Growing Newsstand Awareness

“Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition”

By Benjamin Nobel, February 3, 2017

Direct edition vs. newsstand comics of the bronze age, copper age, and modern age (basically any comic from 1977-onward): a critical distinction that all collectors should know about, but many still don’t; yet, awareness is quietly building like a snowball rolling down a mountain

[Author’s note: if you are not already in-the-know about the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics, then before proceeding I recommend you read the following first: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference ]

Long-time readers of this blog include several people I’ve come to know through extensive email conversations about the desirability of newsstand and cover price variant comics compared to their prevalent direct edition counter-parts that flooded the specialty comic shops in quantities that began to outnumber newsstand comics by the middle of the 1980’s.

Marvel Newsstand Rarity Percentages

This slide is part of my post entitled Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates where I have collected quotes and graphics related to the discussion of relative newsstand rarity over the years, compared to direct edition copies.

Those of us who fall into this same camp, of having personally come to the collecting decision ourselves to prefer newsstand (and cover price variant newsstand) comics over their prevalent direct edition counter-parts, then naturally find ourselves wondering: how long is it going to take the collecting community at large to fully catch on to what seems so darn obvious from our perspective?

Well, with this post, I’d like to share some specific insight that maintaining this blog gives me, into just how much newsstand awareness is quietly building out there, like a snowball rolling its way down a mountain: and that insight is that my “WordPress Stats Page” lists out search terms that people have entered into search engines and then landed on my blog from there.

I always find this list fascinating to review whenever I check my stats page, because each one represents things actual people wanted to know, on that day… which means these people typing these searches are aware of their question (obviously they’re aware… because they typed it!).

Hence, reviewing this list is basically reviewing things that other collectors actually want to research, here and now.  It is like looking through a peephole to their keyboards and seeing what they’re typing, as a group.  And if they actively want to research something on this list (which they are, by searching), that means they are transitioning from uninformed to informed — informed both about the importance of asking their question in the first place, and then hopefully becoming aware of the answer to that question, and joining the rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness.

Hopefully you will find the following list as fascinating as I do; I’ve plucked out the recent price variant and direct-edition-vs-newsstand-related search terms from my stats page and presented them below, and then following this list I will have some additional commentary including a couple of searches that stood out to me as particularly fascinating to have witnessed:

  • difference between direct and newsstand comics
  • comic newstand rarity
  • spawn 2 newsstand edition
  • what is the difference with newsstand edition comics
  • why comics newsstand issues cost more
  • newsstands comic books
  • learn about 1980s canadian price variant rarity
  • rarity of 35 cent variants newsstand
  • spawn newstand rare
  • newstand edition vs direct
  • what has more value a direct edition or book stand edition comic
  • direct comic books vs
  • how to tell a marvel direct edition from a newsstand edition
  • comic book, newsstand v direct sales
  • dazzler #1 newsstand
  • marvel comics direct edition
  • which is more expensive newsstand or direct
  • canadian price comics 1980s
  • canadian price variant
  • newsstand vs direct comics
  • comics newsstand vs direct edition
  • 95 cent canadian variants
  • why are newsstand comics worth more?
  • savage dragon newsstand rare
  • what does “direct edition” mean on a comic book
  • x-men 75 cent variant
  • how do you know if a comic is a newsstand copy?
  • canadian price variant comics
  • was there a differents in the dark kmight returns direct edition amd the newsstand edition
  • are direct edition comics worth anything
  • why is spawn news stand rare
  • canadian varient comics
  • rare comics newstand
  • direct edition vs newstand
  • comic newsstand print run
  • difference of newsstand comics
  • newsstand edition comics
  • upc code and none on comics
  • direct sales comics
  • 95 cent price variant comics
  • newsstand variant
  • comics newstand issue more valuable
  • newsstand and direct print runs
  • spider-man 700 newsstand rarity
  • how much is spider man 700 newsstand issue worth
  • what is difference between a regular comic book and collectible comic book
  • what is a comic return copy
  • spawn 1 newsstand edition cgc 9.8
  • comic has lines through
  • comic book direct sales vs newsstand
  • what’s the difference between direct sales on comic books
  • how do tou now newstand copy of comic book
  • comic newsstand edition
  • 75 cent variant comic
  • canadian comics 75 cent
  • marvel price variants 75
  • what is the difference between first print and newsstand
  • some comics have no barcodes
  • newstand vs direct edition
  • amazing spiderman 569 newstand variant prices
  • comics format newsstand
  • limited prints such as savage spawn
  • list of rare newsstand edition comic books
  • difference between newstand and direct
  • comics with barcodes
  • new mutants 98 $1.50 ben nobel
  • comic newstand
  • rare newsstands comics
  • difference of newstand to direct edition comics
  • rare newstand comics
  • rare comics from the 1980s
  • spiderman 400 direct edition value
  • marvel canadian price variants still first print
  • newsstand vs direct
  • newsstand variant comics
  • how much will my star wars #3 sell 35
  • what does a line through a barcode mean
  • comic upc has line on it
  • print run on 35 cent comics
  • what is meant by “direct edition” on a comic book
  • marvel 1983 60 cent 75 cents
  • canadian price comics 1st
  • difference between spiderman and barcode
  • direct sales barcode
  • amazing spider-man 238 newsstand variant premium

These are just from the trailing quarter (3 month period) and for each string you see on this list there are literally hundreds of other people who landed on my blog from a search engine but WordPress couldn’t discern the search string and lists it as ‘unknown’ (some engines have figured out how to disguise the search string for privacy). So the above list as actually more of a “glimpse” into a larger world of similar searches, but definitely gives us some very interesting observations [including that someone apparently was looking for my specific post on the New Mutants #98 newsstand-exclusive AUS cover price variant].

Many of the searches in this list struck me as highly interesting and I’d like to comment further on just a few.  Did you notice the person searching for a Newsstand Dazzler #1?  That comic was a direct edition exclusive, so there is no newsstand version of it… but I can picture an obvious scenario that would have led to this search: someone wanted one, i.e. they wanted to collect Dazzler #1 but were not satisfied with owning the direct edition, so they went searching for the newsstand edition. This search obviously would have landed them with no eBay results, so they turned to the Internet. This person looking for Dazzler #1, quite clearly, was showing an interest and probably even a preference for newsstand over direct edition comics as they sought out a copy of Dazzler #1.

