Top 5 things Comic Collectors Might Not Know

2 years     Mark T.       Comic Books

For those of you that order comics, here are some things that some people don’t quite understand or know of in the comic industry. Now before I begin, I have learnt these things working in a comic store, but I will not in any way reveal private information based on the company I work/or work for. This article is basically to give some of you some info on things that every comic collector should know.

So without further a-due, let me begin:

1- Bagged and Boarded comics.


Comic books do NOT come pre-bagged and boarded from the manufacturer (with the possible exception of a high ratio variant). I know I have gotten a lot of people stating/claiming that their comics are “sealed and never opened” and that they bought them like that. Unless they work at the place that prints the comic, and grabbed it from the printer sealing it right away, this is very doubtful. Comics are received in brown boxes, normally without packing paper. Creditable stores then take the time to verify them before bagged and boarding them. NOT all stores do that.

2- Initial Orders

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With every month, Diamond releases a Previews Magazine. In that Magazine it will list all the upcoming titles at least 2-3 months in advance. Come the end of the following month, stores will have to place their order for books months in advance. For example, the latest Previews (#333) which is for the month of June contains books going to be released in August. Though this information is not always present to customers, but a good way to tell is with the items Diamond code. For example, here is a diamond code from the recent Previews JUN160416. Broken down JUN stands for June, and the first 2 numbers stands for the year (16 is for 2016). That tells the retailer that that is when the title needs to be ordered. However, there is an adjustment that they can still make closer to the release, but it isn’t always a guarantee. So make sure you give your comic shop a good heads up for titles, and not subscribe to something a week before its release.

3- Variants

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Throughout the years Marvel, DC and some other Indy titles started producing a lot of variants. The 2 types of variants that cause the most trouble are Ratio Variants and RI Variants. Ratio variants are very common and are usually the easier ones to order. For example, a ratio variant looks like this “1:10, 1:20, 1:50, etc”. Now for a store to order said variant they have to order the 1:__ number in retails to allow them to order 1x of those variants. For a 1:25 variant, they would have to order 25 retails just to get that 1x variant. Now this means that the variant will be more expensive (duh). Unless the retailer can guarantee that their 25 retails will sell, they might reduce their price. If not, it makes sense that they will be pricer. Also, ratio variants can NEVER be re-ordered from a supplier AND they never are re-printed. So, if you are interested in them, the best thing to do is to grab them right away. Now for RI Variants. RI variants stand for Retail Incentive.. However, in my eyes, there is no incentive. These variants usually punish the store due to their “rules”. For example (these number are made up to make an example, but will give you an idea of what the rules are), lets say there is a RI Variant for X-Men #1, now to order it you will have to match or exceed 200% of what you ordered for Spider-Man #3 in order to order said variant. So if you ordered 10 Spider-Man’s then you just need to order 20 X-Men’s to be allowed to order said variant. IF the store buys a lot of books, this is where is punishes them. If they originally ordered 100.. well now they need to order 200 of X-Men just to get that variant. See how messed up it is?

4- Prices/Value

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Ok, first things first, just because it is OLD doesn’t mean it is worth anything. I believe during the 80s, comics started to be mass produced, so there are a lot of prints out there in the world. The best thing to know if your book is valuable, take a look at the cover price. Is it below 25cents? If so, then you “MIGHT” have something. And I mean might. There are plenty of sites out there to get the “value” of the book. However, what the book is worth doesn’t mean that is what people are willing to spend. For me the best thing to do is check on eBay BUT check the Sold Listings. This will give you an idea of what people have spent on the book. However, if someone spent 1$ on Amazing Fantasy #15, don’t go and list it for 2$.. someone is trying to troll.

5- The Barcode


I am not 100% sure when the barcodes began to look the way they do now, but there is a lot you can tell by looking at them. The key spot is the last 5 digits (the 5 last numbers that are usually separate from the rest of the code). The first 3 numbers relate to the issue number. For example 001 is #1, 020 is #20, so on and so forth. The forth number in the code relates to the Cover/Variant. For example 0011 is #1 retail, 0202 is #20 cover b OR Variant. Finally, the last number of that code is the print. This is the most important to the hardcore comic collectors out there. A lot of you prefer to collect the first print of any comic, as that is the one that raises in value. This sometimes is tricky as some publishers like to “not highlight” the fact of which print the book is. Most of the time the cover has a different tint/color to it OR there is some sort of indication/wording as to which print on the cover. IF there isn’t, the best way is by reading the barcode. So, for example, if the barcode reads 00111 then the book is #1 retail first print. If it is 00112 then it is #1 2nd print. The variant/cover code does not change based on the print. Since they will never re-print a variant, there should be no reason that number will change (IF it is a 2nd Print). What if the numbers go higher then 1 digit? That is a very good point. IF that happens all the rules I have mentioned above don’t usually apply. But the likely hood of that happening is a very small percent. Are my methods perfect? No, but they can help you in most situations.

So there you have it. Hope this can help some of you out.
If there is something I missed, please feel free to message below, and I will be more then happy to correct what I wrote.

In the mean time,
See ya!

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