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Are you sitting on a comic book fortune?

April 7th, 2018 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

If you want to bring in some extra cash you can play at the Red Stag Casino online or you can clear the dust out of your closet and check to see what’s stuffed in there.

If you have some old comics you can look forward to some extra spending cash – to the tune of hundreds, thousands and sometimes even tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

You might think that the comics are worth so much because of their age. This is partly true — there is a significant correlation between scarcity and age.  If a comic book is 20 years old or more it’s probably worth a lot more than what it was bought for based on its age.

However, the value of old comics is determined by other factors such as content and appearances:

  • The first appearance of a major character, for instance, can cause an old comic book’s worth to shoot up.  
  • Value also increases when a character makes his/her first appearance in another character’s coming space – for instance, when Batman first steps foot in Superman’s city – which is called a “crossover.”  
  • The comic book becomes more valuable when its cover is printed displaying a distinctively different look from the bulk of the issue’s publications – called a variant.

Other factors that come into play when assessing the worth of a rare comic book include:

  • The comic’s condition.  The best is a “mint” condition comic while a comic that would barely warrant a second look is a “used” comic book. Even if an old copy has the valued variation or crossover appearance, it won’t be valued as high as it could if the condition is poor.
  • A comic book with an unintentional flaw ( issue with a misprint) may be considered rare by collectors.
  • Some of the most desirable copies are those that were signed by the artist.

A general rule of thumb is that the less common the look and content of a comic book, the higher its resale value.

Finding a Rare Comic Book

In recent years, the most popular source of unusual or valuable comic books is the Internet.  It’s true that the majority of extremely rare comics are put into an auction but you might find a winner on eBay or through an online dealer. In general however, selling old, valuable comic books takes place in online bidding forums.

Regardless of whether you buy from a storefront or in an online auction, here are some of the guidelines, explained, to keep in mind:

  • Printing – If you find an early edition of a comic book you can assume that it’s a more valuable item.  As with any rare book, a first printing of a comic book can bring a higher price.   For example, a Detective Comic #27 where Batman first appears has been reprinted numerous times. Some of those reprints are worth a bit of money but none of the reprints are worth anywhere near the price ranges of the original first printing.
  • Grading – The condition of the comic book is paramount. The grade scale ranges from 1 (very used, bad condition) to 10 (pristine mint, never been touched by human hands). Obviously the grading scale varies significantly from one seller to the next so you should shop from a reliable vendor who grades all of his comic books on a consistent scale and will guarantee that the description of the merchandise is accurate. Sellers that use the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) grading can assure buyers that they are grading according to a professional certification standard of assessed quality and condition. When that happens the comic book is actually sent to the agency. They grade it and then encapsulate it in a special cover that maintains its condition while reflecting its grading status.
  • If you buy through a comic book shop you might find valuable copies. Look through the previous issue bins where there are older, unsold items. Some of those archives contain treasures that have been sitting untouched for years – even decades.
  • You should also keep your eye on garage or yard sales and charity shops. Oftentimes the seller has no knowledge of a comic’s value and is selling at bargain prices. The family or organizer may be simply interested in getting “stuff” out of the house or attracting a lot of people to create a successful event.
  • Last, but not least, search through your own stuff. A lot of older folks used to collect comic books when at a younger age. These comic books are either stored away or negligently thrown away.

It Can Happen To You!

It may seem far-fetched but you can acquire and deal in rare comics if you know what you’re looking for.

Recently, two hundred Golden Age comics, including those featuring Superman and Batman, were found after having been forgotten for over 50 years.

In 2012 the comics, including a copy of Action Comics no. 1 – said to be the most valuable comic in the world — were rated as “good condition” by CGC, sold for $3.4 million dollars (the copy of the Action Comics #1 by itself sold for $298,750).  The record-breaking sale included  a comic that featured the first appearance of Batman (Detective Comics no. 27) and the first appearance of the Human Torch (Marvel Comics #1).

Additional sales involved a Captain America no. 2 and a very fine copy of All-American Comics no. 16.  All-American sold for $203,150 and Captain America sold for $113,525.

The collection was discovered by Michael Rorer who found them in a closet in the home of his recently deceased great aunt.  They had belonged to his great uncle who had bought most of them when he was a boy.  Wright preserved the books and when he died they were moved to his sister’s house.

Rorer’s had heard mention of the comics from his aunt but had only an inkling of their value. When he casually mentioned what he found to a co-worker, the co-worker commented that it would be something special if the collection included Action Comics no. 1. Rorer started assessing the collection’s value after he searched and found the first Superman issue.

Lon Allen, an executive at Heritage Auctions said, “This is just one of those collections that all the guys in the business think don’t exist anymore…the scope of this collection is, from a historian’s perspective, dizzying.”



I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.