Comic Art Collecting Guide

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ComicArtTrackerCollecting original comic artOriginal comic art glossary

Collecting original comic art

What is original comic art?

This term is used to describe any one-of-a-kind artwork created by comic artists as part of the creation process of comic books. This can include, but is not limited to, sketches, pencils, inked pages, painted pages or covers, color guides, etc. By extension, it also refers to comic book related artworks such as convention sketches, commissions, recreations, etc. Colors and lettering used to be part of these artworks but now they are mainly added digitally.

Comics have different origins and names: they are called bande dessinée in France, fumetti in Italy, manga in Japan or manhwa in Korea to name a few.

Comic art prices range from less than $100 for unpublished art to more than $100,000 for top-tier historical pages and covers. You can buy them from artists -- either directly at conventions or via social media, or through the artist's rep. There is also an active secondary market comprised of dealers, auction houses, and collector-to-collector marketplaces.

Through this Comic Art Collecting Guide you'll find a lot of useful information about original comic art and ComicArtTracker will help you find pages within your budget from the series, artists and characters you like. If you're new in original comic art collecting, take your time and browse the Collecting original comic art topics to get a better understanding of the market before spending money on it. Welcome to the hobby!

A few topics in this Comic Art Collecting Guide to start with: Where can I buy comic art? - Where can I interact with comic art collectors? - How to price original comic art? - What are the main features of ComicArtTracker?

Some interesting resources: Overview of the comic creation process - The Comic Book Development Process (Prop Store) - How to Collect Original Comic Art (Cantu Comics) part 1 and part 2 - Superhero Comic Artist: Behind the Scenes (WSJ) - How comics were printed in the 1980s-90s (Bill Black) - A Brief and Broad History of Post Golden Age-Pre-Digital Comic Book Coloring - How Comic Books are Made (Walden Wong) part 1 and part 2 - Creating Wallace the Brave Comic Strip - La bande dessinée, du mépris aux galeries - KABOOM BD #41 - Le marché de l'Art en BD

Where can I buy original comic art?

There's plenty of places where you can buy original comic art:

No matter where you buy from, you will have extra-costs to take into account:
  • Shipping: usually between $20 and $200 (without insurance) depending on the option you choose and where you and the seller live. Make sure the art is packed securely by the seller, that a signature is required at delivery, and that the seller provides you with the tracking number. For art over $1000, many collectors prefer to send overnight via FedEx, UPS, USPS Express, DHL, or similar. And for pieces $10K+, some collectors prefer to get on a plane and go get the piece themselves!
  • Payment fee: if you want to pay with Paypal, you'll have to pay for a 3% commission, and there are also fees associated with international wire transfers which vary from bank to bank.
  • Auction fees: with a few exceptions, auctions will include a buyer's premium (and optionally a resale right). This may add up to 30-35% of the hammer price (especially in Europe), so check the auction Terms and Conditions before bidding. See our comic art auction houses table for their usual buyer's premium and payment conditions.
  • Customs fees / Sales Tax: based on where you live and where the art comes from, you may also have to pay customs fees or a sales tax, which usually adds on 5-10% more.

Also, please be aware of the risk of buying some original art through marketplaces. If you don't have a strong familiarity with an artist's work, you should definitely avoid buying any unpublished artwork and make sure that any (supposedly) published art is identical to the publication and is the genuine original art and not a production art, poster or so. Search Google Images, ComicArtFans, and ask other collectors you may know. Or ask on the forums at places like or

Resources: The Next Stage In Comic Collecting: The Comic Art Con

Where can I sell my original comic art?

