Canadian Newsstand Edition, Future Classic Covers

The “Cover Swipe Test”: 2 More Price Variant Keys Passing It

By Benjamin Nobel, July 13, 2018


If, like me, you’re a collector who is into cover price variants, then you probably also keep a lot of 75¢ variant keys on your eBay email alert lists… and like me, you may have noticed that recently for Amazing Spider-Man #238 and for Web of Spider-Man #1, there are some really cool cover swipes popping up in our eBay alerts these days! Since these two mega-keys were not originally among the 7 variants I highlighted last year as destined for future classic cover status, and since I keep seeing cover swipes for these two books popping up in my alerts these days, I’ve been wanting to make a post to highlight them.  So here goes! 🙂

The “Cover Swipe Test” — a concept I talked about in a post last year entitled 7 Variants Destined For Future Classic Cover Status — is the idea that for a past important comic book cover, being cover swiped is an excellent test of being deserving of future Classic Cover status down the road once the comic has sufficiently aged that the comic book “authorities” of the future will feel it has grown old enough to officially deem it a Classic Cover.

The “cover swipe test” is like a form of “peer review” — other creators (or even the original creators themselves) are essentially teaching us just how important that past comic cover is… i.e. it is so great, so important, and/or so absolutely classic, that they decided to pay homage to it by putting their own “twist” on the original… their own twist on the classic! What better “future classic cover test” can there be than that?!  

So when we see new cover swipes coming out, we should also be thinking about collecting the original as a future Classic Cover contender; and when hunting down our copy of the original, it is especially interesting when there is a more-rare cover price variant of the issue that we can collect as our preference, as is the case for the two comics I am going to highlight today: Amazing Spider-Man #238 (published by Marvel in March of 1983), and Web of Spider-Man #1 (published by Marvel in April of 1985)!

Amazing Spider-Man #238:

The Type 1A 75¢ cover price variant for ASM #238 is among those variants that “needs no introduction” — it takes the #1 spot in the top 50 variants of our 2018 guide and has featured prominently in many of my past posts (including this one linked to here which served as my 2018 “advisor note” on the issue), the book features the key first appearance of Hobgoblin, and because it originally came with Tattooz which many newsstand-goers tore out and used, finding high grade copies of the variant is exceptionally difficult. The original cover is credited to the team of John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr. The cover swipes I’ve lately been seeing pop up in my email alerts these days are shown below: the Amazing Spider-Man #797 and #800 variant covers by Mike Mayhew:

Amazing Spider-Man 238 Cover Swipe: Amazing Spider-Man 797

Amazing Spider-Man 238 Cover Swipe: Amazing Spider-Man 797

Amazing Spider-Man 238 Cover Swipe: Amazing Spider-Man 800

Amazing Spider-Man 238 Cover Swipe: Amazing Spider-Man 800

Web of Spider-Man #1:

While ASM #238 topped our 2018 top 50 list, Web of Spider-Man #1 meanwhile came in towards the bottom of the list at only the #49 spot — and in his advisor note, Angelo Virone commented: “Undervalued in my opinion”… And I must agree: Web of Spider-Man #1 is too important a comic to be valued as low as it currently is in the marketplace!

The absolutely gorgeous painted cover by Charles Vess isn’t the only thing this book has going for it. In the first appearances department, this book gets credit as the 1st Appearance of the Vulturions. And as Doug Sulipa notes, the issue is the fifth appearance of Spider-Man in the black alien costume.

The more I research this issue, the more I’ve been learning just how darn important this book really is to the Venom story-line: We learn in this book that the symbiote does not trigger Spidey’s spider senses, and we also see the alien costume reacting to sound vibrations as its weakness… something absolutely critical for Spider-Man to learn! In this 2014 article by Mark Ginocchio, Mark does a great job of exploring the issue and its importance, and concludes about the issue that Web of #1 might be the most historically significant No. 1 Spider-Man book since ASM #1 in 1963.”

Below side by side are the original cover by Charles Vess (75¢ variant pictured), and the new cover swipe we’ve been seeing pop up in our watchlists: Amazing Spider-Man #1 variant cover by Lucio Parrillo.


Painted Covers

The cover of Web of Spider-Man #1 by Charles Vess falls under a category of comic book covers that I’m quite fond of: painted covers. Some of the comic book covers we see out there which are derived from paintings by artists, are already classic works of art to my way of thinking, whether those covers are the subject of future cover swipes or not. For the cover of Web of Spider-Man #1 to be a painted cover and then to also pass the Cover Swipe Test makes that cover all the more important as a Classic.

Vess was responsible for some other phenomenal painted covers in the 80’s too, and while we’re on the subject you simply must see his painted cover for Amazing Spider-Man #261 (2/1985) if you haven’t yet seen it… It is one of my favorite all-time Spider-Man covers, and also happens to feature Hobgoblin:

Amazing Spider-Man 261 -- 75 Cent Cover Price

Amazing Spider-Man 261 — 75 Cent Cover Price Variant Pictured. Painted Cover by Charles Vess.

Isn’t that a phenomenal painted cover?! It is interesting to think about the juxtaposition between the 75¢ cover priced newsstand copies of something like ASM #261 above, from the 1980’s price variant window with its incredible “natural rarity” (as walked through here with explanatory graphics), against today’s “1:something” retailer incentive variants with their artificially manufactured rarity (i.e. with print run restricted on purpose to create a more-rare version of the issue number).

