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Comics Buying Guide

People collect comics for many different reasons. Some relish the nostalgia, others enjoy the characters and storylines, while others appreciate comics as an art form. Whether you're just starting out or searching for classic, out-of-print editions of comics to round out your collection, you're sure to find just what you're looking for on eBay Canada.

Discover the History of Comics

Discover the History of Comics

From the early days of newspaper comic strips, crime stories, and tales of suspense, to the reign of superheroes, horror stories, and adult themes, comic books have both chronicled and become part of pop culture history in the United States.

Platinum Age of Comics (1897-1937)

Comics evolved from newspaper comic strips and were first sold as comic books during the early 1930s, ushering in the platinum age. Between 1933 and 1937, icons like Mickey Mouse, Flash Gordon, and Dick Tracy all made their mark, and artists like Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster all started their careers.

1937 marked the debut of themed comics. Detective Comics focused on crime and suspense stories and would eventually be the title to introduce us to Batman. Detective Comics would later shorten its name, keeping just the initials DC. Detective Comics set the stage for the beginnings of the Golden Age of Comics.

Golden Age of Comics (1938-55)

The golden age began in 1938 when Action Comics #1 introduced the first superhero, Superman. Inspired by Superman’s success, Bob Kane developed the darker superhero, Batman. While Batman had no powers, his dark tales and maniacal villains made his comics a success.

Between 1938 and 1945 superheroes flourished. The Spirit, Captain Marvel, The Flash, the Human Torch, The Sandman, and many others were born in various publications. In 1940 war comics became all the rage and patriotic heroes made their debut. Captain America, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, became the first hero to get his own title before appearing in a previous comic. In 1945, with the end of the war, the Golden Age of comics started drawing to a close and Science Fiction comics gained popularity.

Silver Age of Comics (1956-69)

With superhero comics sales continuing downward, horror comics like The Crypt of Terror, Weird Fantasy, and The Vault of Horror became increasingly popular during the silver age. However, by the mid-1950s superheroes like Superman, Captain America, the Flash, and the Human Torch were revived and given new titles and stories to play out.

Comics from this period featured modern slang, quirky personalities, and personal problems beyond saving the world. The Fantastic Four were the first in a new wave of Marvel heroes that also included The Incredible Hulk and Thor. However, it was Spider-Man’s appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 that cemented the Marvel style.

This was also the era of the super group. The Avengers, a revived JLA, and the X-men all showed up. While superheroes rose to power, science fiction comics continued to be popular and Marvel combined them with the Silver Surfer.

Toward the end of the Silver Age, comic books looked very much like they do today: a plethora of heroes each with their own comic, and many characters that did double duty in a super group.

Bronze Age of Comics (1970-79)

Reflecting the times, Bronze Age comics began to address more modern themes. Although classic comic book heroes continued to be popular, new heroes such as Conan the Barbarian and stories such as Star Wars changed the rules and ushered in the modern age.

Modern Age of Comics (1980-Now)

During the ‘80s the rise of the graphic novel placed popular heroes in more adult settings that have become more common during the modern age. Notable among them are Alan Moore’s The Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

The ‘90s marked the splintering of comic book publishers. In an industry previously dominated by Marvel and DC, many independent or alternative comics, like Darkhorse and Image, came into being.

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Value and Collect Comics

Value and Collect Comics

In the last 10 years comic books have gone from a cottage industry to an entertainment juggernaut. Movies like Spider-Man, Batman Begins, and the X-Men have fueled the interest in this visual art form.

Comics have gone a long way from the classic “POW” “BAM” “BIFF” days of the Golden Age. Complex storylines challenge characters both physically and emotionally, and the artwork has never been better. With so many talented artists and writers involved in making comic books, it’s no wonder that collecting comics has become one of the hottest hobbies around.

The main thing to remember when collecting comics is to enjoy yourself. Find a comics character you enjoy. Does their super-power, their secret identity, or the world they inhabit interest you? Are they part of a group? If so, are you interested in collecting more than one title at a time?

