Common Mistakes Comic Buyers are Making in The First Quarter of 2023

by Joseph Overaitis

031723B-1024x536 Common Mistakes Comic Buyers are Making in The First Quarter of 2023Buyer mistake columns are always a must-read.  During an analysis of comic book transactions for the first quarter of the year, some new mistakes were observed.  These mistakes should be corrected so that they do not occur deeper in the year. Here are a few examples of bad mistakes that should be eliminated to maximize buyer success.

1. Comic Book PhD

The source for collectible news

It is amazing that, in a country where students can obtain college credit watching porn, no formal classes exist for comic book collecting.   Knowledge is power. The biggest mistake buyers still are making is failing to educate themselves when money is involved. I am trying to help our readers overcome this problem by sharing news and insights with everyone.

Douglas Ohlandt, Jack Kornblatt, and others write articles across the collecting and pop culture spectrum.  The knowledge is there, but many readers miss it.

 Breaking news stories

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Recently, I had the chance to interview Doug Bradley on his role as Joe Chill.  The one-on-one interview occurred only a few days after his casting was announced, meaning GoCollect beat such media outlets as Variety, SyFy Network, USA Today and others. GoCollect readers had first crack at the news and insider information, but did they see why it was important?

There is gold in them there stories

The true gold nugget from that interview is what could be gleaned about how Warner Bros. Discovery views character utilization moving forward.  Studios are run by executives who have common views on their projects.   Doug mentioned a plot thread that, when reviewed, seems to have a commonality to it that has been extrapolated to other projects.  This analysis then reveals possible DC Comic characters that could be in play for investors.

This type of foreshadowing was seen in the MCU.   People invested in Adam Warlock, Pip the Troll, and other characters’ key issues long before they were even mentioned on the screen. This action saved them money.

Insider news

I am always looking to break news on properties optioned for a film or television treatment.  Many people get into comics in hopes it will translate to a lucrative career.  Recently the opposite was discovered. An interview was conducted with Mickey Finnegan, a television and music insider who worked with Miley Cyrus, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Bella Thorne, MTV, Fox, Pepsi, and other Hollywood insiders.

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This individual has a Hollywood pedigree and connections when they created their comic book.  As a result, the road for this book being green-lit is better than many others. The book is going to print in the near future, so readers had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  Reading does pay off.

2. Verify and Confirm

Who, what, where, when, why, and how?

The internet is full of rumors and advice.  Many sites exist for the sole purpose of putting forward rumors to spread F.O.M.O.  This disease causes buyers to be separated from their money much more easily because it impacts the logic portion of the brain.  The vendor, online sales platform, geographic location,  date, and the number of sales are significant factors needed for a true market evaluation.

It must be true ‘cuz its on the Internet

Another issue that is causing buyers to make mistakes is some sites’ advice on the price to pay for issues.  GoCollect provides sales data and its freelance bloggers use that data to report possible overpaying for books.  The difference is that the data used is there for an independent evaluation of sale prices.  The fact is that a $200 spread on two sales may appear to be significant, but it can be reconciled if one reviews the data from eBay, Heritage, and other places.  Buyer tastes are unique. Some buyers just prefer certain online platforms or sellers and are willing to pay more for convenience. Sometimes the why is more important than the what.

Justified hidden costs

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Many times paying less for a book may not be ideal if the risk of loss, timeliness of shipment, and other issues are not reviewed. Peace of mind is part of the price.  Many buyers would much more like to pay $300 more for a book than chase it for 25 hours because of seller and shipping issues.  This lost time could translate to lost hours of work, time that can be spent with family, or the ability to search and buy other books.

Even when this time is spent it still might not translate to success in getting the book.  A bird in hand is worth ten in the bush.  Evaluate the reported prices paid as a guide but do not hesitate to pay a little more if the overpayment can be justified by the buyer.

3. Evolve or Get Left Behind

To the mouse signal

Disney CEO Bob Chapek was fired this past November while former CEO Robert Iger returned to his old position.  Disney then reported that several Marvel television and movies have been pushed back from their original release dates in an announcement last year.  For example, “Marvels”, the sequel to “Captain Marvel”,  was pushed back to a winter release date.

“Haunted Mansion”, based on the Disney theme park ride, has been assigned the superhero film’s coveted summer release date. Disney is betting more on a park ride movie than the MCU.  The problem is how collectors and investors have responded.

Buyer apathy

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People are STILL chasing MCU properties!  These books have produced great results in the past. Buyers fear change and something new.  Consumers also used to flock to K-Mart to get good deals on items.  Now, 8 of the 20 K-Mart stores left are in U.S. territories.  Buyers were forced to move on to new stores as some still stubbornly stuck by their long-held consumer tendencies.  Disney made their announcement and yet buyers are still chasing  Marvel properties. Changing horses is sometimes difficult but a necessity.

