How To Collect Comics

By Carl Bonasera

This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared in the
All-American Comic Shops Monthly Newsletter No. 15 October 1993 as part of the All-American Collectors Guide.

The easiest way to start collecting comics is to choose a character, characters, or character group (Avengers & Various Members, JLA & Various Members, Batman Family, etc.) or your favorite company (Marvel, DC, etc.) and start buying the new adventures of the book(s) you enjoy off the new comic racks each week.

After a while you may decide that you want to collect more or older adventures of your favorite comic book. For example’s sake, we’ll use Superman in this article.

A popular misconception is that you have to be able to get the #1 issue of a comic to start a collection, and that it has to be in mint condition if you ever wish to resell it.

The most fun and most satisfying way to collect comics is to collect backwards (in the ‘best condition’ available) from the current issue of a title to a predetermined starting point.

For example, if you were a brand new collector who walked into an All-American Comic Shop today and wished to begin collecting Superman, we would have many helpful suggestions for you.

A new artist (Ed McGuiness) starting drawing the main Superman book in the year 2000, and his art style and a new method of storytelling is reflected in all of the core Superman titles. This is what’s called a jumping on point. You can start with McGuiness’ first issue and try to collect all of the 4 Superman titles up to date, and continue to buy the current ones.

Superman adapted a unique numbering system on it’s titles a few years ago called the ‘Diamond Number’ which makes Superman by far the easiest new comic line to collect. Each one of Superman 4 core titles come out once a month. One issue of each title (Superman, Adventures of Superman, Action Comics, and Man Of Steel) comes out every week. Ed McGuiness’ first issue of Superman was #154. Dated Mar 2000, Diamond #2000/10. The next week Adventures of Superman # 576 came out which is Diamond #2000/11, the following week was Man of Steel #98 dated 2000/12, and finally Action Comics #763 dated 2000/13 hit the stands. You can try to collect each of these titles through the rest of the year 2000 and 2001, read them in the order of the Diamonds, and have a fine start on a Superman collection. Issues in this range average about a quarter over cover price ($2.25-$2.50) and won’t break your bank.

If you wanted to delve a little farther back in to the adventures of Superman, we would recommend going back to the famous ‘Death of Superman’ storyline in 1992 and the ‘Doomsday’ issues directly preceding it. Doomsdays first appearance was in Man of Steel #17 (the same Man of Steel cited above with the new direction in #98) Superman #73, Action 683, and Adventures of Superman 496 are the other jump on points. The vaunted ‘Death of Superman’ Black Bagged Issue was #75 and despite all the hoopla surrounding it, it is readily available for about $8-$10. Best of all, all of these titles flow seamlessly into the current issues and into the issues highlighted. All of these comics except for a few of the ‘Death Issues’ are still under $3 each and easily collectible.

The trick now is to pick up any and as many issues of Superman within your determined range whenever you see one in reasonable condition at a reasonable price. Don’t pass up a nice Man of Steel #19 because you don’t have a #17 yet, because you don’t know how long the #19 will be around. Feel free to ask us at All-American about determining such collection starting points and the availability of issues therein. We may be able to find copies within our backstock or take your want list and be on the lookout for them.

Now say you want to collect Superman more seriously. The next step would be to collect the whole POST CRISIS collection of Superman from 1986 to present. This kicks off with the six-issue John Byrne Man of Steel mini-series from 1986 and include Superman(1986) from #1 to present (or #73 if you already have all of the Doomsday up issues, Adventures of Superman #424 to present, Superman Man Of Steel #1 to present, and Action Comics from #584 up. Also published in this era are many Annuals,Specials, and Mini-Series which enhance the collecting experience, and are at your discretion to collect. This gives you a wider Superman palate to choose from, and the best part that except for a few key issue, there’s no comic in this collection that will cost you over $5!

The next Superman tier begins in 1972 with the previous Superman revival/update. Superman #233 (which changes it’s title to Adventures of Superman with #424 and continues the numbering) goes for about $40 in Near Mint Condition, but an average (VG)collectible condition copy can be had for about $15. This book was also reprinted recently in a Millennium edition and is available for your perusal for about $3. Action Comics #400 to 583, DC Presents (Superman Team-Ups) #1-97, World’s Finest (Superman/Batman stories) #200-323 and 70’s issues of Superboy also fall into this more extensive collection, and most books can be found in the $3-$10 range.

I personally collect Superman comics from the advent of the Silver Age to present. My starting points are Superman (1st Series)#96 published in 1956 which was released the same month as Showcase #4 which was the 1st appearance of the SilverAge Flash. Other collections include Action Comics #252(1st Supergirl ) or #242(1st Braniac) up, World’s Finest #71 (1st Superman/Batman team-up)up, Adventure Comics #247(1st Legion of Super-Heroes) up, and the complete runs of Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and the Superman Family. Superman also appeared in Justice League of America and guest starred in many other DC Comics. Books in this range price at as little as $3-$4, or as high as the $100’s.

If I were a rich man, I would collect Golden Age Superman. Either back to #1 or to wherever the current issue of Superman Archive leaves off. DC Archives are $50 hardcover deluxe editions which reprint key Golden Age and Silver Age titles quite beautifully at a cost just a fraction of what the back issues would cost. Add Action, World’s Finest. Adventure and the like and you would need Alex Rodriquez money to complete the collection.

If you think all of the above cited example are confusing and difficult to grasp, remember this: Superman is the oldest and most popular of all existing comics characters and his origins go back to 1938. Every single other comic book character or title is EASIER to collect! Even Batman! We at All-American are here to help you make these collecting decisions!

You may want to check such publications as The Overstreet Price Guide, Comic Book Marketplace, Alter-Ego, and even with some reservations, Wizard for more information about collecting comics.

Now it's time to have some fun!