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Three Easy Steps to Starting a Killer Comic Book Collection

by Matt Baum (08/22/14).

Batman’s first appearance sells for north of $1 million in higher grade condition.

Batman’s first appearance sells for north of $1 million in higher grade condition.

So, you want to collect comics? Collecting comics seems easy in theory. Just go out and buy a pile and, boom, you’ve got a collection, right? Well, sort of. As someone who has spent the last 15 years looking through piles, boxes, basements and storage units full of comics, I can tell you firsthand, a big pile of comics does not a collection make.

A comic collection can be large or small but it needs to be organized. Alphabetically, of course. Numerically makes sense and, for the real collectors, separated by age, creator, hero or another grouping. The point is: collections makes sense. With that said, here’re some simple pointers to take into account for starting a new comic collection or returning to the hobby.

No. 1: Focus
Collecting comics can be a daunting task but, with a little focus, you can avoid becoming the next star of a reality hoarding show. Your first step: decide what you’re collecting. Maybe you used to be heavy into Batman back in high school. Maybe a relative left you a pile of ’60s war comics that taught you how to be a man at a young age. Maybe the schlocky romance comics of ’60s made your heart skip a beat. Whatever it was, or is, pick that thing and focus on it. I know a collector that has the most impressive collection of Captain America villain first appearances I’ve ever heard of. I’ve met others who are putting together full runs of Gold Key horror comics from the 1970s. The point is they picked a goal and focused on it. These are words I wish I scream while shaking my 15-year-old self as I was picking up every Spawn comic I could find. And yes, I have a giant pile of comics in my basement that I wouldn’t call a collection.

A 9.0 Near Mint copy of Daredevil #1 might cost you $6,000. Why not spend $600 for a copy in 5.0 Very Good condition instead?

A 9.0 Near Mint copy of Daredevil #1 might cost you $6,000. Why not spend $600 for a copy in 5.0 Very Good condition instead?

No. 2: Be Realistic
Even billionaires have a budget—and chances are you are not a billionaire—so setting a goal to put together a full run of Batman appearances might be slightly out of reach. This is especially true since Batman’s first appearance sells for north of $1 million in higher grade condition. Instead, maybe you decide to collect the first appearances of each Batmobile. You’ll still end up having to by a copy of Detective Comics #27 (DC, 1939, also the first appearance of Batman), but it doesn’t have to be in mint condition. Or maybe you pick your favorite Bat-writer and decide to put together a full run of his work. I’ve been building a run of Doug Monech’s Bat-comics for years, it’s a work in progress, along with several others (attention me; re-read point No. 1 of this article).

No. 3: Don’t be Afraid to Invest
Yeah, don’t be afraid to invest some money, specifically on a comic that isn’t necessarily in mint condition. A lot of collectors get hung up on condition and either never buy the comic they desperately want because it’s not in perfect shape or they’ll never be able to afford it in the condition they want. I guess this rule could be grouped into the “Be Realistic” section, too but stay with me here. I would kill for a 9.0 Near Mint copy of Daredevil #1 (it would have to be someone I didn’t like; I’m not a complete monster), but dropping $6,000 on it would certainly lead to an even more expensive divorce.

Instead, maybe I settle for a $600 copy in 5.0 Very Good condition until such time as WorthPoint realizes how knowledgeable and important I am and gives me a massive raise (wink). The important thing to remember here is these back issues—especially Golden and Silver Age comics—aren’t getting any easier to find. The $600 Daredevil #1 that I buy today could be selling for $800 or $1000 in a couple years. And who knows, maybe you’ve got a better job by then and you can afford a much nicer condition copy. The point is, don’t rob yourself of a comic that you can afford today just because it’s not in perfect condition.

A comic collection can be large or small but it needs to be organized. A big pile of comics is not a collection.

A comic collection can be large or small but it needs to be organized. A big pile of comics is not a collection.

These are just three simple rules to get your collection started, and trust me, once you get going it’ll be hard to stop. With some patience, focus and a little common sense you can build an awesome comic collection limited only by your own creativity. Well, that and maybe your paycheck… for the time being. Now, where is that incomplete Walt Simonson Thor run of mine?


Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the comments section below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!

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10 Responses to “Three Easy Steps to Starting a Killer Comic Book Collection”

  1. Kim says:

    My husband has a collection of about 40,000 books and he doesn’t have it catalogued. So we’re interested in software to help…any recommendations?

  2. Matt Baum Matt Baum says:

    One of the easiest ways I can think of for someone like your husband would be to check out Comicspriceguide.com. There you can search titles and click a box to add it to your collection. No data entry, which is nice when dealing with a large collection.

  3. Cody White says:

    Comic Collector Live is also excellent, but runs about $30 a year.

  4. Erich says:

    I use and would recommend the Comic Book Collection software by collectorz.com. It has tons of options and a fantastic visual display. I can flip through and look at all my issues (including cover images), sorted however I like.

  5. Patsy Chilcote says:

    Matt, Classic Comics are never mentioned. Are they not worth collecting?

    • Matt Baum Matt Baum says:

      I guess I’m not sure what you mean? I mentioned comics as old as the first appearance of Batman in 1939. But to answer your question, you bet they’re worth collecting but it depends on the issue itself and it’s condition.

  6. Darren says:

    Hi Matt…Im new to the comic collecting game and have recently started buying the issues being released of the following…MWOM, Avengers, XMEN,Wolverine and Deadpool, and Hulk…what is the best way to arrange these comics as presently they are just in order or purchase. And I hope to pass them down the family, to one day be worth some money.what are the chances of the newer comics gaining in any decent value?thanks for yr time

    • Matt Baum Matt Baum says:

      There’s a lot of different ways to do it but I go back to the old comic book store inventory standby, alphabetically. Think Dewey Decimal system but with some caveats of course. For example, all my Hulk comics are in a “Hulk” section and are sorted alphabetically from there. Hulk, then Incredible Hulk, etc. Also, I sort my comics by monthly series first and then specials, miniseries and annuals. But it’s really up to whatever is easiest for you.

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