Another search I found interesting was the different variations on the theme of whether Canadian newsstand comics are 1st printings — yes, they are. It is almost as if these searchers found a comic they liked and then wanted to confirm this one fact before committing to a purchase… hopefully they then read my post about Canadian Newsstand editions and came to more fully understand just what these are and that indeed they were published at the same time, on the same equipment, right along-side the rest of the print run, and are therefore indeed 1st print copies. Having confirmed that they are indeed first print copies, perhaps these various searchers then joined the snowball of awareness about how these rare newsstand-exclusive cover price variants are so much more preferable.

Finally, I want to comment on the “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string, because that one really struck me, and it also came through on my stats page right around the exact same time as I had a direct edition comic listed on eBay which drew the remark, “Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition” (which struck me so much that I used it as the title of this post).   Like so many of us, I use eBay to help trim my collection around the edges and turn some old finds into cash for new finds…  and many of my old finds (pre-dating my own newsstand rarity “awakening”) were direct edition copies.

Like so many other collectors, back then, I too had a myopic focus on the grade of the comic I was targeting for my collection… instead of operating on a system of “newsstand first, grade second” as I should have been doing for later modern comics, I had unfortunately still been operating on basically a “grade first; what’s a newsstand copy?” wavelength back then…  I was mildly aware there were some copies with bar codes and some with logos, but I’d never stopped to research that difference so far as to actually consider whether I should prefer one type over the other (without Overstreet breaking them out, there really wasn’t much of a “prompt” to make me devote thought to them).

So naturally, for me today, many of those direct edition copies I once collected have since found their way onto eBay, as easy candidates to cull in order to raise cash for something new (my fondness for newsstand comics has grown to the point that it even started to bother me to still own comics with the Spider-Man Rectangle or similar logos on them, when I knew a far-more-rare newsstand version to exist for a given issue… so the culling decision in cases where I owned direct edition copies and could recycle the cash into newsstand copies — especially cover price variant newsstand copies — was pretty much a no-brainer).

To bring this story back around to that comment in this post’s title, I had listed one of those “culled” direct edition comics for sale, and the comment it drew was just so striking to me because it is what I myself often think about the listings of others, but something that I’d never be so rash as to actually say to someone else… yet, here it was coming in my direction!!  I think this, out of anything, shows me the “newsstand preference camp” is quietly growing in number beyond what I myself have even thought sitting here in 2017 (it is hard to break the impression I formed many years ago that nobody knows about these, when even to this day I keep encountering the rare newsstand version pictured in listings by others but not titled or described with the “newsstand” keyword, thereby revealing that the seller is unaware there is any difference — or if they’re aware there is a difference then they haven’t put any thought into what that difference might mean about the rarity or market value, because if they’d thought about those things then for sure they would have put the “newsstand” keyword in their eBay listing title in order to maximize their sale proceeds).

And then that “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string may be the “ultimate” as far as the newsstand versus direct edition distinction — imagine a day when the snowball of awareness has rolled so far that many collectors only want to own the newsstand version of a late modern comic, and “shun” the direct edition version as the inferior choice… in that extreme, if that day does come (and maybe we’ve already neared that point and haven’t fully realized it), the newsstand version of a given comic is essentially going to be viewed as the “real” collectible version in the sense that the direct edition version will have only secondary derivative value.  Let me explain further what I’m getting at, with the following approach as a thought exercise:  with the 35 cent variant of Star Wars #1 for example, anyone collecting that issue would prefer to own a 35 cent cover price copy, right?

The answer to that question seems pretty obvious, almost as if it is ridiculous for me to even ask the question in the first place, right?  Yes, because the 35 cent copies are worth a dramatic premium over 30 cent copies.  But if they weren’t yet worth a dramatic premium, you should have preferred them anyway because you know they had a lower distribution percentage and were identical in every way to regular copies other than the cover price.  What I’m getting at is this:  If, in a hypothetical world, you could actually have the choice of a 35 cent copy of Star Wars #1 or a 30 cent copy of Star Wars #1, at the same price, in the same grade, you’d pick the 35 cent copy without hesitation.  It would be a no-brainer.  The only way you’d choose the 30 cent copy in your right mind in my scenario, is if the 35 cent copy was instead priced so far above the 30 cent copy that it was simply out of your budget or at such a high price you concluded it was unreasonable.  Hence, the value of 30 cent copies would be a derivative of the value of 35 cent copies — the “real” collectible comic for issue #1 of Star Wars from 1977 is the 35 cent variant, which then “pulls up” the value of the 30 cent copies because the 35 cent variant has gotten so far out of reach that some collectors are willing to settle for a 30 cent copy because that’s the best they can afford or they balk at the premium for the 35 cent copies as too high. The more desirable 35 cent variant soaks up part of the demand — those who must own the more rare and only the more rare version — and then the demand for the 30 cent copies is what’s left over after that.

Will that scenario ever happen with newsstand copies “pulling up” their direct edition counter-parts?  Is that already happening and we just don’t collectively realize to then talk about it?  [Without the newsstand versus direct edition values broken out in Overstreet, collectors would have to notice the going rate in the marketplace and reach their own conclusion that what they saw isn’t merely a one-off but rather was reflective of an established market value difference between the types]. The person searching on “are direct edition comics worth anything” seems to have had that worry that the prevalence of the direct edition type of comics could restrict their value… if they are worth less than the cost of shipping them to a willing buyer, then, in effect they are worth nothing

So arguably, that searcher’s concern is very real for the “in-between-the-keys” late modern issues, where the total demand for some issues would be so low that the more-preferable newsstand copies might very well soak up all the demand! Maybe the searcher even noticed this very phenomenon first hand, having experienced trouble selling listed direct edition comics of theirs (maybe at the same time they witnessed the newsstand version of the exact same issues selling regularly without a problem, and in frustration turned to the Internet with their search).

As possible evidence of my point here about newsstand comics being the “real” collectible and then “pulling up” the value of their direct edition counter-parts in a derivative fashion, consider Amazing Spider-Man #300.  If we’re going to see this effect in action, we’re going to see it in a comic like ASM #300 as such a high value issue.

And the highest value will naturally be in the highest grade — copies so nice that they were sent in to a professional grading company like CBCS or CGC.  If I search eBay for “spider-man 300 cgc -ss -chromium” (I’m asking eBay for CGC graded copies but not Signature Series [SS] ones because the value of those will be derived in part by the signatures themselves, and not chromium copies, to take those out of the equation) here’s what I get when sorting the “sold listings” from highest to lowest:


Top 10 sorted from highest to lowest in the “sold” section of eBay… There’s just one newsstand copy in this list: and it is right at the top. Coincidence? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here.

