Comics Market

Greetings from Portland Oregon!

Sales this year on eBay were slow at times, but sales from Black Friday to December 5th include:

Low to mid-gradeMarvels of any kind starting at $5 sold in antique malls at 135% Guide or higher. Double Guide was not uncommon to receive from speculators and collectors looking for undervalued and overlooked titles.Comics sometimes sell in person that just won't move online, even at a fraction of the cost, and reminding buyers that such books are forty years old can help close a deal.Walking Dead has slowed a bit since season seven's "headsmashing" episodeas it turned off many longtimereaders and watchers. Can't say I disagree as Glenn's death, in my view, was unnecessary and inappropriate, and hewas a highly relatable character goingback to season one. Most customers watch as well as collect, so when one goes, the other feels it. I'm a small sampling so others may have hada verydifferent retail response.

DCs were slow to move this year in general except for key issues. Archies sold well overall. I sold less low grade Dells this year except for western titles in the $5 to $15 range at an average of 100% Guide, with westerns bringing about 60-75% Guide.Charlton romancesales slowedthis year, with low to mid-grade copies selling in the $5 to $15 range, althoughwith no resistance to $20 and up on VF or better copies. Comic sales in general were slightlyup (regardless of publisher) from last year, with TV and movie tie-ins keys impossible to keep in stock.

Marvel Type 1 test market cover price variants continue to break record sales results that are well above the listed values of easy to find Bronze Age key books such as Incredible Hulk #181(11/74) listed in OPG #46 at $3000 in raw 9.2 NM- . The highestrecorded sale for a 9.4 Star Wars #135 cent variant is currently $26,290!Type 1 variants lead the herd in demand due to scarcity because such variants were not created to be collectible.Publisher experiments in the 20th century repeatedly birthed Type 1 cover price variants immediately before universal price hikes, such as the shift from 10 to 12 cents per copy that occurred in January 1962, and the 25 cent to 30 cent shift famously embodied by the Marvel variants cover dated 4-8/1976 and from 30 to 35 cents for variants cover dated 6-10/1977. Despite much heckling back in the day from fellow advisors and critics, when I discovered and publicized the existence of the Marvel cover price variants in August 1997, such comics have soared in popularity and value. For a history of comic book variants from the Golden Age to the present, as well as a list of known variants and a lexicon of variant types, with examples that continue to evolve and expand, refer to my article from 2010 in theOverstreetComic Book Price Guide #40, "A History of Publisher Experimentation and Variant Comic Books," pages #1010-1038.

Marvel Type 1 test market cover price variants are absolutely the hottest Bronze Age books pursued by collectors and speculators, with some comics realizing prices of 40 or more times than the same non-variant issues, andoften double digit multiples of listed Guide values!Auction results on Marvel test market variants can fluctuate wildly. Key books listed by the Guide in the top 10 Gold, Silver and Bronze Age categories are there due to consistent sales and demand, and two of the top Bronze Age comics are 35 cent variants. With the Iron Fist show coming out in March 2017, the already hotIron Fist #14 35 cent variant should get a bump. The ratio of regular 30 cent copies of Star Wars #1 in CGC 9.4 NM to 9.8 NM/M (there are over 2000) to the 35 cent variant of #1 is 200 to 1, according to the CGC census. Roughly twenty certified 35 cent copies exist in NM 9.4 or better, of which two certified copies exist in CGC 9.6 NM+ condition to date. One CGC 9.6 NM+ 35 cent variant sold in June 2015 on Comiclink for$36, 500! The highest graded examples of Marvel variants are bringing truly astronomical prices at auction.

Archie 15 cent Type 1 cover price variants nowhave over80% confirmed to exist, soI feel confident that all 112 issues will eventually surface. Doug Sulipa and I estimate that such 15 cent variants are about 500 times or scarcer than their 12 cent counterparts. In 2015 the few 15 cent variants that changed hands went for only about 2-3 times Guide of 12 cent editions when they changed hands at all.In 2015, the sci/fi and monster 1961-1962 regular 12 cent issues sold for about 3-5 times guide, so the 15 cent variants of these books should logically behigher in value. It's difficult to nail down actual worth when such items are rarely change hands, and the listings do not appear in the guide yet, although collectors and dealers are well aware. I believe all 15 cent Archie Type 1 cover price variants have enormous investment potential, especially the three super-keys: Archie's Madhouse #22(10/62), Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #75(3/62) and Josie #1(2/63).

Sixteen different Type 1 Charlton 15 cent test market cover price variants from March 1962 may be out there, but currently Space War #15(3/62) and Texas Rangers #32(3/62) are the only two examples confirmed to exist. Such 15 cent variants are so scarce andunknown to collectors that no sales have ever been reported, and only four total copies are confirmed to exist(three #32s and one #15). No additional 15 cent variants surfaced in the last year, and real value is difficult to judge without any money changing hands. I find such cusp era variants interesting and hope collectors will share acquisitions with me and/or the Guide so I can disseminate the information.

