By Vincent Zurzolo
If you’re like many senior Americans caught in the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re doing the heroic thing: sheltering-in-place. Sometimes you’re stressed; sometimes you’re bored. But if you collect vintage comic books, your favorite superheroes are ready to come to the rescue—to help you relax and fill those vacant hours and possibly make some money. Now’s the time to enjoy—and update or cash in your comic collection!
It’s no coincidence that comic books came of age during the Great Depression and World War II, when Americans needed an escape from grim reality. Comic books are pure, escapist entertainment, worked on by talented comics editors, where good overcomes evil and reassuringly saves the day. Couldn’t you use some of that right now?
Besides, now you’re in a position to perform those maintenance tasks you always said you would when you had time. Although brick-and-mortar comic book stores may be closed, online auction houses and grading services remain open. The comic community is still here for you.
So, now’s the time to admire your treasures…get your collection in tip-top shape…and even take it to the next level. If you haven’t done so already, here’s how.
1. Organize Your Collection
Most collections are organized in alpha-numerical order, but I’ve seen them grouped by publisher, series/title, character, writer or artist, etc. Do what makes sense to you.
Of course, handle your comics with extreme care. If you have books that aren’t at least bagged and boarded, that’s your first order of business. If you have comics that should be graded, have that done now.
2. Catalog Your Collection
It’s important to have a written record of what you have. For one thing, a formal inventory makes it easy to identify the holes in your collection. For another, if your collection has value, you may want to insure it. Either way, creating an inventory can be as simple as building an Excel spreadsheet (you can find templates online) or investing in a comic book inventory app.
3. Get up to Speed on Current Values
If you haven’t priced your collection in a while, you should. Given all the superhero blockbusters of the last few years, some comic book values have increased dramatically. For pricing, get the latest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and check out other price guides as well.
But beware: knowing a comic’s book value isn’t the same of knowing what it’s selling for in the real world. Checkout the auction houses to see what similar issues are going for and what they’ve recently fetched.
4. Update Your Want List and Sell/Trade List
Many collectors’ interests change over time. If you’d like to bring in some extra money, consider selling or consigning the comics that no longer thrill you. On the other hand, given the stock market’s volatility, now is also a good time to invest in tangible assets if you’re in a position to do so. Sales and consignments remain very active.
5. Dig into Comic Book History
Sure, it’s helpful to know the backstory of your collectibles, but the history of comic books is fascinating in its own right, from larger-than-life characters to twisting plotlines. There are many great books out there on the subject. You might start with Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe or Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones.
In short, there’s no ignoring the fact that we’re living in difficult times. But there are ways to make it more bearable…and who better to turn to in times of strife than Superman, Batman and company? Up, up and away!
About Vincent Zurzolo
Vincent Zurzolo is co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles, the world’s largest vintage comic book dealership, and ComicConnect.com, the premiere online auction site for vintage comics. He is Curator of Metropolis Gallery, a rare comic art gallery in Manhattan and host of Comic Zone Radio. He and business partner Stephen Fishler hold five Guinness World Records for the most expensive comics and collectibles ever sold. A recognized authority in comics as investments, he appears frequently on television and in print.