So you’re looking around your attic and find a few boxes of comic books that you bought when you were a kid. It gets you thinking: are these comics worth anything? Or should I just donate them to my local Goodwill? If you’re in this boat, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will break down the likelihood of your comics being valuable based on their age and content.
These are without a doubt the hardest comic books to find based on age. Comics published in the 30s thru the mid-40s were scrapped during the war as priorities at the time were much different. This led to some pretty important issues (ex: Action Comics 1, first Superman), being thrown in the garbage by most. Because of this, books from the 1930s and 1940s can be very rare and if the book is also significant, then it’s likely that it will be worth tons. To put things into perspective, a graded Action Comics 1 sold for 3.18 million dollars at auction in 2022.
Anything that was published in the 1950s will most likely be tough to find as well. This is mostly because comics were experiencing a bit of a decline through the 50s. We find that a lot of 1950s comic collections are comprised of Superman, horror, crime, and western comics as they were the most popular at the time. That being said, if you have superhero comics from the 50s, then you’re sitting pretty, as a lot of collectors will actively look for these books. Taking all this into account, you’ll find that comics from the 1930s thru the 1950s are by far the easiest to sell as a whole. We actually recommend keeping some of these books instead of selling, as prices just keep climbing. Some books from this era to keep an eye out for are:
There are still scores of books from this time period worth thousands, but the comics listed are the most valuable and will sell for mega-bucks. If you find something from the list, then be sure to make sure it’s not a reprint, and send it to CGC for grading.
In the 1960s, comics experienced a revitalization. This was mostly because Marvel Comics and Stan Lee came onto the scene with new characters like Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. While these comics aren’t exactly rare, some of them can fetch big bucks, due to the popularity of some of these heroes today. You can thank Disney and its very popular superhero movies for the recent influx of prices. If you have any first appearances of major characters from this period, then you’ll be looking at thousands of dollars. Some books to keep your eyes out for are:
There are tons of other issues worth some money from the 1960s, but these are the most valuable. If you’ve found any of these in your old comic collection, then make sure it’s legit and not a reprint. Then take it to a company such as CGC for grading. This will make it much easier to sell for the full going rate.
In the 70s, comic print runs started to climb and more people started to buy books for investment. This led to a lot of issues being preserved in the original states (many collectors started putting their comics into bags during this time period). That being said, there are still plenty of comics (mostly superheroes) worth some money, as we got the first appearances of some well-known pop culture icons in this era (ex: Ghost Rider and Wolverine).
So these are by far the most common comics and it goes without saying that they’ll be worth the least. In the 80s and 90s, everyone thought they would become rich buying comics such as The Death of Superman. This led to insane print runs and the supply far exceeded demand. There are some comics from the 80s and 90s worth money, but we equate it to looking for a needle in a haystack. If you’ve found anything from this era, then you’re most likely going to have a tough time selling your entire collection, since most random issues just have no value.
We’re going to start with westerns because they were the most popular with baby boomers in the 1950s and 1960s. Unfortunately, the popularity of westerns didn’t last long, and today’s generation hasn’t quite embraced the concept of cowboys. As those who bought westerns in the 50s grow older, the genre becomes less and less popular among collectors. This has led a lot of western comics from the 50s and 60s to be worth very little, despite all other factors (such as rarity). There are definitely some exceptions to this, but if you have western comics, then you’ll most likely have a tough time finding buyers, even if they’re in great shape.
While Western Comics aren’t in demand today, superhero comics are quite the opposite. It’s nearly impossible to find someone who hasn’t heard of superheroes such as Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. Compound this with very popular movies, and you have the most valuable genre of comic books by a large margin. Collectors are all about getting the first appearance of their favorite characters, so if you have any comics that are significant (ex: 1st appearance of the Silver Surfer), then you’re looking at some good money. Actual value obviously depends on the grade, age, and rarity.
In the 1930s thru the 1960s, sci-fi and horror comics were extremely popular. Through the next few decades, the popularity of these books would start to dwindle and we’d see fewer and fewer titles. That might sound like bad news if you have some old horror or sci-fi books but fret not. Comic collectors today absolutely love the horror and sci-fi genre, and actively seek certain issues for their collections. Old horror and sci-fi comics can be relatively easy to sell and if you have a few then you’ll most likely be able to sell them for some money.
This genre of comics was really popular in the late 1940s thru the 1950s. Titles such as Crime Does Not Pay and others were struck a chord with readers. It was mostly due to the popularity of crime-related movies and radio dramas such as The Green Hornet, and The Shadow. Today crime comics aren’t too popular, but they definitely have an audience. Some popular covers can sell for money online, but generally speaking, most crime books aren’t quite valuable, unless they’re in higher grades.
We decided to put this in here because Magazine sized comics were quite popular in the 60s and 70s. Some popular titles include Mad and Cracked. Note that most old comic magazines like this aren’t quite popular today. There really isn’t an audience for Mad Magazine, so it can be really tough to sell these. If you have any magazine-sized comics that are related to superheroes (Marvel, DC) or horror (ex: Vampirella, Creepy), then there’s a chance that those are worth some money, but you’ll most likely need to have something of significance.
While we’ve broken down the likelihood of your comics being worth anything, the actual value of your books will really depend on each individual issue. Let’s use an example. If you have an Amazing Fantasy 15 from 1962 (1st appearance of Spider-Man), then you’re most likely looking at a comic book that’s worth at least $20k+ even in the worst condition. By contrast, a Classics Illustrated comic book from the same year will probably be worth about $3-5 (Classics Illustrated generally have little to no value). It really comes down to whether you bought stuff that’s popular today.
So now you have a general idea of what your collection is worth, but you still want to see if you have any specific issues that are worth money. This is the part where we recommend using a comic pricing guide. Some websites provide free price guides on individual issues. They can also give free advice if you find that you’re overwhelmed. We found this guide to be useful if you’re looking for the most valuable comics from the 1990s. They also have useful price guides for other decades as well.
If you find that you have something worth some big bucks, then here’s some advice. First, make sure what you have is not a reprint (we can’t stress this enough). Most big issues were reprinted over the years. An example of this would be Detective Comics 27 (1st Batman). That issue was reprinted over a dozen times, and the likelihood of finding the original is very slim. If you’re sure that you have the real deal, then you should send what you have to CGC to get graded. That will make the book much easier to sell. Anything that’s graded and expensive can easily be consigned to big auctions houses such as Heritage. If you’re looking to sell your comic books, then you should do always more research as it can be a very daunting task. Hopefully, you’ve found something expensive and can use the money for something useful. If you found a few less expensive books, then you can always sell them for some spare pocket money.