Affordable 1st Appearances

When I first started collecting, my biggest issue was… what do I want to collect. After some thought, I knew I wanted Deadpool and Harley Quinn. But I also wanted to do 1st appearances. But realized quickly, a lot of them are very expensive. Not everyone can afford a 1st Spider-Man or Batman. Or even a first X-23 or Deadpool. But you can afford a 1st Warpath, Blink, Black Cat, Magma, Legion, Ronin and tons of others. 1st appearance of Typhoid Mary can be had under $20 for a high grade copy. 1st Deathstroke, Nightwing, and Killer Crock can also be had at fairly lower prices. Under $75 in most cases. Check out IMDB for all the Marvel and DC TV shows and Movies and find some names you don’t hear everyday and go find those. Cupid, Bronze Tiger, Plastique and Dreamer to name a few. I have had a lot of fun tracking a lot of these down. Also, it doesn’t have to be Super Heroes. Lucifer, Preacher, IZombie and The Strain are all great titles and the 1st books and appearances are pretty affordable except maybe Preacher. High grade Preacher can cost a bit. Forget Walking Dead #1, but how about grabbing a first Negan or Michone.

But remember, as I explained early on. Some characters have more than one first appearance. Example, “Blink”, she has 2 firsts. 1st appearance as Clarice Ferguson and 1st appearance as Blink. Psylocke as a few 1sts. Mystique has first Raven Darkholme and first Mystique. There are quit a few of these. Find them all. That is what collecting is all about. Now go do your research and buy some books.

Blank Variants

Over the last couple of months we have discussed many different variants that are out there. Some worth a lot of money, some I think, just passing fads. But now I will tell you a little about my favorite variants. The Blank Variant cover. These are books issued but with a blank page over the front and rear cover for you to have artist draw on or creators to sign. I love taking mine to shows and having artists draw my vision on them, or tell them to do whatever they want. Now, the first thing you have to know is, it isn’t cheap. When these variants first hit, you could get known and well known artists to draw or sketch on these for a very reasonable rate. But after these artist started seeing these pieces on Ebay for $200 to $1000 a book. Well, they started charging also. Funny thing is, people bitch about this. Remember, artist do not and can not work for free. They have bills too. But the great thing with these is you don’t have to have a huge named artist on them.These are great for getting up and coming artist to draw on and even new creators. I personally have some great creations. Ken Lashley, Kelly Williams, Bernard Chang, Adam Hughes and Sanford Greene to name a few.

So buy up some of those blank variants. Save some cash and get what you want drawn on them. Thor versus Wonder Woman, Power girl in a bikini, The Avengers interacting with the Power Puff Girls. The sky is the limit. Remember they become one of a kinds. These will be the most fun you have had collecting in a long time.

Buying Comics

As a new collector, you may think the only place to buy comics is your local shop, or Ebay. Well in this day and age that is not true. With the internet, there is so much more there for you. When I started a few years ago, I only bought from Ebay and my local comic shops. Then found out there were so many great deals to be found on Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook, online shops such as Lone star Comics, Midtown Comics and Mile high Comics. Garage Sales, Yard Sales, Estate Sales and Flea Markets. Now there are Apps like Offer Up and Let Go as well asĀ  Comic Cons around the world. Even those antiques shops along the road have had comics in them for sale. I have been traveling and stopped at a Antique/junk store in the middle of nowhere and picked up a Amazing Spider-Man #361 (1st Carnage) for cover price.

Now a reminder, if you use Craigslist or any of the apps. Please keep your safety as a top priority. We have all heard the stories. Try and meet out in public. If they say they have to many to load. Then take a friend, heck take 2. When using Ebay and Facebook, remember, you buy and sale at your own risk. Find a few folks that you can build a trust with and try and stick with them. I can safely say that all the books I have bought from (Lone Star Comics) have been graded very well. Never an issue. Also, local auction houses will sometimes get some stuff in at great prices. You can also find comic groups online that will allow you to buy and sale through their site. They work hard to keep the scammers out, but now and then one can get through. I hope this helps you find some great books in some out of the way places. Good luck and have fun.

Cataloging Comics

Something I figured out pretty quickly after attending a big 60% off sale of all back issues at the local comic shop was, I had no idea what I really had and did not have when it came to back issues. I wasted the biggest sale and biggest opportunity I have had to plug holes in my sets just by not knowing what was missing. After that I realized I had to do something to be able to track what I had and what I needed. So I started looking for a comic database that I could list all my books and print and take with me to stores and shows. I am not going to go in depth about each one or tell you why one is better than the other. What I am going to do is list the ones I know of with links so you can go save them and study what works best for you. I will also list them as paid subscriptions, software or free sites. Now before we start, there is one other way you can start to catalog your books. If you have Microsoft Word, Access or Excel. You can build your own database. Just a thought for you adventurous types.


Free database with price guide, but does accept donations. Ability to buy and sell, with plenty of user interactions.