New Targets

It has long been argued that DC Comics and independents have been undervalued books.  Still, these books are ignored. A March 14 review of the Top 100 Hot Silver Age books for the past 30 days had only Batman #181 (Spot 28), Detective Comics #359 (Spot 51), and Batman #189 (Spot 83) on the list. People still focus on Marvel, and that provides some great opportunities.

Non-Marvel Silver Age books are in demand but not moving in enough volume to be noteworthy.  The lower the demand and competition, the lower the price.  Making bank means spotting deals.  When people are throwing money at all Marvel titles, the chances for buying low are all but gone.  These non-Marvel titles are undervalued, but for how long is the question.

4. Half the Battle is Just Showing Up

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Make your own luck

Stephen Hawking is probably one of the most brilliant people ever to be born.  He attributed many of his accomplishments to something as simple as being there and putting in the work.  Comic book buying is no different.  Many stories are posted on Facebook of legendary hauls of books that the buyer was “lucky” enough to find.  A quick review of posts in these rooms reveals that many of these finds are located by the same people.  These people are not lucky, rather they make their own luck through hard work.

Putting rubber to the road

Recently, I attended Astronomicon in Michigan.  This is not a full comic book con. Comic artists and a few vendors do attend the show, but not in great numbers.  Astronomicon is more a celebration of all things pop culture.  That did not stop State of Comics and Brad’s Comics & Collectibles from showing up to sell their stuff. A future article about Astronomicon and the vendor’s market report will be highlighted in a subsequent article, but I wanted to give readers some insight into the possibilities that are born from just showing up.

A tale of two hard workers

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Peter of State of Comics stated that they were experiencing very good sales volume from the show and moving product.  They did have a thriving booth.  Buyers love honey holes for books and it pays off not only with knowing their inventory but also what these vendors have coming down the pipeline.

A collector approached them at the convention wanting to sell the store his mega key comic books.  These are books that normally do not show up at conventions or even in online sales.  The opportunity to acquire those books was worth the effort just showing up to the convention.

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Likewise, Brad of Brad’s Comics & Collectibles came to the show because the venue provided access to a different segment of the comic book marketplace.  Many books in demand were being picked up at higher than normal prices because of the unique buyer demographics for this show.

Books that may not normally move in one venue moved here. Again, this vendor has an inventory of key comics, but making sales required him to put in the hard work and vary his inventory for the show. Buyers benefitted by having access to inventory that may not be readily available at conventions or online. All they had to do is show up.

5. Delivered by a dog sled

The whole transaction

One of the greatest mistakes buyers make is not reviewing the method of shipment.  Getting a deal on a book is only realized if the book arrives in the condition it which it was purchased, if it arrives at all.  Dealers are not all created equal.  Some dealers will spend time packing their shipment to ensure it will arrive in a good state. These sellers will also provide great communication so that the potential for problems is eliminated before they can arise.  This is beneficial when problems are caused by the shipping company.  A  great seller does not stop being involved once the item leaves their hands.

Company differences

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The choice of shipping provider is also important.  FedEx, UPS, and the USPS are not all created equal.  If a dealer will not accommodate a buyer’s presence, then look elsewhere.  The fact that they have great experiences with UPS does not matter if the carrier assigned in the buyer’s delivery area throws boxes on snow-covered wet porches and then leaves.  In addition, each provider has different degrees of what they will insure collectibles so it is better to know one’s options.  The buyer should be able to choose the method of shipment, and yet many defer to the seller.

But no one gets caught

Online sellers are looking to cut their costs.  One area they try to do this is to obtain discounted shipping. Many try to use Media Mail from the USPS. THE USPS DOES NOT ALLOW COMIC BOOKS TO BE SHIPPED BY MEDIA MAIL! The USPS  uses comic books as a cited example of items that cannot be shipped by Media Mail.

Many sellers will tell you they have mailed many books with no issue.  This is like someone saying driving 15 miles over the speed limit is acceptable because everyone is doing it and not getting a ticket. If caught, the post office can charge the recipient for the difference in price in order to have the item delivered.

But it is in the slab

Media Mail is also subject to postal inspection.   If they are looking for ads to exclude a comic from shipment, can they open up the CGC case?  Postal Police do not care if contraband is in a slab.  They have the right to inspect items because the shipper consented to the inspection by accepting the terms of the offer. Do not be the person that finds that out the hard way.  If you are willing to buy a book then pay for quality shipping even if it costs extra.  Following the rules could keep a buyer from losing out on thousands of dollars. Cutting corners with shipping is not a way to protect oneself in the long run.

