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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Investing In Comics Buying Strategies Part 2

Here's Part 2 to more Investing in Comics Buying Strategies, which I'll cover some buying strategies to help you out with your hunt. Not all these comic investing strategies will be applicable to everyone.

If you missed Part 1, just visit the blue link you just read over and it will take you there.


Though there are varying situations to this comic investing strategy or method of buying comics online, I'm going to define this as an eBay thing. I've used this method quite successfully, and it's a pretty good way of buying comics a lot cheaper per unit price. 

As I've noted before in other posts, selling valuable comics in bulk on eBay can be a huge mistake. Most comics in comic lots sell way below their values per unit. If you've got valuable key comic issues, you can take a heavy loss selling them in comic lots.

On the flip side, it's a great way to get comics super cheap. I've gotten quite a few great snags using the Comic Lot Snag.

Those who use this method search for comic lots (a bunch of comics sold in one auction) in the eBay search results and scour those lots that have potential.

I'll give you a run down of what I do. First, type in whatever comic lots you may be hunting for in the eBay search. It could be "Fantastic Four silver age comic lot" or "Captain America bronze age comic lot". Make sure it's set to "Time: Ending Soonest". 

Then, I scour through all the listings, looking at the titles and pictures for various lots as well as the prices next to them. If one of the listings in the search results catches my interest like the Vintage Lot of 38 Comic Books - Silver & Bronze Age listing for $20.00 in the picture to the left, I'll click on it and check it out. 

Sometimes you can see the comics that are in the lot by the thumbnail picture. Sometimes you can't and have to click on it to see what the comic lot is truly offering.

Though the title and the price looked pretty good, the details may be a completely different story. This is what the comic lot contains, and it looks like a bunch of readers with no DC or Marvel in the lot at all. Comic lot is full of obscure titles that most collectors aren't really gunning for.

Not anywhere near what I'm looking for this time around. It's no big deal, though. So, I just go back to the search results to see what else I can find or catches my attention. 

Of course, it doesn't take me very long to find one that does get my attention. You can see from the arrow what got my attention immediately in this lot is that Batman #181, first appearance of Poison Ivy.

Also, you can see the price. There's 24 comics in this lot. If you got this comic lot for $75, you get these comics for $3.13 a piece. 

The only thing is that this is the only picture the seller took. I don't like it when sellers do that. Take more damn pictures, lazy ass! 

The listing does say that the comics range from Fair to Very Good, but my biggest concerns are the Batman #181 and Strange Tales #70. I would then send the seller an email asking for any defects on those issues or if he has more pictures.

While I'm waiting for a response, I'm gonna say the Batman is the most a VG in that comic lot. Then, I'd look up the value in the Overstreet Price Guide at VG. It's worth $60. 

However, what if I wanted to slab it? Of course, I would slab it, but first I have to find out what's it selling for. No CGC copies have sold for that key issue at 4.0. A CGC 4.5 sold for $175 back in February, but there is a CGC 3.0 copy of Batman 181 selling currently with a price of $275. 

Okay, I'll have to look up what unslabbed copies of Batman #181 at VG sold for. One sold for $124 bucks in March. So, I'll use these as references and just say a CGC 4.0 Batman #181 is valued around $200.

I'll estimate my top bid for that comic lot, which is the most I'm willing to pay, at $90 or $3.75 per comic and then add it to my watch list. I won't bid on it just yet. Note: I'm just throwing out that top bid to use as an example.

Then I'll go back to the eBay search listings and continue the same process over and over until I've added quite a few comic lot contenders to my watch list. 

Sometimes, I'll hit one that I really like. Usually, the price is amazingly low and the comics in the lot appear to be in really great condition. I like it when the seller puts big scans in the actual auction description like in the screenshot below. A lot of pictures that showcase the best comics of the lot in the normal eBay gallery is fine also like in the upper left. 

That way I can mouse over, zoom in on them, and inspect each of the books and try to estimate a grade, even if they do put the grades in the description. 

Depending on the size of the lot, I like to see pictures of the cover, back cover, a page to determine its color, and the centerfold to determine how tight or loose the comic is.

If the comic lot is ending super fast, I'll go on the pictures alone, figure out my top bid, and snipe it. That's only if the comics appear to be in the upper-mid grade or higher range and the auction bid is ridiculously low. I rarely do that, though. Usually, I make sure the auction ends with enough time so I can do more calculations (research).

If I have an hour or more, I'll do the calculations, look up the values on Overstreet, try to determine the CGC value for certain issues in that lot, add it to my watch list and wait to snipe it.

Back to the Batman #181. If the seller of the Batman #181 answers back later with an accumulation of defects I'm not cool with or if the Batman 181 sounds like it's lower than a 3.0, I'll pass on it and watch the other lots on my watch list like a hawk. If I don't get an answer, I'll delete it from my watch list and carry on accordingly.

