Best time to sell comics collection?
October 9, 2017 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm sifting through the comics collection from my younger years (1980s) trying to sell them and strategically get the most money. I have a few questions, specifically around events like the release of new Marvel superheroes movies.

I'm now in my 40s and want to minimize my belongings. As I dip my toe in, I was surprised to sell The Tick #1 on eBay for $75, but then realized it was probably due to the new Netflix series.

And then today I realized my New Mutants #87 featuring Cable (who will be in the next Deadpool movie) which suggests the selling price could be anywhere between $100-$500.

For something like that, is it best to sell right before the movie comes out? Right after?

I would like to unload everything now, but realizing prices shoot up at certain times made me wonder about holding off until more strategic times. Any advice for folks my age who've gone back and sold comics from the 80s area would be appreciated.
posted by deern the headlice to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Judging by eBay, I've also seen wild differences in pricing. A treasured comic like Punisher #1 seems to go for anywhere between $20 and $500. Incredible Hulk #377 is either worth $20 or $240, depending on various details. :P FWIW, all my books are first prints in NM or M condition.

Just to give you an idea, I'll post some things I'm thinking of unloading (some are definitely worthless.

Action Comics - #662

Action Comics Annual - #1

Aliens - #1-2

Aliens v Predator - #1-3

Alpha Flight - #1

Amazing Spider Man - #284-289, #295, #313-328

Animal Man - #5-9, #13-26

Avengers Annual - #10

Batman #404 (Year 1, Part 1), #436, #442, #500

Batman v Predator - #1

Black Orchid - #1-3

Daredevil -#175, #179-181, #187-192, #248-249

DC Showcase - #93

Deathblow - #1

Deathlok - #1-2

Detective Comics Annual - #2

Dr Strange - #11-12

Elektra Assassin - #1

Excalibur - #1-2

Ghost Rider - #1-5, #7-12, #14-17

Give Me Liberty - #1-2

Green Hornet - #1

Guardians of the Galaxy - #1

Hellblazer - #1, #23-29, #30-31

Incredible Hulk - #377

Infinity Gauntlet, The - #1-3

Legends of the Dark Knight - #1-5

Marvel Comics Presents #72-73

Marvel Fanfare - #18

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars - #1-4, #6-8

Moon Knight - #8-9

New Mutants, The - #86-92, #96-97, #100,

New Mutants Annual - #1

New Titans, The - #60-61

Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD - #1

Power Pachyderms - #1

Punisher, The - #1-2, #8, #11, #13, #18, #21, #24-30, #32-50

Punisher Summer Special #1

Punisher Armory - #1

Punisher War Journal - #1-20, #22-23, #25-30, #33

Robocop - #1

Sabretooth - #1

Sandman - #1 (signed), #8, #10-14

Secret Origins Special - #1

Silver Surfer - #50

Spawn - #5-8, #12

Spectacular Spider Man - #158-160

Spider Man (Todd McFarlane) - #1-2, #4-9, #11-14, #16

Stalkers - #2

Stray Toasters - #1

Swamp Thing - #32-35, 40-46, #48-51, #53-60

Tapping the Vein - #2

Thor - #411-412

Tick, The - #1

X-Men Heroes of Hope - #1

Warriors, New - #1

Watchmen, The - #1-2

Web of Spider Man - #2-4, #29, #50

What If… - #35


WILDCATS Trilogy - #1

Wolverine - #1-34, #41, #44

World’s Finest - #1

X-Factor - #1, #10, #24-26, #32-33, #37, #40, #42, #50-54, #62-67, #69-72, #84-85, #87

X-Factor Annual - #1

X-Force - #1-5

X-Men (Original) - #175, #201-202, #218-221, #223-269, #273-289, #300

X-Men (Jim Lee reboot) - #1-8

X-Men - Days of Future Past
posted by deern the headlice at 8:43 AM on October 9

This probably isn't what you want to hear, but I found the advice in this previous AskMe to be quite accurate. The market has collapsed and I suspect that digitization by the large publishers has only exacerbated that trend. I haven't noticed any appreciable price difference with respect to the timing of a movie release or similar event. I'd identify 10-20 books (at most) that might command a decent price and try to sell them online. You won't get anywhere near the list prices you're seeing, I fear.