Every single copy sold of today’s incentive variants are treated from day one as a collectible to preserve and protect (the buyers of such incentive variants are paying through the nose to own them, so to then take the book home and read it for enjoyment would be equivalent to setting fire to a pile of cash for fun — not going to happen). So excepting accidental loss/damage, every single copy produced of a modern-day retailer incentive variant is going to survive and its owner will strive to preserve it in tip-top shape.

Meanwhile, a newsstand buyer from the 1980’s who purchased the above Amazing Spider-Man #261 cover price variant, didn’t know they had just landed something special, didn’t know it was dramatically more rare than the 60¢ newsstand copies or the prevalent direct edition copies sold in comic shops (and didn’t even think about there being a difference between newsstand vs. direct edition comics as distinct first-print types produced for two different distribution channels). And that original buyer of the above 75¢ variant paid seventy five cents for it on the newsstand. That’s an entertainment purchase where the vast majority of newsstand-goers were buying that comic to read it, and where preserving it in high grade was the last thing on their minds… unless they happened to be a collector buying from newsstands — and so to land a high-grade copy with 75¢ cover price we need to find one originally purchased by that collector, who was the exception and not the norm of typical newsstand-goers.

Calling All Artists: Cover Swipe Challenge

In my post last year on the subject of Classic Covers and the “Cover Swipe Test”, one of the comics I included was Alpha Flight #3, which I dubbed a Classic Cover Contender because John Byrne has told us it is his personal favorite of all the covers he’s ever created.

Picture this scenario: Suppose you and I were tasked with updating a list of classic covers to include more modern comic books. Upon hearing John Byrne tell us his personal favorite cover that he’s ever created is Alpha Flight #3, how would we treat that input? Would we dare say “thanks anyway but we disagree” and exclude his personal favorite cover? Not a chance! That comic would go right onto our list, to mark a key work from a key superstar. Thus, Alpha Flight #3 is a clear future classic cover contender.

But as relates to the Cover Swipe Test, is Alpha Flight #3 actually swipeable? Leave it to Byrne to come up with a cover so cool, so interesting, but also so structurally complicated and fascinating, that I wonder if this particular cover is even swipeable by another artist? It would be a real challenge for sure, for another artist to swipe, and I’d love to see it attempted! Any artists out there up for the challenge? The mostly-black-and-white artwork, and the yellow title with red outline remind me of another black-and-white Byrne cover that I’d love to see another artist pay homage to with a cover swipe: Spectacular Spider-Man #101!

Before I bring this post to a close, while we’re on the subject of John Byrne covers I should also show you a great John Byrne cover from an issue that landed in our 2018 guide’s top 50The Thing #1. Looking over the top fifty, this is the only John Byrne cover I notice among books that made that highest-value toplist, coming in at #44. Doug Sulipa’s advisor note for the issue is as follows: “JOHN BYRNE cover art & story; ORIGIN and LIFE HISTORY of BEN GRIMM, from Yancy Street Gang Days, College Football Days, First Meeting with Reed Richards & the Rocket that Made him into the THING of the Fantastic Four.” The cover strikes me as truly iconic and a great cover swipe candidate.

The Thing #1, 75 Cent Cover Price Variant

The Thing #1, 75 Cent Cover Price Variant

Classic Cover Contenders — An Intriguing Collecting Angle

The idea of collecting future “Classic Cover” issues today — i.e. before the comic book authorities of tomorrow are using that phrase on labels, is an intriguing collecting angle that I for one really enjoy thinking about! The inclusion of the “Classic Cover” phrase on CGC labels of older comics surely brings more value to those books than they would have without that designation, but today’s grading companies stop applying that phrase with books that are “too recent” but clearly will deserve that designation in the future.

So for more modern books we collectors are really on our own to determine which comics will be dubbed “Classic Cover” comics in the future… But we’re not really on our own at all! Because fortunately, through their words and actions — actions like paying homage to past important covers — comic book creators are teaching us which more-modern comics are eventually destined to be the Classic Cover books of tomorrow. And when the universe of Classic Cover contenders intersects with the universe of Type 1A cover price variants, that makes for an interesting collecting category indeed!!

Venn Diagram:  Future Classic Cover Contenders intersecting with Type 1A Cover Price Variants.

Venn Diagram: Future Classic Cover Contenders intersecting with Type 1A Cover Price Variants.

Happy Collecting! 🙂

– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition

Incremental Improvement to CGC’s “Canadian Edition” Labeling

By Benjamin Nobel, June 22, 2018

Angelo’s CGC graded copy of Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #1 reads “75¢ cover price” at the right-hand side of the label. Based on this past precedent, would CGC be amenable to labeling a submission of mine in the same manner? Yes:


Angelo recently shared a discovery, finding a CGC-graded 75¢ cover price copy of Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #1 which CGC had labeled with the words “75¢ cover price” at the right-hand side of the label.  When Angelo shared this, I happened at the time to have five Type 1A variants in at CGC for grading, some with 75¢ cover prices and some with 95¢ cover prices, and I went ahead and requested they apply the same treatment that Angelo’s book had gotten, i.e. adding “75¢ cover price” / “95¢ cover price” accordingly, at the right-hand side of the labels, for each of the five books in my submission. Because hey, pointing out the variant cover price on the label would be a heck of a lot better than not pointing out the variant cover price on the label, right?! Good news: as you can see by the pictures at right, there are now five more CGC-graded Type 1A cover price variants where CGC points out the variant cover price on the label.

