Comics are a unique niche product that the culture both celebrates and marginalizes. Even though the top movies and television shows are based on comics properties, and pop culture is soaked in capes, only a small number of people take it far enough to go into a Local Comic Shop(LCS) and pick up a single issue floppy off of the wall. For those who do read monthly, this can mean that your house is filled with stacks and long boxes that only build and build as the months go by. This used to be something to hold onto at any cost as the comic speculation boom of the 1990s overwhelmed us with the idea that you comics would put you through college or let you retire on an island somewhere. While some of your comics certainly will be worth money some day, that number is so far below what people once hoped.
Instead, you will often need to sell comics periodically so that you can make room for new ones(or just room to hang up a jacket). This means a couple of things, not the least of which is separating what you should keep and what you should get rid of. What you should keep really should be broken down into what you may want to read again and what will have collectible value. As of writing this, I am a collector of all things Vertigo, so I make sure to keep all Vertigo floppies I acquire. Luckily, not everyone shares my Vertigo obsession, so I am able to find most of these issues in dollar bins at comic conventions and sales. Beyond this, I keep many of the larger series that I really like, as well as most 1st issues and many variant covers. The variant cover machine has been pumping sales since the 90s, so you really cannot keep any and all that you have acquired. You can be a bit stingy about what to keep and what to sell, but you should apply the same standards that you do to other comics to variant covers. Are they of a significant series? How many people have a book like this? What did you pay versus what you think you could get?
What do I do Before Selling My Comics?
So what steps should you take when you are looking to sell?
- First, you will want to price all of your comics. This means going to the most recent Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and then finding out what they are worth. It should be noted that you will rarely get the price listed unless it is an overly hot item. This is also the price you will get when not selling in bulk and only when selling to collectors. You can secondarily check the market rate on books by looking at places like eBay and making a low average.
- Second, make a complete list of the books you are selling and coordinate the boxes they are in to align with that. This is especially true if you want to sell in bulk to LCS’s that deal in back issues or online appraisers.
- Separate any graded or signed books, which will have different valuization. This is important because, while places like CGC or PGX are intended only to give an accurate grade as to the condition of the book, what they actually do is raise the value of the book no matter what. So you will not see this reflected in things like the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Signed comics are complicated as un-verified signatures can sometimes make people question buying it, but generally it will bring up the value. There is less valuazation on this, and it will likely be more up to the buyer and their love of the creator. Some people avoid getting signed comics because of this, but we recommend getting things signed if you love them. Half of my own collection is signed comics, which was a lot of rewarding work as it required meeting creators and getting them hand signed. Generally signatures are easy to verify, and though they theoretically can be faked, they usually are not. On the other hand, you cannot guarantee getting any more money for you book if they are, and if they are signed with a personalization they likely will not get much more.
Where Should I Sell My Comics?
Once your books are listed and ready to go, you will need to figure out where to sell your books. If you have accurately listed them then it may be time to try a few different retail options.
- My Comic Shop – This website is a massive database of comics you can buy, as well as books you can sell. Since they literally need anything, it is not just popular or valuable comics that they want. What you will do is use their recording function to locate the books you have and then list them if it is listed that they need them. It is common to get offered about a buck or two in store credit and a little less than that in cash. For more valuable books the price will just go up, but for really valuable books you can use their consignment service to run auctions for customers.
- eBay – This has really dominated comic sales in recent years because it is an easy way to quickly get specific issues. People often expect deals on eBay, but since the auction site is now dominated by actual retailers just using eBay stores, they are few and far between. This may be your best option if you are not in a rush as you will often get more for medium range issues.
- Bulk Buyer – There are a whole number of websites that list they will buy your comics, such as getcomicsforcash.com or sellmycomicbooks.com, that will appraise and buy your comics in bulk. They will require that you have accurate lists with grades usually, and they will not pay nearly as much as selling them individually. This can be good for getting ride of huge volumes of books that are not incredibly valuable.
- LCS – There are a lot of Local Comic Shops that will buy collections, but it is again not always at a huge mark down since they have a smaller profit margin. You will also need to have a complete list, and they will often offer store credit.
- Conventions – This is a great option if you have enough comics to fill up a store. The overhead can be expensive as convention tables are not cheap, and people will be looking for deals, but if you have 10,000 books to get rid of they this can put you on the same footing as the retailers in the space.
- Specific Collectors – For incredibly high end books you will want to connect with high end collectors. This means connecting with auction houses that deal in high end antiques as well as researching high end dealers and making contact. Recently eBay has also become a good option here, but make sure to correctly valuate the book ahead of time.
- Book Stores – This is where you will sell things like trades and graphic novels that you cannot sell through conventional means. Generally they do not valuate in the same way floppies do, so you will not get more money for older editions as they age(though there are exceptions). You can try the ways that we already list, but generally you will also have a lot of luck selling lightly worn book volumes to comic stores that buy them or book stores that buy used books. Thankfully, they are some of the more popular used volumes since people buy them in such high numbers, so they are often chosen for selling back. Things From Another World and Powell’s Books in Portland are both great places to try and sell your books, though Powell’s will likely pay the most.
When Should I Sell?
In reality, most of the time it does not matter when you sell. The best time for certain comics is when there is buzz about them, such as when a movie or television show is about to come out or is still in the public consciousness. So, for example, in 2015 Ant-Man and Preacher books have been more popular than normal because of their adaptations. This means that their prices will be artificially inflated, as will be Suicide Squad, Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, Super Girl, iZombie, The Flash, Alias, and Daredevil. You can expect this pattern to follow suit for the years to come, so look around at what is popular outside of comics and that may help you see what you should sell when. Beyond this, you will generally see inflations when a creator passes away, when a book ends, or when something related to your book is published(such as a direct sequel).