Now, when I say “dealers” I’m not talking about your local comic book shop (LCBS), I’m talking about the online dealers. LCBS tend to be nicer because you are a face they see every week and what they are charging is right there. So it’s harder for them to be a dick about it. However, if they have tons of those issues, they may not take your collection because their market is limited locally they do not need 27 copies of an issue because they will never sell all 27 of them and they don’t have a ton of storage space for the overflow.
Online dealers, which sell country wide, are another mater entirely. These are people operating out of warehouse, selling to thousands or more comic book collectors country-, or even world-, wide.
Last year I came to the hard decision to sell my comic book collection. I had stopped collecting years prior. Modern comics were expensive at $4 a pop when I stopped collecting, while the value of them had gone down. It used to be a $0.95 cent comic would take you 20 to 30 minutes to read because there was a story there, with text. But now it’s all splash pages, with admittedly gorgeous art, but little story, that you can blow through in ten minutes, max.
I read a report somewhere that said that by cost vs. length of enjoyment, comic book collecting was one of the most expensive hobbies one can have.
I also did not like the yearly crossovers of the Joe Queseda era which disrupted storylines within individual titles and forced readers to buy copies of titles (at $4 a pop) they would not normally buy in order to keep up with the story. An occasional company-wide crossover is cool, but yearly? It quickly became apparent that Marvel was using it as a marketing tool rather than a way to tell a great story (because some of them were just not that great). Even the writers were getting pissed because the crossover would bring the story they were trying to tell in their own title to a grinding halt while they dealt with this stupid storyline forced on them. I remember Peter David put up enough of a stink they let him brush off one with a single issue and sit out another.
And what was worse was all the stories were heroes fighting heroes. Some of that is cool. It spices thing up a bit. Non-stop it just becomes depressing. That is not what comic books are supposed to be about. That’s not what heroes are supposed to be. When JMS took over Thor, he made that a very distinct point as Thor wandered around the ruins of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Where were the heroes? Why did they not protect humanity?
Because the editor of Marvel comics had them too busy beating the crap out of each other almost constantly.
So I saved my money and dropped out of the scene. My collection just sat. I realized it was doing nothing proving my “geek cred” and taking up space in my closet. My favorite stories I had in trade paperback (TPB) form for easily accessible reading. I didn’t need the comic books anymore, and I do need the money. So I went through the process of cataloging all my comics in a spreadsheet. (Which was not so bad as I had them well organized with title separators etc.)
Which is good because it was eight long-boxes worth, over 1,000 comics, most Bronze age, 1980’s, but some from the 1970s and a few from the 1960s.
Now, ever since the comic book bubble burst in the 1990s, buying a comic is like buying a car. It immediately starts to lose value when you walk out of the store with it. I knew that. I knew I was not going to get “Blue Book” value for them. I figured with the $800, $700 bucks would be the low ball offers I would get for the entire collection.
I sent dealers my catalog spread sheet, and the only offer I got was $250 for the entire thing.
I looked at what the dealers were charging for these comics and they were trying to pay me pennies for books they would charge $80, a $100 for.
It was complete B.S..
Half, I would understand, but $250 for a thousand comic books, some dating back into the 1970’s and 1960s?
No excuse except pure unadulterated greed. It’s not like they are paying rent for a storefront, they’re keeping these comics in a warehouse.
So I started selling them on my own, individually, undercutting the dealer prices by like half or less.
I made $250 selling just seven comics. Seven. Out of a thousand.
Now, not all of them are worth that much and there has not been a ton of interest in some titles I thought for sure would sell at cheap prices. But still, $250 for offering seven of my comics at half or less than half the prices the online dealer were charging.
So to my geek friends, if you reach the point where you really need the money or that collection has just become the monkey on your back, do not go to a dealer. You will not just get ripped off, you will get an insultingly inconsequential amount of money for your collection that you spent years pouring your heart into.
It’s a slow process. It takes work to photograph, carefully look the comic over to give the customers an accurate idea of the grade of comics they are getting (how worn or not worn it is), research what is being charged by the dealers for that issue to gage your own price, etc. and then sell them on your own.
But it’s worth it. It’s like textbooks: You and the buyer make a much better deal than either of you would going through professionals.