I’ll take an incremental improvement over no improvement; but we are still a long way from the ideal. Currently there is an unfortunate situation where for all of the 1980’s comics where Type 1A newsstand Canadian cover price variants exist, CGC pretends there are two types for each issue instead of recognizing all three types, by ignoring the newsstand vs. direct edition difference: instead of differentiating between direct edition and newsstand, CGC “lumps together” both types by cover price and then dubs the higher cover price newsstand copies as “Canadian Edition” when breaking them out on census with their own variant census entry [I talk about this in depth in the following post: “Canadian Edition” vs. “Canadian Cover Price Variant”].

Unfortunately I think CGC is facing not just an intellectual question but a business question when it comes to this subject — when I previously asked about changing the variant name itself, it was explained to me that such an undertaking would be very costly in terms of the man hours necessary to make the changes. Apparently it isn’t (currently) as easy as a “find/replace” but rather would be an issue-by-issue ordeal. By contrast, copy/pasting “75¢ cover price” a few times into their Key Comments database in response to a customer request, on a piecemeal basis, is apparently no problem!

So next time you submit Type 1A’s to be graded by CGC, include a special request that the cover price be inputted into the Key Comments notes (if it is not already there). Having the variant cover price pointed out on the label is an incremental step better than not having it pointed out, by drawing attention to the fact that the cover price on the comic is not the standard cover price. One of the hallmarks of these Type 1A variants is that if you didn’t know in advance what the cover price is supposed to be for a given issue, you could easily mistake a Type 1A variant for a regular newsstand copy, because they are 100% identical beyond that price box difference.  If you were to snip the price box out with scissors (don’t!), your rare cover price variant would be rendered indistinguishable from a regular copy.  So for CGC to point out the variant cover price on the label is very helpful because it is a prompt for someone looking at the slab to realize “hey, wait, that’s a higher cover price than the regular ones!” Would it be better if the variant cover price was actually part of the census variant name itself?  Yes. But this is still an incremental improvement, one I’m pleased to share with you today — and I wouldn’t be making this post at all if Angelo hadn’t shared his discovery so big thanks to Angelo! 🙂

Happy Collecting! 🙂
– Ben p.s. You probably already figured out some of the five books in my CGC submission from their label notes but I’ll list all five now: Flash #348 (95¢ cover price), New Mutants #1 (75¢ cover price; Origin of Karma; 2nd appearance of the New Mutants), Web of Spider-Man #15 (95¢ cover price; 1st appearance of Chance [Nicholas Powell]; Black Fox appearance), Amazing Spider-Man #267 (75¢ cover price; Spider-Man in the suburbs; Human Torch & Matt Murdock appearance), and Amazing Spider-Man #263 (75¢ cover price; Birth of Norman “Normie” Osborn; Spider-Kid and Black Cat appearance)

p.p.s.  Here’s Angelo’s Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #1:

p.p.p.s.  7/16/2018 — Another reader sent me pictures of their freshly graded Type 1A variant copy of Batman #386, with 95¢ cover price pointed out at the right side of the label:

p.p.p.p.s. 7/17/2018 — Another example, courtesy of Mr. Cover Price Variant, who came across the below Type 1A variant copy of Batman #423, with $1.00 cover price pointed out at the right side of the label:


Canadian Newsstand Edition

Voltron #1-3, Type 1A $1.00 Cover Price Variants

By Benjamin Nobel, June 13, 2018


A Type 1A $1.00 cover price variant exists for Voltron #1!

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“):

CBCS label note indicates:

CBCS label note indicates: “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]):

Voltron #1 CGC Census:  CGC pretends there are two types, instead of three.

Voltron #1 CGC Census: CGC pretends there are two types, instead of three, lumping together by cover price.

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.  Below for reference are full front covers of example copies of each of these three types:

• Direct Edition (most prevalent and best preserved type):

Voltron #1, Direct Edition example

Voltron #1, Direct Edition example (most prevalent and well-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! 🙂

– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition

Three Variants That Surprised Me

By Benjamin Nobel, April 11, 2018

Thanks to the help of users of The 2018 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A), we have gotten reports of titles that we missed — one of those titles really surprised me and motivated me to make this post!

Surprise #1: Blip #1 (Marvel, 2/83)!

First, what is Blip and why might the title give us something interesting to collect? Blip, while physically sized as a comic book, was marketed as “Blip: The Video Games Magazine” (my emphasis here on “Magazine”). And when we look up the CGC census entry for issue #1, we see this interesting key comments note:

Blip #1 CGC Census entry

“1st comic book appearance of, Mario & Donkey Kong.”

This issue is credited with the first comic book appearances of Mario and Donkey Kong — that’s interesting indeed! And the publication date, February 1983, places it right smack within Marvel’s 1980’s Canadian price variant window where newsstand copies of their comic books carried a single price (i.e. Marvel produced a small batch with higher cover price for the Canadian newsstand market, and a big batch with lower cover price for the US newsstand market). So what about the cover prices for Blip, self-described as a magazine, not a comic book?

Let’s go looking for a newsstand copy to find out! If we go hunting for a copy of Blip #1 on eBay… what do we find as far as direct editions vs. newsstand copies? We find direct editions out there — they have a Blip logo in place of a bar code — and depending on what’s listed at the time, we might also find newsstand copies when we look. At the particular time I went hunting on eBay, I found this:

Both direct edition and newsstand copies appear on eBay... but something about the newsstand copies really surprised me!!

