Edward D. Collins

(Click on any of the photos below for a larger and more detailed view.)



During my last three years of high school, back in the late 1970s, you could accurately say I was comic book collector.   I have fond memories of bicycling to nearby used bookstores & comic book shops and purchasing comic books, reading them, saving them, trading them with my friends, etc.

However, soon after high school, I stopped being a "collector."  Oh sure, I still had my entire collection... which consisted of an estimated 1,477 different comics.  I never sold them and I certainly never threw any of them away, but I stopped "collecting" them.  In fact, up until a little more than a month ago, I hadn't purchased any in a long, long time.

However, even though I stopped collecting them, I've always remained a comic book fan.

Many years ago, while I was enrolled at Control Data Institute, I loaned one of my computer programming books to a fellow student.  A short while later I graduated from the institute and I never saw this student again... and thus he never returned the book to me.  

Recently, I was interested in re-reading this book.   And although I didn't recall the exact title of the book, I figured it wouldn't be too hard to find it online.  My initial search resulted in a possible hit at Craig's List. 

Although I had heard of Craig's List, I'm not sure if I had ever actually been to this site before and I surely hadn't contacted anyone and purchased anything from it.

As it turned out, the computer book I was looking for was not the one I found for sale on Craig's List.  But since my search had brought me to the books for sale section of this site, while I was here I thought I'd look around.  

I noticed a few comic book ads for sale.  Some ads were for individual issues and some ads were for large lots of comics.  One ad immediately caught my eye:   FOR SALE:  3,000 COMIC BOOKS - $500.  


Chapter 1

I've often thought I have a lot of comics.  My non comic book friends certainly think I do.  But even with my collection of almost 1,500, consisting of more than six "long boxes of comics" my collection would be just half as the number in this collection.  I immediately wondered why this collector was willing to sell his entire collection for just $500.00.   I surely wouldn't sell my collection for anywhere near that low of an amount!

Alas, I noticed this ad was already five or six days old... and thus I assumed I was reading it too late.  Surely someone had already read it and "swooped" in and purchased these puppies.

Too bad for me, because I would have liked to have taken a look at the comics and find out the story why this person was selling them.

The next evening I continued to think about it, and I decided it couldn't hurt to respond to the ad.  The ad mentioned that a "detailed list of the comics were available upon request."  Even if they were no longer for sale, I wanted to look at the list and see what was available.

When I checked my e-mail early next morning, I noticed the gentleman selling the comics had already responded to my inquiry.  "Yes, they're still available" he said.  He attached an Excel spreadsheet, which contained a list of the comics.

Wow, it looked like he had lots of good stuff!  Among many other titles, I noted a large run of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man comics, three titles that interest me.

I quickly made arrangements with the seller to drive out and visit him and take a look at his collection.  As it turned out, we were both available that very same afternoon.  The gentleman lived in Rancho Santa Margarita... about a 40-minute drive from me.

I Mapquested his address  (don't you just love that verb - Mapquested) went to the bank and withdrew $500 (just in case!) and drove out to take a look at them.  Part of the adventure in driving out there was taking a toll road!  (I've driven on toll roads on the East Coast before, several times, but this was the first time I've done so here in Southern California!)

Sure enough, when I arrived at the gentleman's house and he directed me to his collection, I could instantly see it consisted of at least 3,000 comics.  (Since my collection consisted of exactly half that number, it was easy for me to see at a glance this collection was at least 3,000... since it consisted of more than twice as many boxes as in my collection.)

The gentleman explained to me that no, he was never a dealer.  He had recently gotten married and he and his wife were now expecting their second child and he just no longer had any no room for them or interest in them.  His wife had been asking him to get rid of the books for quite some time, and he finally (reluctanly) agreed to do so.

I knew just moments after glancing through the first five or six boxes I was going to purchase them.  They were organized, bagged, boarded, and in great condition.  I saw many other popular titles, a mixture of old comics, new comics, etc.  Just the entertainment value of owning these comics and enjoying them for awhile was probably worth $500 to me!

The moment after I paid him I expected him to say something like.... "Uh... I'm asking $500 per box."  That's an indication of how good of a deal I thought I was getting and how I thought he might suddenly change his mind!

Together we packed them in my car... which was no easy thing to do in my small Toyota Celica!  In fact, if I had brought along a friend with me, I don't believe I would have been able to load them all in one trip because as it turned out, we needed to use my passenger front seat for several boxes!  

After loading everything inside, my car was noticeably lower to the ground!  Furthermore, I couldn't see out my rear view mirror, the car required more stopping distance when breaking, etc.   Yikes!  It was actually quite scary driving back home!  It didn't help that I was very low on gas and wasn't even sure of the best way to get home!  

Fortunately, I encountered no difficulties and I arrived home safely.