Indeed, the highest priced sold copy is a newsstand copy, with a wide margin to the next copy (a direct edition). In fact, that top copy stands alone as the one rare 9.8 newsstand copy in the list of highest sales — you do not see these newsstand 9.8’s often; for instance at this particular moment in time I checked eBay and found -zero- newsstand 9.8’s on the market for issue #300.

Is this just a fluke one-off result where the newsstand copy sorted to the top with such a wide margin of separation compared to the prevalent direct edition counter-parts? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here. Informed bidders were willing to pay more money for the more rare type in high grade.

And if that’s true, then consider: Is the “real” market value of ASM #300 set by newsstand copies, and the direct edition values are derivative?  Would someone who didn’t really understand the newsstand versus direct edition difference, but knew about the difference of a 9.8 versus a lower grade, look at that high listing and think to themselves, “another 9.8 got that high $1,600 price, mine is a 9.8, and therefore I am going to price my copy accordingly?”

If they had that thought, and theirs was a direct edition copy, it might sit there forever and the seller wouldn’t understand why… they might lower it bit by bit in price and still see other 9.8’s getting sold at a premium… “why??” they might wonder in frustration, why is my 9.8 copy not selling for what these other 9.8’s are selling for?

Eventually, maybe I’ll see the search string “why are some 9.8 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #300 selling for a huge premium while others aren’t” show up on my WordPress stats page. 🙂  And maybe that searcher will land here on this very post.  And upon reading this far, then they’ll have learned why: it is the newsstand versus direct edition difference in play.

I believe this same effect is in play all over the comic book marketplace, but is much harder to spot with lower value books.  For example if instead of comics priced at $1,600 and $1,200 we were talking about $16 and $12, that price difference could easily be a multitude of other things and if our eyes weren’t already peeled to try and spot a newsstand versus direct edition market value difference, we might just as easily dismiss it as something else if we were to casually witness it… because that kind of price difference can just as easily have to do with combined shipping discounts, seller preference, or any number of other things [who among us hasn’t shelled out an extra $5, even $10 or $20+ depending on the situation, to do business with a seller we know and trust versus an unknown seller with poor feedback?].

So we really need to study a super-high-value issue like ASM #300 for this newsstand premium effect to magnify out in a way that we can most easily see it through the normal market “noise” of the myriad other variables that cause people to spend different amounts of money on the same comic book issue.

Or, we need to study an issue where the issue’s value might be lower than the extreme of #300 but the newsstand rarity itself is more extreme for that particular issue.  One extreme newsstand rarity situation was the dual-batch newsstand “publication window” of the 1980’s. For issue #300 with the 1st appearance of Venom, we’re mid-way through 1988, and already past that Canadian price variant “window” of even-more-rare newsstand copies with higher cover prices at Marvel… But turn back the clock a little bit to Secret Wars #8 — origin of the alien symbiote that eventually becomes Venom — and we have $1.00 cover price newsstand copies where the rarity percentage is dramatic to an extreme (look at the minuscule fraction of “Canadian Edition” copies on the CGC census for this issue versus the total and you’ll be shocked).

So there, we might get a similar “magnification effect” like ASM #300 gave us by having an extreme market value, but get it in the case of Secret Wars #8 because $1.00 cover price newsstand copies have a very extreme rarity, due to their newsstand exclusivity on top of lower North American distribution by geographical area, for a bottom line rarity percentage to rival that of the 35 cent variants of 1977.

Here’s the output of the same type of exercise I did before with the “sold listings” section of eBay sorted from highest to lowest recent sales, but applied to Secret Wars #8 (and indeed, notice the “perfect 1-2-3” we get here among the top sales):


Top 10 sorted from highest to lowest in the “sold” section of eBay… There’s a “perfect 1-2-3” here: the single highest sale is a $1.00 cover price newsstand copy in CGC 9.8, the #2 highest sale is a 75 cent newsstand copy in CGC 9.8, and all the remainder underneath are direct edition copies. Coincidence? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here.

The #1 sale, and dramatically above the rest due to its extreme rarity math, is a $1.00 cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… the #2 sale is a 75 cent cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… and then everything beneath it are direct edition copies.  Is this just a fluke one-off result that the top sales sorted themselves “perfectly” by rarity in this manner? Not a chance.  It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness in the comic book marketplace at play here once more.

Before, I asked you to picture a seller who didn’t know about the newsstand-vs-direct-edition difference, and went ahead and priced their 9.8 copy — a direct edition — using a newsstand 9.8 copy as a comp to shoot for (not knowing the difference, they’d just think about it in terms of the grade, thinking “I’d like to get top dollar for my 9.8, and here’s the top dollar price that another recent 9.8 sold for”).  Picture this seller’s listing getting quietly ignored by those in-the-know about the difference, and their frustration growing over why their copy isn’t selling… maybe they start to lower the price, by $10… $20…  Those in-the-know about the difference continue to ignore the direct edition listing.

But now, picture that an uninformed buyer comes along.  Someone who hasn’t entered search strings (like the newsstand-related list I shared earlier) into search engines; i.e. who hasn’t investigated the newsstand versus direct edition difference.  Let’s picture this buyer as someone who simply knows grade is important and wants to own a 9.8 copy.  That unsuspecting buyer might come across our frustrated seller’s listing and think, “wow, $20 less than what this other 9.8 sold for, what a great deal!

Is it a great deal?  We know it’s not.  But they have no clue about the newsstand versus direct edition difference, and are just looking at that giant 9.8 in the upper left corner — effectively they have blinders on where that number on the left-hand side of the label is all they can see.  They click the buy button… and in doing so, they set a direct edition sale comp in the sold listings section as a derivative of the high newsstand sale price.  But meanwhile, the “real” market price is being set by those copies at the top… the newsstand copies.  

All the while, if we were to look only at the asking prices in the marketplace at any given time, this phenomenon would be harder to spot.  But examining the sold listings for high-value (and high-rarity-newsstand) keys such as the examples I explored here with ASM #300 and Secret Wars #8, I think the market value difference between newsstand and direct edition is practically glaring right at us!

And imagine, as the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll towards its final destination, how the behavior of both the hypothetical buyer and the hypothetical seller I asked you to picture would change: the seller would know to peg their ask to the highest direct edition sale and the buyer would be operating on a system of “newsstand first [cover price variant newsstand before that, when they exist], and grade next”… and you can start to envision how the market values would then continue to pull apart in an even more visible way as time continues to march forward and the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll down the mountain.

I hope you found the list of search strings shared with you here to be as interesting as I found them to be — definitely quite reflective of a growing awareness out there about the direct edition vs. newsstand difference!

