By Angelo Virone — Cover price variant collector and historian (Contact by email), October 2021
“I predict with confidence, if the economy holds up, Key CPV’s will break many more records given that new collectors as well as seasoned ones, not yet into this space, develop a better understanding of their true potential value.”
TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS ARTICLE
- STATE OF THE PRESENT MARKET
- OVERSTREET’S TOP 25 COPPER AGE COMICS
- WHERE ARE C.P.V.’s HEADED OVER THE NEXT YEAR
- BOOK I THINK COULD MAKE THE TOP 100 ON THE CPV GUIDE IN THE FUTURE
- UNDERVALUED CPV?
- IN CONCLUSION
STATE OF THE PRESENT MARKET
(*This report was written in piecemeal)
Since our last guide, prices of select key Canadian Price Variants have increased by a huge margin, similar in fashion to key collectibles within the larger market. Stimulus money, low interest rates and travel restrictions left extra cash in people’s pockets. The pandemic also liberated people from long hours at work, allowing free time for researching how to invest hard-earned cash into tangible assets. I have seen prices for high grade key CPV’s increase and non-key books rarely hurt the pocket. There was a slight dip in a number of books between the end of June and July with a mixed bag thereafter. Between August and October, key and semi-key CPV’s in the highest grade either broke new records in one auction or dipped in another. Heritage Auctions sold several copies of Thor 337 in 9.8 at record prices just weeks apart; two raw copies of Blip comics #1 in lower grades also sold for hundreds of dollars, etc… Nice to see the market digest many CPV’s within the same auction. Percentage-wise, books graded in 9.8 increased far more compared to prices realized for graded 9.6’s. Makes sense since there are collectors and investors who seek only key books in the highest grade.
Collectors have been purchasing comic book properties that aired on T.V. during the 1980’s (i.e., He-Man, Transformers, G.I. Joe, ThunderCats, Voltron, etc…) hence increasing prices to levels not fathomed just the year prior. Prices have been finding support at these higher valuations. Maybe new collectors coming into the space appreciate the fact that CPV’s are truly scarcer in higher grades which naturally translates into higher prices.
I’ve also noticed the SPECULATIVE side of the CPV market increase to new highs. Paying top dollar on a 2nd and 3rd tier character based on a rumor, is in my opinion, gambling hard-earned money. Every day I see YouTube videos claiming the hot issues of the week so people rush and buy all the copies they could get their hands on as though it’s the second coming of the Californian gold rush. The fear of missing out is awful, I missed the boat myself a few times, yet very grateful because a number of those very same spec comics came crashing down a few months after.
I also find it interesting how a select number of Youtubers, GoCollect writers and bloggers discuss breakout prices for a number of books, referring to them as direct or Newsstand, yet omitting the Canadian Price Variant version of that same issue that sold for double or triple the price that same week! I must admit, it frustrates me to say the least. In some occasions, some have even claimed that the breakout price of a particular issue sold was a newsstand but was actually a Canadian Newsstand Price Variant! Other Youtubers don’t discuss sales of price variants at all unless multiple copies sell within a short span of time thus creating a trend to discuss. I completely understand their argument but what these influencers fail to realize is that for numerous high graded key CPV’s, that one sale might be the only copy for the year due to scarcity. CPV’s are a different ballgame! A particular key issue might have less than 20 copies on the census in grades ranging from 8.0-9.8, yet their direct and newsstand counter-part might have a combined number of 1000-5000 copies on the census within those same grades!
OVERSTREET TOP 25 COPPER AGE COMICS
I’m looking at the list for the Top 25 Copper Age Comics in the latest Overstreet Guide. I see four comics on that list that have an existing CANADIAN PRICE VARIANT counter-part.
#7 of 25: VAMPIRELLA #113;
Statistics as of August 21st using www.gpanalysis.com :
Census: 179 Direct/Newsstand vs 11 C.P.V.’s
Sales the last 12 months for grades 8.0-9.8 CGC: 11 Direct/Newsstand vs 0 C.P.V.’s
Live sales: 4 Direct/Newsstand vs 0 C.P.V.’s
#18 of 25: SWAMP THING #37;
Census: 2667 Direct/Newsstand vs 32 C.P.V.’s
Sales the last 12 months for grades 8.0-9.8 CGC: 222 Direct/Newsstand vs 1 C.P.V.
Live sales: 9 Direct/Newsstand vs 0 C.P.V.’s
#19 of 25: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #238;
Statistics as of August 21st using www.gpanalysis.com :
Census: 7909 Direct/Newsstand vs 217 C.P.V.’s
Sales the last 12 months for grades 8.0-9.8 CGC: 291 Direct vs 119 Newsstand vs 8 C.P.V.’s
Live sales: 79 Direct vs 31 Newsstand vs 6 C.P.V.’s
#25 of 25: BATMAN #357
Statistics as of August 21st using www.gpanalysis.com :
Census: 1761 Direct/Newsstand vs 44Pre-pack vs 11 C.P.V.’s
Sales the last 12 months for grades 8.0-9.8 CGC: 146 direct/Newsstand vs 1 Pre-pack vs 3 C.P.V.’s
Live sales: 10 Direct vs 1 Prepack vs 0 C.P.V.’s
Interesting enough, when comparing the Canadian Price Variant counter-part for each of the books above, the CPV’s:
A) Have a proven track record and sell for more money;
B) Are scarcer on every census;
C) Are not readily available at a moment’s notice, thus creating an accessibility problem in specific grades.
