In the introduction section of The 2018 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A), we try to introduce various important concepts in concise ways. This page offers a more in-depth explanation of some of the graphics we included.
There are a number of approaches to studying the rarity of 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Type 1A Variants, for example one can study survivorship — as Jon for example has done in this market report [also excerpted here] — and one can also study the likely original distribution percentages. In thinking about initial distribution percentages, a starting point is to consider the Direct Edition percentage in relation to the Newsstand percentage. While there are a number of newsstand rarity discussions & estimates we can consider, there is near-universal acceptance in the hobby that the rough 50:50 point between Direct:Newsstand fell in the middle of the 1980’s — right smack within the cover price variant window that is the focus of our guide — as Greg Holland’s chart below so brilliantly conveys:
Consider this near-universally-accepted 50:50 point where the two lines above intersect: at this intersection point in time, if you were to place 100 “dots” on a map of North America to illustrate the distribution break-down, you would place 50 newsstand dots, and 50 direct edition dots (keeping in mind that this is big-picture thinking, that dollars of sales is not the same as copies sold, and there were also direct editions sold in the UK — but to keep this explanation simple and big-picture in nature we can slide ourselves to the point in time where half of the amount of total comics sold in North America were Direct Editions and half were Newsstand). Then among the newsstand dots you would divide them among North America: i.e. some dots would go north of the border, some would go south. How many dots should go North? Here, we consider the market size by population, among other factors. You’ll see some of these other factors mentioned in the footnote of the graphic below, factors which would make simple population split arguably land on the side of conservative:
At the left of the above graphic, we’re using the US Census Bureau and World Bank population numbers, to show that the US made up 90.2% of the market size by population for newsstand comics, while Canada made up 9.8%. And this would be just a very basic split based solely on population, i.e. it would be before considering the size of the French-speaking population in Quebec, and would also be before considering the 25% price hike (from 60 to 75 cents on Type 1A newsstand copies) and how the Law of Demand should impact the numbers as a result (at a 25% higher price per copy, it would be expected that a lower quantity of copies would have been purchased — said another way, kids in Canada could afford to buy fewer copies with the same budget, once the price per copy surged 25%).
Given these factors, depending on the year of publication (and associated newsstand:direct-edition split), we might expect between ~2-7% of total copies sold of a given issue to have been Type 1A newsstand copies, and at the exact 50:50 point for newsstand:direct-edition we would expect ~5% to have been Type 1A newsstand copies: So out of every 100 dots on a map of North America, we could represent Type 1A distribution with between 2 and 7 dots north of the border [so these dots are not meant to represent “literal distribution points on the map” but rather are a representation to understand how the initial distribution of direct edition comics covered all of North America, while the initial distribution of newsstand comics was split by type]:
After each of the three above types of comics were purchased by the original buyers, the number of surviving copies by type then saw different typical fate: direct edition copies tended to be well preserved and therefore saw a magnified survival as compared with newsstand copies which were typically sold to readers unconcerned with preservation of collectible condition — newsstand buyers typically bought their comics to actually read them, where a collector buying and carefully preserving a newsstand copy was the exception rather than the norm of typical behavior. And so from that starting point of initial distribution, we get to the estimates of survivorship percentage by type:
Our final graphic, below, excerpts Jon’s “Type 1” and “Type 1A” variant definitions, as published in Overstreet Price Guide #40 (see page 1011):
It may also be useful for readers to see Jon’s definition for what a “variant” is in the first place — here is his definition below:
“The best definition I know for a Variant comic book is (1) any non-standard edition created for distribution with a unique purpose, (2) anything reprinted for distribution under the same title with some changes to the cover and/or contents, and (3) any non-standard edition created for distribution in an unplanned or imperfect way. The primary characteristic of a Variant is a strong similarity to the regular or standard edition.”
In thinking about Jon’s variant definition above, it is also useful to consider what characteristics make a given comic the “standard” or “regular” edition — one idea for big-picture thinking about this concept is an “Orange Cat Test” inspired by the fact that 80% of orange cats are male, and people frequently ask “are all orange cats male?” If 80% or more of the surviving copies of a given comic are a particular type, that overwhelming majority type should be considered by collectors to be the “regular” edition of the issue number.