There are a lot of places where you can sell your art (basically the same places where you can buy art), with specificities that will match your needs or not:

  • Auction houses: They will take care of everything for you - advertise for the sale, collect the money, package and ship for you. But you'll have to wait for the auction to be closed before getting your money, plus auction houses will charge you seller's fees. And also... "Buyer's Premium" is a clever way of disguising more fees. For example, a 15% seller's fee + a 25% buyer's premium = 40% difference between what the buyer pays and what you receive. See our auction houses comparison table and try to pick one that is active and sells the kind of art you want to sell.
  • Dealers: They will pay immediately but will give you the lowest price from all the places to sell comic art, so that they can sell it later with margin. Some dealers may also take your art on consignment: They work with you to determine a reasonable sale price, they display it on their website, and if it sells, they take a 10-20% fee and pay you the rest. See our list of comic art dealers and try to pick one who sells the kind of art you want to sell.
  • Marketplaces:
    • ComicArtFans and 2DGalleries have "art for sale" sections allowing you to sell your art directly to other collectors at fixed price with no fee (but you need to have a premium account - $75/year for ComicArtFans and €79/year for 2DGalleries), the drawback being that you have to handle the payment and shipping by yourself, with no guarantee about the buyer.
    • eBay is the most known marketplace to sell your original comic art, either at fixed price (BIN - Buy It Now) or at auction. There is a seller fee and you still have to handle the shipping by yourself but eBay collects the money for you and has a seller protection policy.
    • Catawiki is another marketplace that allows you to auction your art. The buyer pays Catawiki and Catawiki will pay the seller only when the buyer confirms that he received the art. Catawiki charges a commission fee (incl. VAT) on the winning bid.
  • Direct to collectors: you could also consider advertising about your comic art for sale directly on specialized boards or Facebook groups. See our list of comic art community groups.

As you can see, there are several considerations to take into consideration before selling your original art:

  • Is it premium / highly sought after art or not? If the answer is yes, you may consider selling it at auction to get the best visibility and optimize your final price. Hopefully it will offset auction fees.
  • If you don't want to bother with payment and shipping, marketplaces and social networks are definitely not for you. Instead, consider contacting an auction house or a dealer.
  • If you need money from the sale quickly, auctions can be a problem... It usually takes a few months after you contacted the auction house to see your art listed in one of their auctions, and at least 30 days after the auction closes to receive payment. Some auction houses may offer an advance payment for higher-end consignments. And eBay requires the buyer to send payment quickly, usually via PayPal.

See also How to price / get an estimate of my original comic art?

Where can I interact with comic art collectors?

Some related videos: Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Overview - The Belgian Comic Strip Museum - walk through level 1 - The Belgian Comic Strip Museum - walk through level 1 - Exposition Révolution bande dessinée - Exhibition of European comic art in New York - Comics get a place in Paris' Louvre Museum - Hergé, Franquin, Jacobs et Cie au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Liège - Learn how Marvel Comics are made and tour MoPOP

Comic art auction houses (comparison table)

These data about comic art auction houses are provided as is. They have been gathered from different sources but may evolve or vary for each auction. Please check auction catalogs and T&C carefully before bidding. Feel free to contact us if you have any information to complete or correct this table.