Web based with user fees.

Purchased software.

I am told Wizard World use to have a sight to save collections but has since been closed down. If anyone has info to the contrary please let us know. Also, at one time was setting up a place to store your collections. But 4 years later it still isn’t in place. So take some time to study each one and find the one that will work best for what you need and what you want to do.

Follow your Gut

A few years back I was part of a Facebook comic group that was pretty cool. It was a small closed group with a ton of knowledge. I would say less than 60 people. Also, you had to be invited. I learned a ton from the guys in that group. But, I have to say this. I remember chatting one day with the man guy of the group. He was explaining some stuff to me. At the end I asked if he had a New Mutants 25 and 26, a Black Goliath 1, an a Black Lightening 1. He asked why. I told him I was not just collecting Deadpool and Harley Quinn books, but also 1st appearances. No matter how insignificant. He told me to not waste my money on that crap. Just worry about the big names. Well, I found the books else where and purchased them for less than $5 each. Guess what? All are over $25 and the Black Lightning is selling for $50. So always buy what you want. Do not always take everyone else’s advice.


Proper Storage

Now this may be the single most important part of collecting comic books. The proper storage of books, art work and statues. Here, we will concentrate on comic books. But these could also be applied to any collectable.

First, if your books are not slabbed by one of the grading companies, then always have your books bagged and boarded. This will help protect against water, and other objects from touching them. Boards will also keep the spine damage way down. This is a must. Bag and board everything. They have both in all sizes for comics and magazines. Just ask an employee from where you are buying for the correct size. Then store in an upright position preferably in a comic box. They also come in different sizes and some are even built to slide out. They also come in different widths to hold magazines and magazine style comics.

Next, 50-65 degrees is the optimum temperature for storage. Stay consistent though as fluctuating temperatures can also be harmful. Temperatures that are too cold can also damage books and cause paper to dry out. Relative humidity is also important. It should be kept from 50% to +/- 10% to be optimum. Again, too low RH can be as harmful as too high. Dehumidifiers can be used to help regulate humidity. Also having a gauge to track temperatures and humidity can be helpful. I use the AcuRite 00613. It is awesome.

You should store your books in a dark environment. Incandescent lighting is best. If you have windows, put shades over them. Always minimize direct sunlight. Remember, fluorescent bulbs can damage paintings and textiles. UV light can also cause strong colors to begin fading. Avoid storing your books near windows or doors. Never store your books below any water lines. A leak can be disastrous. Do not sit your boxes directly on concrete floors. The concrete will conduct cold and wick moisture. And last, if your room is large or very full. You can use a fan to ensure the temperature stays even throughout the room. There are some other things you need to watch for, but this should get you going in the right direction. If you would like to add anything else, please use the comment section and please feel free to help others out.


Cover Variants

Over the last month we have discussed the many different variants available on the market. Some rare and some, not so rare. Today we discuss the Cover variant. These are exactly what the title says. It is the exact same book but with a different cover. The reasons for these different covers can vary from printing variants, examples: 1st print, 2nd print 3rd print etc., to incentive covers. Examples would be 1 book in every 25 regular issues, 1 in every 250 issues and so on. What that means is, out of every 250 regular issues put out, there will be one of a particular cover. Sometimes they just put out a few different covers of a book to help a book sale. Below are examples of a couple of variant covers.



The red cover is the 1st print of this book. The gold is the 2nd print. Yes there is a pretty good sized price difference.


Above variants are same book with three different covers. Same cover, different color. I do believe the silver one is the rarest and most sought after.



Last, this is what I have found to be one of the most sought after and expensive cover variants to date. The Amazing Spider-Man #678B. The first book is the regular issue. The second is the variant. This book is not that rare. 1 in 50. But I have seen it sale for $1000 in super high grade condition.

Sometimes variant covers are just a way to add a certain character who has nothing to do with the book to help them sale. Marvel used a month to add Deadpool to every cover they issued. As did DC with Harley Quinn. Sometimes out of the blue they will add these two characters to different books. In my mind just to help them sell those books.

I personally am not a big fan of all the variant covers. I believe they are just a ploy to get more money from us. But will say, a lot of these covers are beautiful. They usually get their best and most sought after artists to do them. J Scott Campbell, Greg Horn, Gabrielle Del “Otto”, and Adam Hughes just to name a few. Even though I do own a few, I am in the mindset. Why spend $200 on a new variant cover when I can spend the same money on a Bronze age or even a silver age first appearance book. Like Amazing Spider-Man #194, All-Star comics #58 or a Hawkman #4. But that is all personal opinion. But as a new collector, remember. You are not obligated to buy every book that comes out because it has a different cover. I have had folks think that since I collect Harley Quinn and Deadpool, that I would buy every book they had with them on the cover. Trust me when I say… That gets expensive quick. So, if you want a few. By all means buy them. If not. Then don’t.

Join in next week when we discuss comic storage.