Rare Comics: Welcome

Looking for the 2018 guide? Here it is »
Rare Comics picture

My name is Benjamin Nobel, and I’d like to welcome you to the Rare Comics Blog!

Below you will find a list of my latest posts (scroll down for newest posts), and then after that list is a welcome/introduction which I would encourage you to read if this is the first time you’ve landed here.

Thanks for visiting!

My Latest Posts (scroll down for newest posts)

My manifesto: Rare Comics To Collect [ companion slideshow ]

• Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference

• 75 Cent Variants (Canadian Newsstand Editions)

• Newsstand Variants, $3.99 Newsstand Editions, and The Doc Collection [ related slideshow: Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates ]

• A practical guide: Canadian Price Variants — How To Spot Them

Strange but true: Amazing Spider-Man / Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man / Sensational Spider-Man

• Wolverine Limited Series #1 — Where Are The Newsstand Copies??

• Star Wars #1-4 35¢ Cover — Also, Other Price Variants You DIDN’T Know Existed!  [Related slideshow: 10 Overlooked Star Wars Comics To Rival 35 Cent Variants]

• D.C. Comics “Canadian Editions” — Likely Only 2-7%

Slideshow: Rare 1980’s Price Variants To Collect

People are noticing newsstand comics!  7/6/16: The WordPress stats page tells me that someone found my blog today by searching the web on the phrase “why are newsstand comics worth more?” … They have asked a great question — so I put up a new page to answer that exact question!  🙂 [Related: “Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition”]

• The 75¢ Price Puzzle: Parallels To 35¢ Variants

• Wow, just 1-2% of CGC graded #252 copies for a decade and a half: Amazing Spider-Man #252 75¢ “Canadian Edition” Variant: CGC Census Rarity Over Time

• Marvel Graphic Novel #4 — $5.95 Cover Price Variant (1st New Mutants Appearance)

• 12/30/2016An Open Letter To Overstreet [C’mon guys, well past time to break out newsstand comics in the guide, especially 1980’s cover price variants]

• Darker Image #1 — Newsstand $1.95 Cover Price Variant (1st Maxx Appearance)

• Variant vs. Variant: Amazing Spider-Man #678 (Mary Jane Venom) vs. #607 (Black Cat $3.99 Cover Price)

• New Mutants #98 — $1.50 Cover Price Variant (1st Deadpool Appearance) [ related definition: Type 1A Price Variants ]

• Lists of Key Comic Books by Year

• Future classic cover contenders: 7 Variants Destined For Future Classic Cover Status [ companion cover swipes slideshow ]

• X-Men Annual #14 (1st Gambit Debate)

• Applause to CBCS Now Recognizing Newsstand Comics!

• Daredevil #21, $3.99 Newsstand Edition (Superior Spider-Man Cameo)

• 95¢ and $1.00 DC Price Variants: How Do We Know What They Are?

• 66 New Canadian Price Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End, a 16% Increase

• What If Venom Possessed Deadpool? What If There Was A Rare Cover Price Variant?

• What If Venom Possessed Wolverine? (New Avengers #35, $3.99 Newsstand Edition)

• DC Rebirth, $3.99 Newsstand Editions

• AUS Price Variants (Australian Newsstand Editions)

• $2.99 Newsstand Edition CGC Census Variants, and, “Partial Cover Price Variations”

• 30 More Newsstand Census Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End

• Amazing Spider-Man #400: Understanding The Real Newsstand Edition

• Applause To CPG Accepting $3.99 Cover Price Variants Into The Price Guide!

• The Orange Cat Phenomenon (and Canadian Price Variants)

• The 2018 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A)

• Amazing Spider-Man #238: The Tattooz Situation

• “Canadian Edition” vs. “Canadian Cover Price Variant”

• Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop!

• CGC 9.8 Census Comparison: 1970’s Keys vs. 1980’s Keys

Welcome & Introduction

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I started blogging about Rare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comics in 2011, then created a blog for Rare Spawn Comics and Rare Savage Dragon Comics — with these characters ranking among my favorite all-time comic book superheroes outside of the Marvel universe and DC universe.  🙂

The format of those blogs has been to profile specific rare and interesting (and hence valuable and/or highly collectible) comics. For example, I profiled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984) which is the most highly valued and collectible TMNT comic book of all time, with a print run of just 3,000 copies and featuring the first appearance of the turtles (that blog entry also touches upon Gobbledygook, which was hand-produced on a Xerox photocopier on legal-size paper folded in half and stapled by hand).