Auction house Auctions / year Fees 1, 2 and additional info
Artcurial 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Live auctions exclusively
BDEnchères 5-10
  • Seller's fee: 15% for live auctions, 20% for online auctions
  • Buyer's fee: 20% for live auctions, 10% for online auctions
  • Pre-bid period followed by live online auction.
BYDealers 1 max
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 20%
  • Pre-bid period followed by live online auction.
Cambi Casa d'Aste 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30%
  • Timed online auctions
Catawiki 50+
  • Seller's fee: 15.1%
  • Buyer's fee: 9%
  • Several thematic online auctions every week
  • Timed online auctions / time extension3: 1mn
Christie's 1 max
  • Seller's fee: 15%
  • Buyer's fee: 30%
  • Live auctions exclusively
ComicConnect 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: usually none, except where stated otherwise (some items recently auctioned with a 15% buyer's premium)
  • Timed online auctions / time extension3: 3mn
  • Credit cards and PayPal accepted up to $2,500 (with a surcharge of 3%)
ComicLink 10-20
  • Seller's fee: 10%
  • Buyer's fee: none
  • Credit cards accepted but charged (3%)
  • Timed online auctions / no time extension.
  • For lots with a reserve price not met, current bid is automatically raised to one bid below the seller's reserve amount 5 days before the end time (which means that the next bid will hit the reserve)
Compal 1-5
  • Seller's fee: 20% + insurance of 2% of the reserve
  • Buyer's fee: 19% (2% handling charge if paying with a non-UK banking card)
  • Timed online auctions
Cornette de St Cyr 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT) +1.8% if bidding through Drouot Live / +6% if bidding through Invaluable
  • Live auctions exclusively
Daniel Maghen 1 max
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Live auctions exclusively
eBay France
eBay UK
eBay US
  • Seller's fee: France = 10% on 0-€2000 then 2%, UK = 12.8% on 0-£2500 then 3%, US = 12.55% up to $7500 then 2.35% (+1.65% if your registered address is in the US and the delivery address for the item is outside the US)
  • Buyer's fee: none
  • Timed online auctions / no time extension
Hake's 1-5
  • Seller's fee: 10%
  • Buyer's fee: 18% (reduced to 15% for check or money order)
  • Timed online auctions / time extension3: 20mn
Heritage 50+
  • Seller's fee: 15%
  • Buyer's fee: 20% (+2.5% for payments by credit card), except for European Comic Art auctions: 25%
  • Pre-bid period followed by live auction. For lots with a reserve price not met, the current bid is automatically raised to one bid below the seller's reserve amount 5 days before the end time (which means that the next bid will hit the reserve).
  • Click here for a detailed list of all types of Heritage auctions (Signature auctions, Platinum Nights auctions, Weekly auctions,…) with their specificities.
Little Nemo 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 18% (13% above €50,000) + 5% if bidding through LiveAuctioneers
  • Live auctions exclusively
  • Timed online auctions
Mandarake 5-10
  • Seller's fee: 20% on Big Web Auctions
  • Buyer's fee: none on Everyday Auctions, 10% on Big Web Auctions
  • Everyday Auctions: absentee bid system, time extension3: 5mn.
  • Big Web Auctions (6/year): Live auction with pre-bid period, time extension: 15s. You need to pay a participation fee (¥550 - roughly $5) to be allowed to bid.
Millon 10-20
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 22% on online auctions, 26% on catalogued (live) auctions +2% if bidding through Drouot Live
Nate D. Sanders 5-10
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 25%
  • Timed online auctions / time extension3: 30mn
Philip Weiss 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 15% if bidding through their gallery, 20% if bidding through Invaluable / Proxibid / LiveAuctioneers. 2% discount for invoices paid in full with cash, money orders or checks.
  • Live auctions exclusively
Profiles in History 1 max
  • Seller's fee: 15% with a minimum of $100 for each lot sold
  • Buyer's fee: 20% if paid by cash or check, 24% if paid by credit card, 28% if bidding online.
  • Live auctions exclusively
Prop Store 1-5
  • Seller's fee: none
  • Buyer's fee: 25% + VAT (min £30)
Russ Cochran 5-10
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 20%
  • Timed online auctions / time extension3: 3mn
Septimus 1-5
  • Seller's fee: 10%
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Online auctions
Sotheby's 1 max
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Online auctions
Stanley's Auction 1 max
  • Seller's fee: 15%
  • Buyer's fee: 24%
  • Online auctions
Tajan 1 max
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Online auctions
Tessier-Sarrou 1 max
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 30% (25% + VAT)
  • Live auctions exclusively
Urania Casa d'Aste 1-5
  • Seller's fee: 15% on hammer price below €3000, 11% above
  • Buyer's fee: 24.4% (20% + VAT 22%), 21.96% above €100,000 (18% + VAT)
  • +3% handling charge if paying by credit card, +4% by online payment via Paypal
  • Timed online auctions
Vermot et Associés 1-5
  • Seller's fee: ...
  • Buyer's fee: 26.4% (22% + VAT), +1.5% (+1.8% with VAT) if bidding through Drouot Live
  • Live auctions exclusively
1 Note that some extra fees may also apply to buyer on specific lots (customs fee or sales tax, resale fee, payment fee, shipping...).
2 Seller's fees can be negociated if you plan to consign high-end artworks.
3 A time extension of X means that auction ending time is extended by X if any bid is placed within X from the ending time. Time extension is a good way to avoid auction sniping

How can I get a good picture / scan of my original comic art?

