Search This Site

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Investing In Comics Buying Strategies Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Investing in Comics Buying Strategies. Some of you already employ these tactics in buying comics for investment purposes. Some are new to the game.

Visit the link if you missed Part 2. If not, carry on and hope these tips may help you in your hunt.


As the name states, these are comics that I chance upon usually when I walk into a comic shop. When I first hit a comic shop, I walk past by all the new comics and go directly to what I call their "Wall". It's the wall where every comic shop features most of their older and sometimes more valuable issues.

Often times I may be looking for a certain key issue or nothing in particular and just want to check things out. If I'm gunning for a specific comic and usually don't find it or do find it and  the copy is way too fugly for what they're asking, I just may spot a different key issue comic in which the grade and price seems reasonable.

This is how I got Marvel Premiere #15, first appearance of Iron Fist for $45 bucks a while back, probably a few months after I found the Tales of Suspense #52, which was also a Chance Upon. It was advertised as a FN/VF but it looked more towards the VF or VF+ range after inspecting it. I could be wrong, but we'll find out soon enough as I'm submitting this to CGC at Big Wow Comic Fest also.

The price was slightly a little higher than what it was guided for at the time and it was unslabbed. So why did I get this particular copy?

As I've stated before, I'm not a big Iron Fist fan. I do like the character, but I never really followed the character. The issue, to be honest, wasn't even on my want list at the time. So I got it because it was...

A. Bronze age key issue.
B. I could inspect it with my own eyes.
C. $45 bucks, meaning it hadn't blown up yet.
D. Possible movie...long shot, indeed.
E. Looked better than graded. 

The Chance Upon can happen almost anywhere: eBay, comic shop, comic convention, estate sale, etc. This doesn't happen all too much for me, but it does every now and then.

It is a buying method, but not really a strategy like the Double Dip or Comic Lot Snag.


It's always fun to go to local comic shops, and b.s. with the owner or other comic collectors. This method gets you out of the house and away from eBay, sometimes a good thing.

Of course, you can find deals on comics this way or get them for guide price before their values blow up like with the Marvel Premiere #15 I stumbled upon or the Tales of Suspense #52, although I was aware that Black Widow was announced to appear in Iron Man 2 at the time but wasn't exactly gunning for it.

Another great thing: You can always try to haggle a lower price, as long as the comic is not a consignment. Be sure to look up prices on eBay for sold unslabbed copies at the grade that's advertised for the book. Factor in shipping costs also.


One: This is basically a spontaneous find, so it's really either a hit or miss. Since it is off the cuff, you're going mainly on instinct alone and there's really no other way to gauge whether it'll be a great investment or not other than it's a key issue comic.

Two: It's not a focused snag. If you have grade thresholds in purchasing comics as investments, this method will be extremely limiting in finding comics in accordance with your grading standards. Your comic investing timeline also takes a backseat to price. You miss a lot of calculations with this method.

Three: This doesn't happen very often, and can be time consuming to find suitable investment comics at comic conventions and comic shops. More often than not, you'll probably miss more Chance Upons than take advantage  of since you're not really gunning for the specific key issue comic.


My pop has always used coupons for anything he could. He won't even buy fast food unless he has a coupon for the place.

Sure a lot of people look down their noses at this. I use to be embarrassed as a kid, until I started working myself and clobbered with bills and everything else that makes saving on whatever you can a really good thing.

Now I completely understand my dad's thinking, and since comic investing can be expensive, I understand the importance of deals even more.

Now, comics don't usually come with coupons, but if you have a local comic shop and it's run by someone smart, they will have sales. Usually, smart owned comic shops have pre-Christmas sales, and New Year sales to liquidate old inventory to fund new inventory.

This could be a great chance to scrooge up some silver age and bronze age key issue comics for 20% to 50% off. One of my locals had a 50% off all back issues sale once. This included the comics on "The Wall". You know, the more valuable comics they showcase that's usually hanging up on a wall in a comic shop. 

I got a Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #13, the one where Captain America crosses over, for half off this way. Also, an Iron Fist #1 was scrooged up at the same sale.

I got the first appearance of Moon Knight in Werewolf By Night #32 from a 35% off sale. Granted, it is only a FN copy at the most and was priced at $25 at the time. So I got that for $17.71 including sales tax.

Regardless, unslabbed FN copies of that issue are now going for around $80 on eBay. Not a bad snag for being a scrooge. 

I use to do this at comic conventions in the past as well. On a Sunday when it's nearing closing time, a dealer would walk out in the middle and start shouting out, "50% off all comics! 50% off all comics!" I use to get some pretty good snags that way.

I don't know about the comic conventions in your area now, but at the present moment comic dealers round these parts have become pretty shiesty at comic conventions. Now, I notice some have 50% off boxes for silver and bronze age comics, but they mark them up so much that in reality you're just paying for guide price on them. A lot of comics are over-graded too, so actually you're really overpaying.

