Local comic book seller talks history of comics and Craigslist


Photo by Coty Giannelli.

Cassie Neiden

If you’ve seen “The Avengers” and managed to sit through the credits, you probably saw that Thanos is the next “bad guy” for the sequel.

The huge interest generated by the sneak peak of Thanos has been good for business for comic book sellers like Tim Barrow of Kent.

“That shot the value up for that book,” Barrow said. “Now I’m selling it for a couple hundred bucks.”

Barrow previously owned comic book store Colonel’s Comics with locations in Youngstown, Ohio, Sharon, Pa. and Santa Fe, N.M., and now, he sells comic books out of his home. Barrow has been buying and selling comic books since the 1960s.

To his comic book colleagues, he is known as “The Colonel” after his service in the Vietnam War.

Barrow generally only sells comics from what are called the “golden age” and “silver age” of comics. The “golden age,” from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s, covers the beginning of comics such as Superman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Batman, while the “silver age,” from the late 1960s to late 1970s, features the debut of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk.

He said comics after 1980 are no longer valuable because that’s when comic book stores became bigger and comics were mass-produced.

Health problems have caused Barrow to close his stores and conduct business from home. He now uses eBay, Craigslist and word of mouth to buy, sell and trade comic books and other comic-related products such as posters, comic strip mock-ups by famous artists and flicker rings.

Barrow is a retiree from FedEx and sells his comics on the side as a hobby.

His credentials as a comic book seller and history in the business have earned him chances to speak with Stan Lee, the famous comic book writer and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics.

Barrow was also even given the Superman of Metropolis Award, a certificate given for the “recognition of individual superior achievement and a special and personal interest” of Superman and the City of Metropolis. The certificate is signed by Kirk Alyn, the first actor to play Superman, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, co-creators of Superman.

Websites such as eBay and Craigslist have somewhat helped Barrow buy and sell comics and other collector’s items, but he said the lack of integrity in other customers makes it difficult to buy and sell the products for what they’re actually worth.

Barrow said he judges the worth of the items he buys and sells from his own experience in collecting comics and from “The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide,” an official guide published annually that provides information on what most comics are currently worth.

His ad on Craigslist specifically says, “Watch out for Craigslist scammers. Don’t sell a single book until you talk to me.” Barrow says that even when he’s not getting the business, he will steer the seller in the right direction to someone that will offer a better price.

Barrow said he once talked to a man who came to his house with a large stack of comics that someone from Craigslist offered $100 to buy. Barrow looked at the comics and offered him $950.

Barrow said he gets the majority of his business through word of mouth. Because he’s been in the business so long, he said he often sells comics to a list of people who regularly call him to find out what he has.

He said business from comics usually comes in waves.

“I could go for months and nobody will bring a collection,” he said.

But he said in a week he could spend $1,000 buying collection. For Barrow, it’s a game of chance.

As a comic book buyer and seller, Barrow said he understands buyer’s and seller’s remorse. He said he suggests, especially to younger people buying comics from him, that he will keep the comics after the prospective buyer sees them for a few days, and have them call him back if they still want to purchase them.

Barrow said he predicts that one day, colleges will have classes for comic books from the “golden age” and “silver age” because those comics are a part of American history.

“They go along with things like apple pie and Chevrolet,” he said. “And when that day comes, the kind of stuff I’m sitting on will be real valuable.”

To reach Barrow of Colonel’s Comics, call 330-931-8400 or email [email protected].

Contact Cassie Neiden at [email protected].