You have two options: scan your art or take a picture of it.

Scan your art

Either you have a scanner at home and it is large enough to handle your artwork, or you can use a scanning service (in the US most Office Depot and Staples stores can scan for you, in France you have Copy-Top stores or the likes). You should scan your art to a 600dpi 16-bit color RGB TIFF for archiving purposes. This is a large enough dpi that you can use the scans for print publication (in case your art is ever needed for one of the prestigious Artist Editions books from TK or Gallery Editions from Graphitti Designs!) You can then create a copy of your archival TIFF and downsize it to a 150dpi JPG for posting on ComicArtFans, 2DGalleries, or social media.

It is usually better to scan in color, even for black & white comic art, to capture details such as page quality, pencils, blue lines, etc.

Take a picture with your cell phone

Modern smartphones have good cameras. You don't have any limitation on the artwork size, and "document scanner" applications make it easy to crop the image (e.g. remove any distortion of the page and make it "square" again) and enhance colors and sharpness. Comic art collectors usually use CamScanner or Microsoft Office Lens:

Be careful of lighting when taking your pictures - try to keep brightness uniform on the whole page and avoid shadows or overexposure.

Resources: A beginner’s guide to prepping your comic art for print - How to Scan Black and White Line Art

How can I insure my original comic art collection?

Insuring your original comic art collection is highly recommended, the major risks being fire, water flooding or theft.

Most major insurance companies have an insurance department dedicated to collections. Some insurance companies are specialized in comic collection and comic art collection insurance. In some cases your homeowner insurance will insure the entire or part of your collection with or without limitations of liability and declared value. Contact them to check this point.

In all cases, please carefuly read the list of exclusions to their coverage. Such exclusions may include gradual deteoriation (fading, creasing), insects, dampness, loss or damage while being worked on by you or others working on your behalf, etc. Check also if your insurance policy includes shipping or not.

You should also consider keeping a record of all your purchases. Such inventory should include:

  • nature of the art (description of the artwork: artist name, series, etc.),
  • date of purchase,
  • name of the seller,
  • amount paid,
  • form of payment,
  • invoices copies (certificates or proofs of payment),
  • scan or photography,
  • photography of the framed art if relevant,
  • a regularly updated valuation (mainly for insurance purposes, but it can also be helpful if something happens to you and your family has no idea of what your collection is worth.)

Major insurance companies: Hiscox - AXA XL

Specialized insurance companies: Collectibles Insurance - MiniCo - Markel - MiniCo - Chubb - American Collectors - ArtInsuranceNow

How do I travel with my comic art?

If you’re travelling by plane, taking your art with you in a cabin baggage is highly recommended. A checked luggage can be stolen, lost, delayed, damaged or opened and/or confiscated by TSA or Customs during your travel.

In case of lost or damaged luggage, the airline compensation will vary with the country of the airlines:

  • up to $3,500 / per luggage US airlines,
  • up to €1,200 / per luggage for EU airlines,
  • usually €20 / $25 for other airlines
In case of luggage confiscation by TSA or Customs, no compensation will be given.

For the cabin baggage, the standard size will vary from 115cm to 126cm - or 45 inches to 50 inches (size = sum of length + width + depth) and standard max weight is 10kg - to be checked with your airline company. It usually leaves enough room to store your art inside a hard packaging or a rigid portfolio. Your art can pass the screening securities scanners and manual security clearance without restriction (except in case of oversized or overweight baggage).

