We all want the blue chip key comics in our collections. Whether it’s to show them off, earn premium returns or just to own a piece of history. When the majority of comic collectors set out to buy comics, most of the seasoned comic hunters keep an eye open for highly desired books at good prices.
In this post I want to focus on bargain bin hunting and finding collectible comics for a good deal, i.e. for under fair market value.
I will not focus on graded comics here, since – given the effort and cost that it takes to encase and certify them – most of these usually sell for premium prices or higher, and they’re rarely found ‘in the wild’ i.e. at yard sales or flea markets.
Sure, you can occasionally get a great deal on an auction bidding on a graded/certified comic, but if it’s a highly desired key more often than not it will sell for just over or just under fair market value.
Regarding uncertified, non-graded, books, on the other hand, the bargains are out there.
However, to really find a great deal will require a combination of patience, persistence and, more often than not, a bit of luck.
Before I proceed to give any strategy tips to help ensure success in finding a desired comic for a good price, let me quickly state here that without a doubt the very best way to insure you obtain a highly desired book for a bargain price is to pick it up BEFORE it becomes highly desired.
In my case, having started out buying comics in the 1970s, and being a packrat, I was very lucky to pick up what are today some highly sought out ‘key’ issues straight off the newsstands or from my local comic book shop for cover price.
However, assuming you’re a new collector or you’ve lost or sold your old collection and are starting fresh, or are simply interested in owning older comics that are very expensive to purchase at your LCS or online from eBay, where do you go to find a good deal?
In my experience there are more than a few places worth trying, and some strategies exist that can be employed to help out the collector on a budget.
First, I would try yard and garage sales. There are various websites, Craigslist.com used to be the standard, but today you can also try a site like www.garagesalestracker.com that will send updates to your inbox giving you a ‘heads up’ regarding sales taking place in your area. Often you can even adjust the miles you are willing to travel and these websites will list all upcoming sales.
Where I live, the spring and summer months always find many sidewalk sales taking place with people wanting to get rid of old clutter. I’ve picked up old comics for bargain prices at some of these sales, some of which I discovered just by walking around. But not everyone has old comics to sell.
Another place to look is used bookstores. While most comic shops have bargain-bins that are worth combing through, a lot of times these bins are gone through by the owners themselves and many valuable comics are taken out.
Bookstores are not as picky.
A local bookstore can sometimes offer comics for sale at a flat rate, sometimes from 1 to 3 dollars per comic. I’ve found some great deals at a used bookstore very close to my home, including a copy of Batman Adventures #12 (in about 6.5 grade) that I picked up a few years ago for three dollars.
Finally, there are online sources. I’ve purchased many a comic from eBay but many of my best deals from this site were found by bidding on lots offering collections of old comics. Often you can pick up 30-50 books in a lot on auction, and sometimes you’ll end up getting a small collection for a dollar a book or less. Another site where comics are sold is Etsy.com. It’s worth checking out even if the selection is not that extensive. There is also a constant stream of comics being sold on Instagram. Many sellers like this platform because using it helps them avoid the selling fees of eBay, for this reason Instagram sellers are often willing to pass along some of the savings to the consumer.
The CGC forums and other online message boards also have sellers willing to sell to fellow collectors at better rates.
In conclusion, at the end of the day, there are options out there.
Be creative: try pawn shops, flea markets, The Goodwill, etc. if you keep your eyes open, are proactive, and keep looking both in the wild and online, eventually you’ll start to find some desired books good deals.