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Collectible Comics Full Runs and Sets

Going back over 80 years, comics are immensely collectible with some of the rarest examples commanding absolutely huge values up into the millions of dollars. Most of these are what are called Golden Age comics, produced between 1938 and 1955. For many collectors, however, the real goal is not to collect that single valuable comic, but to collect what's known as a set, or a full run.

What are Comics Runs?

The first thing to understand is what do collectors mean when they call something a run? There are two main factors that collectors consider:

  • Comic Title: The simplest form of a full run is a complete collection of a given title of a comic. For example the original Detective Comics, the series that introduced Batman, ran for 881 issues between 1937 and 2011. A full run of that title would be huge and difficult to obtain.
  • Creative Team: Another way to collect runs is by the creative team. Consider the original Fantastic Four run by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee running for 102 issues plus another 6 oversized annuals.

How Do You Start Collecting?

Collecting comics can easily become an all-consuming time and money sink if you let it. With decades of books and thousands of characters it's easy to get lost in the hobby, so here are a few suggestions for starting your own collection:

  • Start Small: Pick one character, artist, or series that interests you. Keep focused at first, you can expand the collection later.
  • Set a Goal: Decide whether you want to collect a run of sealed and graded books or a collection that you can pick up and read. The latter is less of an investment but may be more fun.
  • Care for Your Books: Once you start collecting comics it's a good idea to protect your investment even if you simply plan on reading the books. Comic book bags and boards are a small investment that can really pay off.

Decide What to Collect

Most collectors start with the more popular characters such as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine, or the X-Men. Other characters to collect include Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Deadpool. With so much history, there is a character for everyone.