Notice about the applicable taxes: when entering the destination country, import taxes / VAT on the declared value of the art shall apply, with two exceptions:

  • when returning arts originating from the country.
  • for non sellable arts (such as art loaned for exhibitions) - these items must be listed on a shipment carnet / ATA Carnet in EU (temporary admission carnet) before entering the country. Informations and deliveries of carnets are provided by customs services

More information on Customs: US Customs and Border Protection (US) - Douanes françaises (FR) - HRMC (UK) - Administration générale des Douanes et Accises (BE) - Zoll (DE)

How does a comic art auction work?

There are two main styles of auction: a timed system and a hammer system.

A timed system has an auction listing end at a specified, fixed time. They are also usually proxy bidding systems. The highest bid placed before the auction ends, wins one bidding increment over the next highest bidder. Examples of timed systems include eBay, ComicLink, and Catawiki. Timed systems are synonymous with sniping. As such, most of the bidding action happens in the last 60, 30, or even 10 seconds!

A hammer system is a more traditional auction. There may be a pre-bidding session in the weeks before, but the auction has a start time where the lots are opened for live bidding and then sold one after the other. Live bids could come in via phone, internet, or in person by bidders "in the room". Examples of hammer systems include Heritage, Christie's, and Sotheby's. A hammer-style auction does not necessarily have a real auctioneer; rather, it could be entirely automated (such as with Heritage's weekly Monday auctions.) Automated or moderated, most of the bidding action takes place during the live auction period.

There are hybrid systems which combine elements of the two systems, such as Hake's or ComicConnect. These auction listings start with a fixed ending, but guard against sniping by extending the ending as long as there is still active bidding in progress (see Time extension).

Pros and cons:

  • Hammer systems maximize results for the auction house and the consignor. However, due to their cost and complexity, those houses typically charge higher fees of 15-40%.
  • Timed systems can be fully-automated and keep costs down for the house. Those houses typically charge 10% of the final bid in fees.
  • Hybrid systems try to maximize results while still being fully-automated. However, many collectors find the seeming endless extensions of the active bidding to be inconvenient. Buyers bidding in multiple listings in one auction usually have difficulty juggling the ending of each one as they become moving targets.

Auctions sometimes have reserves. A reserve price is a minimum price to bid to win an item. eBay reserves are hidden. Whereas, Heritage and ComicLink will open a piece for pre-bidding, but automatically raise the bid one step below the reserve a few days before the end of the auction. European auction houses usually start bidding slightly below the lower end of the estimate. See Reserve price.

Auctions are notorious for charging numerous costs on top of your high bid. You MUST budget for these ahead of time. Other costs include: buyer's premium, wire transfer fee, credit card fee, shipping, resale right, customs fee, sales tax, storage fee, late payment fee, etc. Please review all terms and conditions well before the start of the auction.

[img comic-art-auction-estimated-fees.jpg Christie's Cost calculator: buyer's fees would sum up to 49.5% (shipping within the same country) if lot sold at low estimate (and the seller would probably get 57% of what the buyer would pay, with a seller's commission of 15%).]

With the exception of eBay, most auction houses will send an invoice to be paid in the week following a major auction. Depending on their terms, payment is usually expected within 7-30 days. Different houses accept different forms of payment. Again, always check the terms before the auction. Don't expect every house to accept a credit card, PayPay, cash, or a personal check.

Some smaller or regional houses may not handle shipping. Be prepared to contact a third-party shipper near the auction house who will charge you a fee to collect the art, pack, and ship it to you. This is common when dealing with houses listed on Invaluable or LiveAuctioneers.

See: Comic art auction houses (comparison table)

How should I frame my original comic art?

Most advice for framing any art applies to comic art as well. Be sure to frame it using archival-safe materials and methods. Do not hang it in direct or bright sunlight (see also How should I store my original comic art?). Plexiglass is lighter and safer than regular glass. Museum-grade or anti-UV plexiglass is an option, but do not rely on it to block sun damage. Do not dry-mount your art onto a backing.

