By Paul Clairmont, Overstreet Advisor and proprietor of pnjcomics.com, October 2018
“Here is a simple and very common-sense approach to understand the Canadian Price Variants scarcity.”
It appears that after years of discussing this niche market of the hobby it is beginning to stick more and more as other dealers/advisors/collectors are sharing observations.
Publishers such as Marvel and DC Comics started distinguishing a separate single Canadian Price for books beginning in October 1982 as there was a widening gap in the USD to CDN currency rates. This practice continued well into the late 1980’s until publishers began simply placing both USD and CDN prices in the price box together.
The most common and recognized are the 75¢ and 95¢ for Marvel and 95¢ and $1.00 for DC. Other publishers such as Gold Key, Whitman and Archie also published Canadian Price Variants but for my report I’ll only be discussing Marvel and DC.
Canadian Price Variants are exact copies published at the exact same time and on the exact same presses as their direct edition and newsstand counterparts. The indicia, ad pages, covers and content are exactly the same. The only exception is the UPC box and the price box which will display only a single price. Therefore, they should not be considered “Canadian Editions” as so many Golden Age comics are identified with different publishers and different advertising content.
The grading companies historically have labeled these Canadian Price Variants as “Canadian Edition” but they are truly variants for the reason explained above. Recently, CBCS began to recognize them as cover price variants on their labels (see more about this here), a great step forward for the hobby.
“These books are scarce and even more scarce in any grade above VF (8.0).”
These books are scarce and even more scarce in any grade above VF (8.0). Here is a simple and very common-sense approach to understand the Canadian Price Variants scarcity. As mentioned, these books were part of the total amount published of a particular title.
Take for example, Batman #357 to #402 which had approximately 75,303 to 97,741 copies per month of each issue. For this example, let’s assume half that published amount would be Newsstand distribution and the other half would be Direct Market distribution. The Canadian Market was 1/10th the size of the U.S market based on population statistics. Therefore, we can assume that publishers would match distribution closely as it wouldn’t make good business sense to make the Canadian Price Variant published more than 1/10th.
So, 1/10th of the Newsstand distribution would be approximately 3,765 to 4,887 Canadian Price Variants of each issue between Batman #357 to #402:
Canadian Price Variants weren’t heavily collected by savvy collectors as they were distributed to places such as grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores. This left the Canadian Price Variants to be fanned through and beaten up by the general public, not coveted in high grade by savvy collectors who were buying from specialty stores and comic shops that were receiving Direct Editions.
So, of those 3,765 to 4,887 Canadian Price Variants, let’s be generous and say that 1/5th survived in VF (8.0) or better. That would mean that there were only 753 to 977 issues that survived in condition of Very Fine (8.0) or better.
That assumes that the entire published run was a 100% sell through, which it was not, as the unsold copies were returned and destroyed. In reality, there are even fewer copies available and it is possible that only 10% of that number are in true NM- (9.2) condition or better. Realistically, there would be 60 to 80 copies of each issue in 9.2 or better if we assume 20% were returned by the stores to the distributor to be destroyed.
That makes for a very small supply of these niche comics to fill demand. They may be in larger supply concentration in certain particular areas of Canada, but using the example above, it will be very tough to find them in true high grade and when they are in high grade they will bring premiums above the regular counterparts — and when they are key issues the prices soar even higher.