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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Investing In Comics Buying Methods and Strategies Part 1

In the past when there was only one comic shop in my town and no internet, my comic buying methods were pretty limited to just a few. Today, though? Different story.

Like most comic collectors and investors out there, I make use of various methods or strategies when I buy comics and don't just stick to one. Believe it or not, but some comics do call for different strategies and it always isn't a straight-forward thing.

Chances are you're probably using these methods as well, but I'm going to outline some of them here. Some are simple but some are a bit more complex and can be incorporated with others, so bear with me. I will try to explain them best as possible, and will have to break this series up into parts as I want to cover how they can be worked in detail.


Ever heard of the eBay Bucks program? For most sales, you get eBay bucks back, in which you can spend on other qualifying purchases on eBay.

If you're from the U.S. and yet to join, I highly suggest you do. I'm not sure if they have this program for other countries. I do know that they retired the Canadian eBay Bucks program. That sucks.

There's a bit of restrictions, but so far none on collectibles. I think it's only about 2% back. Sometimes more. Sometimes they have Double Reward things that go on, and I know if you use Bill Me Later, which I do, they'll have an extra 1% (promotion ends June 30th 2014) eBay Bucks on your purchase. Also, the extra 1% deal is by invitation only, probably for customers that use Bill Me Later often.

The thing that sucks is that they calculate them separately, so if your purchase cost $1299.99, you'll get $26 from the eBay purchase and $13 bucks back from using Bill Me Later. It's not a total 3%.

The extra 1% Bill Me Later is a promotion that ends soon. It's not really part of this strategy. It's just an extra bonus that can used with the Double Dip.

Another restriction is you must also pay with Pay Pal, and they just instituted that your eBay Bucks must reach a total of $5.00 each quarter. If it's less it does not carry over. It's voided, gone, poof! Also, there's a limit to how much you can earn.

A single purchase can only garner $100 in eBay Bucks, no matter how much is spent. There's also a $500 limit for all qualifying purchases for each calendar quarter. That means if all your eBay Bucks added up above $500 for all the purchases you made within a given quarter, you will only be rewarded the most $500. Any accumulation that goes beyond that mark is voided.

A lot of people don't care for eBay Bucks, but I personally think they're using it wrong. eBay Bucks is absolutely no use if you're making rinky dink, small purchases, and here's where my Double Dip method comes into play.

The best time to use the Double Dip on eBay is when they have Double Rewards and when you're gunning for a high ticket CGC key issue like an Avengers #4 (just an example) that's around a $1000 and up. Of course, try to get the best deal as well on that comic. Unfortunately, their Double Rewards usually only last for a day.

With this comic buying strategy, if used correctly, you can snag a Top Mark and get a lower mark key issue on your want list for free or for extremely cheap or a bit cheaper with the eBay Bucks you get back. Hence, Double Dip.

It's always a good thing if you can get something else worthwhile from the result of a single purchase. Absolutely nothing wrong with getting something back and snagging two birds with one stone. I'll use the example in the picture to the right. It's not a Double Rewards and only the regular 2%, but it's just an example to illustrate what the hell I'm talking about.

So, if I got this purchase and received the $46.25 in eBay Bucks, what's on my list that I could snag for around that? Of course, there are unslabbed copper and modern age comics that have a lesser chance of being restored or a copy that's not high grade.

Also, there are some bronze age books that meet that criteria as well that's on my want list. Very few, but a few.

Amazing Spider-Man #162, first appearance of Jig Saw is one. Not extremely in high demand. A 9.4 NM unslabbed can be snagged for around $52 and change at the time of this writing, which includes shipping.

With this method, I'd only be paying $5.75 cents for that ASM issue. Not bad, a $5.75 comic investment gamble isn't anything to have anxiety over, but here's where some extra thought comes into it.

Here's the thing: I plan to CGC the sucker, and since it is an earlier bronze age comic, I cannot use the Modern Service for $18. I'd have to use one of the free submissions that comes with a Premium Membership, but is it worth it?

Well, I'd have to look up what CGC 9.4s are selling for that issue. After looking it up, an Amazing Spider-Man #162 CGC 9.4 sold in Jan for $40 something bucks. Only sold listing so far this year. Wow, hmmm...really not a key issue in demand...just yet, so definitely not worth using one of the free submissions for, but it is a good idea to get since it hasn't blown up yet.

