I was reading over The Simple Dollar's post about 50 side businesses you can start on your own and it reminded me of one of the hobbies I had that I thought was going to be my ticket into wealth or at least comfortable living.
I was shortly out of high school and was making my own money but I didn't have an idea of what I wanted to do with all the money, plus I had recently taken an interest in some new independent comics books that had come out. This was all shortly before the death of Superman; but thanks to Superman's death I had decided go beyond being a reader but instead to become an investor in comic books because it was going to pay for college!
To this day I still love comics however I don’t buy them anymore. Back in the day I used to have old X-men, Captain America and Batman from the 60's. And though I loved to read comic books, to actually own them as an investment was a different mentality.
Reading involved only a moment of my time which brought enjoyment and escape for me and I would picture myself in amongst the characters, but owning comic books as an investment was a whole different story. You see, I expected all the comic books to go up in value and I didn’t have the patience to wait the 15-20 years necessary to make any money. I eventually sold them for a loss due to my impatience and stuck to the enjoyment of reading them from the library in graphic novel form.
For example, I once owned the first Captain America comic book. I bought it for about $40 dollars and sold it for about the same price a few years later. At the time it was valued around $100 for the condition it was in. Based on the prices now, it would fetch about $250, if I had the patience and kept it.
Collecting comics did teach me a few things about getting involved in hobbies that cost money.
1. Am I involved in this hobby because of personal value or monetary value?
2. Am I willing to show this hobby or will I hide it in a box for 'safe keeping'?
3. Is my hobby too broad and expensive or can I narrow it down?
4. Am I paying too much for my hobby?
And then the process of selling my collection of comic has also taught me a few things. And you can relate this to anything you may collect - cigar boxes, elephants or Barbie dolls.
Organize your collection
Pull out the comics and look up the prices - a good one in my estimate is, ComicsPriceGuide.com, as they pull from sales on EBay and from an annual called Overstreet (which pulls from auctions online and Sotherby’s, etc). Of course, don't pay for these books if you don't have to, libraries usually have the most recent one to check out.
Don’t be upset - There will be some comics books that are worth less than the cover price on the book as they were over printed (like the death of superman) or people just aren't interested in them. Anyone want an Archie meets the Punisher?
Don’t get over excited - The prices listed are for the books that are in top condition (no creases on the spine, no writing on the book, no corners bent) So don’t expect that price for your book - go through the information on grading the item to determine the best value.
Organize them by series - Put all the Superman Adventures together and the Action Comics together as the two are not the same. If you have old comics, say Lassie, separate the ones published by Dell or Disney and don’t mix them up. People are picky.
Hits and Misses - If you picked up issues 122-133 and then didn’t get another one until 147, that’s ok as well. Grouping them together can still get you a decent price.
Key Comics - Even though you may have Showcase #1 (worth 8k) the greatest key comic is Showcase #4 (worth 20K), which has the introduction of Flash. Characters that were introduced may not have made a big splash initially, but then made it big in their own books, later making the ‘introduction’ of a character worth more. Hope that makes sense.
Sell key comics separately if the value is there, say around $20 on up. Otherwise sell them as a bulk set for that series. Remember that the more you put together, the less per comic dollar amount you will get. I know, I sold over 100 comics for about 230 dollars and the condition value was more like 700-800 dollars at the time if I had sold them in a wiser way.Where to sell comics
Ebay - is good, but many people are looking for good deals or books in mint condition. So check prices on items that have completed that look about the quality of what you have. Fees are a biggie.
Craigslist - No fee to sell. Local only unless you state you will ship, make sure that you use Paypal or have them show in person with cash. People may want to buy and not show, so make a list of who has responded to your information.
Garage sale/yard sale - Remember that people come to these place looking for the lowest price possible, they may even barter with you and people will man-handle the comics, so if you are picky about condition, don’t sell at a yard sale.
Comic book stores - Right off the bat, whatever price you find in a price guide based on your condition means you are at most going to get at most 50% of that, if it is a highly sought after book. Otherwise consider 20-30% of value, good. They have to turn a profit, so they will consider what they can sell it for and buy it from you for much less than that.
Pawn shops are a bad place to sell unless you want some really quick money, comic book shops are better as they know the value.Ultimately, what sells, depends on who is out there buying. If you have a comic book that is valued at 500 dollars and no one is interested it is worth ZERO. But if you have a series of 5 books that total $20 and it is highly sought after, you might get much more than the $20. So take your time and don’t be impatient like I was.