It took at least a day or two for me to count them.  I suppose I could have done so immediately but I was having too much fun going through the boxes, reading them, looking up their value in my three-year-old comic book price guide, etc.  When I did finally get around to counting them, imagine my enjoyment and surprise when I discovered I did not purchase 3,000 comics... I purchased 3,695 comics!   The gentleman's estimate of his own collection was off by almost 700!


Photo of comics purchased on Tuesday, April 22, 2008.
The lot consisted of 8 long boxes of comics and 14 short boxes.
I call this the Rancho Santa Margarita Collection.

The afternoon I purchased them I also went online and purchased the latest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, from Amazon, which arrived later that same week.


Chapter 2 

Wow, Craig's List is pretty neat!  It some ways it's even better than eBay!  

Although you can find just about anything you want on eBay, you often don't get to see the item you purchased for a couple of weeks!  With eBay, you find an item, you bid on it, you wait for the auction to end, you hope you're the high bidder, if you are you send payment to the seller, you wait for him to receive it, you wait for him to send you the item you bought, you wait for it to arrive, etc.  

With Craig's List there's no "bidding" and you get the item right away!  I made a mental note to browse the Craig's List for sale ads in my area on a regular basis.

Just two evenings later, while again browsing Craig's List, another interesting comic book ad appeared!  By the strangest of coincidences, it was also for 3,000 comics, and also for $500!  (Since that time, I have yet to see another ad for exactly this number of comics, for exactly this amount.)

This time I knew I was one of the first ones to see the ad... the time-stamp indicated the ad had been posted just 20 minutes earlier!  Wow, lucky me!  I immediately responded to the ad and told the seller I was interested in taking a look at the comics.  She responded back, also almost immediately, and asked me if I could drive out that very evening!   

No way!  This can't be happening!  I don't need any more comic books!

However, I found myself Mapquesting and then driving to her address, all the while trying to figure out what I was going to do with the first collection of comics I bought!

This second collection resided in the city of Westminster, a city much closer to where I lived than the first collection.

Looking through these 20+ boxes was much more of an adventure than looking through the boxes in the first collection.  With that first lot, the
Rancho Santa Margarita Collection, I knew I wasn't going to find, for example, any Golden Age comics or twelve-cent Silver Age comics.  The comics in that collection were much more recent than that, and much more organized.  But with this collection, many of the boxes consisted of comics from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.  I saw Star Wars #1, I saw early Daredevils & Hulks & Mighty Thors...  I saw Avengers #8, etc.  Also, nothing was organized, nothing was alphabetized...  Each box was a new adventure.

There were also three boxes of old comic-book related magazines, movie magazines, graphic novels, etc.

Well, you can probably imagine, I bought this lot too!  If the first collection I purchased was a good deal, and I certainly thought it was, I simply couldn't say no to this collection, because it looked like an even better deal.

Before buying them, I was frank with the seller.  I told her you could get a lot more for these comics if you sold them individually, or in small lots.  Apparently she didn't want to do that... it way too much work for her.

Apparently that's not uncommon... I'm guessing most people just don't have the interest nor do they have time to sell their collection in small lots... which is why you see so many collectors selling their comics as one entire lot... often for far less than what they're worth.

This collection also just barely fit in my car.  (Obviously, if I ever go comic book hunting again I should take a larger vehicle!)  I again had to use every inch of space available inside my Celica to fit everything.  Initially, after we had the comics loaded, we couldn't close the doors!  We had to pull many of the comics and boxes back out and do some rearranging!

As soon as the car was loaded, I again got out of there as fast as I could.  I again felt like I was getting a really great deal, one that might be revoked at any moment.

Once again I drove carefully home and as soon as I arrived, unloaded them from the car.  Imagine my surprise when several days later, when I finally got around to counting this lot, I discovered there were again more comics than what the ad stipulated... this time 924 more!

You may find it hard to believe that a seller can be off by so many.   I agree... that's a lot of comics to miss, even when estimating the number.  However, with this second collection, I discovered many of the comics were bagged with two and sometimes three comics per bag.  If the seller didn't notice this (and I didn't notice it initially, when I was looking at them before I purchased them), it would have been very easy for her to underestimate the correct number.

Photo after my second purchase - The Westminster Collection 
combined with the Rancho Santa Margarita Collection. 
Together both collections total more than 7,600 comics books 
and dozens and dozens of comic book-related magazines.

Note this photo doesn't include my own 1,477 comics, 
which at this point are still in my closet!


Chapter 3

Would you believe I did this one more time?  By now the pattern should be familiar to you... Ed sees an ad on Craig's List for an entire collection of books... he contacts the seller... he makes arrangements to drive out and look at them... and then he purchases them!

