Timing is Everything, Maybe

Last week I was talking comics with an old veteran and I asked him what’s been selling well on his eBay auctions to which he said: “Walt I don’t put anything up during the summer, it’s no use, prices are too low in the summer”. That comment made me think of another talk I had with another market heavyweight a couple of years back who told me never to ship books to the big auction houses in the fall, prices are low for the first big auction in the fall he said.

That got me thinking and asking myself questions like to what degree are comic prices cyclical and are there really better and worse times in the year to sell or buy comics.

We as an eBay auction lister made the decision to end our auctions Sunday evenings because we thought Sunday evenings were accepted as a good time to close out auctions. Lots of big players in the biz close auctions on Sunday so why not us as well.

Back to the price fluctuations within the calendar year. We do go light with our listings during the summer because we think the prices are not as strong during the summer months. Yet here we are producing some record-setting prices these past two months, so is it the time of year or just the mix we’re putting up?

I think putting the stuff up that people really want will get great prices all year round what I’m not so sure of is whether there are better times in the year to put up so-so stuff, stuff that not everybody is clamouring for.

Are there times during the month that are better? When do most paydays hit for monthly paid workers? When do government checks hit? When are most Fiscal year-end bonuses paid out? When is the full moon?

I have no idea if what my two friends say is true and I think there’d have to be lots and lots of data mining to look and see if past trends agree with their assessment. Insights like that could be beneficial to people that buy to resell and it would be helpful to people just looking to finish their runs and saving a few bucks.

Does anybody have any insights into this? Are there better times during the year to buy or to sell?

As if on cue I offer you an example of the prowess of our internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auctions. Last night we sold a very tight-looking copy of Amazing Spider-Man #41 graded CGC 4.0 for $610. We beat the last recorded sale of $500 and the one before that of $510 and all this during the dog days of summer. Boy was ours ever a crisp, tight copy, with great page quality and nice centering. The power of the Amazing Spider-Man title and the power of attraction the title’s first appearance of villains brings can only mean this is Advantage buyer.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. From my own experience and eBay stats, the summer lull has been true for me. Typically, the summer shows have been the rationale, but this year… it’s all about the pandemic. In other words, no body really knows why things are the way they are… It just is.

    Behavioural science and psychology is very much a consideration when trading in various markets, advertising, dating, statistics… and retail… So it makes sense to think deeper about it when flipping. While I do believe that comic cycles exist, it’s intertwined with shorter term trends, which is why I try and time my listings with industry/movie news. Again, from personal experience… it works! Not only do I get higher prices, but it makes it a lot easier move books. Many collectors don’t realize this, but selling comics is difficult. Most books are not all that rare, so unless your book is in high demand and also happens to be the cheapest on offer… good luck unloading it. My GSX#1, 9.8’s were tough to move at $10k a couple of years ago, but at the current valuation of about $70k, online venues are pretty much the only option, unless you’re part of some affluent collector network. I know that the older folks here don’t care much for celebrity news, but if you’re a seller… Variety, TMZ and anything Hollywood should be your research department.

    These cycles and trends also work the in the buyers favour. Personally, I try and look 3-5 years out when buying and look for stuff that’s off the radar. Patience is sorely lacking in this biz, so if you have it… it’s an advantage. Also, if you’re buying a book that is $100+… you better believe you can get it back down the road. Don’t give me that “I like the story or the art” jive… or “I’ll give it to my son when he’s older”. I’ve heard it all before and it’s all nonsense that people use to justify bad decisions. If you can’t understand this… you shouldn’t be buying $100+ books unless you’ve got money to burn. Despite what some people will have you believe, don’t be the lamb that cracks open books like FF#1 just to read it, when cheap reprints are readily available. Find clarity and be purposeful is what I’m saying.

  2. It might be me, but why does every slabbed comic I’ve seen lately, graded 4.0 to 6.0, look yellowed or sunbaked on the cover, especially around the edges, including the book above. Is it the higher resolution imaging available that gives the books that look, but it seems to be a more recent phenomenon?

    Over the years, even lesser graded comic looked brighter and cleaner than just about anything I’ve seen lately. Is it the slab which is making all the recently graded comics look dingier? Is the material the slabs are now made of? Is a more light-reflecting material that prevents good light from reaching the book to allow for a better picture?

  3. Some very good insights for us all Charlie, thanks!

    Klaus, I’ve been told before that the double plastic walls of the slabs dull the books to a degree, I think that’s why they tried to go do a single wall of plastic five or six years ago but it didn’t work because the books squished up.

  4. I always appreciate Charlie and Meli’s take on the economic and business aspects of the hobby ( although with my feeble brain I sometimes have to reread their posts several times before I grasp it)! Bravo!

  5. My typing can’t keep up, resulting in gobbledygook with gaps as I jump from thought to thought…I’ll try and remember to re-read what I type next time ^_^

    But speaking of summer lulls… this Hulk #181 is interesting in that most collectors are aware of summer cycles. The current CL auction seems to lack strategy, or maybe I’m thinking about it to hard.


    It’s a really nice looking specimen, very square on all sides. Currently at $76k… does any one care to predict it’s final value? I’m gonna hold true to my previous statement and say that it’s gonna end above $100k. At least I’ll be consistent if I’m wrong. I suspect that Bob Storms $125k offering will help to buoy this book… but if it shoots past, we’ll officially be back in La La Land where the market is concerned… although there was a 9.8 Spotlight that sold for $264k several weeks back, so perhaps we never left. With 8 days to go and an eventual Hulk vs Wolverine movie that everyone is expecting… this is the book to rule them all ^_^

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