How Do You Start Collecting and Buying Comics?
Updated: Oct 20, 2021
With the rise of the popularity of comic book superheroes through movies, video games, and other media, it's no wonder that the collecting of older (and newer) comics is getting popular. And while reading comics is on the decline, many people are still buying and looking to enter the hobby as fresh collectors. This can be due to a number of reasons such as investment, enjoyment of characters/art, or nostalgia. Now the biggest question you need to ask yourself as a new collector is: where do you start? This is very important, because as a collector there needs to be a starting point, otherwise you will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on books that you just bought on a whim.
Collecting comic books is no different than collecting in any other hobby. You need to have some kind of goal or some kind of objective when buying or searching for comics. The objective of collecting highly depends on the individual and their personal taste. If you are interested in modern comic book art, then it's safe to say that Golden Age comic books are not what you need to look for. If you are a collector of single key issues, then you need to be selective on which you want, because the cost adds up quickly.
Let me start by saying that you really need to buy what you like. This goes for any type of comic book collecting. It's important to do this, because if you have a passion for a certain type of comic book, then that same kind of passion would likely be shared by someone else. Let me use an example. If you're a fan of the character Venom and your goal is to get every major appearance of the character, then you have a goal that you're passionate about already, so you can start with buying the lower-end key issues involving the character and work your way up. If you enjoy the character, then it will not only be a good investment (as there are bound to be others with the same passion for Venom), but you're also buying something you enjoy. This is one example of having a reasonable goal.
Now, let's say from your enjoyment of Venom, you start to become a fan of the character Carnage as well, then you can branch out and start buying the key issues involving that character as well. The point here is for you to start with a reasonable goal, then work your way up, once you have gotten a grasp of the hobby.
The next question, you need to ask yourself is grade. What kind of grade range do you think you'd like to buy comics. This will vary based on your budget. It is recommended to buy higher grade modern comic books, as they are usually better investments, however, if you are on a budget then you can buy a lower grade copy to fill in your collection while you save for the higher grade. This would make sense, because if the book generally climbs in value, then you will at least benefit from having a lower grade already.
If you're someone who is considering buying graded comic books, then just know that grading comic books yourself is not difficult, so rather than buying comic books that are already graded, maybe you can save money (for more comics), and buy ungraded comic books to grade yourself. Just know that sending comics to CGC and CBCS will be pricey and it will add up quickly.
The next question to consider when collecting comic books, is what time period do you want to collect? Are you a fan of Golden Age characters, Silver Age characters, or Modern Age characters? All this matters greatly because the cost and grades vary based on your interest. An example is if you're considering buying all Batman comic books, then you will be buying comics from the Golden to Modern Age and it will cost quite a bit of money. However, you need to set goals in regards to grade and restoration when it comes to the older comics, as many of them are extremely expensive. Modern comic books can be purchased the same way and should be where you start before working your way to the Golden Age.
Now, you might be thinking that variant covers are your thing and I need to provide a fair warning, that most variant covers are not good investments. If you enjoy them and want to buy them for yourself, be sure you are willing to take a loss, since many variants drop in value. If you want to collect comic variants, then it might be easier to wait for most of them, as many of them can be purchased for cheaper years down the line. Please note, that this is not always the case, and some variants will increase in value exponentially, so if you really want a variant, you need to ask yourself an important question: how badly do you want this book?
The biggest question I get is how to find comic books you might want. This is something that requires a great deal of work and diligence. If you're looking for a specific issue, then its easy to just go to eBay. If you have a problem with using eBay, then your next bet will be local comic book conventions and shows. The smaller conventions offer more in terms of lower prices and deals. This is because the table costs are lower at these shows, so the dealers can price their books lower and negotiate more. Just know that while many of the best deals can be snagged up at the beginning of the convention, there are still plenty of deals to be had by the end of the show. Many dealers who have not met their personal quota might give better prices to try and make a extra before leaving so its good to try this if you're not an early bird. Of course, you should try to do your research to make sure you don't overpay for what you want. GoCollect Comics, provides an easy to use price guide, or you can just use eBay sold listings.
In conclusion, if you're thinking of collecting comic books, think to yourself that you need to start small and work your way up. This allows you to learn about how to buy and collect before you spend a good amount of money. You will eventually graduate to more expensive books, as you build your collection and sell extra comic books (hopefully for a good profit). In the end, if you buy wisely (which can only happen through experience), most comic books will go up in value over the long term, so do yourself a favor and buy what you like and you will be happy with your future comic book collection in the long run.