Best way to sell comic books?
August 22, 2005 1:03 PM   Subscribe

How to sell comic books

I have a large collection (1200) comics books, mainly early 90's DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Justice League) in mint condition. I want to find the simplest way to get rid of them (and maximze profits, of course). Is ebay the best way, or should I take them to a local comicbook store? Is it worth trying to sell them individually, or just as a set? Does anyone have any experience with this? As a side note, I have had no experience (buying/Selling) in the comic book industry in more than 10 years.
posted by blue_beetle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Selling them singly on a forum like eBay is going to be your best bet unless you have some sort of complete run. Your local comic store is going to want to make a profit on any comics they buy from you, so they're going to pay you less than you'd get by selling them directly, although there's a chance they'd just buy the whole set for a flat price. Note that you'll get a much lower price if you go this route.
posted by bshort at 1:23 PM on August 22, 2005

Fact is, a fair price has as much to do with your expertise as it does with objective valuation.

Presumably you don't know anyone who could go to your place to look at the collection, but that would be best. It can't work online because you would have to type up a complete inventory - probably not worth the effort. The second best solution is buying a price guide and looking to see if you have any 'key issues'. The prices are meaningless, but you can get an idea of relative importance, with that information you could pursue more specific online assistance (ebay ended auctions, follow up here, whatever).
posted by Chuckles at 1:23 PM on August 22, 2005

Establish a threshold value and sell any that are worth that much individually, then bundle the rest. Ideally organize them in a way that a single person would want to buy all of a given bundle.
posted by smackfu at 1:32 PM on August 22, 2005

eBay is a decent option, but for niche market collector goods, you might first want to post a list with prices to some forums where comic collectors congregate (and work with paypal transactions). This gives you more control over prices and avoids associated ebay fees.

Once you get rid of some this way, the remainder could go to eBay.
posted by p3t3 at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2005

They're worthless. Everybody was collecting and preserving comics in the early '90s. DC books aren't quite as ubiquitous as Marvel, but close. I've got boxes of the exact same comics. They're not worth their cover prices.

If you still read, your best bet is to drag them down to your local comic store and trade them for a discount or credit. If you've got a cousin or a nephew who reads, let them do the leg work. If you've got a few select comics that you suspect might be worth a few bucks, check eBay. But don't get your hopes up.

Sorry. But I used to work in a comic store, and I've got boxes of the exact same books you're talking about. So does everyone else. The best thing you can do for yourself is to free up some space: Trash the books and move on.

(That was supposed to be one of my summer projects...and now it's August 22. Goddamn it.)
posted by cribcage at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2005

ebay it. the odds of you making any sorts of large amounts of money on an early 90s collection is rather small. There are TONS of mint condition comics like these out there. I stumbled on them all the time in quarter bins.

the early 90s are famous for over printing, "collector editions", and general pain and suffering. However, if you have mint condition Pre-Unity Valiant issues, those go for a pretty penny if you get them graded by CGC. Also, pre reboot Marvel comics are starting to pick up a little because of how small the print runs for these issues were.

Hope this helps!
posted by Stynxno at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2005

Early 90s DC books, even in mint condition, have very little collectible value. I recently sold a couple of thousand books on EBay, including the Grant Morrison JLA runs, and except in some very rare cases I did not recoup more than one-third of cover value.

Smackfu is correct: sell the 'good stuff' as singles, and the rest as lots. But you will not be maximizing profit. You will be minimizing loss. And you'll want to sell as lots in order to (a) save on EBay fees and (2) to not waste time listing hundreds or thousands of lots, the vast majority of which will not get bids if listed singly.

I used to manage a comic shop, I have been using EBay for sales since 1998, and I wrote an early FAQ for rec.arts.comics.marketplace. Not to sound to self-important, but if I couldn't make a profit selling this shit, nobody can.

The remainder of my books I actually had to *give* away to a local shop because they had no resale value except perhaps for their quarter bin. Selling books to a shop is generally a mug's game, and you'll get hosed, unless you're dealing with the hottest of the hot-fad books (typically, short-run stuff from the last year or so) or are selling key Silver Age or Golden Age to a reputable dealer with deep pockets and who is not looking to make a profit on the book in the next week or so.

And if you do have truly mint key issues from the 90s (though for the life of me I can't think of any), pay to get them 'slabbed' (rated in condition by CGC); slabbed books of high grade can sell for a lot of money.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:01 PM on August 22, 2005

If you happen to have any of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run in your collection, I know a wealthy recluse who goes by the online handle of COBRA! who'd be interested in buying them.

Email's in profile if you're interested.
posted by COBRA! at 2:02 PM on August 22, 2005

I had good luck bundling up the collections and ebaying them. I made sure to be precise about what was included or missing, took a picture of them all spread out on my floor and - most importantly - considered myself lucky to get whatever I got. Some did way better than I expected, some worse.

