We know he’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but now we know Superman can also provide for your retirement quite nicely.
Recently a copy of Action Comics No. 1 in near perfect condition went up for auction. For those not in the know, the first issue of Action Comics was released in June of 1938 and featured the very first appearance of Superman. Over the years it has become recognized as the starting point of the superhero genre and become the most valuable comic in the word. That status was proven out in the recent auction when the book’s allure combined with its unprecedented good condition combined for a final winning bid of $3.2 million.
Rather than go with one of the more recognized auction houses, the seller chose to list his comic on eBay, believing the sale would reach a wide audience and use of the internet site would speak better to the pop culture nature of the comic book. His confidence in the online auction site was obviously not misplaced. Following the sale it was announced 1% of the sale price would be donated to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in recognition of Christopher Reeve’s role as Superman in several films.
It’s estimated only 50 to 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 still exist, so it’s not all that likely you have one stuck in a box somewhere, but comic book collecting has become a big business. So if you have a box of books from your childhood sitting in a closet, you might have a nice chunk of change in there and not even know it. The key to maximizing the value of your comics is to maintain them in the best possible condition. Here are some tips for proper comic book storage and care.
• Wash and dry your hands when handling your comics. Ideally you’d wear gloves when handling your books, but washing and drying your hands will remove the oils which can stain pages. Avoid handling books by the stapled edge as this can cause stress marks on the spine.
• Bag and board all your books. Store your books individually, using archival quality products. Mylar bags are the sleeve of choice with most collectors. Use acid-free backing boards with each bagged comic to help prevent spine stress and wearing on the corners.
• Store your comics in acid-free cardboard boxes. Most comic book stores sell what are known as “long boxes”, designed to store comics standing up straight.
• Your boxes of comics should be kept in cool and dry places outside of direct light. Heat, moisture and light can cause books to warp or fade over time. Climate-controlled storage units, which provide constant levels of heat/humidity, are ideal for comic book storage.
• Check on your books regularly. Look for any yellowing of the mylar bags, signs of moisture, dust, etc. If you smell mildew, remove your books immediately and allow them to dry out completely.
• Get an idea of what exactly you have in your collection. Older and/or more valuable books should be professionally graded. Have your collection appraised. Once you’ve done that, get insurance for your collection.
Like so many things from our youth, comic book collecting isn’t just for kids anymore. It can be a legit revenue source if you know what you’re doing and take care of your collection properly. Following these steps will have you on the way to a well-preserved collection.