Golden Age Collecting on a Budget – Part 1

by Douglas Ohlandt

040523A-1024x536 Golden Age Collecting on a Budget - Part 1With more collectors beginning to turn their eyes toward Golden Age comics for their collections or as investments, here’s a new series with tips on building a Golden Age collection with quality comics that won’t break the bank.

Where to Start?

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That’s likely the first question you’ll ask when looking at the sea of comics published in the Golden Age. From superheroes to funny animals, war comics to Westerns, romance, sci-fi, and horror, there are so many to choose from. It can be easy to get bewildered when making considerations for your collection. Many aren’t worth the prices dealers will charge and many more just aren’t that good as comic books or even artifacts of a different time.

The best place to start is with comics to not consider if you’re a budget-conscious collector.

Forget About Big Name Superheroes

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Remember, this is about collecting Golden Age comics on a budget. If you’re flush with tons of money, by all means – drop five to six figures on issues of Superman, Batman, Captain America Comics, Wonder Woman, or Captain Marvel Adventures. But if you only have a limited amount of money to spend and you’re interested in building a Golden Age collection you can be proud of, focus instead on some of the obscure but not completely unknown superheroes from this time period, or even ones who are known but not currently published.

We’re not talking about ones no one has ever heard of like Kismet, Man of Fate. A good place to start is with characters like Plastic Man, Doll Man, or the original Daredevil. I’ll have some specifics in Part 2 of this series.

Avoid Pre-Code Horror

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Pre-Code Horror comics are a genre that is constantly being rediscovered by new collectors. As such, it’s pretty hard to find inexpensive copies that don’t look like they’ve been run over by a bike and then survived in the moldy attic of a chain smoker.

Remember, this is about finding quality comics, not the dregs that you’ll never want to show anyone. If you absolutely have to have at least one Pre-Code Horror comic in your collection, you’ll have to avoid the ones every collector wants, and that includes EC’s entire output.

Be Very Discerning About Funny Animal Comics

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There were a ton of funny animal comics published during the Golden Age. As such, there are also a lot of funny animal comics that aren’t worth much at all. You can still pretty easily find individual issues from funny animal comic series raw for $5 or less. Unfortunately, it’s not worth sending them in for grading because no one wants them.

There are some funny animal comics worth including in your collection without breaking the bank by going for the first Carl Barks illustration of Donald Duck. But you’ll need some pointers on what to look for.

No Early Archie

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You may think that, because none of your friends, in fact, no one you’ve heard of, collects Archie comics that they’re ripe for the plucking. Think again. Archie collectors are some of the most knowledgeable in the hobby. They’re niche collectors with a passion, and they know their subject matter far better than you ever will.

If there’s a deal to be had on an Archie comic, it’s gone before you can even get a whiff of it. If it’s not gone, it’s likely not worth collecting. You would have to get incredibly lucky to find an early Archie key for a deal. You want to work on your Golden Age collection from a basis of knowledge, not luck.

Avoid Big Name Cover Artists

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These are easily the biggest names in Golden Age comic books – Frank Frazetta, Alex Schomburg, and Matt Baker. Once you’ve learned about them, the bug to get some of their works is hard to resist. But resist it you must, lest you blow way past your budget or sell your entire Silver Age collection for one of these beauties. You can dream. You can covet. But, unless you win the lottery, you cannot buy one of these oh-so-luscious pieces of… Stop it! They can’t have these! There are, however, other cover artists outside of these big three whose work is excellent and much more affordable.

Now that we’ve determined what to avoid, we’ll have some specific genres and comics to consider for your Golden Age collection in Part 2. Join us as we attempt to start a Golden Age collection with a $1,000 budget.

What’s the best Golden Age comic in your collection that you found for $200 or less?
Let us know below!

000080221A_Posters_2-Footer Golden Age Collecting on a Budget - Part 1*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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Lynn Potter April 6, 2023 - 3:46 pm

I enjoy your Golden Age articles. I’ve collected comics for about 50 years and have a few cool GA books that I’ve bought for less than $200. Adventure #34 for $60, Tomb Of Terror #15 for close to $200. Both lower gradesbut very presentable. Got a 3.5 Amazing Mysteries #32 for around $100. My best deal from any era, however, is probably my graded 3.0 Tales Of Suspense #39. I gave $25 for it in 1983. Lynn Potter

Douglas Ohlandt April 6, 2023 - 6:00 pm

Lynn – That sounds like a great collection! There are definitely deals to be had out there when it comes to Golden Age comics. While some collectors are starting to catch on, there’s still a great deal that hasn’t yet been discovered. Hope your quest for more Golden Age comics is fruitful.

Lee Schnoor April 7, 2023 - 12:08 am

Lynn- not counting some EC Crime Suspenstories I picked up for around $25, and all the Panic issues (while people hunt for Mad), a golden age great catch was a Ghost Rider #5 (Frazetta cover) for an eBay winning bid of $19. I got a Tim Holt #17 for not much more. In fact, more reasonable Frazetta covers can be found in the western genre, which is (was) often overlooked (although that window seems to be closing some). Perhaps my all-time golden age winners were Captain America Comics #73 for $125 and Marvel Mystery Comics #51 for $181. Truth to tell, that was about 10 years or so ago and definitely cannot be repeated.


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