By Benjamin Nobel, March 21, 2019
Hi everyone, over in the comments forum section of the “Canadian Price Variants: Noteworthy Sales” page, a recent ThunderCats #1 sale prompted some investigating. I wanted to make a separate post about it.
In the picture at right, you see side-by-side two types of ThunderCats #1 (and #2) comic books, each with single-price 75¢ cover price, but one type carrying bar codes and the other carrying logos. Only the bar code copy has a Curtis Circulation code (at the top of the picture, notice the numbers “02104” just below “Dec”).
Below is a screenshot of the recent sale that prompted this investigation, which went for $199.99 on eBay — please notice the logo (rather than bar code) at the bottom left corner of the front cover of the pictured copy below:
This copy was labeled by CGC as “Canadian Edition” and, accordingly, was marketed as the 75¢ variant when put up for sale:
But was CGC correct in their labeling? Were 75¢ cover price “logo” copies of this issue really Canadian Price Variants? Fellow price guide collaborator Angelo Virone and I recently had a discussion about these ThunderCats books with 75¢ single-price and logos instead of bar codes. We did some digging.
First, some facts/groundwork to know:
The 1st print direct edition “M” logo reference copy we would turn to has a 65 cent cover price (and — side note — interestingly it has a $1.00 CAN price in small print on those direct editions, which interestingly doesn’t match up to the actual known copies sold on Canadian newsstands which have a 75¢ price, not the $1.00 we’d expect going off of the direct editions!).
Below is a reference listing of one of those 1st print direct editions with 65 cent cover price and “M” logo, and for the screenshot I’ve clicked their back cover photo because I want you to see it is a Care Bears ad:
OK: so, remembering that for issues with newsstand distribution there are first printing “triplets” during this publication window — direct edition, US newsstand, and Canadian newsstand — we can keep in mind that that (above) for our reference, is the back cover of the direct edition sibling from the first print birthdate, and so our newsstand siblings should match what we see above…
And indeed here’s a reference copy for the US newsstand sibling, with 65¢ cover price, and I’ve clicked the back cover photo for the screenshot to show you it has the matching Care Bears ad:
And finally, a reference copy for a single-price 75¢ copy with bar code — this clearly is the Canadian price variant sold on newsstands. And the back cover? Care Bears:
OK! So with that groundwork in place — we have three 1st print reference copies, the triplets, all with the Care Bears back cover — let’s proceed to investigate this mystery of the 75¢ copies with logos on the cover, like the example we started with in the beginning (that sold for $199.99 and was labeled by CGC as a “Canadian Edition” and marketed as the Canadian price variant).
Next fact to know:
- CGC’s census shows that this issue went to multiple printings… i.e. they have a Second Printing census designation as well as a Third Printing on record:
- Mile High Comics also has issue #1 broken out to multiple printings in their system, and, helpfully, they have indicia scans for some of them. Here’s their indicia scan for the copies broken out as “third printing” in their system — notice the spot I’ve pointed out with an arrow:
As you can see, the publisher states that it is a third printing. This tells us something by inference: if there exists a third printing, then there must also have been a second printing too! But first, let’s look more closely at this third printing, both front and back. Let me start with the back, to show you that it has a different ad … instead of Care Bears, it says “Gross” in big letters and is an ad for Madballs (thanks to reader jimmyimpossible for reminding me what those were/are!). Here is a reference listing of a 3rd print copy, with the back cover clicked for the screenshot:
And here’s a close-up of the ‘M’ box on the front cover of a third print copy, side-by-side with a 1st print copy — as you can see, the 3rd print copy (right) has a 75¢ cover price instead of 65¢ on the 1st print copy (left):
There’s also no “Dec” below the #1 on the third print copy.
OK, so, back to the point of there logically having to have been a second printing, if these above are denoted as the third printing. So: what do second-print copies look like? Referencing back to Mile High’s system, they are showing a picture of a single-price 75¢ copy with logo under the 2nd Printing heading:
And, helpfully, they also have an indicia page scan of the above book. However, if we click it, we see…
Huh… No indication of it being a second printing. [And a side note: confusingly, Mile High also has a separate broken-out version with the same picture, but the description “1 75 CENT CV”].
Angelo was able to actually check such 75¢-with-logo copies first-hand and compare the indicia page to that of the 75¢-bar-coded copies, and he saw no indication anywhere in the indicia or interior pages of the logo book as being a second printing… the two indicia pages appeared fully identical.
However, here is something we do know about those logo copies: Remember earlier how I kept showing you those Care Bears ads on the known 1st print copies? Remember how the third print copy had a Madballs ad with the word “Gross” instead? Now, below, I show you the back cover of the $199.99 sold-listings copy we started this discussion off with:
It is the Madballs ad, not Care bears! So what are these single-price 75¢ cover price copies with logos and “Gross” on the back cover?? Based on a variety of listings I’ve found from US-based sellers, my opinion is that these 75¢ logo copies were multi-pack copies which had US distribution and the publisher simply “sloppily” didn’t mark them as second printings in the indicia. Here’s an example pack:
If I’ve missed anything important in the above discussion, please chime in! But based on all of the above, my opinion is that the single-price 75¢ copies with logos, while interesting (especially for completists who want one of each variation), had distribution characteristics that were entirely distinct — in other words, they do not share the distribution-driven rarity characteristics that the newsstand-distributed CPVs carry, but rather, they have their own distinct rarity characteristics based on their own distinct situation.
Thus, based on the above, I do not consider that $199.99 sale to actually be a Canadian price variant sale comp; the only ThunderCats copies that I personally consider to be the true 1st print Canadian price variants are the ones with bar codes on them… the ones that look like this:
– Ben 🙂