Happy Collecting! 🙂

[ 2/27/16 Update: It was brought to my attention by a reader that since the time of this post, there has been another auction of a 9.8 newsstand copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300.  I figured I’d screen-capture that recent sale and append it to this post, as it reflects an even further widening of the newsstand value versus the direct edition value. ]

Update: newsstand value for Amazing Spider-Man #300 is widening even further away from the value of the prevalent direct edition. A couple of weeks ago when I put up this post, the high sale was $1,600 (a newsstand 9.8). This most recent sale, a newsstand 9.8, is up at $2,026.18.

Update: newsstand value for Amazing Spider-Man #300 is widening even further away from the value of the prevalent direct edition. A couple of weeks ago when I put up this post, the high sale was $1,600 (a newsstand 9.8). This most recent sale, a newsstand 9.8, is up at $2,026.18.


17 thoughts on ““Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition”

  1. Sean says:

    Another great read – well researched and convincingly argued – thanks for sharing your research! Love discovering undescovered rarity.


  2. Tony Phillips says:

    Interesting stuff. I wonder if you are stimulating the market! I am quite a novice (naive?) collector (nostalgia and disposable income have only come with age) and wonder if you have any thoughts on Marvel UK pence issues, which I understand are less common than US cents issues but sell for far less? Sellers here in the UK usually offer “cents” copies at quite a premium over “pence” issues, and yet they are exactly the same comic. Thanks


    • Pence copies are an interesting phenomenon, and I’d suggest that the Marvel “All Colour” Comics banner and the “weird” prices (the average collector here in the US wouldn’t know what ‘d’ or ‘p’ are supposed to mean) have created an historical situation among collectors here whereby the “average” collector in the US has gotten the impression that they are foreign reprints… Maybe 1:5 or 1:10 collectors (or even wider?) understand them as type 1A variants — I really don’t know what the true ratio is among collectors, but whatever that ratio of informed-about-pence-variants:total-collectors, it is a pretty pronounced ratio (in my opinion just based on discussions with other collectors; it would be neat to be able to ask the collecting world the question and have “polling data” but I’m unaware of anyone ever polling collectors in that way about pence variant awareness).

      During the “formative” period when Pence copies got their stigma, I think the average collector seeing a pence copy in the marketplace might have avoided it by default as something suspect and odd, versus the current era where anyone can do some Google searching to try and learn about the different types, and then discover from their research that these pence copies are actually type 1A variants: tear off the cover of one of them (or key parts of it) and the resulting copy is rendered identical to the rest of the print run.

      Would you be willing to bet money that the going market prices for pence copies will stay low and collectors will remain uninformed about them in future years? I for one certainly would not make that bet. Information access in this day and age is light years different from when pence copies got their stigma. So with collector education it is possible demand could creep up over time. Maybe we go from 1:10 collectors understanding them to 1:5… to 1:3… to 1:2… with the passage of enough time?

      What about the rarity of the pence variants themselves? I’m certainly convinced the pence copies really are more rare than their US counterparts… One of the ways I approach probable rarity when the intended target market for the US-published variant is a foreign country, is to look up the population difference. Doing that lookup, clearly, by the population numbers the UK was a smaller market. For instance in 1962, a lookup shows the population of the United Kingdom at 53.25 million people. The United States meanwhile shows 186.5 million people in 1962. Canada shows 18.61 million. So between the US, Canada, and the UK that’s a grand total market size by population of 258.36 million making up the bulk of the English-speaking market for comic books in 1962. So if the per-capita comic book consumption was similar across populations, then that’s already a ratio of roughly 1:5 copies being pence copies before you tell me fact #2 about them. [By the way I’m not intending to “pinpoint” the rarity of pence copies with this exercise, there may be other factors in play beyond population that should be investigated to understand what the true rarity is; rather, I’m just sharing how I’d approach a thought exercise where if you were trying to convince me pence copies are more rare, you’ve got me there already with this exercise].

      But another thought exercise I like to do with different kinds of type-1/1A variants has to do with the visual difference, and what I’d call a “scissors test” — namely, just what would you have to “snip out” at minimum in order to make a variant copy indistinguishable from a regular copy? With different “classes” of variants (and even within classes at different times or different publishers) the amount of snipping varies.

      Some of the pence copies strike me as needing a fair amount of snipping before they are indistinguishable from regular copies. For some context, suppose we take a 35 cent variant copy of Star Wars #2 and we want to turn it into a “regular” copy? Both are denominated in cents; we just snip the part of the price box before the ¢ sign and I could no longer tell you which was which:

      Because this is the case, any collector who didn’t know what the cover price was supposed to be for the issue number, really wouldn’t have the first clue that they owned a variant, especially if they were unaware a higher cover price variant existed in the first place. And this same amount of “snippage” can take a 75 cent variant copy of, say, Amazing Spider-Man #238 and make it unrecognizable from a “regular” one; we just snip the part of the price box before the ¢ sign and I could no longer tell the following two copies apart if you asked me which was which:

      But the pence variants are not denominated in $’s and ¢’s… So with X-Men #101 as an example issue, you’d have to snip out the full price box. But even then, that edit would still leave the “Marvel All Colour Comics” banner, which also has a different background color, not just different wording. So you’d have to snip that banner out as well. I believe with those two edits I see nothing else that’s different where I’d be able to tell them apart if you asked me:

      But you see my point about the amount of snipping… It is not the case that, absent knowledge of what the cover price is “supposed to be” for the issue that you could mistake a pence variant for its US counter-part. It is just too different. And so the average collector here in the US, not knowing anything about them, would definitely see the pence copy as odd or unexpected and different at a glance. Whereas with other classes of variants, the variant copies could easily pass for regular copies.

      In other words, what I’m trying to say is that an uninformed collector could easily collect a Star Wars variant or a 75 cent variant “by mistake” (a happy accident let’s call it), have that variant in their collection for years, and all the while never actually realize they own a variant copy. [The same could be said for direct edition vs. newsstand… a collector could easily own one of the two types without knowing the first thing about the difference, and be blissfully unaware, with nothing to cause them to realize their copy is any different — I hear constantly from collectors who read my blog, then search through their long box and, lo and behold, discover they own a variant but never realized it].

      So while other classes of variants might be found entirely suitable for purchase by the average collector even if they have no idea of their existence and are merely collecting by issue number and grade alone, pence copies as a “class” definitely stand out by contrast as something even an uninformed collector would spot.

      And then having spotted that difference, how would/did the average uninformed collector react? Historically, even with pence copies being rare, I think it was also rare to find a US collector who was informed about them as type 1A variants. So the typical reaction was probably one of self-protection, i.e. “this seller is trying to pull one over on me and get me to buy a foreign reprint.” Perhaps with time and education the average reaction will become “oh, I see you have a type 1A variant, I read about these and know that these are a good relative value, I’ll take it.” But as it stands now, I think we have to consider pence variants as so different that they have “detached” from the underlying issue number in the sense of developing their own supply/demand dynamics.

