By Benjamin Nobel, June 13, 2018
In our comic book collecting hobby, the world of Type 1A cover price variants is a fun and exciting area, especially in those cases where our variants were newsstand exclusives and the corresponding direct editions carried both prices on their covers — such as with the 1980’s cover price variants from Marvel and from DC — with that newsstand exclusivity aspect along with the bifurcation of the market into being served by both direct edition and newsstand types, helping drive a situation of extreme relative rarity for the newsstand-exclusive cover price variants (click here for graphics explaining this rarity phenomenon along with a detailed walk-through/discussion).
But Marvel and DC weren’t the only publishers to experiment with Type 1A variants. We see this type of variant from several other publishers as well, including Archie for example; we also see Type 1A variants among the Vampirella magazine title published by Warren and later by Harris (notice the Canadian Edition CGC census entry for Vampirella #113 as an example key), and a reader of this very blog discovered and brought to my attention Type 1A’s from Harvey — just to name a few other example publishers beyond Marvel and DC.
And yet another publisher that produced Type 1A variants in the 1980’s — and the subject of this post — was Modern, publishing the Voltron mini-series in 1985 (which was based on the original Japanese anime television show). And as we know, Voltron is today back on TV as a hit Netflix series, with Season 6 about to be released this month. Viewers seem to love it: on Rotten Tomatoes the show carries an average audience score of 93%! Which comic book should we look to, in order to collect Voltron’s key first appearance?
Voltron’s First Appearance
Voltron first appeared on our screens on the television show. So over in the world of comics, the 1985 Voltron mini-series published by Modern marks the first appearance of Voltron in comics — and this fact is noted on the CBCS label for Voltron #1 as you can see in the below example (key comments note at right reads “1st appearance of Voltron in comics“):
Doug Sulipa, of Doug Sulipa’s Comic World agrees, and he carries the below note for issue #1 of Voltron, similarly noting that the issue contain’s Voltron’s first appearance in comics:
As of today, the 1st appearance credit is not (currently) recognized on CGC’s labels as of this writing, as we can see from the example copy below, which carries a blank key comments field:
And to double-verify CGC’s current treatment (as of today), we can also see the blank key comments field when looking up the book in the current census (here’s a link to the issue on CGC’s census). What the CGC census information does tell us about the issue — and here’s an annotated screenshot below to illustrate — is that CGC confirms it has graded 150 total copies to date of Voltron #1, out of which 145 copies are “regular” copies with 75 cent cover price, versus five copies graded to date with a $1.00 cover price, which is a census rarity ratio for the variant of 1:30 copies graded by CGC to date for the issue (CGC’s current policy for comics of this era is to pretend there are only 2 types for each issue, instead of 3 — i.e. CGC is lumping together by cover price the US newsstand and direct edition copies as if they were one and the same [i.e. counting both of those 75 cent cover price types in the main census entry for the issue number], and then CGC is separately denoting the $1.00 cover price newsstand copies with the variant entry of “Canadian Edition” [a naming convention by CGC which unfortunately carries the false implication that this was “the” edition for Canada — not to mention conflating these with the real Canadian Editions of the 1940’s/1950’s — when in reality Direct Edition copies carried $1.00 in small print and were also sold in Canada]):
Unlike the actual Canadian Editions of the 1940’s/1950’s where the printing plates were shipped north, the advertisements were changed, and a local edition was published by a Canadian publisher, by contrast these 1980’s Type 1A variants were published by the same publisher as the other copies, at the same time, on the same equipment, with the same ink, using the same paper, and are 100% fully identical on the inside to their 75 cent newsstand counter-parts. The cover price being the single physical feature that differs among newsstand copies — $1.00 instead of 75¢ — these $1.00 cover price copies of Voltron #1 thus fall under Jon McClure’s Type 1A Price Variant definition (shown below).
In the CGC census screenshot shown earlier, I included pictures of the price boxes of the various types at the left of the data, to illustrate how the main census entry represents both the Direct Edition type and the US newsstand type, and how the variant census entry denoted as “Canadian Edition” represents the newsstand copies carrying the $1.00 cover price. [May 2019 UPDATE: CGC announced they will change their labeling to “Canadian Price Variant”]. Below for reference are full front covers of example copies of each of these three types:
• Direct Edition (most prevalent and best preserved type):
• 75¢ Newsstand (handled like magazines; not as well preserved):
• $1.00 Newsstand (most rare type of 1st print copy of Voltron #1):
Full Mini-Series #1-3 Have $1.00 Variants
Fortunately for collectors, not only is there a $1.00 cover price variant for issue #1, the Type 1A variants exist for issues #2 and #3 as well! Here are example pictures for $1.00 cover price variant copies of #2 and #3:
Happy Collecting! 🙂