If the seller says the Strange Tales #70 and Batman #181 are both very goods and provides more pictures, that comic lot becomes a contender. Nearing the time when the comic lot is ending, if the lot's auction bid is still low, I'll wait until 8 seconds left and put in my max bid of $90.

Hopefully, the auction ends lower than my max bid. That would be an awesome snag, and it has happened before to me a few times. Regardless, there's a good chance the auction will end over my max bid. As I mentioned before, I just used that lot as an example. By the way, that lot ended at $91 with $18.15 shipping. I wouldn't have won it with my example top bid, but the person who did win it got that Batman #181 for $4.55. If that comic turns out to be a CGC 3.0, he or she made an instant return on the total comic lot with just that one comic.

Usually, there has to be a few comics within that comic lot that can give you a good instant return. Sometimes, like in the above example, one can accomplish this.

Let me run down the procedure of determining whether the comics are a steal or not. This is not the Batman #181 auction example, but just an example.

1. First look to see if the lot has key issues. Minor ones are fine also.

2. Look at the pictures and try to estimate the grades, even if they list the grades. Sellers do over-grade comics quite often on eBay.

3. If you got some that are worthwhile key issues or the comics look to be in decent grade in the lot and the price is still relatively low, look up the values in Overstreet for those books in the lot using your estimated grades for each comic.

4. If the value is pretty good in Overstreet, pick out the top issues within that lot and do a search on eBay to see what the CGC grades are selling for. Then, for all the comics in the lot, use your estimated grades to find out what the unslabbed copies are selling for each. Oh, yes, write all your findings down too.

5. By this time, you'll find out what's worthy or not within the lot. If there's one or a few, it's time to do the math.

6. Find your max top bid. If you chose three top picks within a comic lot and unslabbed comics for those issues are dropping around a hundred dollars each (not CGC sold prices unless comics in that lot are already CGC graded), you can then guess that the auction will most likely be over the $300 mark, depending what the other comics in that lot are and what their estimated grades are.

7. Find out the per price unit of each comic from the top bid you've estimated. So I estimate my top bid is going to be $400. Let's say the lot has 24 books. Divide $400 by 24 and you'll get  $16.6666. Round up so it's $16.67.

8. Determine how much profit can be instantly attained. Three of those more important comics in the lot you estimated are FNs. Let's say one comic is selling around $220 in CGC FN, another at $200, and the third's average value is $250. When you total them up it comes out to be $670.

9. Subtract total from your max top bid. In this example the top bid is $400, so the profit from those three estimated CGC comics would be $270.

10. Not done yet. Next you need to factor in CGC submission costs. CGCing three silver age comics will eat away that $270. Just the cost of three submissions for CGC Economy service totals $105, not including what they charge for shipping or cost of comics. 

For example sake, I'll use USPS shipping since they cover more for insurance. That would be $35, and since I'm lucky enough to live in California, I have to add $10 on top of that.

That totals $145 to grade, plus $16.67 times 3 for cost of comics which totals $50.01. The total expense for those 3 comics is $195. So total instant estimated profit for just those three comics in that lot would be $77.99. Not that great, but good.

11. Now, remember all those other comics in the lot you did searches for and wrote down the totals of what their selling for unslabbed on eBay? It's time to add those up. 

Don't cheat when doing the searches to see what comics are selling at and just write the down the price for the copy that sold the most. Actually figure out the average for the most recent five copies that dropped if you can. If there were only 3 that sold, use three. If only 1 use that reference. 

Do not use CGC prices for the other unslabbed comics in the lot. They may not be worth CGCing, so just use the unslabbed sold prices at the grades you estimated them in.

12. Add up the total of those comics and add it to previous estimated profit. My example is $77.99. This will give you total instant profit from entire comic lot if all goes well.

13. If profit is not impressive enough, you'll have to lower your estimated max bid and hope the auction ends below or near that. You can still watch the auction and wait till the last seconds to snipe it if the bidding doesn't reach the top bid you've lowered in your mind and on paper. Yes, write down your max bid for that auction and each comic lot auction you're watching.

If the bid price keeps going up, that means your total instant profit is getting smaller and close to zero. If it gets too close to zero, move on to a different comic lot auction.

14. If the auction's bid price does go above the top bid you set in the last seconds, do not give in to your passions. Just move on down the watch list and watch for a comic lot that turns out to be more attractive.


The Comic Lot Snag isn't as rigid as other comic investing buying strategies. You can use the Comic Lot Snag in conjunction with the Double Dip method I explained in Part 1 since both are confined or primarily confined to eBay.