      Compare for example, an auction for ASM #300 in 9.8 (to circle around to one of the comics discussed in this post). You may have a 9.8 newsstand copy out there up for auction, or a 9.8 direct edition copy up for auction, but in both cases you’re going to attract “9.8 bidders”… in other words, bidders who may or may not understand there is any difference between the types, but are bidding by issue number and grade — they want to own ASM #300 in 9.8.

      Now, enter some bidders from the newsstand preference camp. Those newsstand-focused bidders are going to have to outbid the 9.8 bidders, and then, are going to have to outbid each other. So the “bid by grade” collectors (whether or not they are paying any attention to the different types out there for the issue number) are going to form a “base” and then the newsstand bidders are driving up prices at the margin.

      But now let’s contrast that auction situation with pence copies. You may have a 9.8 pence copy of X-Men #101 come up on eBay, but are the “9.8 bidders” (those looking for 9.8 copies of X-Men #101) definitely going to bid on it? Or is the pence copy “different enough” that a good chunk of the 9.8 bidders are going to think twice, going to say “wait a minute, this doesn’t look right… what is this?” Do they research further? Or just see the “weird” price, the “Colour” banner, the foreign location of the seller, and jump to the conclusion of “this must be a foreign reprint, this isn’t what I’m looking for” and move along. If you then lose the “normal” bidders in this way, you’ve lost the “base” underneath — the variant is so different from the “regular” issues, that any pence-preference-bidders essentially just have to outbid each other to win it.

      In a nutshell, that’s my take on pence variants… that they are so visually different to the US collector and the prices so “weird” that they’ve “detached” from the issue numbers at large in the sense of forming their own supply/demand dynamics. And the supply of pence copies, while low in contrast to the “regular” copies, is not “low enough” to overwhelm the rarity of collectors who are informed about them and desire them. That may change, and I wouldn’t bet against pence variants, but it would take a lot of collector education to change things!

      – Ben p.s. here below are the “unsnipped” comics from the comparisons above… look at these while asking yourself the question, “if I didn’t know what the cover price was supposed to be for this issue number, would I recognize the variant as any different?”


      • No one cares what the d or the p because we are dealing in dollars and cents. you can tell the difference between the 75 cent and 60 cent. inside look at the indicia. It should have the advertised pages list inside, if its the 75 cent copy. But here is the interesting thing I bought 75 cent price variant copies in the US I know that people are just trying to raise the profile to these foreign pence comics. pence copies are no more attractive then the south African copies, or French copies. No one cares.. thats the reality of it


      • Hi Jimmy, thanks for reading and commenting! A lot of collectors draw a distinction between Type 1A comics and foreign-produced comics from a different publisher (especially ones in a different language). Since Pence copies have identical interiors and indicia pages to their US counterparts and were published here in the USA by Marvel (and DC), they should find appeal among collectors who refer to the Type 1A distinction when guiding where they draw their own lines around what they collect. I’m not going to tell any collector how they should draw their own lines, because I think everybody should collect only what makes them happy (and each of us will define that differently and personally), so if you choose to draw a line around North America as the right fit for you, I find that approach completely reasonable! 🙂 Similarly, I support anyone who likes to collect Pence copies! 🙂 All the best, – Ben


  3. Tony Phillips says:

    Wow that’s a reply! I understand the terms “suspect and odd” that you use. To some extent I myself have regarded pence issues as being suspect and odd, without really understanding why. I suppose I can blame the market and prices for that. Anyway thanks for clarifying things for me, I’m off to buy some pence issues!


    • Something that may have furthered the “foreign reprint” impression among US collectors is something of a “quirk” that I’d never noticed before on my own until it was pointed out to me by a reader. [It was pointed out to me in the context of discussing 1990’s AUS variants, where the cover month differs from the indicia month and CGC catalogs the variants by the cover month].

      Apparently for Amazing Fantasy #15 there is something of a similar situation in play. The indicia page for Amazing Fantasy #15 shows September 1962 as the publication month across all copies — however, for 12¢ copies the cover says August on it under the #15. But for the Pence copies, they omitted August from that box when they printed them out, and just show #15.

      So, if you look up the book on the CGC census, they have cataloged the 12¢ copies according to the August month shown on the cover [similar to how they cataloged AUS variants by their cover months], but meanwhile the Pence copies are cataloged according to the September month shown in the indicia. Here’s what a Census search result looks like:

      Two entries, and one is a month later than the other. So it might appear at a glance that one is a reprint which was produced later chronologically… and that later month entry is of course for the Pence copies… which already have that “suspect and odd” factor working against them. I have to wonder, if you were to poll 1,000 US collectors at random, and ask them what “9d” means on the cover of an Amazing Fantasy comic, how many would know? A very low percentage, I’d imagine. Combine that oddness with the impression of it being a later-month foreign reprint via the cataloging.

      I myself have never held a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 in my hands (neither a 12¢ nor a Pence copy), so I’ve never seen the indicia pages with my own eyes, but, my understanding is that they are indeed identical across all copies both cent and pence… and below is a “found image” of the indicia for the issue, where you can see September 1962 is shown. Below that picture are the front covers of 12¢ and Pence copies… where you can see just the 12¢ copy has “Aug.” under the issue number… the Pence copy does not.

      So for this mega-key Silver age book — one we might look to as a go-to case study for regular-vs-variant pricing information much the way I’ve looked at ASM #300 in this post — not only do we have the “weird/odd/different” factor working against Pence variant copies, but we have this indicia/cover month conflict “quirk” and the resulting appearance of being a later reprint working against them as well. When in reality, they were produced at the same time, in the same place, on the same equipment!

      Happy Collecting, Tony!! 🙂

      – Ben


  4. Tony Phillips says:

    Further to “pence” copies do you know if newstand copies were shipped to the UK or only direct editions? Thanks


    • This is a good question, Tony! Here comes another long answer. 🙂 For background, from what I’ve read, important dates into the end of Pence variants are December 1981 and September 1982 (what a huge span…1960 to 1982… albeit with some breaks in between… wow what a variant window!). So at the end of Pence variants we’re already at the point of the early years of Newsstand vs. Direct Edition distinction.