Both direct edition and newsstand copies appear on eBay… but something about the newsstand copies really surprised me!!

We can tell the newsstand copies from their bar codes, but what do the cover price boxes of newsstand copies look like? Will we find a single price? Or, both US and Canadian prices? Let’s take a look… here’s a newsstand copy of #1, from that second eBay listing:

Blip #1 Newsstand example copy...

Blip #1 Newsstand example copy…

Let’s zoom in on that price box, shall we?

Blip #1 newsstand price box zoom-in.

Blip #1 newsstand price box zoom-in.

As we can see, this newsstand copy carries a $1.00 cover price, and “CAN. $1.25” beneath it, covering both the US and Canada.  With newsstand copies covering both countries in this way, there would be no need for Marvel to have produced single-price copies, right?  Right?  Well SURPRISE: $1.25 cover price variants actually exist too! Take a look:

Blip #1, $1.25 Cover Price Variant

It exists! Blip #1, $1.25 Cover Price Variant!

By publication window, it is possible that cover price variants for issues #1 through #7 of Blip exist (if any readers can personally verify other issues beyond #1 and #2 which we’ve already verified, please chime in!)

This fascinating situation for Blip #1 actually reminds me of an oldie-but-goodie which sure did surprise me in a very similar fashion when I first learned of it, and shares an interesting similarity with Blip — the similarity of being a Magazine (but in this case actually sized as one):

Surprise #2: Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 (Marvel, 7/68)

Published all the way back in July of 1968, with an awesome cover by John Romita and with story written by Stan Lee himself, Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 pre-dates the advent of direct editions and back in 1968 did not carry a bar code on the cover like we saw on the Blip cover.

The cover price of this magazine?  The vast majority of copies carry a 35 cent cover price along with the small print “40¢ in CAN”…  So with both countries covered in this way, there would be no need for Marvel to have produced any single-price copies, right?  Right?  Well SURPRISE:


Yep: single-price 40 cent cover price copies actually exist too!  And interestingly, CGC kept it simple when it came to categorizing these into their system…   With 1980’s comics, as we know, their current policy is to pretend there are only 2 types for each issue, instead of 3 — lumping together US newsstand and direct edition copies, and then breaking out Canadian price variant newsstand copies, as “Canadian Edition” in their system/labeling. But for Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1? They kept it simple: as you can see from the screenshot below, the 40¢ cover price copies are simply denoted “40 Cent Price Variant” (wouldn’t it have been nice had CGC used similar labeling terminology on the 1980’s Canadian price variants, i.e. “75 Cent Price Variant” etc.?):

CCG census entry:

If the regular copies carried US and Canadian prices, it would stand to reason that such copies were sold in the US and Canada (why bother to include the Canadian price otherwise). So if part of the market demand from Canada was satisfied by the copies with both prices on them, then only some remaining part of the market demand from Canada was satisfied by the single-price copies. How this split looked between the types — for both Spectacular Spider-Man and for Blip — is something I think we’re going to have to file under unsolved mysteries for now, but the CGC census data over time will be a great help in observing the relative rarity between the types (even though graded copies only represent a small sliver of what was sold to the public, CGC census data can tell us a lot about relative rarity between comics, much like election polling or television ratings are done with just a small sliver of the population but inform us about relative popularity).

Tangent Surprise: Zatanna Special #1 (DC, 1987)

Before I proceed to the third surprising variant I had in mind for this post, I want to go on a slight tangent and mention something else that has surprised me since the publication of our guide: we received reports of comics we had included in the guide, as actually being direct edition exclusives (that we should thus remove) — i.e. cases where collectors had concluded that newsstand copies simply do not exist and that only direct edition copies were ever sold for the given issue. One of the issues reported to us in this way (i.e. reported as being a direct edition exclusive that we should thus remove) was Zatanna Special #1 (published by DC in 1987).

Now normally, when we observe a direct edition comic book from the 1980’s that has one of these…

Zatanna Special Direct Edition Logo

… i.e. a box on the cover containing something other than a bar code, I’d naturally assume that newsstand copies were also produced for that issue (because why bother having a box included at all otherwise).  The use of these boxes in the design made it easy to run off the different batches, where only the black/key plate needed to be changed to transition between the direct edition and newsstand batches.  By contrast, take a comic from the 80’s that was a direct edition exclusive, like Omega Men #3 (too bad there was no newsstand distribution of that key, that would have been fun to collect if there was!), and there was simply no need for such a logo box because there was just the one print run batch… and so the cover simply doesn’t have a logo box:


Omega Men #3, first appearance of Lobo

But Zatanna Special #1 does have a logo box on its cover. So, shouldn’t newsstand copies also exist? Despite the existence of a logo box in the design of Zatanna Special #1, it was reported to us as being a direct edition exclusive, i.e. it was reported to us that no newsstand copies whatsoever exist of the issue, which was surprising for me to hear when it was reported.  I was eventually able to hunt down a newsstand copy (finding a US priced one):

Zatanna Special #1 Newsstand

They exist!  This is a US priced newsstand copy, and I haven’t seen a Canadian price variant yet, but you can see in the picture above that it carries a single price… [An expensive price that may have kept sales on the lower side — and up in Canada a full $2.85 was demanded!] Thus, knowing newsstand copies do exist and seeing the single price, we simply must presume that its Canadian Price Variant counterpart exists too! 

