Caliburn24 here with some tips to help you with your comic book collecting. This is from years of experience collecting and input from dealers and collectors.
10. Should You Be Reading DC, Marvel or Independent Comics? Yes to all of them. They all have titles worth looking into, but don’t pass up Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and I always find fun reads with Antarctic Press. Here’s what years of collecting has shown me: keep an open mind, in other words, always be open to new things; different genres like horror with Walking Dead, westerns, and fantasy titles. Try following artists and writers (this may turn up some titles you may have missed), short list: Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Alan Davis, and George Perez. If you want some great reads always remember the Silver Age greats, short list; Denny O’Neil, E. Nelson Bridwell, Jack Kirby, and Joe Kubert. You can find these in trade paperbacks if you don’t want to buy the back issues. Don’t give up on titles, you may find there are good things there, I gave up on Captain America after the run with John Cassaday, and just about missed Ed Brubaker taking the character to different places. Don’t give up on a company, sure they may go in a wrong direction, but there is always bright spots. look through bargain bins, that’s where the real treasure is found.
9 Can I Find the Good Reads Online? Yes. You can always check a website, I would suggest Nuke the Fridge, but really any one to find what’s good in comics. The number one answer is friends. It is the best way to catch an issue you might miss, what’s up coming, and a back issue that might be interesting. The next is of course websites, magazines, and Previews, read reviews and interviews with creators, I find the many titles just by reading about the concept from a creator. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is not only good for checking the value of your comic books, but also to check out what is there and which creators working on a title. It always good to ask comic book store workers what is good to read. The best way to keep up to date with your comics is to have the pull box. The store can pull aside your titles and keep them for you. This helps the store keep track of titles and ensures that you get your weekly fix of X-Men. Lastly, the creators, themselves, I don’t think it is inappropriate to go up to the creator and ask about the title.
8. Are Comic Book Stores The Best Place to Buy Comics? Yes. Since there many be workers that can help you. The first one is newsstands are good to read, but best not to pick up damaged issues there. The next is comic book stores, good stock, and if you are there on Wednesday, there is the best chance of a comic book in good condition. There are websites that sell to customers directly. Check them out, including shipping rates, and always remember that pay what you can afford. Very important, there are conventions. As a rule, most conventions should sell current issues at below retail, there’s a reason you are buying there. Always bargain. Lastly, ebay. When you can’t find that issue at a comic book store and searched the conventions for it, then go ebay. I find it helpful for the sold out issue or rare Silver Age comic. Be careful of sellers with low ratings, check those stars, and read the listing. Most sellers are not graders so check the picture and ask questions if necessary. There are sellers who don’t know how to ship properly so the comic book may be damaged there. Still, it is a great way to get hard to find issues and remember to check for sets so you can fill in the gaps of your collection in one shot. Check for shipping rates, you might want to get that extra issue and save on shipping.
7. Can You Know the Condition of Your Comics? Yes. Here’s the biggest myth of comic book collecting: Mint condition comics. Sorry, imagine mass produced books pressed, stocked, and shipped and guess how they turn out when they finally reach your hands? Most comic books arrive in VF or less. Here’s the trick I use, I do the fast check sliding my fingers down the spine front and back (sometimes condition is undetectable through visual inspection), then hold it up to the light, change the angle and those dents show up like a bad paint job. The worst part is what I call the smiley face, a jagged dent that shows on covers, it is the printing paper. Plus, there are hidden smiley faces on some pages, but you have to go through almost every page to find them. It is perfectly fine to have low condition comics in your collection if you are reading them. The big rule for comic book collecting, buy the comic book to read for fun, a valuable comic is a bonus, don’t count on it. Resale value is unpredictable for any title.
6. Do You Need to Store Your Comics? Yes. Remember to store them immediately. Place them in plastic and board, pay extra if you need to and get them, and remember to slide your treasure in that sleeve. It is important to keep your comics in good condition by storing them properly. This raises the potential value of an issue. Tape is a nuisance, but I’ve had plenty of comics stuck to tape, this is where your collecting skill comes into play. You need boxes, short boxes are easy to carry, and to shift through to find a particular issue. I like to label my boxes, by creator or character. Always have the space to store the boxes.