Value and grading of comics

Comic book values typically depend on a number of factors, including how hard to find a particular issue is and the condition of the comic book. It’s a good idea to understand the grading scale used by most comics collectors to help ensure that your expectations are met when you purchase comics.

Comics guides like Overstreet and Wizard are great resources for collectors. They not only provide the value of many back-issue comics, but often run articles about upcoming issues or events in the worlds of Marvel and DC.

The following comics grading scale is commonly used to rate the condition of comics. It includes the name of the condition, the symbol for the condition, and a numerical value.

  • Mint (MT) Comics, 9.9 to 10.0: The best example of comic book condition ever seen. Perfect, or as near to perfect as possible.

  • Near Mint/Mint (NM/M) Comics, 9.8: Almost perfect. Only minor imperfections. Comic book is flat and shows no wear.

  • Near Mint (NM) Comics, 9.2 to 9.7: Nearly perfect with only minor binding errors allowed. Ink is bright and reflective, no cover wear.

  • Very Fine/Near Mint (VF/NM) Comics, 9.0: Outstanding condition. Slight cover bend apparent and wear is almost imperceptible.

  • Very Fine (VF) Comics, 7.5 to 8.5: Excellent condition. Relatively flat cover with minor corner wear. Paper is supple, not brittle.

  • Fine/Very Fine (FN/VF) Comics, 7.0: Above-average condition. Minor cover wear shows. Corners may be blunted.

  • Fine (FN) Comics, 5.5 to 6.5: Above average. Cover shows wear, but is clean with no creasing. Blunted corners common. Minor or moderate spine roll.

  • Very Good/Fine (VG/FN) Comics, 5.0: Above average, but obviously used. Minor cover wear with minor or moderate creases. Minor staple tear and minor rust acceptable.

  • Good/Very Good (GD/VG) Comics, 3.0: Used with substantial wear. Cover loose, or detached at one staple. Discolouration or fading apparent.    

  • Good (GD) Comics, 1.8 to 2.5: Substantial wear, obviously read. Dull cover. Moderate soiling and staining.

  • Fair/Good (FR/GD) Comics, 1.5: Substantial and heavy wear. Cover lacks luster. Soiled, scuffed, and possibly unattractive. 

  • Fair (FR), 1.0 Comics: Heavy wear. Lowest collectable grade. Spine split and roll common. Missing, rusted, or discoloured staples. 

  • Poor (PR) Comics, 0.5: Little or no collector value. Missing large chunks. Corners significantly round or missing altogether.

Comics storage & care

By taking a few simple precautions, you can protect your comics and enjoy them for years to come.

  • Comics storage: Storing comic books can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. On the simple side, comic book-sized plastic bags are available to keep dust and dirt out. Special acid-free cardboard backings are also available that won’t damage ink. For more serious collectors, or more valuable comics, there are hard plastic cases that will protect your comic from almost everything.    

  • Caring for your comics: To keep your comics in good condition, keep your comics out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will quickly fade comics, making the ink dull and the pages brittle. Also, avoid handling your comics too often as oils on your fingers will eventually discolour the comics and leave spots.

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Find Comics on eBay

Find Comics on eBay

Once you know what type of comics you want, go to the Collectables portal, click Comics, and start searching for item listings on eBay.

  • Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age Comics, and more.

  • Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find Golden Age Comics, type "Golden Age Comics" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.

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Buy Comics With Confidence

Buy Comics With Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that a problem arises during your transaction, eBay and PayPal are there for you.

  • Pay safely with PayPal: PayPal enables you to pay without the seller ever seeing your bank account or credit card numbers. In fact, PayPal protects buyers 100% against unauthorized payments from their accounts. Plus, with PayPal Buyer Protection, your purchase can be covered up to $1,250.

  • eBay Security & Resolution Centre: Visit the Security & Resolution Centre to learn how to protect your account and use eBay's quick and efficient resolution tools.

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