[The approach our team decided to take on the guide when considering reports of possible direct edition exclusives is that if the direct editions carry a logo box — like Zatanna Special #1 does — we must in turn assume newsstand distribution also occurred as our baseline assumption, even if the newsstand numbers were so extremely small that it might seem as though newsstand distribution did not occur by the difficulty of finding one.]

Interesting side note: DC has plenty of examples too, of comics where direct editions do not carry a logo box and yet newsstand editions still exist! One example like this which I collected recently is Detective Comics #583. Here’s an example direct edition pictured below… where’s the logo box? Surprise: It isn’t there!

Detective Comics #583, Direct Edition

And yet, newsstand copies of Detective #583 do in fact exist too; here’s an example of the Canadian Price Variant:

detective-583-Detective Comics #583, Canadian Price Variant Newsstand

Detective Comics #583, Canadian Price Variant Newsstand

And now to move on to the final comic I wanted to touch upon in this post:

Surprise #3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 (Archie, 8/88)

This post started with Blip #1, which is interesting to consider as a collectible because it is credited with the first appearance in comics of Mario and Donkey Kong, characters that made their debut on screens, in video games. Similarly, over in the world of the TMNT, there were certain characters that were freshly created for the television cartoon when it came out and therefore appeared for the first time on screens, meaning those characters only appeared in comics for the first time when that TV cartoon was adapted back over to comics!

For Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady, that adaptation back over to comics occurred in Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures mini-series of 1988 [the “it’s complicated” story of Krang’s first appearance is a very interesting one which I’ve written about in more detail here (part I) and here (part II)], with CGC crediting issue #1 with the “1st comic book appearance of, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady” as you can see in the key comments note screen-captured below:

TMNTA #1 (1988): “1st comic book appearance of, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady”

And what surprised me when I went looking for the Canadian price variant of this particular TMNT issue is that I didn’t find the price variant… SURPRISE: I found there were two price variant versions! Breaking the mold of direct editions carrying both US and CAN pricing, Archie published these with single-price newsstand editions and single-price direct editions! So if you go looking for a $1.25 cover price variant of this key issue, you actually have your pick: there exist newsstand copies with $1.25 cover price and there exist direct edition copies with $1.25 cover price — and similar to the Detective Comics direct edition example shown earlier, there is no logo box on the direct editions of this TMNT issue either! Take a look:

So how does CGC treat these two different $1.25 cover price versions, do they differentiate them? As of this writing, the answer to that question is no: what CGC has decided to do is “lump together” the direct edition and newsstand types by cover price alone — in other words, there is one entry covering all $1.00 cover price copies (newsstand and direct), and then there is a variant entry covering all the $1.25 cover price copies (newsstand and direct). The variant census entry is labeled as “Canadian Edition” as you can see in the screenshot below:


It would have been nice to know how each entry actually breaks down between newsstand and direct, but at least we will be able to observe something else that’s interesting from the census for TMNTA #1: for this issue, because of this phenomenon where both newsstand and direct editions exist with variant cover price, meaning the full Canadian market got $1.25 cover price copies (not just a portion of the Canadian market), we can make a prediction about the relative rarity and see if the census data over time supports that prediction as it accumulates.

The prediction would go like this: because the full ~10% of the North American comic book market by size that Canada represented at time of publication got $1.25 cover price copies (instead of only the newsstand portion of the Canadian market getting variants as was the case with Marvel and DC in the 80’s), versus the US market getting $1.00 cover price copies, over time we might expect to see about 10% of the census copies for this issue land in that Canadian Edition variant census entry. As of this writing the sample size is still pretty tiny for this issue at just 218 grand total copies graded to date, but ~11% of those copies on record carry the $1.25 cover price.

[Happily, I’m personally responsible for submitting a nice handful of those variants, having found a comic shop in Toronto with a bunch of CGC-worthy copies (all direct editions) and I bought the whole bunch and submitted them all. This was one of the rare cases where I actually achieved a grade of CGC 9.8 on a Canadian price variant, all on account of those direct editions having been so well preserved — the experience really drove home for me how comparably difficult it is to find one of the newsstand-exclusive Canadian price variants that actually comes back in that grade!]

I wish CGC would start breaking out the census between newsstand and direct for all comics where different types exist — if they did, we could then see how many copies are direct edition vs. newsstand (and in which grades), and I for one hope that CGC will improve upon not just their Canadian price variant labeling in the future (read more of my thoughts on that subject here), but I also hope CGC will eventually expand their differentiation of newsstand versions from direct editions to encompass all cases where multiple types exist, and not just break out newsstand copies in select special situations they deem “variant worthy” (but at least they’re breaking out those special situations at all, one of which is our 1980’s Type 1A price variants on account of the higher cover price!).

Happy Collecting! 🙂
– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition

Investing in Canadian Price Variants: 11 Tips

By Benjamin Nobel, 2/20/2018

Since the time our price guide team published The 2018 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A), our guide has drawn the interest of many flavors of collectors in our great hobby, including collectors keen on investing in Canadian Price Variants. Here are 11 tips for the investors among us!

Tip #1 – Target Keys

Investors are fortunate that the 1980’s cover price variant window was nice and big — from 10/1982 to 8/1986 for Marvel and out to 9/1988 for D.C. for example — giving us a great number of major and minor keys! That’s a wonderfully large span, especially in contrast to the size of the 1970’s cover price variant windows (the 30¢ and 35¢ variants) which were tiny windows by comparison. Here is a top 50 list for the 1980’s cover price variants (50 keys not enough for you? Here’s 300!)

