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How to Determine What Your Comic Books Are Worth

Comic books might seem like child’s play to most, but they can command a pretty penny for collectors who have the right issues in their possession. The question is, how do you know whether you have a gold nugget or a generic gem?

Various Factors Impacting Value

Comic books are unique in almost every sense. And this certainly rings true when analyzing value and attempting to determine how much a particular issue is worth.

You don’t need a PhD in economics to understand the basic tenets of value. It ultimately comes down to a simple equation of supply and demand. When supply is high and demand is low, values are low. When supply is low and demand is high, the inverse is true.

The highest value comic books tend to be the rarest. There are also certain issues that people have an interest in. (Some random character that nobody knows about won’t command a ton of value even if it’s a limited-edition print.)

So without any further explanation, let’s explore some of the specific factors that put a comic book in high demand.

Grades

Much like a car, a baseball card collection, or a closet filled with vintage clothing, condition has a significant impact on a comic book’s value. Dents, tears, or creases can bring value down, while crisply printed pages and rich, true color commands top dollar.

For example, a comic book that’s in a “near-mint” condition – which is basically a grade of 9.4 or above – is going to command a much higher price than the same exact issue in “fair” condition.

So to understand the true value of your comic books, you must begin with grading.

“Accurately valuing a comic involves knowing the right grade,” Quality Comix explains. “Don’t try to assess a comic book’s grade by yourself. Leave these tasks to a credible pro who can give you and the books the right grading.”

If you’re serious about selling your comic books, the buyer may require professional grading in order to offer a competitive price. But regardless, it’s a good idea.

Age

The older a comic book is, the more likely it is to command a higher price. Once again, this goes back to our simple supply and demand equation. Over time, supply decreases and issues become rarer.

Comic books from the Golden, Silver, and Bronze eras can command high values simply based on their age and rarity. And when you combine it with other factors – like the next two on the list – values can go through the proverbial roof.

Issue Numbers

“Usually when it comes to a valuable comic book, the lower the issue number the better. Number ones are typically worth more than most,” LiveAbout.com mentions.

A low issue number doesn’t automatically indicate value, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Later issues can command high prices, as well, granted there’s some important or noteworthy factor in play. (Amazing Fantasy #15, which was the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold for a seven-figure sum, for example.)

Popular Characters

It’s the characters that make comic books unique. And collectors are way more interested in certain characters over others. Anything with big names like Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, or The Hulk are going to sell well. It’s all about finding the right combination of character, issue, age, and grade. If you hit the sweet spot, you could cash in big time. 

Buy, Sell, or Hold?

If you’re a comic book collector, you ultimately have three positions you can take. You can buy more comic books, sell the ones you have, or adopt a hold strategy by which you let time pass in anticipation of seeing the current values of your comic books rise.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. As previously discussed, values are tied to the rising and falling of supply and demand. If you think you can get top dollar for an issue today, perhaps now is the time to unload it and make a profit. But if you believe better times and stronger values are ahead, bolstering your collection through strategic purchases may be the move.

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