      This Pence variant end date makes a great deal of sense to me in the context of my study of Canadian price variant newsstand comics — because those variants started when Marvel switched the design of their Direct Edition copies from a diamond shape to an “M” shape. Immediately before that “M” design, Marvel charged the same price across the US and Canada for their comics, but, coinciding with the introduction of the M design, a higher Canadian price-point was introduced (and over on the newsstands, coinciding with the advent of those M design direct editions, we begin to see the first 75¢ variants). And “built in” to that standardized design was the trio of prices… the US price in large bold type, then the UK and Canada underneath. Here’s a Direct Edition Spectacular Spider-Man #71:

      So this one direct edition design covered the USA, Canada, and the UK in one fell swoop — no need for individual country-specific direct edition versions. Before that design, atop direct edition copies was the diamond shape. And there, the only time direct edition Pence variants appear to exist as far as I can tell, is when the diamond of the North American direct edition copies only contains one price (in other words no alternate Pence price included).

      For example, below are pictures of North American direct edition copies of Spectacular Spider-Man #61 and #62. Notice that for #61 (December 1981), the diamond contains only the issue number and a single 50¢ price tag. But for issue #62 (January 1982) there are both 60¢ and 20p prices included. Logically, for issue #62, it would appear these dual-price copies covered all regions (US and Canada were still being charged the same price at this time) and there was therefore no need for a separate batch of Pence copies of the issue — this one already covered all the bases.

      And sure enough, if you search for Spectacular Spider-Man #61 and #62, you’ll find plenty of 20p copies of #61 for sale in the UK (all with Spider-Man logos on them), whereas for #62 the only copies you’ll find out there with pence prices on them are the very same dual-price direct edition copies that are found here in the US.

      Examples for #61:

      Examples for #62:

      I checked the CGC census for these two issues and found that a “U.K. Edition” [that’s what CGC has decided to call Pence copies in their system] entry exists on census for issue #61, but not for #62. Of course, the lack of a census entry for a given issue/variant could always just mean that nobody’s ever sent one in (this isn’t a particularly popular/key issue after all), but in connection with the other evidence I’d say everything points in the direction of there being no Pence variant for #62.

      A book that is extremely key and popular and with a huge CGC Census sample size — and having that same dual-price diamond price box on direct edition copies — is Wolverine Limited Series #1. As of this date there are over eleven thousand copies on record at CGC. But no UK Edition entry. But why would Marvel have needed to produce one, when the same Direct Edition covered the UK with a 25p price included?:

      So all the evidence seems to point in the direction of Pence variants within this end-of-pence-variant-window period as Spider-Man-Logo-copies counterpart to their North American direct editions in cases where the North American Direct Editions lack an alternate pence price. Notice I’m not being 100% definitive in that answer… and that’s because in comics, it is important both to know what you know and also to realize that you don’t know what you don’t know — and I’ve seen so many unexpected crazy things that I know better than to rule things out! So let’s just say that it makes a great deal of sense that there wouldn’t need to be a Pence-only-priced version after the point when Marvel had created a dual-priced version, and across different titles it appears consistent that the introduction of UK prices onto direct edition copies happened starting in January 1982 (but possibly some titles were done at different dates which could explain others citing September 1982 as the last of the Pence variants).

      Just a few examples of surprising things in comics, to show you what I mean about not ruling things out:

      • Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 (1968) was priced at 35¢ in the US, 40¢ in Canada. The typical copy you find out there has both prices on it. With copies carrying both prices, there was no need for a separate single-priced version, right?? But look:

      • Perhaps you want to collect the newsstand version of Amazing Spider-Man v2 #13? A reader brought this fascinating situation to my attention: You might look up a Direct Edition for reference and see $1.99 US and $2.99 CAN on it. You might then find a newsstand copy with both of these prices and reach the conclusion, “OK: I now own the newsstand version of this issue.” But that definitive conclusion you might have reached would prove wrong… because then perhaps at some point in the future you would notice a newsstand copy out there in the marketplace with a $2.49 US cover price on it! You might then reach the conclusion, “Wow, OK: I now must own the cover price variant of this issue!” But guess what? You’d be wrong again! Because it turns out there are also $2.29 newsstand copies out there too! At any point along the way you might have reached a conclusion based on what you knew, and yet, against all odds the truth was something you didn’t know you didn’t know — and even now, today, having seen these four pictures below, would it be safe to conclude definitively that these are the only versions out there and there isn’t another we don’t know about?? You see my point? 🙂

      • When collecting 75¢ variant copies of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, I noticed the existence of Whitman multi-packs of this mini-series… and upon a closer look I found that inside the sealed plastic were beaten-up-looking 75¢ variant copies in some of the packs, the two-copy ones… It appears Marvel re-purposed the Canadian newsstand returns to tap into a “secondary market” with Whitman!

      • A reader brought to my attention that for Betty & Veronica #1 (1987), in addition to the “regular” copies priced at 75 cents, there exists a dual Canadian / Pence variant priced at 95 cents / 40p!

      • I noticed when collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (Archie), that they sold both newsstand and direct edition price variants into Canada! A reader later brought to my attention that there was also a later printing distributed only in Canada, and only packaged together with cassette tapes, by a publisher I’d never even heard of before: VideoMedia!

      So when you’re out there hunting for Pence variants, keep your eyes peeled for situations you wouldn’t have expected, because who really knows the full extent of what’s out there, especially when we’re dealing with variants that were produced in small numbers. Sometimes things with small numbers fall victim to “out of sight, out of mind” and become totally overlooked. And for Pence variants, a page I’m about to link you to suggests some of these might have had rarity of 5% (or even lower). This page also includes a Marvel Gallery section, and you’ll notice as you reach 1979 that the bar code strike-through begins — corresponding to the start of direct editions — and then they become Spider-Man Rectangles, but nowhere in that later section are any bar coded pence variant copies pictured after the point when direct edition copies begin to exist.

      And by the way: that page I just linked to, at the bottom, indicates it was published by Adrian Wymann and take a look at the date: “First published on the web 1 June 2015″… So, further to my point about collector education and Pence copies remaining misunderstood and undervalued out into the future, here we have tangible evidence of someone out there putting together information and sharing it online, in web pages that did not exist previously just a couple of short years ago. Not to mention the existence of technology that did not exist in prior periods — only within the last ten years did Apple first release the iPhone for example!

      And so as you’re out there hunting for comics, you’re in the day and age where you can find something you want to know more about and then pull out your smartphone and do instant research — pull up pictures of other copies for reference, do CGC census lookups, google things, etc. — the type of instant information access and research capability which, back in the formative period where Pence copies got their stigma, was unthinkable! Today, someone might google “pence variant comics” on their smartphone and get more information in minutes, than collectors in earlier decades were able to learn in their collecting lifetimes! So: might the level of collector awareness about these and other Type-1A variants increase over time looking ahead? How could anyone bet the opposite?!