Snagging key issue comics at comic shop sales should be a buying strategy to greatly consider. I know there are some places and towns that don't have a comic shop nearby, but if you do have one, sign up for their newsletter. They'll always announce upcoming sales for Black Fridays or pre-Christmas sales or whatever.

NewKadia has sales going on all the time at 10% to 35% if there isn't a comic shop in your area and are stuck to mainly buying online. I've gotten a few snags from them, but I'm really curious as to how they'll grade when I submit them to CGC.

If you prefer unslabbed key issue comics and don't care about CGCing your comics later, NewKadia is a great online comic shop to scrooge up some deals.


You can get some key issues at really great deals using this buying strategy, and you'll be at an advantage. Most people during these sales are scouring the back issue bins or buying a crap load of recent back issues. 

I go straight for "The Wall" and ask for the boxes behind the counter that hold more silver and bronze age goodies. It's during these sales when I'm not that picky about grades. I still am to a point, aesthetically. Regardless, half off is half off. You really gonna complain about getting an Amazing Spider-Man #8 for half off it's guide value even if it's only a VG?  

I wouldn't nor ever would sneer at getting key issue comics at deals like that, but some have different beliefs on comic books as investments. That's fine also. It really does depend on your goals.

Another positive is that you can find key issue comics that are under graded, and get even more instant return back once you CGC it.

And one more positive is that it's not time consuming like the comic investing buying strategies outlined in the earlier posts. All you gotta do is bring your want list with the Overstreet Guide Values written next to each comic. A few times, I actually brought my copy of the current Overstreet Guide at the time to one of these sales.

These sales can be a madhouse, especially during the silly season, but if you're local comic shop is owned by cool people, they can be a lot of fun also. Just like everything, there are negatives.


One: The biggest negative is that this comic buying strategy is very limited. Not only are you confined to waiting for sales, you're confined to the quality of what the comic shop has in stock.

Sure, you can snag key issue silver and bronze age comics using this buying strategy, but many times the condition of the comics will be in the lower grade range.

If you follow a grade threshold system of investing in comics, this will be a very limiting strategy to use. Your options for getting great deals may be few and far between.

Two: Most of the really good comics at my local are consigned, and most of the time, these sales exclude consignment comics. That makes sense since the comic shop doesn't own them and are selling them for someone else.

Don't know about your local comic shop, but they may or may not do the same thing. If they aren't excluded, usually consigned comics will only be like 10% off at sales. In California, you're basically just getting sales tax taken care of. 

Three: This is strategy is mostly confined to unslabbed copies, as dealers are trying to thin out their stock. You always run the same risk of not getting what you paid for. 


Okay, since I've mentioned this quite a few times already in the comic buying strategies I've discussed, I think I need to talk about instant return briefly. It's a super simple concept, actually.

Instant return is just that: Instant return. Of course, buying valuable comics super cheap is instant return on investment. If you got a VF comic at $20 in a comic lot and it's worth $80 (meaning it's selling on eBay for $80), you've got $60 instant return. 

If you graded that unslabbed comic and it came back a CGC VF as you estimated, you would have instant return if comics at that CGC grade were selling for $400 on average.

It has to be the right kind of key issue though. It can't just be any ole thing. For example, an Amazing Spider-Man #41, first appearance of Rhino is a hot key issue right now. However, if you have one at VG, it's not worth CGCing since they're only dropping at $80 something dollars for that grade on eBay. Even CGC'd ones. The cost of grading it alone depletes any instant return you may get. The value of that comic at VG and lower is too small for any worth while instant return.

Probably best to let the comic marinate for a few years. When it starts becoming valuable then it will be time to CGC it. 

When you're using CGC for instant return, you have to select your choices wisely. Instant return also has no bearing on the long-term investment aspect for the comic. Just because you can get instant return on a comic, doesn't mean that comic as an investment will be good in the long run.

Alright, Part 4 of this series is ready so just click the PART 4 link you see below. If you missed the previous parts, you can click the PREVIOUS link below to check them out. Thanks for reading.


  1. Hey! Great Stuff Here! It's Loren and I was wondering with all of these key issue comics and awesome strategies like "Instant Return" I am wondering what you keep and stash away, and what you sell now vs later, as your long term investing strategy. Do you only sell doubles, or say when a movie like Guardians of the Galaxy is coming out, do you hold some long term, or just make quick cash now, or just after movie comes out? I was just discussing this with my brother, and since you seem to understand the game of investing, I wonder what your long term strategy vs short term gains are. I have been holding onto any basic keys, but want to be careful and not just hoard everything, so I usually will sell/trade to make $$$ for bigger ticket items like my last 2 purchases.....Amazing Spiderman Annual 1 & Xmen 4.

    1. Heya Loren, I wrote a blog post dedicated to your questions for Part 4 of this series. It was a topic that was a bit too long for the comment box. Thanks for the great question and commenting and congrats on your last two snags! Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, first Sinister Six, is going through the roof right now.