Mignola Hulk issues, they go in the Hulk pile, in order with the rest, but with a special note on them. Then, take every issue that the Guide says is worth more than $X (double the price of a decent eBay listing would be a good barometer, or a dollar amount,) and list them on eBay. Any issues with noteworthy artists or writers, make sure to mention those people in the auction title. Set the reserve around half of the Guide price, and don't be surprised if it goes for that. Offer to combine shipping. All the issues worth less than $X, bundle together into runs of same title, sequential numbers, with a tiny reserve, and let people grab them as they want them. The alternative is listing every single title at what you want to get, and not accepting a cent less; some people do this, but generally they wind up wasting so much money on eBay fees that it is a Pyrrhic victory. If the runs don't sell, you might try listing the cheapo issues with a 99ยข buy-it-now, or something.

Make sure to take photos of each issue, so that people can see what they will be buying, and be HONEST about any condition issues or whatnot. Better that they be surprised that it is in better shape than they thought than that it is in worse shape.

The second path is exponentially more work, but will certainly garner more cash (though probably not exponentially more.) If you have a decent local shop, they might offer you a price for the whole thing, and it might be pretty fair. But bare in mind that lots of local comic shops (and ALL online comic shops) wind up feeding their streams of back-issues into the same eBay ocean, so you might as well do the leg work yourself.

Good luck.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:12 PM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

And after all that, beaten to the punch!

Also: getting your comics officially graded is pretty worthless, to be honest. It costs a pile, and your customers will know that you are passing that cost on to them, with you certification. Many will look elsewhere.
posted by paisley henosis at 12:15 PM on April 17, 2009

It's OK, PH, you gave much more info than I did.

And you're right about CGC for most comic books (probably most of the OP's given the description). But if you do stumble across a few high end collectibles, having it graded by CGC can greatly increase the value of the book.
posted by cjets at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2009

Help, my wife has 2000+ comic books from the 80's & 90's...all your favorites - Superman, Batman, Green Lantern. How do we get them appraised or sell them?

Wait for a local comic book convention. Rent a table. In the morning, sell the comics for 50 cents each. Three hours before closing time, cut that to 25 cents each.

There are not too many 80s/90s comics that are worth money. Most are worth waaaaay less than cover price depending on condition.

Anyone you pay to look at a 80s/90s comic collection is going to be a waste of your time and there's. You have to do the work yourselves or take them to a comic shop and sell them for a penny a piece. Get a copy of the Overstreet Comic Price Guide and look up each comic. Organize each comic as well. If the comic is listed for cover price, then that comic is worth less than cover price (overstreet tends to not list any comic less than cover price for any of the newer comics even if the comic is worth a dime). Also realize that you and your wife probably know nothing about conditions of comics and so cut every comic you believe that is worth "money" in half. That will be the expected value of that comic if you sold it at a comic convention. If that value is over 100 dollars, then send the book to CGC to have it graded and put into plastic. That'll increase the resale value of the comic a tad and also show you how a book can be graded by professionals.

Your wife, and everyone else, has comics from this era and, especially the early 90s, it was the era when comics became purely manufactured collectibles. Realizing that the collection is worthless is the best way to feel positive if you get any money from it in the future.
posted by Stynxno at 12:47 PM on April 17, 2009

Agreed on the comic price guides - but those numbers are best used for insured/selling-yourself prices; don't expect to get price-guide prices if you plan to sell to a dealer or any other sort of "gotta get rid of it" selling. If you want top dollar for the comics, you will have to set up a way to sell them yourself (and, as most people said, comics from the 80s and 90s, even in perfect shape, aren't worth a whole lot).

Cherry-pick the collection yourself, using the price guides, and sell those online or at a comic convention for the best price you can get for them -- everything else, dump on the first person willing to pay you cash. Don't spend any money on a professional grader unless it really affects the price; if the difference between the top-grade and mid-grade is only a couple bucks, be aware a grader is going to charge you much more than that for the certification, and that, even then, you're probably not going to get what the price guide says it's worth.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:53 PM on April 17, 2009

Paisley's advice is good. We have been ebaying our comics from a similar era and have done pretty well. Few of our comics are worth much so we have used Mile High Comics to get an approximate quality grade (Near Mint, Very Fine etc) and start almost every auction at 99 cents. We've made about $2000 in the past two months.

It has taken quite a bit of tme to describe everything, check the grading, then list and pack for sale but it's been worthwhile just to get the stuff out of the house.
posted by wingless_angel at 5:30 PM on April 17, 2009

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