How to Start a Comic Book Collection

The market for comic books is expected to rake in about $12.81 billion by 2028; naturally, there is no shortage of new fans of the medium every year.
This article will consider different reasons people may have for wishing to explore the vast world of comics and start their very own comic book collection. Be it discovering a new community, making money, or simply uncovering new worlds and superheroes.
Curious about the world of comics and how to start a comic book collection? Here are a few basic yet essential steps to help you on the long journey ahead.

How to Start a Comic Book Collection

It’s not wise to go on a purchasing spree with no plan in mind. It’s vital that you have a certain level of foresight when engaging with such a large medium, and the more you’re prepared, the easier time you’ll have moving forward.

Go At Your Own Pace

Regardless of your motive for collecting comic books, it’s highly recommended you don’t rush to consume comics. Instead, preferably stick to one series or character you identify with at a time.
There are quite a few publishers, including the big two: Marvel and DC comics, as well as countless writers and issues to check out. To not get overwhelmed and manage your budget, take it slow and prioritize the ones that pique your interest the most.

Get to Know the Authors and Artists

Note down the names of the respective comic writers and artists for future reference. This will aid you in finding other works which suit your interests and become more familiar with the larger community in the future.

Notable Comic Book Writers:

  • Alan Moore
  • Mark Millar
  • Stan Lee
  • John Bryne

Notable Comic Book Artists:

  • Jim Lee
  • Frank Miller
  • Jim Steranko
  • Neal Adams

Decide On What Comics to Buy

If you’re concerned with quality, buying digital issues is the way to go. This is also recommended if you have a limited budget as comics online are not affected by inflation due to their old age.
But if you’re hoping to make a profit along the way, then focusing your efforts on physical copies is the obvious choice. Digital issues retain their prices and can’t be sold for the most part.
Naturally, there’s no better place to get help than going to experts. Those who are experienced with comic books should be more than willing to help you out based on your preferred genres. You can check with your local comic store owner or a close friend who is into comics.
There are certain formats that comic book issues can take which dictate their volume and prices.

Single Issues

Usually around 30 pages. Although they cost the least, depending on the series they may accumulate quickly in the overall price. They’re also not ideal if you don’t have a lot of storage space to handle the load.
Keeping an eye out for key issues such as ones where a character is debuted, major plot points are revealed or a character’s death is essential if you’re looking to make money off of them in the future. They’re also very useful for keeping track of the most recent happenings.

Trade Paperbacks (TPB)

Trade Paperbacks are typically five to six issues that make up their respective volumes. Despite taking more time to get published, they don’t require as much care and organization as single issues. They’re not limited to comic stores. Unfortunately, it’s rare for their value to increase later.

Omnibus

Though Omnibuses are initially the most expensive option, they’re the fiscally better choice in the long run. An omnibus makes up the whole run of a series in one volume, if not more. If you're the completionist, they take more time to get published compared to single issues and TPBs.

Get to Know The Grading System

It may be frustrating having to watch out for comics with poor quality due to missing pages and others that are folded, torn, or spoiled by some substances. Lucky for us, there’s a Comics Guarantee Company (CGC).
They provide a grading system that is quite useful for assessing the quality of comics as well as helping you gauge their proper price in case you wish to either buy or sell them. It is a 10-point grading system starting from 0.5 (Poor) all the way up to 10.0 (Gem Mint). This will prove very useful if you wish to certify the quality of your comics!
Additionally, color labels help determine the state and quality of the corresponding comic.

Blue

Aptly called the Universal label, this is the one you will want to look out for the most as a collector. It indicates that your book has gone through no tampering whatsoever.

Green

This is the Qualified label. Typically green labels refer to comics that suffer from a specific defect. Though they’re nothing to scoff at, they may not be a priority if you’re more concerned with value.

Purple

Also known as the kiss of death among collectors and investors, this is the Restored label. It indicates that a book has undergone a restoration of sorts, meaning that foreign material has been added to it in order to restore it to its original appearance. This is naturally the least valuable label as it’s unlikely to see a return on investment.

Top Comics to Initiate Your Collection

It’s perfectly normal if you remain indecisive about which comic book to begin your journey with. So here are a few suggestions to start you off with a relatively low budget to boot!
  • Web of Spider-Man #1 (1984)
  • Spider-Gwen #1 (2015)
  • X-Men #11 (1992)
  • Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine #1 (1988)
  • War Machine #1 (1994)

How to Organize Your Comic Book Collection

It’s inevitable that you’ll amass quite a number of comics one day. At that time it becomes essential to know how to organize and preserve them, especially if you wish to invest in a comic book collection.
Here are a few general tips to help along the way:
  • Make sure to separate your single issues from trade paperbacks, then separate them according to their respective publishers and titles, all in that order.
  • Invest in comic book boxes; they’re heavy cardboard long boxes specially designed to contain all your single issues.
  • Trade paperbacks would ideally get shelved.
  • Never keep your comics in a warm environment or stack them on top of each other! That goes double for single issues which demand more care. Moisture and heat can easily wear down their quality.

Conclusion

Once you know how to start a comic book collection, the process is simple, but it ultimately demands a lot of your time. Hence, it’s key to remain patient and enjoy the moment with each step you take throughout.
The industry is far too rich and diverse for anyone who hopes to keep up, but that speaks volumes about its potential.