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Comic-Nomics 101: What Are Comics Really Worth?


Value is the in eye of the highest bidder.

How many times have you looked at that mountain of comic books and thought… Man, I should sell them and move out of my parents’ basement. But, where do you start? What are they really worth? How do you know you are not getting ripped off? And how do you get rich off of all these great comics so you can swim in your money like Uncle Scrooge!?!?!?

The “porpoise” of this article, the first in a series, is to help you better understand the comic book market, at least from a high level. You could call this Comic-Nomics 101. Have your pens and pencils ready… there may be a quiz at the end.

Before the advent of the internet, the only way to have a value of your comics, at least for those of us who could not afford to have an appraiser on staff, was to either get a price guide magazine each month or to pick up the annual edition of the Overstreet Price Guide, the bible on comic pricing. Those folks really know their stuff and they have provided a needed resource in the comic industry for years. Now, though, people want that instant gratification. How much are my comics worth now, from minute to minute? So, where do you go for that info?

The online auction site eBay is always an option, as you can see how much copies of a given book are currently listed for and how much they have actually sold for. You can get your collection ready to sell there, but it is so time consuming. You have to get out all your comics, go through the process of taking pictures, crafting a listing that makes sense and will draw attention, and then manage shipping everything to each buyer. Then there are the fees and the PayPal and the possibility of scammers. Overall, if you have the time and effort to put in, eBay is a great tool and can get you some of the best prices… but how do you know what to charge for something?

You can always go to a comic shop, but the prices they sell things for are not always what you can get for them on the open market nor are the prices that they will pay for something, since they need to make a profit as well. I have heard some interesting stories about that sort of thing. I read about a guy who went into a newly opened store, where the owner had collected a lot during the 1990s, when asked about pricing on a specific book, the owner pulled out an old (1990’s?) copy of the Overstreet Price Guide and proceeded to try to look up the book… which was published a few years after the guide he was checking. The moral of the story is that just because the guy owns a comic book shop DO NOT assume that he knows anything about comic books or prices or anything, really. Remember, when you assume… you make an ASS of U and ME. See, ASS-U-ME? Anyway.

There are a lot of websites out there and even groups on Facebook that will help you sell your books. You may even get a little better price that way since you are selling to a group that wants the comic instead of just wanting the speculative value and profit that the comic may or may not provide. A lot of the time you have to think of a comic book as a commodity. There are limited numbers of each issue, but there is also a basic supply and demand curve. This can be greatly skewed by the amount and scarcity of variant covers or the over or under printing of a given issue.

I know this is a lot to stuff in a brain already filled with all the ways that Batman could beat every single hero and villain in any universe, but it is valuable information just the same. I have to cut this one short, but stay tuned for more Comic-Nomics 101 coming soon.

Let me know what you think.

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