How to Value Comic Books

Are your Dad’s old comics worth any money? Does the collection you found in the basement have any value? Is your most coveted comic book worth as much as you think? You might be surprised.

Comic Books

Determining the value of comics can be a nebulous endeavour. With a multitude of criteria to meet, varying standards amongst collectors, and an ever growing industry, navigating the comic collecting world can be difficult and confusing. However one can take clear steps in establishing an idea for a comic’s value.

About Comics

The term ‘comics’ can refer to a variety of things, from a newspaper cartoon strip, a comic book, or a 100 page graphic novel. However as an umbrella term, the word typically describes a medium that uses sequential images combined with written speech in order to tell a story. While some look back to prehistoric cave art and hieroglyphics as the first examples of comic-like creations, comics as we understand them today first gained popularity during the 1930s with publications like Superman and The Adventures of Tintin. Since then, their influence on American media and culture has spread astronomically and the industry continues to thrive today. It is no wonder that buyers around the world seek to possess these tokens of modern pop-culture.

"Their influence on American media and culture has spread astronomically and the industry continues to thrive today."

comic books in a bookcase

Condition of the Comic

As with any other object or work of art, assessing the ‘grade’, or condition of the comic is crucial in determining its value. A comic book with a creased, torn, stained, or otherwise damaged cover will not be worth as much as a similar edition with an undamaged cover. Similarly, the state of the inside of the comic is also very important to potential buyers. Faded or yellowed pages, pen or pencil marks, as well as missing pages will greatly reduce the value of the piece. However, if the comic is particularly rare, old, features an early version of a popular character, or is otherwise highly coveted, then it can still bare the potential to be worth a significant amount of money.

Comic Price Guides

One helpful aspect of the comic collecting business is the availability of price guides. They are a great tool to ascertain a ballpark estimate for comics once their condition is determined, as they essentially function as a comprehensive list of comic book names alongside their value based on past sales and demand based on their grade. These lists can either include a price range or just one set price, but either way it can be a very effective method by which to assist potential buyers or sellers in giving an idea of the worth of a specific comic. There are various price guide platforms to choose from, but amongst the most popular are ComicsPriceGuide.com, and The Overstreet Comic Price Guide, which has been updated annually since 1970 and is available on Amazon. However, although these guides are helpful in providing a general estimate for a comic’s worth, they are still only guides and therefore not unchangeable or immune to error. The true determinant of the value of a piece is how much someone is actually willing to pay for it on the market.

Assessing Current Demand

Alongside checking price guides, it is important to research recent sale prices of comics. This is a more realistic way to draw forth an estimate for a specific comic, as sometimes a price guide may list a price that not many people are willing to pay for, or otherwise an item may not be listed if the item is especially rare. This is also a good method by which to assess the competition for a specific item and see how many other similar comics are available for purchase or auction. There are a multitude of online auctioning platforms that one can check, such as Ebay, and other websites solely dedicated to comics such as Comic Connect, and Heritage Auctions. As with any other circumstances, it is important to evaluate the reputability of an auctioning website, as some are more reliable than others.  

Patience is Key

Compared to many other sectors of the collectibles market, comic collecting is still relatively niche, so one must consider that although an item may technically be worth a certain amount of money, it is not always guaranteed that there is someone out there looking for and thus willing to pay top dollar for it. Sellers need to be realistic in considering that if they are looking for a quick sale, it may be necessary to lower the price by some. Otherwise one might have to wait quite a while before a potential buyer emerges looking for the specific item, although this can sometimes be worth it. Additionally, it is best to set up a consignment rather than sell to a comic book store, as they need to make a profit and thus will not pay full price for your comic.

Comic books are a nostalgic piece of media history and can provide a glimpse into the fantasies of a time past. Not very many people realize they can also be worth a great deal of money as well. Who knows - you could very well have a gem hiding in your collection. Of course it is always best to have your item professionally valued and appraised!

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