But here's another catch. Okay, there's a CGC 9.4 ASM #162 selling for $94.95, shipping included. If I buy that, all I really paid would be $48.70. So would it be worth it to get the unslabbed copy or graded copy? 

Okay if I got it unslabbed and submitted it, the cost would be $5.75 for the actual comic, $35 bucks for Economy Service, and around $10 for return shipping. I would grade it with four others, because the USPS shipping and insurance cost they charge is friggin' expensive, around $37 for books that total $500 to $1000 in value. Unfortunately, I live in California, and they charge $10 extra, so it's $47 for me.

Or, I could just submit that one comic and use the UPS ground option CGC has, which is $10 also. The insurance  only covers the package for $100 dollars, so with an ASM #162 at 9.4, the UPS insurance would cover that issue's value.

To get that particular book graded would cost me $50.75. I would be paying more to slab it than to get the CGC graded copy on eBay. Another negative with the unslabbed copy is that it could come back a 9.2 or lower, but there's a chance it could come back a 9.6 or higher as well.

Still, I have other options though. I could use the eBucks to get a high grade, unslabbed New Mutants #87, first appearance of Cable, for pretty cheap. The comic is blowing up right now, after all, and I can use the CGC Modern Service for that book.The first appearance of Cable is one of the best comics to invest in at the moment for Copper Age comics.

More so, I can look for copper age CGC 9.8s for around $50-80 bucks, and literally get it for super cheap or half off or near it. Web of Spider-Man #1 is still selling around the $80-$90 mark. Punisher #10 is selling for around $40-$50 at 9.8 CGC grades. Another steal.

Of course, I could find a modern age key issue like X-Men #4 volume 2, first appearance of Omega Red, which is selling for around $60-70 at CGC 9.8. I can get that book for a steal by Double Dipping, and it is primed to become one of the best Modern Age comics to invest in.

Of course, I could look up some silver age or bronze age key issues and try to snag one cheaper. I did notice an Amazing Spider-Man #162 CGC 9.6 for $105. It's only a few dollars more than the CGC 9.4 copy, so I'd probably hit that up. It is Amazing Spider-Man, after all, high grade, and still a relatively cheap key issue for a bronze age comic within a popular series.

If you get the 1% eBay Bucks promotion for Bill Me Later, pay it with Bill Me Later option at check out to get an additional 1%, which will get you more eBay bucks back on your eBay purchases. Then wait for when they issue you that eBay Bucks certificate and start shopping for a high grade key issue comic you can either get free or substantially cheaper.


There are negatives to this strategy.  

For one, it takes a bit of shopping around, and it's getting more and more limiting to find worthy comics to invest in near or around what you get back in eBay Bucks. There still are some, and I have noted a few in my recent key issue comics list.

Two, you can only use it on eBay and have to spend a considerable amount for it to be anywhere near effective. 

Three, there are restrictions in the program like I pointed out in this article. 

Four, this strategy is more effective if you have a bigger budget for comic investments. However, the most you can get back in eBay Bucks is $500 per calendar quarter and $100 per purchase, and you've got to spend a ridiculous amount to get either of those.

Five, you've got to wait until the end of quarter for when they issue you your eBay Bucks. I've watched a lot of great deals drop before I was issued mine. Also, it's time consuming to make sure that extra comic you're getting for free or cheap is really, really worth it. 


Getting a free key issue comic is nothing to complain about. Neither is getting a key issue comic worth $100 for near half off or a lot cheaper than what you would've originally paid.

Hitting two birds with one stone is highly doable with this method, and saving on comics or comic investments is never a bad thing. At least I think so and always will.

Comic investing isn't cheap for sure, and every little bit helps. If you would've bought a high ticket comic at a comic shop or comic convention, the most you would get back from the purchase is a "Thank you". So far I've used this strategy recently to get two high grade comics for cheaper. 

Another positive thing is that this method is also flexible with other buying strategies on eBay, which I will cover in the upcoming parts to this series. Part 2 is ready, so if you're read to continue just click the NEXT link below to continue reading.

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