      – Ben


  5. PK says:

    Hi Ben,

    Hope you’ve been well. I’m a long time reader/follower/apologist of your blog and have commented frequently mostly when you’re blog was just getting off the ground. Since then I’ve been more of a quiet reader and observer who has been quietly building up a nice collection of key high grade Canadian books. For the wealth of knowledge that you’ve shared to empower me and your other readers, I sincerely thank you! Since you’ve started blogging, I believe the research you’ve put out has been slowly but surely influencing the market as more people read your site and become educated about the relative rarity of the Canadian/newsstand books versus direct. The opportunities where I was able to purchase Canadian/newsstand books at near parity or slight premiums versus direct are long gone now! 🙂

    In the past year, you’ve covered several key Marvel newsstand issues with some discussion of D.C. Canadians but one of the key DC books I was really curious to get your view/analysis on is Batman Adventures 12 — Harley Quinn’s first appearance. This book is highly desired because it is the first appearance a very popular character but at the same time it has quite a large inventory of high grade CGC 9.8 books so the book is not very hard to attain. However, this book also has a newsstand version which is available (regardless of condition) but less available than direct editions. Based on my observation and scouring of data from eBay and GoCollect, the newsstand edition for BA12 in CGC 9.8 is essentially 3 in over 120 sales! That’s less than 3%! As much as comic book collecting is a hobby it is also an investment, so that said, my question is do you see prices for high grade direct edition books falling or direct books retaining value and high grade Canadian/newsstand books rising? I know you don’t have a crystal ball but I’m curious to hear your view on this topic and dynamic.



    • Hi PK, great to hear from you again! 🙂 I’m so glad that reading my blog has helped empower you — thank you so much for sharing that with me, it really makes me happy to hear. Part of what’s so powerful about coming to understand an entire “class” of rare comic books, is how you then essentially have a “system” of approaching any given comic book that intersects with that class by publication date: a system of seeking relative value by rarity, and applied to whatever book you might want to target for your collection.

      And your example of Batman Adventures #12 is an excellent one: published in 1993 (about five years worth of further newsstand dwindling from the time when Amazing Spider-Man #300 was published), it is certainly the Harley Quinn “mega-key” and, as you pointed out, it wasn’t a direct edition exclusive — instead, newsstand copies exist out there, and as you observed, they’re a small fraction of what’s out there in the marketplace, especially as you move up to the top grades.

      One specific observation I have about this particular example comic, is a “visual” one; and to explain what I mean, I’ll draw a contrast to the example I used in this post of Amazing Spider-Man #300. For ASM #300, the direct edition copies have a Spider-Man logo that you can spot from a mile away as being different at-a-glance from the bar code found on newsstand copies. But for Batman Adventures #12, instead of a graphical logo, direct edition copies have lines of text against a white background… and from a distance it isn’t always visually easy to tell which version is listed for sale. Here’s an example eBay listing below to illustrate my point — being zoomed out and a bit blurry, is that a bar code we’re seeing in the bottom left corner, or not? (The answer in a moment).

      For someone who might already be targeting the newsstand version of this issue, you’d soon form a “search image” in your brain of the bar code and then be able to scan listed copies quickly and pick out which ones were a match to your search image (i.e. which ones are the rare newsstand copies you’re looking for) — so maybe if you’ve already formed a search image in this way, that pattern would be strong enough where you’d already instantly recognize which type you’re looking at in the above image.

      But suppose you weren’t actively looking for a newsstand copy of the issue, and/or weren’t already in-the-know that two types exist? From a distance they kind of “blend together” visually among the listings in the sense that at-a-glance, from a distance, someone unaware there are two types might be less likely to notice on their own that there actually are two distinct versions out there. Especially when the average collector’s eyes are pointing not at the bottom left but at the upper left corner of the comic for the primary information they’re looking for — the grade.

      In other words for ASM #300 the odds seem better to me that, on their own, someone might wind up noticing there’s a difference and then search online with a search string like “why do some comics have logos and others have barcodes” (or something similar), whereas for Batman Adventures #12 this particular issue strikes me as having a much less visible newsstand vs. direct edition distinction visually.

      The above example was, in fact, a direct edition; here’s a zoom-in:

      Despite being so visually similar from a distance, which might have the effect of suppressing awareness of the existence of the two types for the issue, collectors do still seem to be out there recognizing and then paying a premium for newsstand copies of this issue.

      I did the same type of eBay search I had done in the post with ASM #300, for Batman Adventures 12, i.e. searching for CGC 9.8 copies in the sold section, and sorting by sales price from highest to lowest. Below are the top ten. The #1 highest sale is, indeed, a newsstand copy (and the only one in the list). Interestingly the #2 and #3 sales were best-offer listings, and the #2 listing had an ask of $1,750 but accepted some amount lower than that as a best-offer — and then although the #3 listing had a higher ask than #2, at $2,199.95, we can tell by how eBay sorted it to the #3 spot that in actuality the price the seller accepted was some amount below the #2 spot which in turn was some amount lower than $1,750. So a decent spread here between the direct edition 9.8’s and the #1 recent sale up at $1,970. Here’s the top 10 below (and I’ll mention for anyone viewing the below image on a phone or small device where it’ll be hard to discern the bar coded copies, that the book in the #1 spot is the one and only newsstand copy, and all the rest are direct edition copies):

      On your last question, PK, I’ll answer it by telling you the scenario I’d like to root for, and that’s one where direct edition copies continue to at least hold at a “base” formed by the “bid-by-grade” collectors, and then newsstand copies are slowly driven up higher and higher in price at the margin by increasing numbers of newsstand bidders over time. (A newsstand bidder would first have to outbid all the bid-by-grade bidders to be in the winning bidder position for a given newsstand copy, and then, as more and more newsstand bidders are out there competing, they’ll next have to outbid each other at the margin, and that’s how I’d foresee newsstand values would continue to pull apart as the number of newsstand bidders grows; meanwhile with growing newsstand-vs-direct-edition awareness, a direct edition seller would be less likely to peg their ask so as to shoot for the high newsstand sales prices [as our #3 copy of Batman Adventures #12 in the picture above might have done when they set their ask], but would instead set their ask according to the going rate for direct edition copies, and so the disparity in market prices between direct edition and newsstand would become more visible not just in the sold listings but among the active listings too).

      But I’d prefer not to see collectors who are late to the game and still own primarily direct edition be hurt — so, I’d rather that the market prices not fall for direct edition. But, I realize that a natural reaction someone might have when they learn about the newsstand vs. direct edition difference, is to have the thought: “I want to upgrade my copy to newsstand.”

