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The Various Ways of Collecting Comic Books

Updated on November 29, 2012

Comic Book Collecting 101

Comic book collecting can truly be a joyful hobby to endeavor. It can also be quite a profitable investment as well, if you know what you're doing.

Although there are no hard and fast rules, comic book collecting can be an art or a science depending on your approach, and there can be helpful guidelines to follow depending on what your budget allows.

So in this hub, I'm going to talk about the various and most popular ways that people collect comics purely for enjoyment or for investment purposes. It's always more helpful to have a game plan in collecting comics nowadays, because comic books aren't cheap anymore. This hub will help you choose the right collecting method for you, so you don't waste hard earned bucks.

Collecting By Comic Book Title

One of the most popular ways of collecting comics is by title. Many choose their favorite superheroes and strictly collect various comics of that character. Even though a lot of popular characters may have more than one titled series going on, I find it's a lot easier if you just concentrate on a single title.

This is the way I started out. I really liked The Uncanny X-Men, as well as Amazing Spider-Man series. Those are both the first series and I never got into the later volumes. However, I found that a lot of my hard earned cash could've strictly went into those two titles if I wasn't lured into the off shoot series like Web of Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, or X-Factor.

Of course, as a kid, I didn't know any better. I just collected what I liked to read, and if you collect purely to enjoy the great artwork and stories that comic books offer, than it's perfectly fine to get a smattering a certain favorite character's ka-zillion different titles.

If you're collecting with even just a little bit of hope that your comic books will one day be valuable, it's best to strictly stick to just one title of a certain character.

Key Issue Comic Book Collecting

Key issue comic book collecting is the kind of comic collector I've evolved into. Partly because I do want my comic collection to be as valuable as possible.

So what is a key issue comic book? Number one's, origins of a character, 1st appearances, death of a character, and 1st artwork by a beloved comic artist are all considered key issues.

For example, Amazing Spider-Man #300 (Vol 1) is a key issue. It's the first full appearance of Venom. Giant Size X-Men #1 is another key issue that introduces the new X-Men team.

Key issue collectors can vary with different comic book ages. Some collect only Silver Age key issue comics. Some collect Bronze Age key issues or Modern Age key issue comic books.

Personally, I stay away from Modern Age comics as much as possible. I mostly collect Silver and Bronze Age key issues, at various grades, and for various titles whether they're Marvel or DC comics. I mainly stick with those two comic companies, though I do favor Marvel a lot more.

I do make exceptions with Modern Age books, however, such as G.I. Joe A Real American Hero #1, Amazing Spider-Man #300, and The New Mutants #98 (1st Appearance of Deadpool). I will never buy a modern key below VF.

My collection of keys is a smattering of different grades. Of course, this has to do with my budget. Some key issue collectors will only collect within a certain graded criteria. If you're going for lower graded books like VG, it will be less of a strain on your wallet. However, if you only collect keys in higher grades, be prepared to post phone some family vacations.

Then again most pedigree collectors can afford these higher prices. Most of the pedigree collectors walk a very fine line between collector and pure investor.

The Pedigree Comic Collector

Most pedigree comic collectors I categorize more as investors than pure collectors. The pedigree collector only deals with the high grade comics. Many only purchase high graded CGC books as well.

Of course, pedigree collectors can venture into many different comic ages, titles, and keys. Some hold strict to just one age or title, while some may invest across the board. However, what's common in their preference is the book must be a high grade, or those with a lot cash, the highest grade of that particular issue.

These guys want to make sure their investment gives them the highest return possible, and since many high grade keys have been breaking record sales in the millions and 6 figures, it can be said their approach to collecting was a very smart one.

However, most collectors like me can't afford the higher valued books, and I missed the boat on getting them dirt cheap back in the day.

Full Run Comic Collectors

Many collectors also try the full run approach. This is picking a title or various titles and trying to get each issue within a specified number range. For example, I know of a comic collector who has three sets of Amazing Spider-Man (Vol 1) #1 through a hundred.

Of course, full run collectors can favor any number range they choose, as well as multiple titles. Some even prefer to achieve a full run of each issue at a particular grade. This can be quite expensive in the mid grade and up levels, but can also add great value as an investment.

Of course, buyers will be more attracted to a collection with nice runs of a particular title than as opposed to a collection with a lot of gaps. Personally, I'd much rather spend my dough on higher demand key issues than common issues, but that's just me.

Collecting By Comic Artist

Some collectors are huge fans of a particular artist and vow to get each and every issue that artist has done previously or in the present. When I was a kid, I was really smitten by Todd McFarlane's and Jim Lee's artwork, so I got every single issue I could that they both did work on.

It was fun back then. The issues only cost about a buck. Though, I strictly didn't collect by artist, those two artists I did have to have every issue that they drew for when I was a kid.

My artists were inexpensive back in the day. However, many collect comics solely on legendary artwork by Ditko or Jack Kirby. Collecting every issue these guys ever did can be extremely costly. You're likely to have a lot of comic runs with these two artists, as well as quite a key of the most desirable key issues.

Collecting Comics Over-All

Collecting comics over-all is a great and joyous hobby whether you love reading comics or investing in them or both. It can be quite expensive, and if you hope to have a valuable collection someday, it's best to have an approach or method of collecting to achieve the best possible return value.

Your budget will be a big factor in which approach you choose, as well as the goal of your collection in the long-term. Nevertheless, just have fun.


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