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6. Marvel Two for One

Pro sports teams do it

Most people do not realize that there exists another way to add comics to a collection or inventory.  This method is exploited regularly by comic book insiders who want to move books.  Dealers trade comics among each other all the time to maximize their inventory.  Most times these trades are made to obtain inventory for certain clientele that better represent their consumers. Both participants end up getting what they want in these types of trades.

The good type of liquidity

Another reason vendors make trades is to exchange books that may hold value in the long term for those that will move in the short term.  This is beneficial to increase inventory liquidity.  Silicon Valley Bank recently learned the hard way how important it was to have asset liquidity in their investment portfolio.  Vendors are not collectors. They exist to make money and move product. If they do not make money they will close their doors.

Trader Joe

Many retailers still cling to the view that it is better to hold quality books than books that sell. Buyers need to find those sellers that make trades and have rotating inventory.  This is a benefit to buyers. Trades are also evidence that these merchants are willing to make sales as a business rather than run the business as a collector. These vendors are great when it comics to dealing with buyers.  They truly understand that the best deal is one that both parties walk away happy. Negotiations are tough, but the fact that they make trades demonstrates they may also negotiate on prices.  They may even make a trade with customers.  The worst thing that can happen is they say no so it does not hurt anyone to ask.

In-person issues

Many buyers never explore the potential for trades themselves.  Cash transactions are much easier to conduct.  Physical in-person trades eliminates a lot of the potential for mistakes.  There still exists the potential for theft, so conduct these types of transactions in a safe environment.  In addition, watch for the potential to be followed or to have a package contain Apple Airtags that may let a person be followed.  Otherwise, the location of where buyers keep their books can be revealed to those that would look to remove those treasures for free.  Buyers must always be cautious during any transaction.

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Nothing good comes easy

Online trades require a great degree of trust.  This may require someone to take the first action and send a book, then wait for the other book to arrive later.  Trading raw books also offers the potential for a book to be substituted for another book. This can occur both for the book that was offered in a trade or a book being returned that did not meet the trade partner’s expectations.

This new book may be less valuable than the original book that was sent in the mail. The problems that do exist should not preclude someone from considering just such a transaction.  In actuality, these transactions offer the best chance for two parties to leave the trade better off than when they entered. The key is to do your homework on trade partners before making a trade.


Comic book buyers should always review their transactions and methods to eliminate mistakes. Even the most accomplished buyer still may be making unforced errors.  The first step to fixing a problem is to admit the potential for mistakes exists.  Doing that will allow the hobbyist to fix the problem.  This correction will ultimately save them money.

Finally, vet sellers and ask for references, then vet those references. Time investment is the foundation of a successful purchase.  Many collectors and investors with prized collections accumulated their items not because they had more funds, but rather because they put more time into the transactions.  Not investing time is the worst mistake a buyer can make and it is inexcusable.  Collectors and investors get into comics because they love the hobby, so putting in more time with something loved is the easiest decision one could ever make. You will be glad you did.

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life”
-Mark Twain and Confucious

00080221C_Green-Footer Common Mistakes Comic Buyers are Making in The First Quarter of 2023*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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Randy W. DeBower March 22, 2023 - 12:53 pm

Thanks for covering the issues associated with MEDIA MAIL shipping!! I usually can’t get the point across to sellers who claim comics are OK to send that way. Sellers claim that there is no problem by sending media mail!
–Well of course,–The BUYER is the only one who will get BURNED if a comic is sent media mail.

Joseph Overaitis March 22, 2023 - 1:06 pm


Media mail is a major issue. I got stuck with a bill and when I approached the eBay seller about this charge their only comment was oh well. That never happened to me before…when i asked about a refund they said they would do so WITH MY NEXT ORDER….bad seller

colin nash March 24, 2023 - 2:09 pm

I was interested to see the subject of hidden costs being covered. As a foreign buyer this has always been at the front of my comic buying. International shipping and import taxes can punch a big hole on your budget. Heritage Auctions for example will always declare the full purchase price plus FedEx priorty shipping rates. Experiencing these costs have made Heritage an uneconomic option for me.
Interstate taxes are another major cost to be aware of. I used a friend in the US to receive a key issue comic for me via an Ebay. I was visiting US on a holiday and could pick up the comic while I was there. Interstate Taxes added 500 dollars to my bill !

Joseph Overaitis March 24, 2023 - 2:51 pm


I have been reviewing other auction houses and some smaller ones have much more economical avenue for foreign buyers.


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