U.S. published Type 1a cover price variants simultaneously published for foreign distribution are increasing in demand according to Doug Sulipa. Bronze and Copper Age Marvel and to a lesser extent DC Type 1a Canadian cover price variants are now routinely selling for 150-400% Guide, and select CGC high grade key issues of popular characters have been bringing 400-2000% of guide; such books are at least 10 times scarcer due to low print runs.Canadas population is about 10% of the US population, thus about 10% of all Print Runs are Canadian copies, however roughly 80% of the surviving copies are Direct Editions, bought in comic shops and saved by collectors. Most of the Newsstand editions were bought by non-collecting readers, with a much lower survival rate, and most are well read FA/G to FN/VF copies. Most VF/NM or better Type 1a Canadian Newsstand Cover Price Variants are 50 to 300 times Scarcer than their US Direct Market counterparts in high grade; randomly checking the CGC census will substantiate this for most items.High grade examples from the Silver and Bronze age of Type 1a variants are scarcer still, largely due to damages that occurred in transit, and in particular water damage found on pence editions shipped overseas. Such difficulties predate contemporary standard procedures like simultaneous off-site printing, a reality that renders the concept of origination meaningless, at least for modern books.Marvel collectors dominate about 75% of the Type 1a Canadian cover price and British pence variant market, while DC and the others split the remaining 25%, with non-DC books accounting for less than 10% of total sales, a ratio that steepens when you hit the 1990s, when Type 1a cover price variants that don't say Marvel or at least DC have yet to show any real pulse outside of key issues.

Interest is increasing in the five DC pence issues that exist from the early Bronze age: Action #402(7/71), Adventure #408(7/71), Detective #413(7/71), Flash #208(8/71), and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #139(7/71). Action #402, Detective #413, and Flash #208 have Neal Adams covers, and the Flash issue is a 52 page giant, so such books have attractive qualities beyond just being Type 1a variants, and can bring 300-400% guide or more than cents editions. Interest is also increasing in DC pence editions published from March 1978 to September 1981, and such books often bring double guide or more.

Dell Canadian and U.K. Type 1a cover price editions are being collected more, and currently sell at at a modest premium of 125-150% of standard cents editions.Western Publishing's Type 1a Canadian 75 cent cover price variants of 60 cent Whitmans from 1984 sell briskly at 300-400% Guide due to extremely low print runs, according to Doug Sulipa, who states that he has a waiting list for any copies in Fine Plus or better condition; it should be noted that alleged copies of 1983 Type 1a 75 cent Whitman variants do not exist.Whitman pre-pack comics dated 8-12/1980 are red hot sellers due to scarcity and bring $100-$500 or more in Very Fine or better condition. Some dealers have been trying to sell G/VG copies of the 8-12/1980 Gold Key comics with asking prices of $500 to $1000, which is too much for the market to bear and discourages some collectors from pursuing such scarce books at all as they cannot afford to collect them or complete sets, and also collectors can get more bang for their buck elsewhere. That said, consider a different and more sensible sale, such as the ultra-scarce Black Hole #4(9/80), the highest garden copy, sellingin CGC 9.8 viaPaypalfor a stunning $6250 on 2/21/2014! Refer to my article, "The Whitman Mystery," in Comic Book Marketplace Magazine #85-86(9-10/01) for the strange story behind what caused the scarcity of Gold Key/Whitman comics dated 1980-1984 and their untimely demise!

Early Marvel Direct Sale Editions are scarcer and sell for an average of 200-300% of regular newsstand editions according to Doug Sulipa; such books were sometimes erroneously referred to as "Marvel Whitmans" due to their simultaneous distribution in department and drug stores in Whitman bags.Early Marvel Direct Market Editions have a duality of purpose, and thus have the unique honor of being "special market editions" that required a secondary market to help justify the cost of their existence in smaller print runs. The Direct Sales market was in its infancy, and Marvel wanted to monitor retailers' return credits, hence the confusion surrounding the odd but necessary difference in appearance between such books and their newsstand counterparts.Short gaps in production occurred from 2/1977 to 5/1979, as it cost less for Marvel to roll the dice against bogus returns than over-produce books erratically purchased by chain retailers. All early Direct Market Editions were produced except for the cover dates 1-3/1978, 7/1978, and 3-4/1979, and such comics aresought after largelyby hardcore Marvel collectors and completists.

Collectibles have long been a hedge against inflation. Thoughtful buyers and speculative investors of comic books usually enjoy a faster, higher return than slower liquid investments. Sell your books while they are hot!

Jon McClure