Collecting comic books can be a very rewarding hobby. In addition to the wealth of stories and hours of entertainment they provide, quite often, comic books can actually increase in value. Similar to baseball cards, stamps, and coins, comic books share their own collectors market. And just like anything else that can be considered collectible, comic books can appreciate in value. However, to gather the best price for your collection, you’ll want to ensure that your comics are in the best possible shape.
Quite often, it’s impossible to keep your comic books in fresh-off-the-presses, top-quality condition. By the time you’ve purchased your comic books, they’ve already been handled numerous times, from being boxed up at the warehouse, to spending hours on a truck in shipment, to being placed on a shelf and man-handled by customers. Even if you purchase your comics from a specialty comic book store, the books won’t be 100% by the time you purchase them. However, the comic book store proprietor will understand the collectible nature of the comics and treat them to the best of his or her ability, so I would always recommend shopping at a comic book store.
So once you get home and have finished reading the story, what do you do? Well, you’ll want to make sure that those comic books are stored properly to ensure their condition. Ideally, you’ll want to “bag and board” your comics. This phrase refers to the practice of storing your comic books in a plastic or mylar slip sleeve with a cardboard backing. The plastic sleeve will protect the comic book from dirt and moisture while the cardboard will keep the spines rigid and prevent folding or slippage. Make sure that the bags and boards you choose are acid-free, otherwise the materials that comprise the bags and boards will do more harm to your comics than good.
You’ve got all of your comics bagged and boarded; now what? You’ll want to store your comic books in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for comic book storage is 70° F or lower. You’ll also want to make sure that the storage area is free of humidity; sure, the plastic bags you placed your comics in will protect them from water damage, but they are not airtight. Humidity can seep into those bags and warp the pages. Sunlight and other harsh lighting can also damage your comic books, fading the inks and colors, so it would be ideal to store your comic books in a light-tight storage box. Luckily, many comic book stores sell cardboard boxes made specifically for storing comic books. These great protection against light and allow you to stack boxes for more convenient storage.
Keep in mind, not all comic books will appreciate in volume, no matter their physical condition. There are a number of factors that determine a comic’s value. A rare comic will of course fetch a higher price than an extremely common one. Also, the writer or artist that worked on the comic book can determine the value. For example, the first issue of Uncanny X-Men drawn by Jim Lee, a very famous and popular artist in the industry, will be more valuable than an issue drawn by a less famous artist. The more desirable the comic book, the more a collector will pay for it.
The comic book collection market is extremely volatile and nearly impossible to predict. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to get into comic collecting as an investment strategy. Above all else, to really get the most out of comic books, you’ll want to be able to enjoy them as an art- and storytelling form. The collectability of comic books is a secondary benefit to the hobby. For more information on collecting comic books, you may want to research comic book reviews.