I have also profiled the little-known comic Graphic Fantasy #1 (1982) which was a pre-Megaton fanzine self-published by Erik Larsen with a print run of just several hundred copies and containing the first appearance of the “original” incarnation of Savage Dragon.  On account of being so incredibly scarce and therefore nearly invisible, the industry completely overlooked it for years and credited Megaton #2/3 with the key first character appearance…  But recently some copies of Graphic Fantasy were graded and the CGC “1st appearance credits” for Savage Dragon comics were re-considered and are now allocated differently than they’d been before.

On the Spawn blog I have profiled such comics as the Spawn #1 “Black & White Edition” (1997) which had a print run on the order of 3,100 copies and Rust #1 “Special Limited Edition” (April 1992) which had a restricted print run believed to be limited to 10,000 copies and features a pre-Spawn-#1 full page black & white pin-up by Todd McFarlane to promote the upcoming release of Spawn #1 — that pin-up featuring a sketch of the artwork later used for the cover of Spawn #2, and including a “prototype” Spawn logo that was later tossed aside in favor of the logo ultimately used in the series.

For this blog, I will post about general comic book collecting “themes” that I find to be particularly interesting — like newsstand vs. direct edition comics — and over time I will also profile specific comics outside of Spawn, Savage Dragon, or the TMNT.  This blog is also now the home for the hobby’s very first online comic book price guide for Type 1A 1980’s newsstand cover price variants from Marvel & DC. A recurring “theme” I will return to often in the Savage Dragon and Spawn blogs, is that when Image Comics made its debut in 1992, the Newsstand Distribution Channel for comic books in general was already in major decline. To attain any newsstand distribution against that backdrop was a challenge for Image; collectors would learn in 2013 that Image sold only on the order of 1% of their comics on newsstands versus 99% direct sold to comic shops.

This ratio for Image already creates a disparity in rarity that is critical for collecting early Image keys (where collectors should arguably clearly prefer the newsstand copies which have UPC codes on them — the prevalent direct edition copies lack these UPC codes).  But equally interesting is that the challenging nature of newsstand distribution led Image to elect manufacturing choices for their newsstand print runs that in some cases were different from their direct edition print runs — in other words, the newsstand print runs were often produced differently!

These differences were likely to control costs, with choices such as manufacturing the newsstand copies with cheap newsprint paper instead of glossy; or different thickness paper for the cover; or omitting special features like centerfold posters. As a result of these manufacturing differences — when they occurred — CGC treats such newsstand copies as distinct “variants” on the CGC census.  Meaning we can actually study some data on how many of each type (direct edition and newsstand) have been graded!

And in addition to manufacturing differences, there are other “special situations” where CGC breaks out newsstand versions as distinct variants on census.  You may see CGC graded comics that say “Newsstand Edition” but also “Canadian Edition” — and most recently you will find Newsstand Variants and $3.99/$4.99 Newsstand Editions (that last variant category — a “class” of cover price variants — only being created/recognized at CGC in 2016).

I believe that when collecting comics, it is better to have two ways to win, than just one.  When there is a more rare version of a given comic available, but the more rare version is priced with little to no premium due to lack of awareness among other collectors, I want that more rare version instead of the prevalent one…   Because if you can obtain the more rare version for similar cost, then you have two ways to win instead of one:  the issue number itself may rise in value, and the rarity premium may grow if collectors come to recognize it in the future — much like what happened with 35 cent variants, which were broadly overlooked as a “class” of comics before 1998.

Relative value: that’s what I look for, that’s what intrigues me most, and that’s what I enjoy writing about.  Thanks for visiting, and as you read any of my posts, if you have additional information you can add to the discussion that I missed, please do so in the comment section — I continue to be humbled and amazed at how much I learn from readers! 🙂

– Ben

Rare Comics Blog: About

Rare Comics Blog: About Me — From My Kids’ Perspective

Posts on TMNT, Savage Dragon, and Spawn

If you like what I have to say about rare comics in general, you may also enjoy profiles on specific TMNT, Savage Dragon, and Spawn comics that I have written starting in 2011:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (first print 1984)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 (NYCC variant)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (misprint)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (2009 Color Special Error Edition)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles v2 #13 (Error Edition)

How To Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (Manufacturing Error)

Creed / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition

Graphic Fantasy #1 (First appearance of the “original” Savage Dragon)

Graphic Fantasy #2

Savage Dragon #30 Newsstand Edition (As Seen on TV Variant)

Savage Dragon #10 Newsstand Variant

Savage Dragon #102 (Invincible First Appearance)

Savage Dragon #1/2 w/Platinum Stamp

Savage Dragon #137 (1st Obama Cover)

Savage Dragon Limited Series #1 Newsstand Edition

Spawn #1 Black & White Edition Variant

Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 (1996)

