The story quoted one of the stars of American Pickers (Frank Santoro) as he explained why Bronze Age comics aren't worth much nowadays...
It’s a typical collection that you see floating around now. Classic Bronze Age. A run of Marvel Two-In-One. A run of Micronauts. A run of Alpha Flight. A run of Camelot 3000. Badger. Nexus. Web of Spider-Man. A good selection of valuable X-Men. A good selection of worthless Cloak and Dagger. But nothing interesting like Elektra: Assassin or Slash Maraud. You know the drill.Note: As fellow fan of the Bronze Age Trey Causey pointed out, a lot of the comics he mentions aren't really Bronze Age at all, but the question remains.
“How old is Tommy?” I asked.
“42,” sayeth Uncle Louie.
“Yeah, that makes sense. See, what’s happening is all the guys your son’s age are dumping their collections now. They all had the same books. So the market is flooded.”
As one might imagine, the comments section quickly filled with other Bronze Age fans sharing stories to confirm the notion. I thought I would share my experiences in this area over the years as from time to time, I've dabbled in flipping old comics and runs.
Back in the early 2000's, when I was self-employed, I had the time to scour ebay in search of cheap comics with which to put together complete runs. (Which sold very well at the time.) With a little work, you could scoop up issues of, say, Batman and the Outsiders or Freedom Fighters in separate auctions for about a quarter a piece. (You always had to watch out for people who gouged on shipping.)
Once assembled, you could then turn around and sell the complete set for anywhere from one to two dollars an issue. (Or in some cases, like a complete set of FOOM, which took forever to acquire, I might charge more than that.)
However, around 2005, I started to notice that I was getting less and less watchers on my ebay auctions. As the years progressed, it became even harder for an auction to complete all the way. On the flipside, it was becoming easier and easier to pick up the single issues in what I would call "dump" auctions (auctions with lots of random comics.)
I think part of the problem is that people can now pick up old comics so easily in all sorts of Collected Editions.
The other problem is as people transistion to reading their comics digitally, it is becoming much harder for them to justify buying old paper issues (especially if a large portion of their house is already devoted to a storing their collection.) In some cases, when inspired to read older stories, the newly converted digital fans are looking for them not in musty long boxes but on torrent sites instead.
I've even noticed ebayers picking up on this trend by offering digital collections of old comics on DVD. (In the screenshot from ebay below, the Spider-man DVD Rom might be legit, but the Phantom and Green Lantern collections aren't.)
Even with all those odds against them, a casual search of ebay will reveal that quite a number of ebay auctions where Bronze Age comics still sell at respectable prices.
So, in answer to the question posed by today's post title, I would say while calling Bronze Age comics worthless is quite an exaggeration, they have definitely lost some value among some potential buyers.
With all that in mind, here are a few tips for getting the best price for your old Bronze Age Comics:
Shoot a picture of your item on either a clean background (like a white sheet) or on bubble wrap. It sounds silly, but a picture on bubble wrap sends a buyer the subliminal message that the item is ready to ship and will get to them very quickly.
If you are selling a complete run of comics, scan and show buyers each and every cover. This is good for two reasons. One, the cover art will help entice them into making the decision to buy the issues and two, it will help you field complaints if one of the covers is not in perfect condition.
Always offer free shipping. If that sounds extreme, remember than media mail usually only runs about $5.00. If you aren't making enough profit in your auction to cover that cost, you need to up the number of comics you are selling in the auction.
Try to capitalize on any current trends in current comics. Like for instance, right now, with of an Inhumans movie and their prominent appearances in Marvel Infinity, this would be a great time to try and move a complete run of some older runs of the Inhumans.
Those are my tips. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to suggest them in the comments section below.