The Benefit of Buying Comics In Bulk

by Matt Kennedy

022522C-1024x536 The Benefit of Buying Comics In BulkWhile collectors almost always have a bucket list of the specific books they want to acquire, investors are less tethered to the psychological malady of “oneitis.” Is buying in bulk the best strategy for building an incredible collection?

Instant Bragging Rights

FF-9-199x300 The Benefit of Buying Comics In BulkWhile the prices realized in Heritage Auctions’ Anime & Everything Cool II this past November fell short of most high-end consignors’ expectations, it still generated enough capital for me to buy a massive Silver & Bronze Age comic book collection.

After a house and a car, this was the most expensive thing I have ever purchased –and a bargain by almost any metric. This collection had a run of Amazing Spider-Man from #7 to #122 (missing only a few of the major Key Issues in between), and similar runs of Fantastic Four (#9 up), Avengers (#21 to #100), Strange Tales (including #110), Journey into Mystery (#84+), X-Men (#94 to #200) and two dozen or so key issues from Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish.

There were pivotal keys missing from all of them (like ASM #50 & 51, Avengers #57, and Fantastic Four #12), but there were also near-complete runs of Daredevil and Conan (including the first issues of each). Also to be found? Almost every single Shang-Chi appearance –from Special Marvel Edition #15 through Master of Kung Fu #125 and all his guest appearances, including Marvel Two-in-One #29 (the 2nd appearance of Spider-Woman). While not much of the collection was high-grade, most of it was at least Fine to Very Fine and (as mentioned) absolutely loaded with keys.

Buying Power

Thor-165-2-210x300 The Benefit of Buying Comics In BulkLike most of my fellow collectors, I have a shortlist of comics that I never thought I’d be able to own at current prices. Many of those are listed above. The benefit of buying in bulk is that you get to aggregate cost across hundreds (or in this case, thousands) of comics.

This particular collection included some of the most sought-after keys in the hobby right now. Aside from the aforementioned, there was a Fantastic Four #49 and a Thor #165, but also two dozen boxes of other great comics. When you add up the individual values of these milestone issues, it’s easy to spend $50K without even considering the complete set of Silver Surfer Vol. 1, and Hulk #102the high-value minor keys and non-keys that comprise most of the era before and after the big boy books, nor the additional 20 boxes of modern comics that came with all that Silver and Bonze Age goodness.

Some might call that a steal.
So why did I choose to immediately flip it rather than keep it?

It’s Always a Buyer’s Market

SS4-214x300 The Benefit of Buying Comics In BulkWhile this seems like a once-in-a-lifetime haul, it’s not.
I’ve bought and sold many collections over the years. This one was particularly sweet, but a major purchase like this comes with a lot of work. Aside from the tens of thousands of dollars spent on the comics, I was looking at thousands more in cleaning, pressing, and submitting – not to mention a turnaround time approaching a year, which would put me almost six bills out-of-pocket before ever recouping a single cent.

I chose instead to double my money and move on. I got to walk away with a few spoils from my conquest, but I wish to stress that there are opportunities like this available at every level of investment if you are willing to take on more inventory than you necessarily wanted.  There is no reason why you can’t turn a profit and satisfy the collecting bug at the same time.

Screen-Shot-2022-02-27-at-3.57.03-PM-195x300 The Benefit of Buying Comics In BulkA mere week after I sold the collection that inspired this column, I picked up a Star Wars collection that had every issue of the original Marvel series (including #1) and important recent keys like Darth Vader #1 (Scottie Young Variant) & Darth Vader #3Star Wars V2 #1 ComicXposure (the John Tyler Christopher color negative variant). This was a treasure trove of high-grade Bronze & Modern comics with high potential for massive up-tick as new series continue to populate the Disney+ app and placate Gen-X nostalgia.

Two days after that, I scored another (albeit smaller) collection of classic Marvel and DC Silver Age keys and some original comic art that was probably worth more than the comic collection but was included as an add-on. When you buy in bulk, individual comics can wind up costing a dollar or less each. But even if you work out a deal to purchase only the keys, you are generally going to get a significant discount that leaves plenty of meat on the bone to clean, press, grade, and still make a LOT of money reselling them.

What have you scored in bulk purchases? Comment below!

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Signup_Footer The Benefit of Buying Comics In Bulk*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect

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14 comments

nicholas Dalessandro February 28, 2022 - 9:09 am

when I was looking for New Avengers #10, featuring Son of Thanos 1st appearance, Thane, I did buy end up buying the whole run of New Avengers only cause it was very cheap and that key was in there.
When people sell in lots, many times they have no clue what’s in the box that could one day become very valuable over night.
Thanks for the article

Reply
Matt Kennedy March 1, 2022 - 2:34 pm

Thanks for commenting Nicholas! Even when the seller DOES have a pretty good idea about what’s in the collection they have to offer, there is a universal expectation of volume discounting that benefits the prospective buyer. That usually means the seller has already cherry-picked a book or two, but that won’t matter to the buyer who can only judge the value based on what’s included. There is a lot of upside to any deal that leaves both buyer and seller happy.