You can really help your case if you list authors or artists in the run that people might be interested in. People grooving on current Ennis Punishers might want your Preacher bundle rather than $80 in trades, or your Swamp Things even though he only did X number of them. They're keyword searching for what they want or know they like so if you connect with those people you'll improve matters.

You might also try posting - politely - to any author weblogs if you know of them. Peter David has one, for example, tho it doesn't lend itself well to such things. John Byrne has something too which might do better. I'm not sure what the posting rules are at either re: these things, however, so watch yourself.
posted by phearlez at 2:21 PM on August 22, 2005

One other option: donate 'em to a children's hospital or something for a charitable deduction for tax purposes.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2005

As they are worth little, maximise goodness, not profit. Give them to an elementary school or youth centre in a poor neighbourhood on the condition that the kids actually get to read them, maybe given away as prizes for best grades or attendance or best hair or whatever.
posted by pracowity at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2005

posted by pracowity at 2:23 PM on August 22, 2005

Because I moved across country earlier this summer, I decided to look into unloading my 4 longboxes of comic books from the mid 80's to early 90's (including Blue Beetle #1 as a matter of fact).

After a ton of looking into it and talking with comic book shops in the Mpls area, I pretty much came to the conclusion that the others above came to. Sell the few gems on e-bay and the rest are pretty close to worthless. Unless you're unemployed, it really isn't going to be worth your time to sell the rest. I ended up giving the boxes away to a few different friends of mine who were interested in them if they were free.

I did have some fun going through all my old books and rereading the ones that I remembered in the past.

I also found that the Comics Price Guide website was useful in determining relative value. You won't get what they say on that site without a lot of work, but it does help you figure out which comics in your collection might be worth taking some time to find a buyer for.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 2:27 PM on August 22, 2005

sweet, i actually have a whole ton of pre-unity valiant comics that have been in plastic and backboards ever since i bought them.

should i hold onto them for another ten years or will no-one care by then?
posted by fishfucker at 3:23 PM on August 22, 2005

Nobody cares about them now, fishie. From a high of over $100 US for a mint Harbinger #1, they are regularly available for cover price or less on EBay.

If you get a Harbinger #1 slabbed you could make more. A CGC 9.8 sold recently for $725. But, y'know, the odds of your copy being CGC 9.8 are pretty close to zero.

What you should do with them is to sell them as lots on EBay and hope to get a buck a pop for them. Runs of X-O Manowar #1-10 sometimes sell for ten bucks in total. What you should have done was to have sold them just before they peaked. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have done that, too, instead of letting them trickle out.

And don't even get me started on the asshole with great references who bought several hundred bucks' worth of Valiants from me on GEnie but whose cheque bounced shortly before he closed his GEnie account.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:42 PM on August 22, 2005

Runs of X-O Manowar #1-10 sometimes sell for ten bucks in total.

Add us all to the list of suspects if Jim Shooter ever wins up dead. #9,432 - 9,688. In a run.
posted by yerfatma at 5:40 PM on August 22, 2005

I'm currently sitting on a few thousand comics, mostly Silver Age, but some Golden and Steel Age? Anyway, my advice is this: if you have the space to store them, do so. If you just want to be rid of them, do what everyone else has recommended: individual good ones go on eBay, the rest go on eBay as a lot purchase.

Me? I'm holding on to 'em. I'd be a rich man now if my grandmother hadn't tossed half my father's collection when he was a teen.

Trash the books and move on.

Hopefully everyone will do this, and in 50 years they'll be worth something again. Costs me nothing to hold on to them, not even effort.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:19 PM on August 22, 2005

Civil_Disobedient: How much space does "a few thousand comics" take up? Eventually you'd be rich if you never threw anything out for 50 years -- people collect all sorts of junk -- but most people don't want to waste that much space for a couple of generations on the chance that their junk will ever be worth something. As a long-term investment, it would be better to dump the comics now (free up the storage space and, unless you now live where you're going to die, avoid future moving costs) and instead put a little money into something less annoyingly tangible and more likely to make a good profit (stocks, for example) over a couple of generations.
posted by pracowity at 7:30 AM on August 23, 2005

How much space does "a few thousand comics" take up?

Not as much as you might think. Boxes stack nicely in a corner of the attic.

but most people don't want to waste that much space for a couple of generations on the chance that their junk will ever be worth something

It really depends on what you're storing. Comics and baseball cards saw a huge peak in the 80s, then the industry killed the golden goose. But my collection doesn't comprise much of the "special edition, #0-issue, mylar-bagged" crap that came out of the 90s. If you look at the prices for Golden and Silver Age comics, they haven't dropped that much.

Odds are that sometime in the future they'll be another "craze," with any luck it'll coincide with my retirement. If not... well, my grandchildren will certainly appreciate it. The extra costs of moving them are negligable. If I was a pack-rat it might be an issue, but they're just about the only extra "useless" stuff I hold on to.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:46 AM on August 23, 2005

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