Actually, this 3rd time was just a little bit different.  This seller, a young couple, were having a weekend garage sale around the corner from where I live.  In addition to the husband's comics that were for sale, they were also selling a bunch of their personal belongings, because they were about to move to New York City.

I purchased just two long boxes from the fourteen long boxes of comics they had for sale.  These were the only two boxes with titles that interested me.  Their original asking price was $100 per box, but I told them I'd give them $150 for both of these boxes, which they agreed upon.

Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from the woman the next afternoon!  She told me no one else had looked at or purchased any of the comics yesterday (Saturday) or today (Sunday) and would I be willing to purchase the rest of them, and take them off their hands, for a rock-bottom price? 

I originally told them no, I didn't need any more or want any more comics, and furthermore the titles didn't interest me, but we eventually came to an agreement on the rest of them... $450 for the remaining twelve long boxes. (About $37.50 per box, or about $0.16 per comic book.)

Photo of the entire third collection I purchased, 
combined with the Rancho Santa Margarita Collection 
and the Westminster Collection.

Note my original collection is still not seen in this photo!


Chapter 4

Okay, so now what the heck do I do?  Less than a week ago I owned just 1,477 comic books and now I own more than 12,200.  Over a five-day period I've purchased more than 10,700 comics books, I've spent $1,600 in the process, I'm rapidly running out of floor space... and I have no idea why I even did this, other than it just seemed like a good idea at the time!

At least I was having fun.  For about two weeks I couldn't wait to come home from work each day!  With more than 10,700 new comic books to look at and enjoy, my eyes had to have been as wide as a kid in a candy store on his birthday.

My first idea was to sell off the entire 10,700 books I purchased, in four lots of 2,500 each, if necessary.  I honestly did not think I would have any problem at all in getting $600-$750 for each lot.   I felt all three sellers sold their comics for far less than their value.  At $700 for each of these four lots, I would receive a total of $2,800... a net profit of $1,200 for doing almost no work at all.  (Buy low, sell high!)

My second idea was to sell them in smaller of lots, of say 100-200 for each lot, at an even better rate per comic.  For example, I could sell all of the Incredible Hulk issues as one lot, and sell all of the Iron Man issues as another lot, etc.  This would take longer to do and would be more work, but I'd make even more money.

But as I started organizing them, and reading them, the old "comic book bug" came back and bit me... and it bit me good.  Some of these comics I didn't want to part with, for any price.  I wanted to keep them and read them and enjoy them and add them to my original collection.  I especially wanted to do this with some of the Silver Age DC's and the Silver Age Marvels.  Note:  It took almost two weeks before I could bring myself to "merge" any of these recent additions with my original collection!  It was if my original collection had to wait awhile before "accepting" this new collection as part of the family!

So I began the tedious process of deciding which comics I wanted to keep for myself and which I wanted to sell.   In all, about three weeks went by as I continued to organize, alphabetize, read,  catalogue, and enjoy the comic books.

I ended up putting aside all of the Superman and Batman comics, two of my favorite titles.  (And, naturally, I set aside all of the Action comics and Detective comics, two titles in which these characters appear.)

I put aside all of the Spider-Man comics.  (Spidey has been one of my favorite characters since I was a kid.) 

I put aside all of the Wonder Woman comics, the Aquaman comics, the Flash comics...

I put aside all of the Green Lantern comics, the Green Arrow comics, the Green Hornet comics...

I put aside all of the Iron Man comics, the Incredible Hulk comics, the Captain America comics, the Daredevil comics, the Mighty Thor comics, the Fantastic Four comics...

I put aside all of the X-Men comics, the Avengers comics, the Justice League of America comics...

I also put aside all of the ten-cent, fifteen-cent and twenty-cent comics, regardless of title.  In fact, later I expanded this to include all of the comics with an original price of .35 or less...

I put aside all of the comics with cool covers, or with stories that looked interesting...

I put aside a whole bunch of #1 issues and comics with the first appearance of a character...

Etc., etc., etc...

In a nutshell, I put aside all of the titles that interested me... all of the comics that I considered the good stuff, the popular titles, the titles and characters I read and enjoyed when I was younger.

In all, I set aside approximately 5,700 comics.  Combined with the original 1,477 comics in my collection, this now gave me approximately 7,200 comics that I, at least for awhile, wanted to keep for myself.


Chapter 5

After putting the good stuff aside I now had nothing but "junk" left... titles I had never heard of, publishers I had never heard of, comics my Price Guide indicated weren't worth much at all, etc.  Out of the 10,700 comics I purchased, these 5,000 that remained I had no interest in whatsoever.

My plan was to sell these for as much as could get... hopefully for the $1,600 I paid for them... which would, in effect, give me the 5,700 "good" books I set aside for free! 

And that's exactly what I did!

