Comic book collections bought and sold… Sometimes I even made a profit!

As traffic to my website began to grow, I started getting phone calls. The first exciting one was late one Sunday night.

The Rent Skipper Comic Book Collections

There were two big collections around this time. The first was the one that got away.

I received a phone call at 11pm on Sunday night. This was annoying. It came from Florida, which meant that the caller was aware it was EST, which was doubly annoying.

Still. I forgave her for that, because she had a GREAT collection. Admittedly it was in terrible shape.

Amazing Spider-Man #1, Journey into Mystery #83, a long run of Strange Adventures, X-Men from #1 up, and on and on.

She was a property manager. One of her tenants had skipped without paying the rent. He left behind a nice bonus for her though. Eventually the collection sold for $17,000.

Just not to us. Despite my best efforts. I stopped just short of begging.

The second phone call was almost as exciting. It was another Marvel collection in poor shape. The good news was, it had all kinds of goodies, including THIS delightful copy of Incredible Hulk #1.

Comic book collections don't often contain Incredible Hulk #1

Comic book collections don’t often contain Incredible Hulk #1

I got that collection for a good price, and Sean must have wondered at the flow of books towards Comiclink.

By then, I was regularly buying comics from random people who found my website, emailed me their lists, and struck deals.

The next big turning point was the Christmas collection.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day

The call came about mid-December. Snow was already on the ground here in Quebec. But in California, where this lady was calling from, clearly it was raining.

She needed money, and fast.

She sent me photos of a lot of Spider-Man and Hulk books. They were in really nice shape.

I offered to overnight the books, at my expense, and send her the cash via Moneygram the following day.

(If you’ve never used Moneygram…

…and you’re curious…

…Let me just begin by saying that the most common place to send Moneygram from is Wal*Mart.

’Nuff said, as Stan Lee might put it.)

The books arrived. They were nice. I asked her if she had any more.

She said her cousin and she had divided an inheritance. They were interested in sending more soon.

By this time, I was pressing comic books. That means placing them into a heat press, like a T-shirt press, and ‘ironing out’ defects to give the book a better grade.

The second batch from the Christmas Collection had an Incredible Hulk #181. When it arrived, it had a indented fingernail mark down the middle of the front cover, and some waviness. I figured it might be a 7.5 as-is.

I spent several hours trying to mimic the fingernail crease on a bunch of cheap modern books, and pressed them to test the theory. Finally, hands shaking, I placed the Hulk into the press.

After I pressed it, it looked perfect. I packed it up and sent it in. Sean called me. He said,

“It’s a heart-breaker. There’s a bend on the back cover.”

So my expectations were low. I thought it might get 9.2 out of 10, and I’d double my money. He called me a week later. “The Incredible Hulk #181 got a 9.8.”

It sold for $10,181.

Comfortably a record, at that time, for my efforts at buying and selling comic book collections.

The third lot from the Christmas consigner contained an Incredible Hulk #1. That one got a 3.5 and sold for a little over $5,000.

I had momentum.

Cashflow was always a problem, but the Florida one that got away taught me that I needed faster access to cash in a pinch. So my wife and I went from bank to bank setting up credit.

Gradually, the money began coming in faster than I spent it.

I was still doing everything myself:

  • Building the website.
  • Handling email.
  • Sending payments.
  • Receiving books in the mail.
  • Pressing books in the presses (I had three by now).
  • Listing books on eBay.
  • Mailing books to customers.

Finally, the most important phone call of my career to date:

Where the Fuck is Sean Goodrich?

Sean Goodrich had decided to quit his job. Damn it! I had built a good relationship with Sean. He’d taught me so much about the business. And now he was gone.

I begged one of his colleagues to send my details to him and ask him to get in touch. A while later, he did.

“Do you want to go into business together?” he asked.

Did I ever!

The plan was, we’d buy collections 50/50, process them jointly, and split the proceeds. One of our first purchases as partners was…

The Redneck Comic Book Collections

This guy called from a trailer park in Texas. He wasn’t able to meet us at the airport in Dallas, because he had a prison ankle bracelet preventing him from leaving the county.

So he agreed to send his girlfriend to meet Sean instead.

We had to scramble to book flights last-minute, and in those days neither of us had the sense (or was the problem that we didn’t have the cash?) to keep currency easily accessible. So I had to Moneygram Sean my half of the purchase price.

The Moneygram supervisor actually wanted to decline the transaction! For my protection! In case this guy I had know for three years was about to scam me!

(Have I told you how much I adore Moneygram?)

Sean found a hotel with a pool, and took his daughter along with him on the trip. On the day, the seller violated parole (because I guess he didn’t trust the girlfriend not to run off with the money and start a fresh life).

Sean was pretty nervous about the whole thing, but we got the books for a good price.

Pig-Nutella: When to Walk Away from Comic Book Collections

Pig-Nutella. Possibly one of the weirdest names for comic book collections!

Pig-Nutella. Possibly one of the weirdest names for comic book collections!

There have been times we should have walked away. Pig-Nutella was one of them.

We had just agreed a deal with an outside investor. The terms were pretty harsh, but you do what you need to do when cash is tight, a good collection comes along. Having negotiated the deal with both with the seller and the investor, it felt like pressure on us to perform.

When we examined the books, we should have either come up with a new price, or walked away. The key issues had damage not apparent from the pictures. But neither of us was smart enough to do what needed to be done.

We handed over $65,000 in cash and took the books.

Pig-Nutella wanted to hang out with us a bit. He showed us the sights and took us for lunch. We didn’t enjoy that very much. New rule: no dining with clients.

Another new rule: be MORE inclined to walk away when it’s not your own money.

To date, that collection is the only one we’ve lost any serious money on.

The Hot Springs Comic Book Collections

Now for some better news. The Klingon-Peel collection was located in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We were pretty jazzed about getting this. Especially as a rival dealer considered the collection “his”, and got so mad when we got it instead that he actually called me. That was a first. (Sorry, Jojo.)

So was turning up to meet the seller and finding him, and his wife, and his brother-in-law and HIS wife there. The seller was a retired cop. He showed me one gun in his underarm holster and a second one on his ankle. I think that was saber-rattling.

Neither of the weapons helped to settle my nerves at all. I mis-counted the pages of X-Men #1 (twice) before finally getting it right. The hotel was the old gangster hangout that Al Capone used to visit. It looked as if it hadn’t been renovated since.

We rented a conference room to do the deal in. The light was appalling. Still, we liked what we COULD see (especially the Journey into Mystery #83, which ended up getting an 8.5) and handed over the $65K in cash.

Which the seller proceeded to count, very slowly and randomly.

His counting took longer than the rest of the transaction put together. Almost as long as the flight and drive to Hot Springs.

Oscar Night Mania and the Virginia Comic Book Collections

The Virginia collection was fun.

We flew down to DC, rented a minivan, went and picked up the books and drove all the way back to Maine with them.

Sadly the page quality of these books let down what would have otherwise been a potential pedigree. They were structurally amazing. Especially considering the seller only bagged and boarded them a month earlier!

Once more, which has happened often, a local dealer was our best referrer. The week before I called, the seller had brought in a local guy. He offered $7,000.

I saw the images on Oscar Sunday and called the seller immediately. We happily paid $30,000 for it.

To whoever that greedy local idiot was, thank you. Sincerely.

About 80 percent of the collection was worth certifying.

A number of the books were held back from 9.8 only by tanning on the inner covers.

Next time: Overstreet, and the Growth of Sell My Comic Books >>>

See previous installments of this story: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7