Rust #1 Limited Edition (Pre-dates Spawn #1 and Malibu Sun #13)

Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition (1st Angela)

Spawn Batman Newsstand Edition

Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition

Spawn Newsstand Values Pulling Away From Direct Edition

1st Appearance of Krang in Comics

1st Appearance of Savage Dragon

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27 thoughts on “Rare Comics: Welcome

  1. Sean says:

    Big fan of your writing and research – I’ve recently begun collecting some canadian variants – always look for them in the stacks at my LCS – I was wondering if you could write an article or maybe just a quick reply to this and shed some light on Tales of the Teen Titans 44 95 cent newsstand Canadian variant – when I looked recently there were 35 graded examples on the CGC census compared to 2500 regular cover edition. I’m sure more will surface with the news yesterday of a nightwing movie but this comic has been popular for awhile – I’m thinking higher grade variant issues will remain at a low percentage compared to the reg cover. Would love to hear your thoughts and keep up the great articles!
    Best
    Sean

    Like

    • Hi Sean, you’ve definitely picked out a great key there, with Tales of the Teen Titans #44! I recently completed a project where I sorted the entire universe of 1980’s-published comics according to the number of total copies of each issue number that have been submitted through CGC to date according to their census data — the thinking being that this is a great way to “crowd-source” a nice list of important keys, because the more important the book the more likely the owner will want to get it graded/slabbed.

      With that census data in hand, I then cross-referenced that list of most submitted issues against the list of Canadian Edition variants confirmed to exist at CGC as of year-end on their census. The resulting list of important keys with confirmed-to-exist CGC-recognized Canadian Edition variants is here at the following link — and check out which book comes in at the #9 most-submitted key that has a cover price variant: https://rarecomics.wordpress.com/key-comics-from-the-80s/

      Indeed, that #9 spot is held by the very book you mentioned — Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (and the count of total census copies has only continued to increase since year-end), with the 95 cent cover price variant showing 36 copies on record at CGC (inclusive of Signature Series), for a census rarity percentage of just about one and a half percent of the total copies graded of the issue number. And while coming in at the #9 spot overall as ranked by sheer number of CGC submissions, Tales of the Teen Titans #44 is actually the first D.C. book to show up on the list.

      I’ve gone ahead and added the book to my page on D.C. Canadian price variants, in the section where I give a few examples of key comics to look for — Tales of the Teen Titans #44 definitely belongs there in the list of highlighted examples given its importance: https://rarecomics.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/dc-comics-canadian-editions-2-7-percent/

      In terms of shedding light on it as a specific example, I think that once one comes to understand the entire “class” of 1980’s Canadian price variant comic books — especially the fact that for Marvel and D.C. they were newsstand exclusives and therefore only made up a portion of the already-small Canadian market for comics — that the likely rarity percentage of the price variant for any given book can be understood within that context, and then from there we always still have to keep in mind there would be unknown variables like issue-by-issue sell-through on the newsstands, and the fate of the returns.

      For Tales of the Teen Titans #44, given the publication year of 1984 and an assumption of a downward-trending newsstand percentage through the decade with a 50/50 split of the Canadian market by the middle of the decade (50% direct edition and 50% newsstand), I’d peg the initial distribution rarity at 5.88 – 6.86% of the total sold for Tales of the Teen Titans #44, and then the notorious newsstand destruction rate is likely the single biggest factor diminishing that down to the observed rarity of surviving copies sitting here in 2017.

      Best,
      – Ben

      Like

  2. Sean says:

    Ben you blow my mind with your amazing attention to detail and research. I believe collectors have only begun to appreciate how rare books like tales of Teen Titans 44 Canadian variant are – and with research like yours it can only help to open people’s eyes to it. It’s crazy to think it sits at such a low percentage – I was pretty astounded to see it was number 9 on your list. I’m going to enjoy going over your data now so thanks for taking the time to give such a weighty response to my query – as always much appreciated.
    Cheers
    Sean

    Like

  3. Sal miceli says:

    Any chance you can do some research and post an article regarding the “No Month” Wonder Woman, batman, detective comics etc books that were released in the 80s. Basically all were non-newsstand copies with the price and issue number but no month on the cover. I believe they were released in multi-packs (maybe) and had a decent print run (another maybe). They all seem to get a high price for any copies. I know Wonder Woman 1-3, batman 352,356, 401-403, and detective comics 519 were just some examples based on a quick eBay lookup. Are they technically 2nd or 3rd prints or something different altogether?I havent spent the time checking how many other DC titles may have the same “variants”. Any info or insight would surely be appreciated by all of us.