      There are lots of collectors out there I’ve encountered who operate on a system of “9.8 with WHITE pages or nothing” for modern comics, i.e. they want only “the best” (or their present perception of what that means) in their collection, and refuse to own any modern comic that doesn’t have a grade of 9.8 on it, with perfect WHITE page quality. Once one of these types of collectors learns that “the best” for a modern comic means a 9.8 newsstand copy, I can easily envision the desire to upgrade to newsstand. Because the newsstand rarity knowledge, once understood, is certain to upset their system — i.e. upon realization that there is a better 9.8 out there than the one they own, well, the one they own simply won’t be good enough for them anymore. Because their system is built on owning “the best” and their newfound knowledge will invariably change their perception of what “the best” means.

      To the extent that a collector’s upgrade-to-newsstand process involves trading out of their direct edition copies and into newsstand (as opposed to just adding newsstand copies), then, all else equal, we’d see more supply of direct edition copies hit the market than otherwise. It is possible to imagine multiple collectors racing to be the first hit the bid before their peers, in this upgrade process. Which could cause a notable shift in supply/demand, all depending on whether it is a few collectors at a time or an avalanche we’re talking about.
      But what I’d root for is that any such extra supply is absorbed without lowering the values of those direct edition copies over time — maybe instead, they simply don’t rise as much as they would have otherwise. The existence of the 35 cent variant copies of Iron Fist #14 didn’t mean their 30 cent counter-parts went lower in price over the years, it just meant the more-rare variants increased at a magnified rate. Everybody won who collected the 1st appearance of Sabretooth, it was just that 35 cent variant collectors had a second way to win (not only did the issue number increase in value, the rarity premium increased too over time).

      So I’d like to believe there’s room for a similar outcome here, where owning the more rare newsstand copy (or cover price variant newsstand copy) gives you a second way to win instead of just one way to win (just the issue number at large going up in value), and therefore a successful outcome for newsstand-focused collectors doesn’t need to coincide with a poor outcome for direct edition owners. That’s what I’d like to root for; but ultimately it really is crystal-ball-gazing to try to predict what will happen.

      – Ben


  6. Hi everyone, a reader contacted me today to share that there has been a recent sale of a CGC-graded New Mutants #98 newsstand-exclusive AUS cover price variant. I just found it online in the sold section of eBay and wanted to share the screen-capture as a comment to this post because the result is right in-line with the exact phenomenon the original post was discussing.

    I searched the eBay sold listings section for “New Mutants 98 CGC -SS” (the -SS part is meant to try and exclude Signature Series copies where the value will be derived in part by the signatures themselves), and sorted from highest to lowest sale.

    As you can see in the below screenshot of the top 10 recent sales, we once again witness yet another “perfect 1-2-3” ordering by rarity here, with the #1 highest sale being the AUS variant newsstand copy, the #2 highest sale being a North American newsstand copy in 9.8, and #3-and-below all being the prevalent direct edition (a result that closely mirrors the Secret Wars #8 result shared in the original post). The perfect 1-2-3 ordering for recent sales of this 1st Deadpool Appearance key issue is no accident — it once again reflects the growing awareness in the hobby of both newsstand desirability generally and awareness of the restricted distribution of Type 1A variants specifically!


    – Ben


  7. alan brown says:

    Are the early direct editions, say the ones with the black bar on the UPC code rarer and better to look for since their % distribution was much lower than newsstand issues at that time? Or would you still prefer newsstand issues for the other reasons previously mentioned, not well taken care of, read more etc?


    • Hi Alan, it is a fascinating question to ponder — a couple of years ago I approached the question of early direct editions via Wolverine Limited Series #1 (in a post linked to here), where based on the sales breakdown insiders have shared with us, we might expect to predominantly find newsstand copies of the book out there, and yet, if you search the marketplace for CGC-worthy copies of this book, the direct-edition:newsstand breakdown is shockingly tilted to newsstand rarity and direct edition prevalence (every time I’ve ever searched eBay on “Wolverine 1 Limited CGC” and counted up the number of each type listed for sale, the newsstand copies are consistently the small minority; on some searches I’ve found no newsstand copies at all!). The juxtaposition of that observed marketplace breakdown, against the 80% newsstand sales figure insiders have shared with us for that publication year, is stunning to me, and points to the extreme difference in high grade survivorship among the two types.

      But Wolverine #1 isn’t early enough to have the strike-through; that one has got a Spidey head… And in the very beginning of direct edition distribution, the percentage of copies sold through that brand-new sales channel was a small enough sliver that even after factoring in survivorship difference, the rarity scale can seem to tip the other way, with the direct editions representing a smaller percentage of what’s out there — for example I just searched eBay on “Amazing Spider-Man 194 CGC” as an example key from 1979, and counted that newsstand copies made up ~59% of the search results and direct edition ~41% (at this particular moment in time). But go out six issues to Amazing Spider-Man #200 (which also has the bar code strike-through), and doing the same exercise I observe ~69% of the eBay results being direct editions, with just ~31% of the results being newsstand, at this moment in time. That result for #200 as a 1980 comic is pretty much in-line with a year-by-year marketplace-observation study shared by Overstreet Advisor Greg Holland not long ago, where he looked at the breakdown from 1980 to 1986:

      I wish that CGC had had the foresight to “break out” the two types from the very beginning of their census so that we could examine census data and see the difference in numbers between the types, but alas, they lumped the types together. I hope one day CGC will change course and will start breaking them out separately. Happily, as of last year, CBCS already has started breaking out the two types distinctly, so perhaps one day soon we will be able to study CBCS census data and see how the newsstand numbers compare to direct edition numbers in those early issues. Until then I think our best bet is marketplace observation.

      A prominent eBay seller I discussed early direct editions with, revealed to me that in their own sales online, when they list a direct edition copy with the bar code strike-through and they point out the tiny print run percentage in the listing, they get a higher priced sale (their words: “I always get better money when I list them as such”). So that’s a strong argument in favor of the early pre-Spidey-head direct editions. Another argument in favor of the early bar code strike-through copies is the interesting story behind the strike-through, adding interest to the book: When showing a friend, it can be fun to point to the bar code box and say, “see that weird line through the bar code? Only a small percentage sold were like that in this publication year, and the interesting reason that’s there is…

      – Ben


  8. alan brown says:

    Thanks that is very helpful. At the end of the day it’s the fun of searching for me even more so than value. Ang gives me reason to go back through my own collection! Never get tired of that!


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