So you’re a newbie comic book or manga collector wanting to start the fun journey of spending way too much money on things you really don’t need. Perfect, I am too! Well, not really. But I was in your very familiar shoes not too long ago. While I have been buying, collecting, trading and selling manga and comics since 2014, I really didn’t have much of a collection until 2019, where I began actively hunting for specific things I wanted in my collection. It was even more recent, when after a fun conversation at a convention when I realized, there are a lot of new collectors coming into the nerd community who don’t have a lot of knowledge on how to effectively grow their collections, or just want to get into collecting. So with that knowledge in mind, I figured for all of you baby nerds out there, I would give you some starting tips– the 101 so to speak on building your manga and or comic book collection. 

Let’s Get Started!

There are a plethora of ways of getting started working on your collection, but by far one of the easiest ways is to start by figuring out what you want to collect. Which, funny enough, often can be the most overwhelming part of starting your collection. I’d suggest starting off by creating a list of series that you want to get your hands on. Now if your main goal is to collect mostly manga, this is really an easy task. You can go on MyAnimeList.com, write it down, create a notes app list; really anyway to compile the series you are looking to collect. This process however is a little different when collecting comics. 

When it comes to collecting comics, a good portion of folks intend on reselling or their focus is on the value of their collection. Now If your interest is not in either of those places, then just focus on figuring out your favorite artists, writers or favorite stories you wish to collect. If your goal is to build the value of your collection or resale, when creating your initial list, research key issues or the most important issues in a comic series run. Key issues are more likely to increase in value and are fun pieces to have in any serious collection. In addition to all of this set collection goals regardless of what you want to collect so you can research for the hunt ahead. 

Let’s Build Your Collection!

Once you’ve figured out what you want to collect, your next step is to figure out how to get your hands on the books. Just like everything else, there are a few ways to go about this. If you just want to have access to the content and you’re not interested in your collection taking up space, I highly recommend getting digital copies of the books you want. This is also the cheapest version of building your collection as digital files for comics aren’t going to cost as much as their physical counterparts. Howbeit, there are some drawbacks. The major one being that if you don’t don’t have those digital copies backed up somewhere, you lose the device the content is stored on or worse, the zombie apocalypse comes and now all technology is useless, you basically just wasted money. Now, without dramatics, there are ways to protect a digital collection, namely backing the collection up to an external hard drive or some online cloud situation. And in most cases, as long as you have the original email the comic was sent in, you pretty much have access to the comic forever. 

When it comes to those who want a physical collection, there’s a ton of ways you can get the books you want. Of course, you can go to large sellers like Barnes & Noble or Amazon– you could shop directly from the company producing the books like Marvel, DC or Boom for comics or Viz, Kodansha and Yen Press for manga. Buying from these companies are great for initial drops, special editions and sales. When buying from these large companies, especially when working with a budget, I suggest keeping in mind your collection goals and try to stick with it. This helps you stay intentional when building your collection. Now if the books you’re looking to buy are older or you have a very specific book you’re looking for, I would say looking towards 2nd hand sellers or re-sellers. This could be a marketplace like Ebay, a buy/sell private facebook group, other resale apps like Mercari. On these apps and digital spaces you can find amazing deals, unique finds and really pinch a penny but get great rewards. Of course, not to mention you can always go to a comic store; the cornerstone of our great community. Within the comic store you can buy new drops, get some amazing deals, sell books you want to get rid of and support your local community which will help everyone.

Some Final Tips

Now that you have the basics of how to go about building your collection, here are some additional tips that can be really helpful when starting and or building your collection:

  1. Connect with a community! Whether it be online or in person, having a group of people to barrow, trade, sell or buy from can be really beneficial to collection and your pockets. Also, it gives you opportunities to discover new series and learn about things within comics and manga you may not have learned otherwise.
  1. Protect your merchandise! Often when newbies get their books, they are unaware of ways to keep their new book babies safe. This is where protective measures come in. For your comics, remember to grab bags and boards; that’s the clear sleeves and white cardboards that protect comics. You can buy a bunch offline or ask for them when purchasing your comics from a store. When it comes to your manga or comics, keep them out of direct sunlight. For your manga it prevents yellowing and for comics it saves them from fading. Be sure to continue your research to find the best way to store and display your collection.
  1. You can shop anywhere! Don’t feel limited to purchasing books from big sellers, online marketplaces or comic stores. Some of my favorite finds have come from random garage sales, oddity shops and other wild places I never expected to find comics or manga at.  
  1. Attend Conventions! Because you should.
  1. Enjoy your spoils! After hunting and scavenging for your favorite books, you may feel defeated if you can’t find what you’re looking for or feel exhausted if you’re hunting too often. Remember to have fun and enjoy the hobby. Even if your hobby turns a profit; remember why you started this collection, what your goals were and just enjoy the ride!

I hope these tips and tricks help to remove some of the mystery from starting a collection if you’re brand new to collecting or provide some helpful direction if you weren’t too sure where to start. I’ll leave you with this final reminder, that comic book and manga collecting is supposed to be fun and exciting. Take that with you as you hunt, search, scavenge and build that amazing collection you have always wanted!