Starting a comic book collection is a great investment and a fun hobby. But with thousands of characters and a culture stretching back as far as the late 1800’s, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. Rest assured, comic books are fun to read, a great way to engage your imagination, and a good collection can be worth quite a bit of money over time.
So where to start? With the hundreds of comic book based movies that have been hitting movie theatres, it may be easiest to begin by picking a character that interests you. Whether you can relate to the back story or you think their super power is really cool, being interested in the character will keep you interested in the story. Most publishers have massive universes of thousands of characters – so keep your eyes open for the classics: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, etc. Maybe a team of characters is more your speed – check out: The X-Men, The Avengers, The Justice League, etc. Don’t worry too much if you’re jumping into a series on issue #80, most story arcs only last 5 or so books – so you’ll be able to catch up with the story rather quickly. For getting the most out of your favorite characters, try picking up some trade paper backs/trades (volumes of comic books in one bound book) at your local comic book store.
The next step to ensuring your continued interest in your collection is to find a local comic book store that you love. Here in Nashville Rick’s Comic City is a favorite not only for their expertise, but for how clean and organized their store is. Once you’ve been visiting a local shop, the employees may even recognize your taste in characters, writers, etc. and make recommendations for books you may want to add to your collection. Also, keep your eyes peeled for your local comic book store to run sales – it’s a great way to add a ton of books to your collection and save money in the process.
Equally important to building your collection is protecting your collection. Comic books are generally stored in acid free mylar bags (you can even get them resealable with acid free adhesive). This protects your books from fingerprinting, scuffs, and (with the addition of some acid free tissue paper) moisture. A backing board is stored inside the bag, against the back cover of the book, to add rigidity which prevents bending and curling when books are stored together. Finally, store your bagged and boarded collection upright in a short or long box (depending on how many books you have) – being sure to add foam inserts (or large trade paper backs, etc)in empty spaces to prevent your books from leaning too much in a forward or backward direction. Wear cotton or linen gloves when handling/reading your books, be sure not to curl or bend the pages, don’t open the book so far that the ink on the spine cracks and becomes white, and always store your books, bagged and boarded, when you’re not reading. Inspecting your books periodically is essential to their preservation. Treat them like you’re handling historical documents in an archive – because essentially, you are.
Above all else, remember to enjoy your new hobby. There’s a great sense of accomplishment that comes with finding a rare variant cover or a first print of your favorite issue. The more you learn about collecting and comic book culture, the more invested you will become in it.