Hunting and Gathering; Comic Collecting for Noobs


If you have ever wanted to read comics but have felt a little overwhelmed, I have been and your shoes. It is hard to know where to start with aisles upon aisles of comics, books of collected comics, and no idea of how anything works. It is easy to start diving in grabbing everything you see that is interesting. Other times you are afraid to commit to something else that might take some money if you are on a tight budget. However, if you think about it, most comics run about $2.99 to almost $4 for a once a month issue. That is less than a fast food meal and definitely less than a monthly magazine you pick up at the grocery store, leaf through, then discard when it gets crumpled laying around the house. Monster energy drinks run about over three dollars at most convenience stores. So really if you cut out one thing here or there that is an unhealthy habit or something you do not really need you can find money in your budget for comics.

Trying to find what you want to read may be hard. For me it was a no-brainier for the Gotham-city gang. However, it is hard to keep from getting everything that is printed. For ideas you can look online. The internet has many sites, such as this one, that review comics. It may be a bit of a spoiler but you will know what you will be getting yourself into rather than getting a few issues in and loosing interest. Also if you start wanting to read a comic when it is halfway through a run you may loose it a little when issue thirteen is on the shelf. But keep it together. If this happens you need to look for back issues. Ask someone at your local comic store where they keep them. At some stores they have drawers out in the open to look through, sometimes they are in the back and someone will look for you, sometimes it is both. If you find many of the run that you want to get but are on a limited budget but want to start out with a few, there is always a pull. This is like a file area where you can have your name and they will put issues you plan to get for safekeeping. You can also set a list up that on release day a copy of whatever comic(s) you want will be placed in your pull til you pick them up. At any time you can take them out and say you do not want them, but please be courteous about this and also do not have a pull box instead of a pull group. Also many stores will have dollar boxes and every once in awhile I have run into fifty cent boxes. Keep a lookout also about dollar sales or fifty cents sales. These tend to be in larger cities but if you have mean to travel its s great deal. Garage sales are also a steal, because often while looking through old magazines and books you can find some real gems and the owners just want them out of the garage.
How do you know what is out? There are websites with lists. I personally use Here you can see a week by week release of comics, books, collectibles, and other merchandise. You can also look ahead a week or two to gauge what will be coming and plan for it. Now we talk about variants. Variants are the same comic issue but with a cover. For so many comics a store orders one in so many will be a variant cover. Depending on what it is these can be more pricey. I personally do not buy them as I am budgeting majorly right now. But for the serious collector some don’t mind shelling out fifteen for some covers. When a first printing sells out there will be a second printing. Some people only want first printings because they are considered more valuable. Me personally I just want the story so I am not too worried about worth increase over time. On the front of comics there is a bar-code. Sometimes it is on the back, but you can always find it. On the bar-code there is a number. This is a way to tell what printing it is. It is usually the last line, but if it isn’t there it will probably be a first print. Some older comics tell you on the inside cover.
Using protection is always important.. in comics that is. For this there is what is called bags and boards. Essentially its a plastic sleeve with a piece of sturdy cardboard that fits inside. Stores will usually have them put together beside their new releases for 25 cents a piece and up. In my opinion bran wise, they all work the same. Stores will also have them in bulk if you want to do that. Usually I just pick them up when I buy my comics because it makes transporting them home easier and I am less afraid of ripping, folding, or bent corners.

Comic boxes are eventually a must. They come in a few sizes. Long boxes are usually about six or eight bucks up to twenty. They hold about 300 comics. However, starting out or if you are short like me short boxes are cheaper and these also fit on most shelves making them a little easier to manage. You can also get plastic boxes, usually online. There are also drawer boxes that are more pricey. Some stores use these for back issues. Unless you have massive amounts of comics I would not suggest starting out with those. When you begin collecting as long as they are bagged and boarded in a neat stack or on a shelf where they wont be knocked around they will be safe. When I first started recently I kept them in two shoe boxes that they slid perfectly down into without bending of course. You should keep your boxes in a place where it isn’t to hot, dry, or too wet. So many old issues people find from the fifties have been in basements or attics so long they are dry rotted or molded and turn to dust when you open them. Comics only increase in value over time.
Now that you collect you need to keep your boxes organized. Some do this by alphabetical, by publisher, or a mix. Other than keeping your boxes tidy, you need to know what you have. You can do this by hand written lists, excel spreadsheets, or an online database. I use You can put in what you bought the issue for and the database has the newsstand price or standard buying price and keeps track of their current worth. You can also organize these into lists, make wish lists, make them public for others to see and perhaps trade, read news, and look into other story lines you are interested in. The internet is your best friend. But you knew that, we’re all nerds here.
One last not is that some stores do consignment of your unwanted issues.
Happy hunting noobs.




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