How to Start a Comic Book Collection, Frugally

Thanks to superhero movies The Dark Knight, comic book collecting is on the rise again. It’s a great hobby, collecting comics, since the books are dirt cheap. On average, they only cost $3.53. Plus, you might even profit from them if you sell your collection 10-20 years from now. On the downside, they’re addicting. You may start with a title or two now. But, before you know it, you’ll be overrun by 30 books and pay a monthly sum of over a $100. So, as a frugalist and comic book nerd, I’ve compiled some tips on how to start a comic book collection without getting financially burned.

1. Figure Out What You Like
If you’re new to comics or have been out of touch with it for years, it’s a good idea to snoop around the web and do your research. Find out which comics are hot. Check out lists from websites and blogs, such as their top 10 comics or favorite writers. If a title piques your interest, then wiki it to make sure it’s your cup of tea. Also look for some sample comics online. Publishers like Vertigo have free promotional comics on their website for your perusal. Doing all of these before going to a store will save you from trying out every title on the shelf.

2. Choose a Format
Comics comes in many format nowadays. So you can either collect by issue, or you can skip the issues and get the collected trades instead.

Getting the trade paperbacks is probably, by average, the cheapest way of getting comics. A trade is usually composed of a story arc and it’s released every 4-6 months. The downside of collecting trade paperbacks is that their resell value is low and they have flimsy protection.

Deluxe trades (and also omnibuses) is another option. Unlike trade paperbacks, deluxe trades collects more than just one story arc. So, most of the time, they’re cheaper than trade paperbacks. They also come in a sturdy binding and, since their printing is limited, their resell value can also go up. Deluxe trades only comes out once in a while though. But they’re worth the wait.

If you happen to have an iPad, you might want to look into digital comics. It’s the easiest way of getting comics. Plus, you won’t have to worry about physical storage. The average pricing is still unclear though. Some digital comics cost $1.50. Some are free. Weirdly enough, Marvel’s digital comics costs 3 times more than their paper copies.

3. Where to Buy
The traditional way of getting comics is through a comic book store. If you have an abundance of stores near your area, try to pick a store that has perks. My comic store, for example, offers 20% discount on everything if you have 20 titles on your pull list, boards and bags your comics for free, and gives you a short comic box for every 300 issues you bought from them.

Unfortunately, not everyone lives close to a store. So another way of getting comics is with a publisher subscription. This method is also cheap. I have a subscription with Marvel and have saved 43-47% on comics. However, the books are sent by mail with only a wrapper and board. So the book’s condition can be pretty bad once it gets to you.

A subscription with an online distributor is another option. Right now, I have a subscription at DCBS and I’ve been saving up to %40 on all comics. Shipping is also very fast and, since its delivered by UPS, it also comes in good condition. However, every shipping costs $6.25. But you can choose to ship your order monthly instead of weekly to save money.

4. Storage and Maintenance
If you decide to collect by issue, then you have to protect your investment by storing it properly. Neglecting to do so will badly damage your books and decrease their value. However, simply storing it in a drawer or wrapping them in plastic will not do. I can go on in here but this dude (click link for video) is better than me in showing you on how to properly protect and store your books (as well as the wrong ways to store your books).

As for the maintenance, I’m not talking about keeping your collection in shape, but rather your pull list. Like I said earlier, you can be easily overrun by comics. So you have to keep a close eye on your growing monthly pull list. The easiest way to do this is to cap your spending to a certain amount or limit yourself to a number of books. That way, you can’t just keep adding books to your list, willy nilly.

Well, that pretty much sums up up my guide on how to start a comic book collection, the frugal way. In case some of you guys want to start a collection but don’t know what books to get, I’ll also post a list of my favorite comics and writers in here to jump start you. So, keep an eye out for it.


One Response to How to Start a Comic Book Collection, Frugally

  1. Pingback: Best of the Noughties (2000-2009): Comics « The Frugal Nerd

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