A Cautionary Tale About Trading Comics (and it’s not what you think)

If you’ve ever been into a comic shop that has a large selection of back issues, then there’s a fair chance that they’ll be willing to buy your old (or unwanted) comics. Whether you’re taking them in because you no longer want them, you need the space, or you just want somebody else to enjoy the comics you’ve loved because you’ve no intention of ever reading them again; but before you decide to take the plunge and haul your comics into the shop you’ll probably want to at least think of doing two things: be very aware of what you’re physically getting rid of, but also be sure you no longer want them.

Yeah, there’s a story. 

About two and a half years ago I went through my scattered collection and attempted to bag and board everything, which is something I had been pretty neglectful in doing over the years. I also came across boxes of comics that I had long forgotten I owned, thanks to some quick packing when I last moved (some of which were stored in an old fish tank box). Needless to say it was a daunting and time consuming task that took me three solid days of sorting before I was even close to being able to formulate a system (which I eventually did two years later – but that’s a story for another day).

Montrealites longbox
Not actually my collection – I sourced this from Montrealites.

After days bagging and boarding hundred and hundreds of comics – I went through at least four packages of bags and boards, and that wasn’t enough for half of them –  I had separated out a fairly large selection of them that I didn’t particularly care for anymore; including, but not limited too, the full run of pre New 52 Blue Beetle featuring Jamie Reyes, the last run of Ultimate Comics (you know the one that featured Divided We Stand, or something like that? ) and much of the Heroic Age Avengers comics.

Whatever the reasons behind me wanting to dump them, I boxed them up (some bagged and boarded, some not) and trucked them down to a local comic shop. I left them there to get appraised, and a week or two later I asked about them (I wasn’t in a rush for the money at the time). Understandably, and unsurprisingly, they weren’t really worth all that much and the  shop didn’t have a need for them at the time, so I shrugged and told him I’d pick them up when I had a chance to park out front so I wasn’t lugging them several blocks to the car park. Fast forward several months (I also wasn’t in a rush to get the comics back because of space constraints) when I had finally parked the car out front of the shop, and neither of us could find where the box of comics had been stashed after a recent reorganization for a Magic tournament. No worries, I thought; I know where they are, and they’ll turn up eventually.

blue-beetle 1 Two and a half years after I originally traded them in, I was listening to an episode of Graphic Policy radio in which hosts Brett and Elana were talking about DC’s Rebirth and the New 52. It was during the discussion that Elana had brought up the most recent Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, and I remembered how much fun the series was when I read it what felt like a life time ago, and the reminded me that those comics were in a box somewhere in the shop. Granted I’d looked for them here and there, but never with any real gusto. But now I wanted to reread some of them.

The next time I went into the comic shop, on a Tuesday, I decided to  have one last look around, who know? Maybe I’d see something I hadn’t before, I thought. Well, wouldn’t you know it, in a corner of the store room that I’m sure both the owner and I walked past numerous times before there was a box bearing the logo of a certain online grocery store that the owner had never heard of.


So I took the box home (stupidly, I walked more than half an hour with about 25lbs of comics in some relatively warm weather) only to discover that at least a third of the box wasn’t mine. So two days later, I trot back to the store to return the books that weren’t mine and had another dig in the same corner, finding what was missing pretty easily. Or at least, most of what was missing.

And here’s the point I need to impress upon you. If you ever take a box of comics into a shop to trade in, make a list of what you take in. Had I done that, then I’d be able to make sure that the books I brought home were all mine; I’m at least partly sure that I have 98% of my books back, minus an issue or three, but I have no idea which ones (if any) I’m actually missing aside from two issues of Blue Beetle; and that’s my second point – if you do take something in to trade, be sure that you never want to read it again. Of all the comics and graphic novels I have gotten rid of over the years, I don’t actually miss any of them. Hell, I don’t even know the names of most of them (which is a good indication that I didn’t miss them), but Blue Beetle was always a series I kept thinking about even after I took it into the shop to trade in.

If you do ever take your comics in to trade in, and the comic shop doesn’t take them? Then it’s probably not the best idea to leave them after the appraisal for two plus years because you’re too lazy to carry them a few blocks. Although maybe by the time you finally do get them back, you actually want them again, like I did, there’s a much greater chance that the shop will absorb them into their stock over time.

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