    Like

    • Hi Sal,

      I haven’t held any of these “no-month” copies in my own hands to study what’s inside the cover, but I do observe that they are commonly referred to out there as 2nd print copies. For Batman #357 as an example, I know that MyComicShop catalogs them as “#357MULTIPACK” and in their description refers to them as 2nd print copies; the description also specifies the other two comics that were in the pack for Batman #357 as being World’s Finest #289 and DC Comics Presents #55:

      batman-357-multipack

      Other sellers also seem to refer to such copies as being 2nd printings:

      batman-357-2nd-print

      CGC catalogs these as a variant of the 3/1983 issue with the notation “Pre-pack edition” and as of today there are 21 of them on census:

      batman-357-census

      Here’s a recently sold CGC Pre-Pack labeled copy, which auctioned off on eBay for $146.19:

      batman-357-prepack-ebay

      The seller’s description indicated the pack was purchased from a Walgreens. I’m reminded a little bit of the current DC multi-packs being sold exclusively in Walmart today — the Rebirth copies in the current packs are considered later printings, there is no price on their cover, and they’re sealed in plastic with two other comics.

      Here’s their picture of the CGC slab for that Pre-pack Edition copy, where we can see the label note:

      batman-357-prepack-cgc

      Performing a CGC certification lookup on the above copy shows the following information:

      cgc-lookup

      These pre-pack copies do indeed seem to be much harder to find out there, so it is a little surprising they’re selling pretty much in-line with other copies — here’s a recent pre-pack copy, newsstand copy, and direct edition copy auction result in the same CGC 9.4 grade point, side by side:

      batman-357-recent-auctions

      All three above pretty much right in range of one another. Wish I could also picture a 75 cent cover price copy in CGC 9.4 to compare, but seeing as how there is only 1 on census in that grade, I guess finding it in the sold listings section would have required a stroke of luck! Here’s what CGC presently has on census for 75 cent copies of Batman #357:

      batman-357-census-canadian

      Best,
      – Ben

      Like

  4. Sal miceli says:

    Wow Ben, that was great. Lots of important info in that nice little reply. I would love it if someone could put together a full list of every “no month pre-pack” variant produced. That in itself might be a great collection quest for somebody. As usual you have all the answers and know everything comic related. Lol. Keep up the great work Ben. Checking in daily for your next awesome article.

    Sal

    Like

  5. Sal miceli says:

    Also, as a separate issue, how much do you know about the “so much fun” variants? I have a couple of them and they are so much fun to come across in bargain bins…pun intended.

    Sal

    Like

    • Hi Sal, I haven’t held any of these “so much fun” copies in my own hands to study them in detail, but, I came across listings for a few of them as I was hunting for Canadian price variants. One example issue I came across with a So Much Fun version was Batman #401.

      Using this particular issue as one example to dig into, according to MyComicShop, the So Much Fun reprint was published in 1987 (first print copies of Batman #401 were meanwhile from 11/1986), MyComicShop has them down as a third printing (the multi-pack version being considered the second printing), and their description states that these were sold in bagged sets of three and limited to 5,000 copies each:

      batman-401-so-much-fun

      At CGC, they appear to denote So Much Fun copies as a second printing, they catalog the book under the 11/1986 issue date shown on the front cover, but then they make a note on the label that the indicia reads 1987:

      batman-401-cgc-so-much-fun

      Here’s the output of a certification lookup for the above copy:

      so-much-fun-variant-cgc

      The low count of these cited by MyComicShop is interesting, and definitely makes them something to look out for in those bargain bins, but we also have to consider that 5,000 number in context with our Canadian price variants (as true first print copies). Here’s how I’d figure the count of those Canadian price variants, for comparison, for Batman #401:

      Overstreet Advisor Doug Sulipa has called the Batman issues in the range of #357-402, quote, the “Lowest Print Runs in the History of this Title (75,303 to 97,741 copies per month).” For issue #401, published at the end of 1986, we might expect about ~4% of copies to be Canadian price variants at time of distribution… which, against Doug’s range, would pencil out to a price variant range of ~3000-4000 copies. This math would argue for a lower count of our 1st print variants (Canadian price), versus the count of the later So Much Fun reprints, for this particular issue.

