Understanding the potential value of your comic book collection starts with having access to the right price guides. We recommend the Overstreet Price Guide, which has been the leading comic pricing resource since 1970. This guide will help you to understand how to navigate the guide, what to consider when valuing your collection and also provide you options to get a free comic book appraisal:
Understanding valuations starts with the 5 Cs: Condition, Commonality (rarity), Characters, Creators and Chronology (era). This guide will talk through how to interpret each of those. You can also reach out to us for a free consultation to discuss your options.
Grading Comic Book Conditions
Evaluating the condition, or grade, of a comic book starts with knowing the grading scale which ranges from P (Poor) to NM (Near Mint). The scale is as follows:
P(Poor) – A comic book that is incomplete or missing very large pieces.
FR(Fair) – A comic that is complete, but has a significant flaw such as a split binding or large piece missing from the cover.
GD(Good) – A comic that is complete, in tact, but has structural issues such as major creases, weak binding
VG (Very Good) – A comic that is complete, has a solid structure but has moderate flaws from wear
FN (Fine) – A nice presenting comic with a solid binding, but has minor cosmetic flaws including spine ticks and creases or discoloration
VF (Very Fine) – A very nice presenting comic book with clean binding, but very minor flaws. It’s rare to find VF or better books among vintage comics, as it requires careful storage.
NM (Near Mint) – A nearly perfect book which only very slight defects such as a corner rub – these books are rare for vintage and reflect a nearly pristine condition. Books in near mint condition command a premium in values especially for books from the Bronze age (1970s) or earlier (Silver Age – 1960s or Golden Age – 40s/50s)
The Importance of Comic Book Characters
Comics featuring the most popular heroes such as Batman, Spider-Man and many others who have a major place in popular culture often demand a premium. The most valuable comics tend to contain the first appearance of a character, as those introductions as coveted for their historical significance. Other character milestones including origin stories, first cover appearances, rebirths (such as first silver age appearance) and classic covers.
The Importance of Comic Book Scarcity
Comic rarity is generally given on the Gerber Scale where 1 is common and 9 is very rare. The scarcer a comic is (generally comics from the 40s or 50s), the less supply is in the market at any given time. As a result, if a comic is coveted but is not common then the market tends to place a premium on these issues.
Comics featuring the work of renowned creators such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Alex Schomburg (among many others) command a premium. Leading artists covers are highly collected, and many people collect work from their favorite artists. As a result, comics from top artists help drive values.
Aligned with rarity, the era a book was produced also has an impact upon its value. Earlier comic books tend to have fewer remaining copies, while modern (new) comics have a very high supply. Since major characters were often introduced in the golden and silver age, many comics from those eras have significant value. However, with common issues, the era helps slightly but mostly in cases of popular characters.