A few weeks ago, I got a wild hair up my, uh, whatever, to start looking for comic book back issue gems at garage/yard/estate sales. The obvious reason to do so would be to find something rare and ridiculous like Action Comics No. 1 and then retire on the fortune I’d make selling it.
But actually, I’m really just doing it to save good comics from disappearing or falling into the hands of evildoers. And if I get some gems in the process, so be it.
I set up a bookmark for an RSS feed in my local Craigslist listings to search for “comic books” or something like that under the “garage sales” category, so that each day, I can check the feed and see if there are any new postings. I missed a few sales the first couple of weeks due to … personal difficulties (getting me to go anywhere on a Saturday or Sunday morning is … difficult, to say the least), but this weekend I finally got out (killing time for three hours while my car was serviced helped).
This weekend’s destination was an estate sale at a house in a fancy part of Las Vegas called Peccole Ranch. The estate sale company posted pictures and listings on its website–most of the stuff was useless to me: Christmas tchotchkes, furniture, dishes, etc. But two items were of significance: old issues of Playboy and old comic books.
The Playboy selection was impressive: The man of the house had a pretty consistent collection from the late 1960s-present, kept relatively well in legal boxes in his garage. My friend poured through those–she is a decoupage artist and is always looking for new material from magazines. Meanwhile, I went inside the house to hunt down the comics.
What I found (aside from a mess and a children running about breaking stuff) were two shortboxes of comic books, mostly 1960s Gold Key or Dell Disney titles (of which I’m sure a number are highly collectible, but I’m not very familiar with that genre). But hidden amongst Mickey and Donald were some early-1970s DC Comics treasures, including a number of Jack Kirby classics, such as Kamandi No. 1 and an early issue of The Forever People. I actually found a copy of Justice League of America No. 94, which Overstreet lists at about $80 NM, $25 VF. Despite being unbagged, most of the books were in VF condition. And $1 each. While the price seemed steep for an estate sale (where everything had to go out the door in two days), given the value of the books, I had no problem handing over $1 a pop.
We didn’t do so well with the Playboys. I asked the estate sale coordinator when we walked in how much for the unmarked Playboys, and she seemed to indicate we just make an offer on them. So my friend waltzed up to her with a tall stack, and then we were told the ’60s and ’70s issues were $5 a piece.
Let me repeat: $5 each. There had to be HUNDREDS of old Playboys in boxes in that garage. There was less than one hour left of the sale on Saturday and another six or seven hours the next day. And it didn’t look like anyone else was buying those. So assuming no one else is going to sweep in and buy all these magazines at $5 each, by the end of Sunday, they’d likely end up at the local dump.
But no, there was no budging. So we whittled down the Playboys to a short stack of seven issues. I felt kinda bad, walking out with a bunch of high-value comics, a copy of The Graduate soundtrack on vinyl AND a Rummikub game for $9, while my dear friend spent $35 for less than 10 issues of Playboy, half of which she’d end up cutting up anyway.
I haven’t seen any listings for next week yet, though given I have a ridiculous weekend coming up (all-day meeting Saturday, holiday party Sat. night, band practice Sunday, another party Sunday night), I doubt I’d be able to get out anyway…