I put up my own ad on Craig's List.  The ad cleverly mentioned how I had recently "acquired" more than 5,000+ books and how I just didn't want them.   I didn't want them at all.  (Completely true.  In fact, nothing I wrote in my ad was a lie.)  I described the overall condition of the books, mentioned that most of them appeared to be superhero-type comics and mentioned there were "just too many different titles to list them all" (also true)  and offered... 

a)  ...the entire lot for sale, for $1,700 or 
b)  ...the option to purchase them "by the box"

I worked out a "per the box" price of: 

$230 for one box of comics
$350 for two boxes of comics
$435 for three boxes comics

and so on, out to about six boxes.  (I calculated that if anyone wanted seven or more boxes, it would make more sense financially to purchase the entire lot.)

One of the photos of the comics I put up for sale on Craig's List.  

Soon after the ad went up, two potential buyers made arrangements with me to come out and look at them.

The first gentleman who came out purchased a box and a half, for $300.  (I allowed him to mix and match and put together comics from any one box into another.)  

As soon as he left I had to revise my on-line ad.  I changed the more than 5,000 comics for sale to approximately 5,000 comics for sale.   And I reduced the price - the whole lot was now just $1,400.  (I still wanted a total of $1,700 for all of them.  Since the first gentleman paid me $300, I reduced the price for this new lot to $1,400.)  

And after that ad was up for a day or so, another gentleman responded to it.  He ended up driving all the way out here from the San Bernardino area (a 90-minute drive for him) and he purchased everything!  He offered me two hundred dollars less than my asking price of $1,400.  I told him I'd meet him halfway... he could have them everything $1,300.  He agreed.

What's interesting is that after he arrived, he indicated he wanted to buy them before he even looked at them!  Oh sure, he glanced at a few of the titles in a box of two but that was it!  I couldn't believe anyone would dish out that kind of money without looking at the condition of the books, the individual titles, etc.  

Ideally, I would have loved to have made a little bit of money on the two sales.  But when this second gentleman was willing to give me $1,300 and knowing I would then "break even" I just couldn't say no.  (Plus, I really was looking forward to seeing my carpet again!)

While we were loading them into his truck, he asked me if I noticed if there were any Superman comics in the boxes.  Ha!  I think he would have been very surprised to know that just a few feet from where he was standing, around a corner and out of his sight, there were approximately 600-800 Superman comics on my bookshelf!




The end result of this "comic book adventure" is over a period of exactly 39 days I acquired more than 5,700+ comic books, good comic books, titles that are interesting to me, for free!

Number of comics in first purchase: 3,695 $500
Number of comics in second purchase: 3,924 $500
Number of comics in third purchase: 3,115 $600
Total number of comics purchased: 10,734 $1,600
Less comics I sold: 5,011 $1,600
Number of comics I acquired: 5,723 $0
Number of comics in my original collection: 1,477
Number of comics I now own: 7,200

Photo of all of the comic books I set aside and saved from the three collections
I purchased and the comics from my original collection.

The comics are stored on three bookshelves with eight shelves each,
with approximately 300 comics per shelf.
(3 x 8 x 300 = 7,200 comic books)

If I was able to sell 5,011 comic books which consisted of unpopular titles, none that were early Marvels or early DC's, I estimate I could sell the 5,723 comics I saved, the good stuff, the older comics, the comics that do contain popular titles, for easily twice that amount.  And that's if I sell them in one or two lots.  If I take the time to sell them in several smaller lots, I believe that figure could easily be much more.  

At just a buck a comic, selling all 5,723 is $5,723.00... and since I've already received back my original investment, that would be all profit.  So this adventure of mine quite possibly netted me the $3,000 - $6,000, or more, in future comic book sales!

And of course, if I decide to hang on to them for a decade or two...


A note about the bookshelves above.  I decided I no longer wanted my collection hidden away in my closet, stored in my comic book boxes.  I wanted the collection out where I could see it and enjoy it.  (Also, my closet now wasn't large enough to fit all of the books, so I had to come up with a new storage/display solution anyway!)

The result I came up with can be seen in the photo above and the three photos below.  I removed the books and other items that were on the two bookshelves I had on that wall, and then added a third bookshelf to the wall.  I then added a few extra shelves and spaced out these shelves so that a comic book would fit perfectly if stored lengthwise.  This allowed room for a total of eight shelves per bookshelf!

All of the above comics are bagged and boarded.  Other comic book-related items (Comic book price guides, super hero action figures and statues, comic book graphic novels, etc.) sit on the top shelf.

This method of storing and displaying them is both an elegant and practical solution.



And, of course, I now have my floor back!
(Compare this photo with the second and third photo above!)


If you enjoyed this little story, read what it's like to really purchase a large and valuable collection of comic books!