How To Sell Comics in a Post-Wizard World?
August 30, 2012 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Please help me make as much money as is possible from liquidating my comicbook collection.

For financial, spiritual and spacial reasons, the time has come to cross into that final nerd frontier and sell my comicbook collection. Now I'm not expecting to get rich doing this but I do have a bunch of great comics, building the collection meant something to me and if I'm going to sell it, I want to do it right. And somewhat fast. A good balance of right and fast, say.

The collection ranges from the 70s to the Aughts. Most of it is in excellent condition but some of it isn't. Lots of Marvel and DC, lots of stuff I'm not sure how to best gauge the value of. Nearly complete runs of stuff like George Perez Teen Titans, Mike Grell Green Arrow, weird shit like US1 and ROM Space Knight. A lot of 80s small press stuff - things like DNAgents, Ex-Mutants, Whisper, tons of stuff I'm forgetting but you get the gist.

There's a lot of 90s stuff in there, which I suspect is birdcage lining but maybe not. The first 100 issues of Spawn, Savage Dragon, assorted other stuff from contemporary stuff from Marvel and DC.

Obviously, I need to catalog it - there's seven longboxes in play here and I can't remember everything in them. Question is, once everything is sorted and cataloged, how do I go about determining the value of what I've got and seeking the most profitable buyers?

The local comicshops have a reputation for being pretty broke / stingy and to be honest, I'm not sure what state the secondary market is in or if it's even a thing any more. Should I get on Craigslist? eBay? I feel like there's a lot of stuff in here that a collector would be stoked about - I was sure stoked about them, but I don't want to be a collector anymore. Have any of you had any success seeking out collectors to sell comics to?

The best items would probably be the signed comics, about twenty to thirty of them. How should I determine my asking price for these?

As I said, I'm keen to do this quick but I'm not trying to lose out on too much of my potential revenue. I'm ready to let these go but I'll be honest, it stings a little bit. I want to have something to show for it. Any and all ideas and advice are very much appreciated.

Thank you, everyone.
posted by EatTheWeek to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about the market for comic books, but when I want to sell something to a niche market of enthusiasts (e.g. old bike parts, Ivy League-style menswear) I head for the relevant forum's "for sale" thread.
posted by pullayup at 10:30 PM on August 30, 2012

Anything that isn't "mint" is probably worthless unless it's extremely rare. Anything signed to you personally, as opposed to a generic signature and/or sketch, is probably also going to be hard to sell unless it's particularly rare/valuable.

Having done some selling of old comics myself (I also had a large collection of Spawn to get rid of a few years ago) I would advise you to do some metal math regarding how much your time and effort is worth to you. If there aren't local stores willing to buy your collection off of you in bulk, I would go look on ebay and see what your books are going for individually or as complete/partial series. Maybe also check craigslist, although I would be surprised if there's much activity there. Hopefully other folks here will know about a specialty online market that I haven't heard of.

If a cursory search through online listings doesn't look promising, I wouldn't spend too much time trying to maximize your profits unless you literally don't have anything better to do. Comics just don't sell for very much money unless they're highly sought-after collectors' items, unfortunately. It used to be that people like me would go hunting for them because we wanted to read the back issues, but now that so many books are collected as trades it's just collectors buying a lot of this stuff, not readers. And collectors don't really care about most of what gets printed.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:51 PM on August 30, 2012

(ugh...MENTAL math)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:54 PM on August 30, 2012

Without taking time to do cataloging (and my long boxes weren't even in order, ugh), I noted that I was selling comics in my moving sale ads a couple months ago. I got a request from a local dealer before the sale; he looked them over and made me an offer for the lot. I thought it was fair, and that was that. I might've been able to get a bit more selling some of the ones worth more (especially trades and complete runs) online, but it would have been difficult, and I didn't have time to sell more than a few myself. Check eBay to see what your best handful are going for, and adjust your price expectations accordingly.

Go through your collection to remove anything you definitely want to keep, and try to contact local dealers (the ones who do nothing but sell comics on the internet, not in local shops.) Better to rip the bandage off fast and sell them all at once.