Always work with a reputable framer. You can provide them with a same-size Xerox or blank board to mockup your frame and mat. Then, bring the artwork in later so you can supervise the final assembly and packing.

There are numerous ways to mat and frame your art. Many collectors prefer a "less is more" approach with a simple black frame and white mat board, but see these threads for many examples: "Art behing glass" on CGC boards (in English) and Les encadrements d'originaux (bonnes idées, techniques) (in French).

Useful links: Original comic art frames (Bags Unlimited) - Le Cadre d'Olivier (framer in Paris)

How should I ship original comic art?

Most major multinational delivery services companies (Chronopost-DPD, DHL, Fedex, UPS) and national postal services (Canada post, Deutsch post, Royal Mail, USPS, La Poste, etc.) are able to transport your parcels. The former offer US-EU or EU-US express deliveries service within 2 or 3 working days. The national posts deliveries service will depend on the departure / transit / destination cities / countries.

In case of US-US or EU-EU shipping, no customs fees will apply for the recipient. In case of international shipping, customs duties, VAT on declared value basis, and administrative fees will apply to recipient. Customs duties and VAT will depend of each country.

Important notices:

  • Always use tracking and signature delivery.
  • Whatever the shipping service you use, be sure to pack your art strongly. Writing "fragile" on top of your package is not enough and you never know what can happen to your art during shipping!
  • Shipping insurance is highly recommended! Delivery services companies and postal services have limits of liability on the declared value of the goods, and some products (typically art) may be excluded and not covered by carriers insurance. In case of exclusion or value limitations, complimentary insurance can be purchased from your collection insurance company.
  • Take photos of the packaging process and final parcel, and keep receipts for proof of mailing.

Delivery services companies: Chronopost - DHL - FedEx - UPS

National post services: Canada Post - Deutsche Post - La Poste - Royal Mail - USPS

Complimentary insurance companies: Parcel Pro

How should I store my original comic art?

Simply put: in a cool, dry and acid-free place!

Most collectors opt to store their less expensive art bare in Itoya or similar portfolios. These portfolios display nicely, store horizontally or vertically, are reasonably priced, reasonably protective and reasonably archival. Although most modern comic art is 11x17, it is recommended to purchase 13x19 portfolios to easily remove pages and to accommodate slight variations in board sizes such as 12x18, A3, etc.

For their higher-priced pieces ($500+), most collectors will store the piece in an oversized mylar with a buffered backing board and then place that in a portfolio or archival gallery box. The Library of Congress recommends "airing out" paper artifacts kept in mylar at least annually.

Conservation Resources sells Microchamber interleave tissues to place between art and backing boards. These tissues absorb off-gasses and trap migrating acids.

Metal flat files are expensive and large, but they are a good option for storing large collections.

Wooden cabinets should be avoided. If they are stained, the off-gassing will severely damage paper. If they are made from MDF, the glue used can also off-gas. If wooden cabinets are the only option, consider not staining interior areas, painting the interiors with Microchamber paint, or lining them with Microchamber tissue. Alternatively, do not enclose them with doors.

Fireproof safes will not typically protect paper items inside.

Do not store your comic art in a basement. The humidity and chances of flooding are too great. Many wonderful collections have been ruined in this way.

Do not store your comic art in easy reach of pets or children. Dogs like to chew. Cats like to pee. Children like to color with crayons!

Useful resources: How to Store Comic Art (Cantu Comics) - Are "acid-free" backing boards truly acid-free? (part 1) and (part 2) - Understanding Plastics for Preservation (Gaylord Archival)

How to pack comic art for safe shipping?