5. Can You Manage Your Collection? Yes. It’s important to fill in those gaps for a series or get those key issues. Always keep in mind how much available space you have to which comics you would like to collect. Hoarder beware. A manageable collection is having the proper place to store boxes. If you have no living space since boxes and comics are taking up the space, then your collection has become too large and you have to think about paring it down. Also, if you have so many comics that you haven’t read one in years, maybe you need to cut down a bit. Your objective can be anything: collecting every comic Neal Adams ever did, a complete run of Super Friends comics, but make certain you can look at your collection and be happy.
4. Do You Need to Catalog Your Comics? Yes. There are programs like Comicbase that are handy, but I find a simple Word document is fine. It is important to have a written list when you go out to fill the holes in your collection. I’m guilty of not always following this advice. Duplicates galore. If you have your list ready, then it’s time to finish your collection. If you are serious about collecting or reading, be serious about entering your comic books in a timely fashion. I organize my comics by title, publisher, issue number, title, and creators. I make notations of first appearances and other features. I also have it broken down by creator so I know if there is an Arthur Adams comic I’m looking for, then I’ll know where to look. Also there are categories for different media, Silver Age, and character as well as teams like the Legion of Super Heroes.
3. Should You Attend a Convention? Yes. It is the best place to meet creators, buy back issues, and talk with dealers. The first tip is important. First bathe and keep up your hygiene. This seems optional for a few convention goers. Dress casual unless you are cosplaying. Always try to find as much information online about signings, schedules, and panels. Be flexible, here’s the thing with the big conventions like San Diego Comic Con, you are NOT going to get to do everything. So prioritize, what is absolutely important to get? what would you like to see? Most important, bring money. More than you can possibly imagine you will need. I find it the case that there is that little something, prints, sketchbooks, a comic book, that I didn’t realize is there and have to buy. Next, very important, have friends with cell phones. Stay in contact, because you will come across something your friend may want to know. Schedules and times change all the time. DO NOT rely on the word of a guy working security who assures you that the person will not be signing. Last point, NEVER pass something up hoping you will get back to it. Most often it sells out, you forget where is the booth, or the person has packed up. Once you walk away, don’t think it will still be there unless you have a dealer hold the item for you.
2. Will My Autographed Comics Be Worth More? No. Here’s the deal with autographs, they lower the value of the comic book if it is signed. You know like if I start writing my grocery list on your copy of X-Men. Autographs have value to you. If you like that person, then the comic book is invaluable, but for re-sell that’s up to the buyer. Always ask first about a signing. If an artist is sitting there, he may not have to time to sign for you. If she is busy talking on the phone or another person, be polite, don’t interrupt her. Be persistent, stick around to see if that creator is going to show up, also to see if the creator will return for a signing. Be patient, the lines are long, and signers can get tired, be considerate of them. I always find it nice to have something to say to the creators, they hear compliments all the time, what can you say that is personal? I think it is considerate of the signer if you have only three items (it could be less depending on the house rules). These are three of your favorite issues, the must signs, and if you bring more, please ask the creator if that is okay, some are fine with it. The suitcase autograph seeker can be too much at times.
1 Are You Ready to Sell Your Comics? Yes. You have already stored your comics properly and know what you can pare down. Big thing to keep in mind when you get to selling your comic books: they are worthless. Yup, their value is up to what the buyer is willing to pay for them. They don’t always go for Overstreet value. If you sell to a comic book store, good luck, most collections are hard to unload on them. They have to deal with the stock they already have in hand than to buy a hundred copies of your Rom collection. You might have a good chance to sell at a convention. Sellers are always looking for collections to get new buyers interested. Always ask first, some sellers are in the comic book store owner mode. The value is based on several factors; first appearance, key issues, and period (modern, Silver Age, etc.) Recent comics have almost no value. Sellers and store owners will have them in stock. What they are looking for is Silver Age and older which always has value. I see a few people bring their comics in shoe boxes, show some professionalism and get a comic box. Always remember, that if the asking price is too low, you always have the chance to walk away.
Good luck on your comic collecting.