Tag Archives: ebay

ebay for Comics

After I had done all of the research that I wrote about in my last few posts, ( See posts: Transformers Comic Book Continuity, How To Tell Different Comic Editions, What Is A CGC Comic?, A Comic’s Value, and How To Pack & Mail Comics) I finally felt ready to take to ebay and try and hunt down the original Marvel Comics’s Transformers Issues #1 – #80.

I started out by creating an account on ebay and PayPal and after those accounts were created I never once went back to using ebay on my home computer. Rather, I installed the ebay app onto my iPhone and through the ebay app, I linked it to my PayPal account so I could pay off actions quickly.

The advantages I found using ebay via my phone over a normal computer’s web browser were huge. The convenience of being able to follow and action and save favorites to my phone saved me a lot of time in hunting down and acquiring this collection. You can have the ebay app on your iOS device alert you when an auction on ebay is about to close. It can also alert you that it has found new items based on your search criteria. Both were very useful for me.

Using the ebay app for my phone I saved two searches. “Transformers Comic Collection” and “Transformers Comics”. These two searches seemed to do the best job finding the comics I was looking for and the iOS app alerted me whenever someone posted items related to the Transformers comics I was trying to collect.

I was able to save a lot of money by finding Transformers comics that were grouped together. In particular those higher numbered and harder to find issues is where I was able to save. I would come across an auction that would have issues #68 – #80 for $40 bucks.

What I learned the hard way was to not bid on the auctions until their posting time was almost up. If I placed my maximum bid on an auction say, six days before the auction was up, I stood a much higher chance of being outbid by someone else on the Internet. By waiting till that last minute (literally) to place my bid, I won most of the auctions I bid on.

Another thing you want to check on before ever placing a bid is to read the full description of each auction you are interested in, examine the photos provided for each action carefully and make sure that the seller has a near perfect score from previous actions. These are all things that you can review from your iOS app.

During all of this I was worried about getting a fast one pulled over on me. And with the exception of one auction, I don’t feel like ebay is anything to be scared of anymore. In this one case, I placed a bid on a single issue of Transformers #80 that was in near mint condition. I won the action, but was later contacted by the seller and told that the item was an accidental double post and that he did not have the item to sell me. He apologized and tried to offer me something else which I did not need.

All in all I was able to complete my Transformers collection inside of two weeks with twenty separate actions. I got the comics for far less than what they were worth and I am pretty happy with the way things turned out.

A Comic’s Value

There was something I wanted to know before I started buying the orginal 1980s Transformers comic books off of ebay.

How much were the books I wanted to buy actually worth?

I didn’t want to over pay for the Transformers comic books. Well not much anyway. I am a die hard Transformers fan after all so, I could see myself paying a few bucks more than what the books were worth.

I learned that the standard de facto, go to guide for comic books pricing is a book called The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. You can also turn to the web and use a free service like Comic Book Realm to get an idea for the value of a comic book. For the purposes of trying to get a ballpark idea of what the original 1980s Marvel Transformer comic books were worth I used Comic Book Realm.

I learned something after looking over the value of the transformer comics on Comic Book Realm. Older issues of Transformers, particularly issues # 61 – 80 became increasingly more valuable. I did some digging and learned that as the comic became less popular, with few and few people buying it, Marvel Comics did not print off as many copies of these later issues. So their value is due, in part, by their scarcity.

Using the pricing information I found, I created a spreadsheet in Google Docs (I guess its called Google Drive now, but I can’t get past that so, I still call it Google Docs.) To help me track the comics I needed to order. The spreadsheet contained several columns of information such as:

  • Title
  • Issue #
  • # of Copies
  • Ordered
  • $ Spent
  • Value

As you can tell from the screenshot the “Title” column contains the title of the comic book. The “Issue #” contains the issue number of the comic. The “# of Copies” column is used to indicate how many copies of a particular comic book I have. (I started tracking the # of Copies because I was ordering patches of comics and I was ending up with some duplicates.) The “Ordered” column I used by just inserting an “X” to know if I had ordered a particular book already so I could try and avoid accidentally ordering two of the same book. The “$ Spent” column was to track how much money I spent ordering each book. Finally, the “Value” column was used to show me how much the comic was actually worth and to compare that to how much I was spending. Both the “$ Spent” and “Value Columns are set up so that they do the math for you and give you totals at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Please feel free to download the XLS or the Open Document versions of this spreadsheet and use it as your own template or guide to collecting your own set of Transformers comics. I left the “Value” column filled in to help you save time. However, if you are going to use this spreadsheet to help you collect Transformers comics i recommend you going out and use Comic Book Realm or the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and make sure those numbers are updated.

What Is A CGC Comic?

