I just finished a quick glance at the digital download version of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and it’s been an interesting read.
If you’ve read any of my posts or articles online, you know I view “the guide” as a great informational resource, but as an actual price or value guide, it’s a mixed bag. For the novice it will give you some ballpark numbers as a starting point and will highlight which comics have a fighting chance at bringing in some real money. But when you get down to the nitty gritty of pricing – either for buying or selling – you really need to bring in some other sources.
I always start delving into the guide by reviewing the market reports. Even though most of them were written in August 2008 and are 7 months old, they still contain some good information. If nothing else, you are sure to find something entertaining (more on that later). I was very curious to see how the sour economy was affecting the hobby.
One of the first reports I read was from David J. Anderson, DDS. He is a longtime collector and unfortunately I’ve only spoken with him once several years ago. Based on his years of market reports, both in Overstreet and the now defunct Comic Book Marketplace, I’ve found his writing spot on and a good indication of reality in the market – something that can be missing from others. This year was no different. You can read his report on page 82 of the guide. I’ve been seeing the same things he mentions, desirable Gold and Silver, especially in high grade continue to bring high prices. He also points out another phenomenon I’ve written about, and that is the more common issues failing to reach even half of guide prices, while the in demand comic books bring over guide price.
This “too high” and “too low” pricing issue is something I’ve talked about at length and cover in the comic book values basic course and the values secrets guide. I’ve seen this problem cost people money on both sides. First, thinking your comics are worth more than the market will really support may cause a person to walk away from cash they will never be able to recover. I talk about this here. On the other hand, if you are going to sell a hot comic and haven’t done your research, you could very easily lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars if you blindly follow the guide.
The next interesting market report I found was by Matt Ballesteros. He has put together a lot of information about war comics. Talk about a lot of work! I’ll talk more about his work in the future, but because of my military flying background, this is a topic near and dear to me. Check it out if you pick up a copy of the guide (page 83). Awesome job Matt!
Now, on to the comedy.
I won’t mention names here, but I did get a good laugh from one of the reports. This comes up from time to time, and it never ceases to amaze me. Some folks just want to live in a fantasy land. They don’t seem to realize it is a price “guide” not the price “law.” The basic arguments I read are:
“XXXX comic doesn’t do well, it only sells at half guide.”
“E-bay is horrible, the comics I put on there only sell for less than half guide.”
and the other side of this, usually by the same dealers when they are working with sellers:
“They want too much for their comics. They don’t sell anywhere near that amount.”
Talk about throwing logic out the window. I don’t know why these dealers will swear by a price just because it’s in print. The reality is for these “slow moving comics” the half guide price is the real value in the market. Anyone with a computer and a brain can go online and pick these books up for “half guide” on E-bay or many other sites. Just because it is selling for half of what one guide says it should doesn’t make it a “bargain.” It’s called reality! The Internet and E-bay have created a new collectible pricing paradigm. You can’t fight it, you need to join in and figure it out.
What’s even more perplexing is the same dealers chastise sellers for hoping to get a reasonable amount for their comics. The dealer tells them the guide is wrong and he/she can’t sell the comics for anywhere near that price. Yet just moments ago the same person was lamenting how wrong the world was because they are only getting half guide when they sell. It’s comical!
If you pick up the guide, I recommend you read through the market reports. You’ll find some valuable information and you may even get some good comedy!