  1. Bag your comic art into a poly bag, fold the flap over and tape it. This protects against water damage and moisture if your package is rained on.
  2. Tape the art in the bag to a thick piece of cardboard or Masonite that is a few inches bigger than your original art. This protects against corner and edge impact damage but also avoids damage from a blade when the box is opened.
  3. Add another stiff piece of cardboard to the front, so that your art is sandwiched between the two pieces of cardboard / Masonite. Tape the two pieces together.
  4. Place the sandwich in a larger, flat cardboard box with a few inches of padding all around. Seal it with packing tape to protect against water.
  5. Tape or affix the shipping label. Or place the customs forms in a plastic pouch. Be careful not to label the package in a manner that would indicate that there is value inside.

Alternatively, you can purchase a specialty art shipping box such as the PrintPad from AirFloat.

Below are two great unboxed packages, received respectively from La Galerie de la Bande Dessinée and Heritage:

[img packing-original-comic-art-in-mylar-between-masonite-boards.jpg Comic art slipped into Mylar taped between two strong pieces of Masonite board]

Unboxing original comic art from Heritage (step 1) Unboxing original comic art from Heritage (step 2) Unboxing original comic art from Heritage (step 3) Unboxing original comic art from Heritage (step 4) Unboxing original comic art from Heritage (step 5) Comic art slipped into poly bag (backed with a cardboard), then slipped into a tapped enveloppe, tapped and sandwiched between four strong pieces of cardboard, and finally placed in a large cardboard box with foam to ensure that the whole block will not move inside the box... wow!

How to price / get an estimate of my original comic art?

Pricing a piece of original comic art can be quite complex. Each piece is unique which makes it difficult to find price comparisons. Ask any three experienced collectors to value a piece and you may get wildly different results!

Comic art valuation depends on many criteria:

  • Penciller: Some artists are more sought after and expensive than others. Sometimes, it's the penciler/inker combination and/or the penciler/character combination that is key: Sinnott inking Kirby gives an extra value to the page versus Kirby inked by others. And Flash Gordon pages by Alex Raymond will be more expensive than any other page by Alex Raymond or any Flash Gordon page by another artist.
  • Page layout: Covers will usually sell for more than splash pages, followed by panel pages (with prelim, sketches, and color guides selling for far less.) As a general thumb of rule, published art will usually be more expensive than unpublished art. Separate pencils and inks are also less considered than inks over pencils, even if both pages are sold together. Page format (such as twice-up pages) and condition should also be taken into account.
  • Content: Key series / story arcs / moments, first appearances, pages with the main character(s) on each panel, superheroes in costume and action pages will usually increase the value of the page. On the other hand, "talking heads" pages and the like will usually be less valued.
  • Condition: Tears, yellowed or stained pages, missing balloons or alterations will obviously decrease the value of any original comic art. However, due to the one-of-a-kind nature of original art, condition is not "king" as it is in other collectible hobbies (and comic art can be restored by professionals to a certain extent).
  • Context: Sometimes the "when" is as important as the "what". Prices for Walking Dead pages skyrocketed when the TV series started. Superhero pages prices tend to increase when a TV series or movie is announced on a specific series or character. Prices are also very high on artists who sell only a few pages a year. On the other hand, prices can decrease quickly when the hype is over or if a large lot of original art is made available at the same time.

With all of these criteria in mind, how do you estimate your original comic art?

  1. Search for similar pieces in the ComicArtTracker past sales database. More than 1,500,000 past sales from dealers, auction houses and marketplaces should help you to get a fair estimate of your own art.
  2. You can also search for similar pages available for sale... but if they are for sale for a long time, it may be for a good reason! So don't weigh asking prices for unsold pieces heavily in your valuation process.
  3. Try to evaluate the demand for similar art. Is it scarce? Is it an "A-level" page? How is the trend in prices over the last 2-3 years? Do you need to sell quickly or not? These considerations may help you to choose where to sell your piece of comic art.

Keep also in mind that:

  • Only prices from auction houses can be considered as official. Any dealer (or collector on a marketplace) can mark a page as sold, but have it exchanged or sold at a lower price than the price displayed.
  • Even if a page by artist X sold for a price of Y, it does not mean that all pages from this artist are worth the same price! See all the criteria above that may make your page an A-level page or not.