Tip #2 – Target High Grades

It is the case for both Marvel and D.C. that their 1980’s comic book cover price variants were only from the newsstand distribution channel (direct editions meanwhile carried both US and CAD prices on their covers worldwide). Newsstand comics are absolutely notorious for getting beaten up, because the primary newsstand customers were readers. For a collector to carefully preserve a newsstand comic of this era was the exception, not the norm. Finding surviving cover price variants in VF/NM and higher, and especially the top grades — especially up in 9.8 (check out this comparison to the 1970’s) — is a huge challenge, making the highest grade copies the ones with the most value potential, especially as collectors grow to more fully appreciate the newsstand-exclusivity-aspect over time.

Tip #3 – Get Your Best Variants Professionally Graded

Maximize the value of your best-condition variant keys by getting them professionally graded — compared to “raw” copies, professionally graded copies tend to garner a marketplace premium far in excess of the grading cost! [Note that as of today, CGC “breaks out” these variants on census with the label notation “Canadian Edition” which we feel should be improved upon — related reading on this subject: “Canadian Edition” vs. “Canadian Cover Price Variant”]

Tip #4 – Undervalued 1st Appearances

As different comic book characters have gained prominence and popularity, the value of their first appearances has tended to rise — and one way that comic book characters can gain popularity is through movies and television! One strategy that therefore might succeed is to target the cover price variant for a character you have identified as having the potential for greater future popularity. Here is a handy list of 1st (and 2nd) appearances from the 1980’s with cover price variants.

Another strategy is to keep your eyes and ears open for general recommendations of comics from the 1980’s — if you see a great recommendation for a Marvel comic from 1985 for example, you know that such a book lands within the cover price variant window and may have had newsstand distribution…  Then, while others may go out and buy direct edition copies upon reading the recommendation, you can meanwhile seek the cover price variant!

Tip #5 – Seek “Mis-listed” Variants

Look for mis-listed variants as a great way to achieve a cost basis close to the going rate for direct editions! Awareness of these cover price variants of the 1980’s is still low enough that some original owners do not realize they own anything different, and many only recognize that they own a given title and issue number — so when they go to list their rare comic for sale, often times you will see a cover price variant pictured, and yet the listing is neither titled nor priced for sale as the cover price variant. For example: instead of titling their listing “X-Factor #6 Canadian Price Variant” a seller unaware of this “class” of variants may title their copy merely “X-Factor #6” and then put up the listing at a buy-it-now price matching the going rate for direct editions!

Tip #6 – Invest in Comics You Love

We all remember the “Great Recession” not too many years back. It is important to remember that asset prices of all types — whether stocks, bonds, houses, or collectibles — have their ups and also their downs, so be prepared to have the patience to ride the roller-coaster when you step aboard it. An approach that makes it much easier to find that patience is to invest in comics you already love anyway!

Tip #7 – Popular Titles Attract Completists

Like any valuable asset, the supply and demand ultimately drive market prices. The supply of Canadian price variants is an extremely low percentage — here’s a walkthrough of how we arrive at 2% of surviving copies. As for the demand side of the equation, an element to know about is the existence of completists (aka completionists), who look to collect entire sets and runs, not just individual key issues. Popular titles (like Amazing Spider-Man at Marvel and Batman at DC) tend to attract completists, driving incremental variant demand.

Tip #8 – Pay Attention to Publication Date

At the time of the 1980’s cover price variant window, the industry was undergoing a sea change when it came to how comics were distributed. Entering the 1980’s, direct edition comics (which were direct-sold to comic shops on a discounted but non-returnable basis) were a relatively new invention, and the newsstand distribution channel still accounted for the bulk of comic book distribution. But the direct edition distribution channel was a dramatic success, and by the middle of the decade the scales had tipped the other way, with direct editions now representing the majority of sales. This matters to Canadian price variant scarcity, because the variants at Marvel and DC were exclusive to the newsstand channel. So all else equal, the later the publication date of a given issue, the lower the percentage of cover price variants we’d expect for that issue.

Tip #9 – Know About The DC “Implosion”

With Marvel expanding its market share in the 1970’s, DC attempted to compete, with more titles… But by 1978 poor sales forced them to reverse course: in the summer of 1978, DC announced staff layoffs and canceled about 40% of its titles (incredibly, Detective Comics was almost among the titles axed!). Marvel’s dominance continued into the 1980’s, and DC went through a period of surprisingly low print runs — for example, Batman issues in the range of #357-402 have the lowest print runs in the history of the title at just 75,303 to 97,741 total copies per month. From there, layer on Canadian price variant rarity and the result is an astonishingly low number of price variants; layer on some of the other themes talked about earlier, such as a key first appearance, in highest grades, and professionally graded by CGC (or CBCS, or PGX), and the result can be a DC cover price variant so highly collectible that only a handful like it exist!

Tip #10 – Yellow Label — Witnessed Authenticated Signatures

Yet another layer of collectible interest you can add to your investment is the addition of creator signatures: Both CGC and CBCS offer a “yellow label” service whereby authorized witnesses will watch your comic being signed, and afterward the book is taken into the grading company’s possession to be graded. The result is guaranteed-authentic autographs! If you picture a Venn Diagram of overlapping circles, starting with a given issue number of collectible interest, then layering on the Canadian Price Variant rarity, then the rarity in highest grades, then the copies that have been graded professionally, and then, of those, the number that have been signed by creators and given a yellow label… You can see how it is possible to achieve an incredibly rare collectible. And over time, many important creator signatures also eventually become irreplaceable with no fresh signature possible.