Given that the above points are verifiable facts and not my opinion, you might be asking yourself why then is it that Overstreet does not have any Canadian Price Variants on that top 25 list? Clearly, it’s not a matter of omitting Price Variants because the 35 cent price variants for Star Wars #1 to 4 are in their Top 25 Bronze Age Comics list found on page #209 of this year’s guide.
So, what’s the reason?
I could only speculate that there might be other factors at play:
- CPV’s have yet to appear in the Overstreet guide, hence “out of sight, out of mind”;
- Due to scarcity, some CPV’s don’t sell as often having only a handful of sales outside of the relevant time-frame being assessed;
- A good number of CPV’s have almost no grades registered on the census so why price them?
Personally, the three reasons above are not convincing for me because everyone who has access to the internet can see what raw CPV’s are selling for. The same argument can be made for Newsstands, M.J., Australian and UK price variants. Once again, if Star Wars price variants are tracked then why can’t they track the other price variants as well?
I think the real reason is the lack of personnel at the Overstreet Price Guide. Not only are companies shorthanded due to a lack of workers but finding qualified individuals to tackle something like this becomes a huge challenge. Also, I’m certain the overhead costs of printing a physical guide is another challenge because Overstreet needs to keep the page-count to a manageable number due to mounting inflationary costs. Adding more variants means adding more pages to the Overstreet which equates to added time and money.
So why not go completely digital using real-time quotes like several other price guides? My guess is just as good as yours, however I do believe if Overstreet doesn’t do something within the next 3 years they’ll fall so far behind and possibly become irrelevant. Collectors read market reports and the price guide almost 8 months after it gets written!
WHERE ARE C.P.V.’s HEADED OVER THE NEXT YEAR
It’s my opinion that key Canadian Price Variants in higher grades should further increase in value but stick to titles and issues with a proven track record. First appearances, first and last issues in a popular run will always have buyers. For investment purposes, stay clear of common books unless in 9.8 and buy only at a discounted price because that part of the market will take far more time to mature unfortunately. Stick with the top 100, most of the books are on that list for a very good reason! Don’t get me wrong, there are books not on that list that have great potential given a show or movie appearance gets announced. Hence, don’t over pay because prices for spec books could tumble fast if rumors don’t materialize. Try finding these books raw (not graded) and send them to a presser who can improve the grade and thus the value. I sent a number of books to www.thecomicdoctor.com in Ontario, Canada and was pleased with his work. There are many great pressers out there so find one that you are comfortable with and has a good reputation. Simply make sure the presser has insurance in case something happens to your books.
In an economic downturn where the stock market, housing, etc… corrects itself and collectors hoard cash you want to be hedged owning books with a proven track record and not spec books that will fall by a larger percentage.
I predict with confidence, if the economy holds up, Key CPV’s will break many more records given that new collectors as well as seasoned ones, not yet into this space, develop a better understanding of their true potential value. I see positive indicators showing a steady increase in this space, one being the number of clicks on the CPV guide this year surpassing well past 2,000,000 in 9 months alone. The second indicator is the number of Youtubers increasing each year discussing the CPV market from across North America. Below is a link that leads to a video a YouTuber created using visual displays to better understand the concept of CPV’s:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJJN1LldoQw
BOOK I THINK COULD MAKE THE TOP 100 ON THE CPV GUIDE IN THE FUTURE
First time Beebop, Krang and Rocksteady are seen in mutant form. This book has been speculated on a few years ago by a blogger from California. Both C.P.V. versions (Direct- no barcode), and even more so, the Newsstand C.P.V.(with a barcode) are worthy contenders for the top 100. Stick with grades between 9.4-9.8. See below why I like this issue?
- Multiple first appearances of villains in their mutant form;
- Very popular characters;
- These villains have a long history in comics and on screen;
- The price for a 9.8 CPV of this book has not reached the levels achieved for some CPV spec books in 9.8 so there’s more room to grow.
- At the time of this writing the total graded numbers are: 119 Direct/Newsstand vs 18 CPV direct/Newsstand
- 90-day average at the time of this writing for a 9.8: $251 REGULAR DIRECT vs $336 for a CPV.
First appearance of the new Suicide Squad
Census: 1380 Direct/Newsstand vs 23 C.P.V.’s
Census: 606 copies in 9.8 direct/Newsstand vs 4 copies in 9.8 Canadian Price Variant
Sales the last 12 months for grades 8.0-9.8 CGC: 132 direct/Newsstand vs 5 C.P.V.’s
Live sales: 14 Direct/Newsstand vs 2 C.P.V.
- 90-day average for a 9.8: $133 DIRECT (18 copies) vs 0 sold in 9.8 as CPV (last sale was a 9.6 CPV in September for $103)
Rule #1: Buy ‘quality’ books in the highest grade you can reasonably afford as opposed to buying ‘quantity’ in lower grades when ‘investing’ in C.P.V.’s
Rule #2: Don’t forget rule #1.