I've gotten quite a few key issue comics with this method for super cheap. Tales of Suspense #75, first appearance of Sharon Carter and Batroc the Leaper, in about FN, most FN+, condition comes to mind. I got that in a comic lot of 8, in which each individual comic price was snagged for $6 a piece. 

When I researched the other comics and what they valued at in Overstreet at my estimated grades, as well what they were selling for on eBay, quite a few were dropping at $16 to $20 unslabbed. 

I also got a FN or a VF- copy of Fantastic Four #66, HIM (Adam Warlock) in cocoon form, for $15 bucks using this method and a gorgeous Captain Marvel #3 for $8.03. The Captain Marvel #3 looks to be around a VF or maybe higher and is on my list to submit to CGC eventually.

Silver age Justice League of America #2 and #3 were snagged with this method. Issue #2 is around a low FN to the most a FN, and #3 is probably a GD at the most. I was gunning for issue #2 because it looked nice enough. I got those in a lot of 2 for $130, which is $65 bucks each. The Justice League of America #2 is one of the comics I'll be submitting this may at Big Wow Comic Fest, and if it comes back a FN, I've added instant return on investment. A CGC 5.0 copy sold in March for $260, so I bought a comic worth 4 times what I paid for it simply by using this method and CGCing it.

Those are just some of the examples I've gotten using this method, and I've gotten quite a few great books. It's far from perfect, though, which I'll explain in the next section.


Although you can really get some great finds on the cheap using this method, it has a lot of drawbacks. Before using this buying strategy, you have to be fully aware of them.

One: It's getting harder and harder to find any comic lots that are worth snagging. There's a lot of junk out there, and I mean junk comic lots that are basically readers. 

If you've done this strategy for a while now, you know that you've gotten more junk comics than anything worth while when you first started snagging comic lots. I have no problem admitting I did when I first started using this strategy or method. You either get frustrated and give up or you learn.

If you haven't yet to try it, I hope some of the tips I point out in this article helps you to look out for things to watch, as well as eliminate some common mistakes.

Two: This strategy is extremely time consuming, especially if you do all the calculations like I do to help ensure you get comics in lots that are worth it, or if there's a few comics in that lot you can later add instant return by CGCing.

Three: Most of these comic lots are mostly unslabbed comics. You run a high risk of buying incomplete copies or restored copies. Even if you can get them cheaper, you may be in for a rude awakening once the comic comes back from CGC. Try to find comic lots with a lot of pictures. Some sellers do put a lot of pictures in the gallery as well as the description. Most are lazy and don't.

I got a Fantastic Four #45, first appearance of Black Bolt, a long time ago in a comic lot and it turned out beat to living shit. Tape all over the front cover, which the seller did not bother describing in the listing and the camera didn't pick up. That comic lot was bought when I first began using this strategy, and all the comics in that lot were just terrible.

Four: It's very limiting. Many comic lots consist of common issues. Some have key issues that are thrown in there, but sometimes they're in a grade not worth considering as a comic investment. The Captain Marvel #3 I got isn't even a key issue, but it looked really good. 

The others in that lot weren't key issues either, but the copies looked well above a FN. Also, the price was ridiculously too good to pass up. I snagged that comic lot of 3 for $24.09. 

Most comic lots won't be like that, though. Most are full of common issues that are just straight fugly. 

Five: It can be expensive. Some comic lots like silver age Amazing Spider-Man comic lots are pretty pricey, and many of those reach a price where you're not really getting that great a deal compared to the grades of each comic in that lot.

Huge lots full of silver age and bronze age major key issues are mixed in with a lot of dirt common issues on eBay, and those comic lots get near or close to the thousands. I would not doubt that most of them are comic dealers who are snagging those puppies up and reselling them. 

Six: It's inconsistent. If you've noticed all the estimating in this strategy, there's a good chance those estimations could be wrong, especially for estimating grades. This is why if the estimated total instant profit is close to zilch, pass that lot up. You need leeway with the total instant profit in case your grading estimates are off big time. 

Also, if you don't know how to grade comics, or at least be able to place a comic's grade near the correct grade range, this strategy won't be much use. Some buy comic lots blindly, and they end up getting more junk comics like I did when I first started buying them.

Overall, the Comic Lot Snag is a high gamble. Even if you do follow the pointers in this article, you still run the risk of being hit with restored copies or comics that are lower grades than what you estimated. You also run the risk of spending way too much time for what the actual investment return is really worth. Just sticking to this strategy alone is a huge mistake and will not produce many investment comics (high grade comics) for you.

But to say that you cannot find some gems buying comics with this method would be false. You surely can, and you can get them super cheap as well.

thhe next part to the Investing In Comics Buying Strategies is ready so just click the blue link below. If you missed Part 1 just click the PREVIOUS link below and it'll transport you there.

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