If you're still not confident with how to estimate your art, you may also consider contacting an auction house for a free appraisal (try to find an auction house with a good track record on the same kind of art), or contact a dealer to see if they are interested in purchasing your art (knowing that they will account for a comfortable margin at resale). See also Where can I sell my original comic art? Finally, you can ask for other collectors' opinions on dedicated forums or Facebook groups, but be prepared to reply to offers which are both fair or ridiculously low!

A few resources: Who are the most expensive comic artists? - Pricing comic art (alxjhnsn)

What should I think about when buying comic art from another country?

  • If you don't already know the seller:
    • Try to use PayPal Goods and Services to take advantage of the Buyer Protection, even if you have to pay the PayPal fees out of pocket. There is no recourse on PayPal Friends and Family, Venmo, or wire transfers. Those methods are safer for sellers, but not buyers.
    • Try to ask the seller about their art collecting interests. This will help you establish their trustworthiness.
    • Don't be afraid to ask for references or to contact other collectors who they have done deals with.
  • Do not forget extra-costs:
    • banking fees for international wire transfers
    • customs fees / VAT (and related administrative fees if customs fees are paid by the delivery services company and re-invoiced to you)
    • higher shipping costs
  • Don't be stingy, and go for a delivery services company like FedEx, UPS or DHL. Yes they are more expensive than national postal services, but they are worth it. Or, if you bought a really expensive page, take a flight and go get it yourself!
  • Check with your buyer that the art will be strongly packed and shipped with tracking and signature delivery.

Where can I buy manga original artwork?

In short, it's almost impossible to acquire manga published pages or covers. Mangaka (manga artists) do not sell their published artworks for cultural and copyright reasons. If you see any "published" original artwork from series like Akira, Naruto, Lone Wolf and Cub, Dragonball, One Piece, Death Note, Captain Harlock and the like, it is likely a fake or a (re)production art!

Sketches/prelims and shikishis (sort of convention sketches) can be found for sale at auctions (the safest place for that being Mandarake Auction which is a Japanase website), but they often go for high prices because of their scarcity.

Related resource: Why is not manga original artwork for sale?

Where can I restore my original comic art?

Restoring an original comic artwork can include page cleaning, flattening, page whitening, tape or glue removal (adhesives from old tape sink into paper, damage it and leave yellow or brown stains), sealing of tears, text / logo stat reproduction, image reconstruction, etc. As the comic art hobby matures, more and more pieces from the 20th century will need conservation or restoration.

If one of your artworks requires a restoration, you should not do it yourself! Below, you'll find restoration experts that have experience with comic art and other works on paper. (If you know of other restorers to add to this list, feel free to contact us):

[img restored1.jpg Restoration of original cover art to Uncanny X-Men #162 by Robert Dennis]

A few interesting resources: Restoring Tintin comic art - Comic art home repair (Colleen Doran) - Paper mending - How to Get Scotch Tape Off of a Work of Art

Who are the most expensive comic artists?

If we take the most expensive auctioned comic artworks as a reference (considering not only their prices but also the number of times each artist appears in this list), the most expensive comic artists are:

  • In US comic art: Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller, Neal Adams, Todd McFarlane, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr, Brian Bolland, Alex Raymond, Bernie Krigstein, Herb Trimpe,…
  • In European comic art: Hergé, Albert Uderzo, André Franquin, Edgar P. Jacobs, Enki Bilal, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius), Morris, Peyo,…

Why do some of my comic art pages have cut corners?

In the 70's and 80's in the US, comic art pages were taped to a rolling drum during the copying process. It was easier to slice the pages off than take the tape off with care. Hence the corners cut. These cut corners usually have no impact on the value of the artwork, as long as it does not touch the drawing itself.

[img cut-corner.jpg Joe Staton - Green Lantern #152 title page with cut corners]