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Matt March 3, 2022 - 8:15 am

Would love to do this but new to it. Where do you find the people who want to sell.

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Matt Kennedy March 3, 2022 - 10:02 am

I posted some photos and a partial list of the collection I mentioned in this column to a Facebook group –there are hundreds– and got several responses over night. I am known as someone who buys full collections so I get a lot of referrals from people who know me. If you spend time fortifying your roots in this hobby, you’ll be rewarded.

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Tim Danner February 28, 2022 - 8:30 pm

My success rate has been so-so with bulk buying of around 25-40 comics. However, I recently acquired a short box (150) of comics during an auction for a reasonable price. I bid on it based on only about 1/3 of what was displayed in the pictures, including World War Hulk variants, early Miracleman, and Lobo series from the early ’90s. Grade-wise, none of those issues panned out as I had hoped, but I was surprised by some of the high-grade gems in the box, like Daredevil 11 (3rd Echo), two copies of Once & Future 1, Carnage 1 hip-hop variant, New Warriors 1, Savage Avengers 1 Dell’Otto MegaCon exclusive variant, and Gambit 2, among others. So, I considered that bulk buy a success.

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Matt Kennedy March 1, 2022 - 2:29 pm

Mileage definitely varies –and thanks for sharing your experience. I can say without any hesitation that the person who bought the collection I just flipped is VERY happy with what he got for his money; he even asked about the Star Wars collection I just acquired.

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dan robinson March 1, 2022 - 12:16 pm

I agree with everything Matt wrote. Why buy a single book for $500 or so, when that same seller would probably be happy to part with the entire long box he pulled it out of for almost the same price?? I bought 11 long boxes (@ 3000 books) from a guy who just wanted to dump the whole lot, for LESS than $500… So far, I’ve sold over $3000 from that lot, and I know I’ll double that (at least!) before they’re all sold…

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Matt Kennedy March 1, 2022 - 2:42 pm

Thanks, Dan! $3K from a $500 pull is pretty fabulous –indeed any 600% ROI is cause for celebration! And the bargains tend to become exponentially even more beneficial as the values and quantity increase. When you get into five-figure deals the ROI can be ten or twenty times the investment and earn back $100K in a calendar year. Not everybody has that kind of capitol at their fingertips but (just like the stock market) the big investments tend to earn incredible gains.

That said, getting $500 back on a $50 purchase is just as sweet in its own scale as gaining an extra zero on a $10K buying spree.

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Philip A. Hasegawa March 1, 2022 - 7:27 pm

I have found that once you acquire some collections with multi-thousands of books in it, if you keep all of them, over time you get to go dollar bin diving in your own collection, finding books that were once dog crap are now gold 10 years later.

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Brandon P March 6, 2022 - 11:06 am

Funny you say this. I was resorting a collection and found a lot of Dave Stevens’ work. Didn’t notice it the first (or second) time because it was in the box with the First and Epic comics. The DC and Marvel books had all of my attention.

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Jesse James March 4, 2022 - 3:28 am

I average around 100 long boxes puchases a week in my travels. Last month we bought over 600 long boxes. Its the best way for a Lcs to buy collections. Its time effective and provides every price point possible to the store. I also own one of the largest live stream companies in the industry. We average over 1500 comics sold a day, with my personal show averaging 400+ items sold each show ( i do 6 a week) Buying allows me to always have inventory. Plus the % of getting books over 15.00 and up increase with each box you buy. Well written article and makes sense to the smart business person who has space and time to sort and price. Jesse James

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sean van vleet March 4, 2022 - 11:25 am

Matt, where or how do you find bigger collections to purchase? Do you have to travel or usually there is something locally? I live in Sarasota, FL, so I suspect my location has a lot to do with it, but I can’t seem to find collections to buy anywhere. Do you advertise, is that the best way, if so any tips? thanks!!

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jewelry stores near me March 7, 2022 - 2:47 am

I like this great article

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John Richerson May 4, 2022 - 11:41 am

I have approximately 5000-6000 (20 long boxes) of comics that I’ve been collecting since the 1960s. Just retired (from military earlier and now civilian job) and I’m moving soon. I simply do not want to lug all the boxes again and would very much like to sell bulk. I have a few silver age, lots of bronze and copper age…all raw, nothing is graded but most (especially important) ones are bagged w/backing. Can provide a partial list, but many of the boxes haven’t been looked at in decades, so definitely some hidden nuggets I’m sure. I live outside of Austin, TX. If anyone is interested, I would appreciate comments and potential contact. Thanks.

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