Comics Guaranty LLC, also known as CGC claims to be an independent and impartial third party grading service for comic books. You think you have a mint condition comic book that is worth a lot of money? You send it to these folks and they will give your comic book an official grade.

Here is what they say about their service on their website:

Professional comic book grading eliminates concerns about grade misrepresentations by providing a professional assessment of condition and quality. Every comic book certified by CGC is graded by the hobby’s most experienced and trusted team, according to well-established grading standards. Furthermore, every CGC-certified comic book undergoes a thorough restoration check by leading professionals during the certification process. When restoration is detected, it is fully noted on the certification label.

Once certified by CGC, a comic book is encapsulated in a state-of-the art, tamper-evident holder, providing superior protection and stability for long-term preservation.

CGC employees are prohibited from commercially buying or selling comic books, eliminating any potential conflicts of interest. CGC was the first impartial, third-party certification service.

Over one hundred thousand comic books are submitted to CGC each year. Books are carefully handled and tracked through the grading process, and always fully insured while on our premises. You can explore comic book grading by tracing through the grading process.

CGC Encapsulated Comic

So you send these folks your comic book to be graded and encapsulated. What you get back is the following pictured on the right.

So what does this mean to you as a collector?

Nothing really.

Peace of mind… maybe?

Lets walk through the process so you know where I am coming from. Say you take your mint condition Transformers #1 comic book (current value as of this posting is roughly $30.00 give or take a few bucks) and you send it into CGC to be graded. Their cheapest option is a $380.00 service that will take up to 120 day to complete. Assuming they give your copy of Transformers #1 a perfect 10 score. You are still left with a $30.00 comic. Its just encapsulated now.

The funny thing is people go crazy over CGC graded books on ebay. At least the Transformers ones I have seen are selling in the hundreds. It does not change the fact that it is still a $30.00 book… on a good day.

In the end its your money and you have a right to spend it anyway you want. If i were honest with myself the truth is I would really like to own a few CGC graded Transformers comic books. If I ever see one for a reasonable price on ebay or a comic book store or convention and it is ranked 9.8 or higher, I will pick one up. But so far, I have only seen them go for hundreds on line and I am just not going to spend that kind of money.

How To Tell Different Comic Editions

This is an example of a Direct Market or a comic book that was purchased at a comic book store.

While I was snagging up copies of Transformers comic books off of ebay, I was reading a lot of posts of comics for sale stating “First printing” or “Second printing” or even “Newsstand”. Looking at the cover pictures of these books that often follow an ebay posting, I could not see any difference in first, second or third prints, let alone what they meant by newsstand edition. And honestly I didn’t care. I just wanted the whole collection of the original Marvel’s Transformers, issues 1 through 80. But some of you may care. Some of you may be more of a diehard collector than I am. So here is how you can to tell the difference in comic’s printing and whether or not it was bought off a newsstand or in a comic book store.

This is an example of a Newsstand Comic that was purchased at a supermarket newsstand.

Older comics, like the Transformers comics I am after, could have been bought at a comic book store or a supermarket’s newsstand or magazine rack.  The difference between the two is that comic books in the 80s found on a newsstand had a white box on the cover with the barcode printed on it. Comics found in specialty comic book stores still had a white box on the cover, but rather than a barcode they would have a picture of Spider-Man for Marvel and the DC logo for DC. Today comic books bought on a newsstand or a comic book store both carry a barcode but it will state on it “Direct Market (for comic book stores) or “Newsstand” for newsstands  Collectors go after the comics with the picture on the cover or ones that say “Direct Market”.

From my research there seems to be some debate over the value of newsstand comic books. Newsstand comics books, ones from the 80s and older, can be a lot harder to find in gem mint condition. This is because most people buying comics from a newsstand where not collectors so these comics where not as well cared for. Plus comics siting in a newsstand had a higher likely hood of being damaged just because of the newsstand environment. Finding these books in a great condition can be much more difficult and can be seen as worth more by some sellers. I don’t know if I agree with that and there doe seem to be a lot of arguments around the web because if it.

How to tell if a comic book is a first, second, third or higher printing. What I have learned is the general rule for telling if a comic is a first, second, third or higher printing. It does not apply to every comic book ever printed, but for the most part should be a useful tool for you if you are concerned about acquiring one printing over another.

All comics when they are initially released are considered to be first prints. Sometimes an issue will sell out quickly and the publisher will go back to the press and publish a second, third or even fourth printing of a popular comic book.

Comic books have an indicia normally found on the bottom of the first page of older comic books and on the last page of more recent books. The indicia will contain information like title, issue number, publisher information as well as which printing the comic is. A comic that is a first print will either have “First Print” in the indicia or nothing at all indicating it is a first print. Second prints and any additional printings will be stated in the indicia. Something like “2nd printing” for example.