If you do want to go to the trouble of cataloging them all yourself, there's at least some comics cataloging software out there, but I suspect they weren't using unique barcodes on a lot of them, so there's still a lot of work involved, and the prices may not justify it.
posted by asperity at 11:23 PM on August 30, 2012

The other reason to sell it all in one go is that if you skim the cream from the collection, the dealers may not find it worth their while to take, store, and try to sell the low-value stuff at all--and then it's getting landfilled.
posted by asperity at 11:28 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Breaking it up into runs, putting those runs on eBay (maybe in chunks) and then dropping notes into various specialist forums might be your best bet for things like Spawn etc.

You might want to check out - dunno whether they're any good.

Alternatively, and I have no idea how well this works, if you are splitting things up, you might be able to get rid of some of the more random ones to the proverbial children's hospital/hospice/home/young offender's institute and claim it as tax-deductible.

At some point I'm going to have do the same sort of thing and I'll eitehr bite the bullet and flog off all my Grant Morrison Doom Patrol's and Animal Man's etc, or just stick 'em in the loft and pretend I'll read them again when I'm 70.
posted by Hartster at 4:12 AM on August 31, 2012

I give this basic advice in a lot of selling-my-x-collection threads: there is an inverse relationship between the time and effort you put into selling the stuff and how much money you get out of it. Decide how much time and effort you wish to spend, then tailor your sale strategy based on that decision.
posted by box at 5:54 AM on August 31, 2012

Husbunny has shitloads of the comics that you describe. Well-read, much loved. I too dream of converting the collection into money, but I just don't think it will happen. The older comics gained value because in WWII so many comics were destroyed in paper drives.

The more recent comics just aren't that rare. They were published in huge numbers and hoarded by nerds everywhere.

I will say this, a friend of his dropped off his entire D&D collection on our doorstep one day. We held onto it for a couple of years, but the dude fell off the face of the earth. We advertised it on Craigslist and a guy came and got all the materials and paid us $200.

I agree that if you can just sell the lot for a couple hundred, you'd be well ahead of the game.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2012

Just my recent experience here in NJ.

I have a long box and a half of comics almost exclusively from the early 90's and mostly stuff that was labeled "collectors item" which obviously means there are millions of them. We're talking Spider Man, XMen, Ghost Rider...nothing great.

I talked to the guy at the local comic book place, he said bring it in and he'll go through it. I left the boxes with him. He eventually offered me $40 for everything and was really nice about it. Explained he has alot of them but that I might want to hang on to them and they might be worth somthing someday.

The stuff he wanted, per his handout, was 70s and 80s books. Those he paid more for. So based off of that, you have about 4x as many books as me. That puts you around $200 in a worst case scenario. But I think your books are probably more valuable so you might be looking closer to $500 possibly more if you have rarer titles. It might be worth making a quick list and talking to one of the store guys just to get an idea if its worth taking the next step.
posted by Busmick at 7:17 AM on August 31, 2012

Also I used this site to get an idea if a book was worth $1 or $100. I wouldn't rely on it by any means but might help you focus your attention on whats more important.

Also I ended up keeping my books.
posted by Busmick at 7:23 AM on August 31, 2012

(No advice, but I recently made this decision, too. I know it was hard; stay strong!)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:46 AM on August 31, 2012

I've never sold to them, but I have bought a few medium and large sized runs from Gary Dolgoff Comics. They buy collections. Shipping might kill you though.

Looks like their site is a bit borked right now, so you might have to call them.

Cataloging is absolutely vital. If I was trying to balance the time/effort I would figure out what I have and make a list. Show this to a comic nerd friend/comic book guy or whatever and see if you have any GEMS. Sell those individually.

Then I'd put together solid runs when you can and sell bundled. Think of it as a bootleg trade paperback. Either full story arcs or longer runs.

Then I'd offer the rest up on Craigslist/newspaper listing/dealer contact. Whatever wouldn't sell, I'd donate.

If you are lucky that will make you a little more money than if you just dumped them all in bulk to someone. But it's going to take you some time.

It really is a buyers market. I'm planning on pruning my collection but I really don't get around to it because the money I'd make just isn't worth it.

Once you have your list, send it to me! I may be willing to buy some. :)
posted by PlutoniumX at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2012

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