Free-for-all Friday: A Newbie’s Super Basic Guide To Comic Book Collecting

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As a child, I was very much in to reading. I mean, I read “college level” whilst in grade school. I love books & continue to love them to this day. However, I was late to the comic book game. I wasn’t in to “books with pictures” until maybe around high school when friends started recommending manga to me. Manga, thusly, was my first intro to comics! Shocking! I eventually branched out to start reading traditional American comics, & became obsessed with Spider-Man & all things Spidey. During my crazy college adventures in Seattle, one of my most exciting items aquired was a HUGE Marvel Superhero Encyclopedia, & I poured over it like “a seven year old little boy” (to quote a friend at the time). Laying on the ground, book on the floor in front of me, my feet swinging through the air as I flipped page after page… comics are one of my favourite passions, & I still collect to this day.

While I have my own strange set of criteria regarding my own collection, I have done quite a bit of research on collecting, & decided that I’d throw a little guide together for those of you who are interested in collecting but aren’t sure where to start, or maybe don’t even know what to do! Then again, maybe you just like to read. 😛


A Newbie’s Super Basic Guide To Comic Book Collecting

A Quick & Dirty Intro:
Even with the emergence of popular entertainment outlets such as the internet, smartphone apps, videogames, & movies, comic books have managed to maintain an impressive market share of consumer spending world-wide. There’s simply no replacement for the unique way a comic can present a story & engage its readers — because of a comic books seemingly endless ways to tell a story, comic book collecting has continued to grow since the first comic debuted. In recent years comics have found a new generation of readers through superhero movies like the Avengers.


One of my more recent acquisitions... I couldn't stop laughing when I saw this.

One of my more recent acquisitions… I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw this.

To Start:
For collectors who are just beginning, there are a couple of different approaches to pick up the hobby. Honestly, the simplest thing to do is to simply go purchase something that catches your eye or relates to something you’re interested in. Maybe you’re a fan of Star Trek? Go get a Star Trek comic. Prefer a bit of Adventure Time (& really, who doesn’t)? They’ve got you covered. Some people are simply fans of a particular hero or publishing company, such as Dark Horse. Many people purchase comics for their own entertainment & don’t concern themselves particularly with the after-market value of the publication. However, for some collectors, comics are seen as an investment, & thusly these collectors concentrate on acquiring limited edition or rare comics for the sake of achieving a return on said investment. This form of collecting usually requires an advanced knowledge of the market as well as the necessary funds to make large purchases.


Know Your Eras:
It’s generally agreed that there are five distinct eras thus far regarding comic book memorabilia. Our previously posted infographic by The Garage comic artist & writer Jeremy Kerns of TimidStudios shows a great example of the different eras regarding a history of American comics. Here’s a basic rundown, however:

  • The Platinum Age represent the oldest time period, dating between the 1800’s & 1937.
  • The Golden Age covers the years of 1938 to 1955.
  • Silver Age comic books are dated between 1956 & 1969.
  • Bronze Age occurred between 1970 & 1979.
  • The Modern Age includes everything that was produced circa 1980 through today.

Each time period is unique & distinctive in the way the publications were written, produced, & distributed. Much like classical painting & music, the various eras can also be defined by a common or particular style of art as well. Obviously the older periods offer the most “valuable” items, but there are still plenty of rare & limited comics to be found within the Modern Age.


Utilise Your Resources, Yo:

Today’s collectors have a multitude of outlets to help them add to their collection. The birth of the internet alone has increased the accessibility of hard-to-find comics to collectors all over the world. Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, & online comic book stores make finding exactly what you want as simple as clicking a mouse. While these outlets are probably the most popular markets for collectors, there is still plenty of demand for local comic book shows & stores. Not all comic book stores get new publications, however, so newsstands & bookstores remain another decent source for the latest publications. (My local shop gets new publications, though. It’s always best to check!) Ideally, the savvy collector will be comfortable with using all of the outlets mentioned here. You simply never know where you might uncover the next hidden gem to add to your collection.

The Grading Scale utilised by CGC Comics

The Grading Scale utilised by CGC Comics


One thing to be mindful of if you should choose to purchase online: since you are not physically able to verify the quality of the comic book yourself, stick to reputable sites & dealers. Read reviews on sites & sellers you’re interested in purchasing from, request photos showing all sides of the comic, &c. You basically want to verify as best you can that the goods are quality.


Grading & What it Means to You:

Beyond these basics of comic book collecting, there are some other intricacies to learn for the new collector. For instance, collectible comic books are often graded to measure their condition in a uniform manner. This is done by a professional third-party company which will seal the comic in a protective sleeve to preserve its integrity. New collectors will need to become familiar with this process if they plan on investing in rare comics. Other essential tools include comic price guides & market sales reports which help to asses the value of a particular piece; a quick search online is usually a good place to start.

Comics with a grade should adhere to the Comics guaranty. You can also find out about CGC’s Restoration Grading Scale if you’re interested in having a comic restored or purchasing a restored comic.
In the End…

Collecting comic books has been an entertaining hobby for many decades & doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. With the ever flowing spring of imagination & creativity from new writers & artists, there will always be a steady source of new adventures & characters to satisfy fans. Perhaps the best part about this hobby is that there is always something new to learn along the way, & always a new story to read. By joining the legion of comic collectors around the world, you are guaranteed to have a rewarding hobby for years to come.

  •  Want to see some amazing collections? Take to the internets, or click here for a Google search.
  • Want to see some amazing comic collection ROOMS? Yeah, you know you do. Click here for the Google search.

Lastly, there’s quite possibly a million different places & communities online to check out & share collections, from Reddit to FaceBook groups. The best place to start, though, is at your local comic-book shop. 😉


I hope this has helped you new readers out some!

Come back tomorrow for our first Sevi Saturday of the month!!
— Elise M. Gross

4 thoughts on “Free-for-all Friday: A Newbie’s Super Basic Guide To Comic Book Collecting

  1. Grrr, I feel like I’m living in the middle of nowhere. I’m from a small town in Alabama and off course we have no comic books store so I buy all of my comics online. I still keep my fingers crossed someone opens one in the near future, I’ll move in it the next second.

    • Lol wow Sandra, that does stink! I think I’d go crazy if I had to travel too far to get to my comic shop…! :O Online isn’t bad, it’s just not the same as feeling the comics in your hands…I feel your pain. I hope one opens up near you, soon!

  2. Ah thanks Pauly!! I used to feel overwhelmed when I first started collecting, so I decided there should be something simple & easy to grasp for all novices in comic collecting! 😉 Happy hunting!

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