I notice that you have a Marvel-heavy collection. If you'd like to keep reading these comics, I would spring for the $69 annual Marvel Unlimited subscription and keep any comics not available through Marvel Unlimited. You might wish to donate the remainder of the collection, if that is an option for you, to a library, children's hospital, community center, or something similar. Or, failing all else, sell the balance of the collection to a comic book shop for a few dollars, perhaps.
posted by cheapskatebay at 9:31 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Not a comic person, but I sell a lot on eBay.

Do you have a lot of free time? Are you willing to be pretty careful and thoughtful about shipping (e.g. charge the least theoretically possible while still very carefully packaging your comic books)? Do you want to maximize your profit? Are you good at taking pictures and describing things? Are you ok with selling these piecemeal over the course of years and making your money in $5s and $49.99s at a time?

If so (and I'm not trying to deter you, just have you think through the process), the way to get the most money out of any collection is to sell it individually. Throw in the items that are worth very little as "freebies" with larger sales (everyone likes freebies). Set them up as "buy it nows" with high but reasonable asking prices. Wait for them to sell. Your profit will be nibbled away at by final value, paypal and shipping fees, so be careful about how you list/ship/etc. No one likes paying for shipping, so keep your prices low there. If comics is like other specialized communities I'm in, you need both a good amount of positive feedback on eBay and also experience successfully selling comics that arrive as described in order to get the most out of your comics. Unknown quantities (people with lower feedback numbers, no experience selling $specialtyitems) get lower prices. I've stopped buying, for example, any electronics from sellers with less than 10 feedback. Just not worth the hassle.

Other option - take the entire collection to a couple of well-respected comic places and get a price for the entire collection. It won't be as high as the price you'd get selling things individually, but it will likely be a fair offer (and you won't have to deal with all the minutiae of selling over the course of years).

Third option would be to cherry pick the collection for the nicest pieces, put them on eBay with the highest possible prices (and a buy it now) and wait for someone who just NEEDS that thing. But, if you do that, the comic places may not want to buy the rest.

If you sell on eBay- remember, GREAT pictures, very accurate descriptions.
posted by arnicae at 9:35 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]

Thanks folks.

I haven't noticed any appreciable price difference with respect to the timing of a movie release or similar event.

But from everything I'm seeing, there are definitely big spikes around the release of a movie. Back to the original question, is it best to sell beforehand when it's hyped, or just after when the movie is being talked about and watch?

For example if they did a movie about the Born Again storyline, when would I sell that run of Daredevil comics ideally?
posted by deern the headlice at 10:27 AM on October 9

I sold my copy of New Mutants #98, the first appearance of Deadpool, to my local comic book store (Heroes Aren't Hard to Find!) after the Deadpool movie had come out and done well. If you are going to "time the market" so to speak, I think you need for the movie to be established as popular first, so wait until people have seen it.

A few notes from that experience, which was the first time I sold to a comic shop. The person who looked at my copy was someone I had had some conversations with during other trips to the store, so I generally trusted him in the situation. He looked the book over very carefully. He pointed out a few quite minor flaws (centimeter-sized misprints, or centimeter-sized stress marks along the spine) on a book I had probably only read once when I purchased it new way back when. He showed me two other copies they already had that were "better" as they were arguably flawless. He said mine would be the fifth copy in the store and would be right in the middle in terms of quality. He felt they could maybe sell it for $75-100 and very generously gave me $50 for it. He told me then that value was partly based on how many copies they had to sell.

Other comics I have given away to a local LGBTQ teen center. They were mostly dribs and drabs of DC comics from the 90s and early 00s. I still have various boxes of comics that I have kept, also.

Some of the comics you are seeing listed for varying amounts, are they "graded" by CGC or whatever the service is that puts them in sealed little acrylic boxes? Are they completed listings or just asking prices?

My guess is, looking through your list, that Wolverine #1 and Sandman #1 (signed) are your most valuable comics. I think a great number of the other comics are perhaps worth $1 or so, depending on condition. But so are mine! It's a great time to be collecting comics from the 80s and 90s!

Good luck!
posted by Slothrop at 2:03 PM on October 9

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