With the fairly recent popularity of superhero movies hitting the big screen, there’s been plenty of renewed interest into the world of those heroes. Each of those characters live on beyond the screen and most have a bounty of stories to their name, in the form of comics. Enough that you might even think about starting a collection. But getting into the world of comics can be a little daunting for the uninitiated.
There’s an ocean of comics out there and someone new to comics might be worried about drowning in it.
Good news to any aspiring collector out there. There’s a way to get started, and you don’t need a life jacket. In fact, the equipment you need to get started would satisfy any toddler or cat: a cardboard box in which to keep your comics.
You may also want cardboard backs and bags to keep your issues crisp and safe, but those can be found at your local shop when you buy the comic, so don’t worry too much about that.
Your first step is going to be to find a place to buy your comics. While you can order your copies online, or even get digital copies of comics, there’s something to be said for visiting your local shop. The guys and gals behind the counter are a font of inspiration when it comes to knowing what titles to start with, what’s hot right now and what issues might just stand the test of time.
On that topic, there are tons of great jumping off points and great stories out there. You can always start with the classic Marvel and DC capes comics. These characters have histories going back decades but there’s no need to start collecting at issue one. Start at the beginning of a story arc for a given comic and you usually have enough information on what’s going on to get your bearings.
If you don’t like superheroes, you’re in luck because there are still so many other cool comics out there. There are stories for Horror fans, Sci-Fi fans, video game fans. There are light-hearted comics or, if you prefer, even comics that get, like super real and give you a case of the “feels”. If Marvel or DC aren’t your bag, check our stories from other publishers, like Image comics, Dark Horse or Boom! Studios.
Our local comic store in Sudbury, Comics North, had some advice about collecting. First is to do your research! Look up comics you think you’ll be interested in, find reviews online or even buy and read through an issue before committing your wallet to a complete story. You can also find a lot of comics at your local library, so head out there and read as many as you want before deciding on a story arc that’s worth keeping. Many publishers also collect individual issues into collections which can be purchased in paperback. This can be a great way to make sure you’re not missing any of the story, and they look great too.
And give the new a try! Lot’s of people might be wary of locally made comics, or new titles that haven’t been established, but then you miss out on excellent titles like Big Nick, a comic that takes place in Sudbury. Guaranteed, if you try something new you will find gems you were not expecting.
Once you’ve found a title (or titles!) that interest you, you can get started with a collection. Another advantage of a local shop, they can set up a pull list for you, or a vault. This basically let’s you give them the titles you want to follow, and they’ll make sure those issues are put aside for you so you can claim them later and not miss anything important.
You also get to benefit from the community of other comic lovers at that store, who can discuss, debate or even trade comics.
Don’t be afraid to trade! Once you have a decent collection going and know what issues you need to complete your set, talk to other people and you might be surprised to find they have what you’re looking for. This can also be a great way to find new stories you weren’t expecting.
Now, if you’ve past entry-level collecting and you’re looking to expand your collection, there is a grading system that tells you how intact an individual issue is. This also helps determine the value of a particular comic. This can go anywhere from PR for Poor, all the way up to GM for Gem Mint, the best possible quality. The better condition your comic is in, the more it’s worth. If you have an issue you think is worth keeping, you can also send it off to the Certified Guaranty Company, also known as CGC. They will professionally grade your comic and place it in a sealed container. This essentially guaranties a certain grade, as long as the comic stays within the container.
That said, be wary of trying to make money collecting. Sure some issues can pay out, like an issue of Action Comics #1 that sold for $3.2 million in 2014, but on the whole it’s like buying a lottery ticket that might pay out in 50 years. It’s hard to predict what issues will gain value so go for what you like at first. If you do end up with what could be the next Superman issue 1, keep that baby as Near Mint as possible.
If you're looking to start collecting, there's no better day to get started than on free comic book day, on May 6th. Most comic stores will have a selection of free comics to choose from so call your local store to find out.