Tip #11 – Relative Value Is Key

Something to always keep in mind when it comes to investing (in anything) is that some types of assets can be approached on the basis of intrinsic value and expected cash flows, while others can’t — if you invest in an office building, you can expect tenants to pay you rent which can help you figure out a fair value for the building; if you invest in a high quality bond, you can expect to collect regular interest payments which can help you figure out a fair value for the bond.

But what’s the correct value of a work of fine art, or a baseball card, or a coin, or a comic book? You can’t value a comic book by adding together the worth of the paper plus the worth of the ink… and if you were to buy a given comic book today, that comic won’t throw off any cash whatsoever between now and the time you finally sell it, hopefully for a higher price — so all of the gains need to come from that final sale.

But the “hopefully for a higher price” aspect of that last sentence requires that the price rise in the future… which ties back purely to supply and demand for the comic. A great phrase often used to describe the need for a future buyer willing to pay more than you did in order to make a gain is requiring “a greater fool.” It can be argued that this dynamic therefore makes “investing” in all collectible categories — whether comic books or coins or fine art — really actually fall under the category of “speculating” instead, by relying on that greater fool in order to make money in the end (if you hear someone arguing “you aren’t investing, you are speculating” when it comes to comics, then that’s probably where they’re coming from, and they have a valid point).

But there is an approach to comics that I feel can be considered investing, and it comes down to a relative value viewpoint… where Canadian Price Variants are one example of a tremendous relative value opportunity in today’s marketplace.

Suppose you and I each own a pair of copies of an important issue, for a total of four copies between us: for each of us, Copy A of the pair is a direct edition, and Copy B is a newsstand edition of the very same issue — and the newsstand book is a Canadian price variant. We know that the price variant is dramatically more rare than the direct edition, but for the purposes of this thought exercise, suppose I offer to make a market and either buy from you or sell to you one or both of the books in question, at a flat $10 a piece in either direction. If you were to sell me your direct edition for $10, and then buy my price variant for the same $10, you’ve just advanced yourself nicely ahead of me on a relative basis: you now own two price variants (leaving poor me with the two prevalent direct editions)!

In this thought exercise you basically just did an arbitrage transaction, where you upgraded to the most rare type from the least rare type, without adding to your cost basis. But with the Internet enabling the whole world as your trading partners, opportunities like this aren’t just a thought exercise, they are real — in fact, all sorts of relative value opportunities can be found on a routine basis to those with their eyes open!

Another type of successful arbitrage you hear about all the time is an upgrade on grade without adding to cost basis: such as, for example, selling a professionally graded 9.2 copy of an important key, then investing the proceeds into an even nicer looking “raw” copy of the same book, getting it graded, and earning a 9.4. Those who succeed at such upgrades deserve to brag their accomplishments, because they are not without hard work (and risk-taking), where studying a raw comic to ascertain its grade potential (perhaps identifying flaws that can be “pressed” out) and then landing it for the targeted price, all requires skills of observation, careful study, patience, and negotiation — an investor investigating buying an office building would need similar skills.

And then of course the attractive attributes of different keys themselves can be compared as well, with an eye on the market price each key has been achieving — perhaps reaching a conclusion that it is a good time to sell Relatively Overpriced Key A, and invest the proceeds into Relatively Undervalued Key B.

So by comparing comics on a relative basis — A versus B (vs. C vs. D…) — one can identify opportunities to capture relative value, and in capturing such opportunities, you can invest in turning that relative value into actual cash… in an outcome that does not require a greater fool! In the 9.2-to-9.4 upgrade example, the market price for the key need not rise in order to come out ahead — rather, it is the spread between the 9.4 value and the 9.2 value that was captured if/when you sell the 9.4.

Now imagine if the 9.2 sold in that example was a direct edition, while the 9.4 acquired was a newsstand edition, and the newsstand edition was a Canadian Price Variant, and before getting it graded you got CGC or CBCS to witness a creator signature, getting you back a yellow label! Think of all the relative value angles you would have captured! Point being — there are ways you can earn a return on your investment in the world of comics that come not from requiring a “greater fool” (requiring that the value of the issue number rise in the future) but instead comes from capturing different types of relative value: and that type of activity is a better fit with the term “special situations investing” than it is with “speculating” if you ask me!

And in the end, if you also follow the tip to invest in comics that you love, then in between acquisition and sale you’ll earn a “happiness dividend” each time you look upon your comic and smile, for as long as you own it! 🙂

Happy Investing! 🙂

– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition, Direct Edition vs. Newsstand Edition Comic Books

CGC 9.8 Census Comparison: 1970’s Keys vs. 1980’s Keys

By Benjamin Nobel, December 9, 2017


The #1 most frequently asked question I receive about 1980’s Type 1A Cover Price Variants is always some variation on the theme of: I need 9.8’s but can’t find them! Help!

Everyone who collects 1980’s comics appears to be “pre-conditioned” to expect an abundance of 9.8’s from that era — and who can blame them for that expectation in the context of what happened to comic book distribution during the 1980’s and what that meant for high grade survivorship?!

