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8 Tips For Starting a Comic Book Collection

by Contributing Columnist

Comic books have brought joy to readers all over the world for nearly a century. To the uninitiated, they are predominantly associated with the DC and Marvel superheroes that have gained global popularity on the big screen, but the world of comics is so much more diverse than that. From the bande dessinée classics like The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix the Gaul to cult series like Sin City and The Walking Dead to autobiographical graphic novels with emotional depth like Persepolis and Fun Home. There is so much out there for anyone to enjoy.

If you’re a devoted comic book aficionado, one of the best ways to cultivate your passion is to start a collection. Whether you choose to put it on display or sell it for a profit, it can take years of work to amass a prize collection. If you’re a newbie to comics and want to start from scratch, here are eight simple steps for building your collection.

Start slowly

When you first start reading comic books, you shouldn’t get too focused on building the perfect collection. The best thing to do is just experiment with different comic books and work out what you enjoy. There’s no point starting a collection of Superman comics before coming to realize you’re more of a Marvel fan. While you will eventually become more discerning in your purchases, start off by buying the ones you really like. Start slowly and pace yourself. Perhaps allocate a monthly or weekly budget for buying comics and stick to it. Otherwise, you might run out of money to continue your passion.

Do your research

It’s a good idea not to get too hung up on one genre of comic book. The world of comics is as diverse as cinema or literature, so it’s worth taking some time to learn about each genre and discovering where your interests lie. Familiarize yourself with the most popular artists and writers such as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Stan Lee. Read up on the different styles and artistic techniques involved in the process, and learn about the history, from the first-ever comic book to the modern editions of today.

Browse different sources

A comic book shop will be your first point of call when starting your collection, as there will be a large selection of options available. The staff will also be extremely knowledgeable and you can talk to them for advice about getting started. Stores will be a great place to find mainstream classics as well as lesser-known cult hits, but once you start to look for specific, rare editions, you will need to find additional sources. Garage sales and thrift stores are hit and miss but you may find an unexpected surprise if you hunt around, and some antique shops will have displays of rare editions.

Use the internet

Searching for comic books is considerably easier than it was a few decades ago, as you can find almost anything on the internet. If you’re looking to fill gaps in your collection, there are comic book retail sites that will be likely to have what you need, while sites like eBay and Facebook can be goldmines. But when buying from an online seller, you must be careful. You need to be sure that the seller is reputable and is not misrepresenting their item or selling you damaged goods. Always look at the reviews for each seller to check for red flags and make sure you are getting a good deal.

Attend comic book conventions

San Diego Comic-Con is the most well-known convention, but there are thousands of events, of varying sizes, all over the world. Attending a convention may allow you to meet famous writers and authors, hear announcements of upcoming releases, and even find great deals on new or rare comic books.

Build your network

Once you have become a serious collector, you may want to reach out to other like-minded people. You are likely to meet other collectors in comic book stores or conventions and they may be able to open you up to new opportunities and genres. You will be able to trade comics with your new ally and learn more about the industry.

Learn the grading system

The value of a comic book is entirely dependent on its condition. It will be worth a lot more money if it is fresh out of the packet, while a battered, dog-eared copy won’t land you as much. For this reason, comics are subject to a grading system that denotes the physical condition of an edition. The system ranges from 0.5, for poor quality, perhaps with pages missing or heavy damage, to a perfect ten, indicating mint condition. Understanding this grading system will help you take better care of your comics, as well as better equipping you to make the right purchase decisions.

Find key comic issues

The most valuable installments of a comic book series are the key issues: ones that involve a key moment in the series. This could include the very first issue of a series, the first time a notable character appears, the first appearance of a popular suit or weapon, or an issue with a small print run. Rare key issues will be hard to find and set you back a long way, as these are the collector’s holy grail. But if you can spot a potential key issue in a new release, you may be able to make a profitable investment for the future. If you snap up one of these issues for cover price, you may find that its value skyrockets in the future.

Once you have amassed a sizable collection, what you do with it is entirely up to you. You may wish to display it in your house to impress your guests, or you may prefer to wait for the right time to sell it for a large profit. Comic book collecting is a serious business, and it will take a lot of time and effort to cultivate a collection that you can be proud of.