      As of today, for issue #401, the CGC census shows 7 of the So Much Fun copies (which we saw before they denote as “Second printing”) versus 1 Canadian price copy:

      batman-401-census-variants

      Another So Much Fun reprint I came across while hunting for the Canadian price variant was Man of Steel #1. Interestingly, with no date shown on the cover, CGC appears to catalog this one by the indicia year, with a 1987 issue date:

      man-of-steel-1987-reprint

      I just did a quick search and saw that So Much Fun copies exist for some Marvel (and Archie) books too — I see X-Men #221 on the market currently, also Incredible Hulk #335 and Amazing Spider-Man #292. Here are a few recent sales:

      so-much-fun-sales

      Best,
      – Ben

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Carl says:

    Ben, hi. I’m about to make a video on my Youtube channel on the subject of newsstand variant comics. Would you mind if i referenced and linked to your blog and some of of your specific posts? Also, do you mind if I show some of the pages in the video? Thanks in advance. If you wanna take a peek at my channel just search Carlonbass on Youtube.

    Like

  7. Richard Guzman says:

    Hi Ben,

    You have an awesome website that is a great source of information. Can you write an article on Spawn #185 Portacio Sketch variant….it seems to be a ghost out there and wanted to get your insight and thoughts on the scarcity of that comic. Thanks –

    Like

  8. Tony says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t covered anything about Mark Jewelers Insert variants. These were prevalent over the 70s and 80s and only sold on military bases. I’m sure they had to have had very low print runs. These copies had the thick stock center fold pieces that profiled various types of military rings.

    Like

  9. Derek says:

    Wow….FANTASTIC blog you have here!

    If we know of some more 1A variants that you haven’t added yet, do you want to know or do you already know and haven’t posted yet? I know of at least 2 titles.

    Also, I’m curious about the Sgt. Rock 423 you have listed on your price guide. I always thought 422 was the last issue. No mention of it in overstreet, eBay, or mycomicshop.

    Like

      • Derek says:

        OK so I must have been looking at superman for #423 thinking it was Sgt rock for some reason.

        Here are some titles for you to research, which I can confirm exist. These are the ones I have.

        Marvel:
        Red Sonja : The Movie #1,2 $1.00
        The Life Of Pope John Paul II #1 $1.75
        Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe. Vol 1. #10,12,13 $1.25. …Vol 2. #1$1.75

        DC:

        Robotech Defenders #1,2 95c
        Who’s Who Update 87 …all I have is #4 (Mcfarlane) $1.75
        Weird War Tales. 75c
        G.I.Combat #268,269 $1.50 …#273,274 $1.60
        Star Trek Movie Special #1nn $1.75….#2 $2.85.

        I had to dig pretty deep to find these 😋

        Like

    • Another great catch Derek! Upon hearing it, Doug remembered two other 52 Page Giants within titles that were otherwise direct edition exclusives, that we’re going to add too: Ka-Zar the Savage #29 and Micronauts V1 #57.

      Woo hoo! More titles! Better coverage! Thanks to you — you’re being a tremendous help Derek! 🙂

      – Ben

      Like

  10. David says:

    I would like to find out more about the Mark Jewelers Variants. During my time in the Army, I collected quite a few Comics with these inserts. Where would I find reliable info on their Print Run or any other factors,Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi David, thanks for your service! One resource I’d point you to is Jon McClure and his OPG #40 article, in which he defines them as follows:

      Type 13 Variants: Published simultaneously with standard or regular editions, such Variants come with ad inserts bound on stiff cardstock, always four pages in length, that promote a business partner, but which change the structure and size of the comic. Staples are sometimes closer than normal, and the book is sometimes slightly taller, by up to 1/16 of an inch. Mark Jewelers created this unique Variant, with ads designed to appeal to military personnel on government bases in the U.S. and overseas. Due to the binding process, high-grade copies better than VF/NM are hard to find.

      Type 13a Variants: Published simultaneously with standard or regular editions, such Variants come with ads inserted on cardstock, regular paper or glossy paper, usually four pages in length regardless of dimensions, that promote a business partner and/or the publisher. …

      He also gives several examples throughout the article. Jon recently put that article online, which you can access at the following URL: http://jonmcclurescomics.com/history.html

      All the best,
      – Ben

      Like

  11. daved00d says:

    There is a new Archie Marvel Comics Digest.
    There is currently a Direct Edition with a US price and and Canadian Newsstand edition.
    Do you think this is the only current Marvel Newsstand comic??
    P.S. love this blog!!!

    Like

    • Thanks Daved00d! 🙂 As far as I know, these digests are the first time Marvel’s content has been back on newsstands since they pulled out; one writer said of the Archie partnership: “The pair of publishers will work together on publishing new Marvel Digests, distributing them wherever Archie digests are sold. Yes, that means Marvel Comics are coming back to newsstands and grocery stores!” The only books mentioned as part of the partnership with Archie in the below press release appear to be the digests, so I don’t think there are others beyond that, for now.

      – Ben

      Liked by 1 person

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