Direct Edition sales took over in the 1980’s to eventually become the dominant form of comic book distribution [read more about this]. And such copies were direct-sold to specialty comic shops on a discounted but non-returnable basis — those shops then handled the comics with great care because they were catering to a customer base heavily focused on the condition of the comics they took home.

The comic shop I frequented as a kid had a special program for repeat customers like me, where for any title we wanted to collect, a mint-condition copy of each new issue was bagged, boarded, tagged with our name, and set aside in boxes that lived behind the counter, ensuring that not a single mint condition collectible was missed.

Little did I realize at the time, that my friends and I were all taking home and preserving direct editions (the newsstand vs. direct edition difference wasn’t something we even thought about back then)!  Our comic shop proprietor would sometimes even talk up particular new issues judged to have great collectible appeal by sharing stories with us wide-eyed kids about the big-money customers who were buying 250+ copies at a time of the new issue for investment!  Who could resist such stories — each one of us in the crowd would scramble to buy a handful of copies of that new issue for ourselves, even if it wasn’t already on our list of set-aside titles!

So it is really no surprise that this mountain of well-preserved 1980’s (and onward) direct edition comics originally sold in specialty comic shops has led to a nice supply of CGC 9.8 graded copies all these decades later.  This situation creates quite an incredible juxtaposition between the number of copies known to exist in 9.8 on the CGC census for 1970’s keys, versus 1980’s keys…  And this situation also really highlights the incredible appeal of the Type 1A copies of the same 1980’s keys, as newsstand-exclusive cover price variants of the very same issues (below is an animated graphic and then the three individual slides are presented after it and can be clicked to enlarge; I selected ten of the top 1970’s keys, plus the top 10 issues from our 1980’s Type 1A price guide, for this comparison):

I selected 10 keys from the 1970's and 1980's, and looked up the number of CGC 9.8's known to exist to date, by checking the Census. I then looked up the numbers for the Type 1A Cover Price Variant for the same 1980's comics. This animated graphic shows a table and then bar charts of the numbers.

I selected 10 keys from the 1970’s and 1980’s, and looked up the number of CGC 9.8’s known to exist to date, by checking the Census. I then looked up the numbers for the Type 1A Cover Price Variant for the same 1980’s comics. This animated graphic shows a table and then bar charts of the numbers.

What a striking comparison!

Meanwhile, some collectors, ones who don’t really think about or care much about relative rarity between types, might look at a Type 1A variant newsstand comic from the 1980’s and think: “it is the same thing as the gorgeous CGC 9.8 direct edition copy I already own, only there’s a bar code on that one instead of the logo that’s on mine, and, that one has a different cover price… What’s really so appealing about a different cover price and a bar code?

But such collectors who would focus on the “appeal or lack of appeal” of the physical differences alone are missing what the rest of us are seeing — that the absolutely dramatic difference in rarity is itself the glaring appeal of the higher cover price variants among first-print copies of each issue. These Type 1A variants are an opportunity for us to collect the same 1980’s comics we know and love, but via a true first-print US-published cover price variant version that is dramatically more rare.

Those of us who collect these Type 1A variants aren’t suggesting that “75¢ is a ‘better’ cover price to have been charged than 60¢” or that “bar codes are intrinsically ‘better’ on comic book covers than logos” — instead we’re saying to look at the facts surrounding 1980’s Type 1A variant creation and distribution: the 75¢ type is demonstrably much more rare than the 60¢ type (or whatever the pair of cover prices happened to be issue by issue)! [Not to mention the fact that awareness of this type of variant still has plenty of runway left before it reaches “awareness maturity” (for a peer group, we can contrast to the maturity of awareness of 30¢ and 35¢ variants where there is widespread awareness in the hobby today of those 1970’s cover price variants… but once upon a time they too were under the radar!), and also, that the question of “what to call them” has presently been answered by CGC (as far as how they label the slabs) in such a way that there is still a lot of confusion out there about what these variants actually are, with these 1980’s Type 1A variants being conflated with the Canadian Editions of the 1940’s/1950’s that were published abroad by a different publisher, on different equipment, with different content, and at a different time (read more about this).]

Collectors who do care about relative rarity among first-print types (and there are huge numbers of us out there) will recognize the same pattern over and over again in the world of comic books through time: whether we’re talking about the relative rarity between a 35¢ cover price copy of Star Wars #1 vs. a 30¢ copy, or whether we’re talking about the relative rarity between a 75¢ cover price copy of Amazing Spider-Man #238 vs. a 60¢ copy… or whether we’re talking about the relative rarity between a $3.99 cover price copy of Amazing Spider-Man #607 vs. a $2.99 copy, etc.: Those of us who care about relative rarity and are offered the choice of a Near Mint copy of either type will like the dramatically-more-rare higher cover price type over the regular, lower cover priced type. To me, if I can get in at a similar cost basis, the choice is an absolute “no brainer” — I’d like the dramatically-more-rare higher cover price variant copy please!

Here’s a recent quote from another collector who gets it and who recently articulated the collectible appeal of the 1980’s Type 1A Cover Price Variants beautifully and succinctly:

“I do like them and there is a reason. I grew up on many of these comic books and stories. Some are my favorites, but there is the stigma of too many copies being too easily accessible for many of them.

I want an investment worthy copy of some of these keys. Do I disregard U.S. newsstands or direct market copies of the time? No, but as one who keeps the comic investment aspect in mind, ’80s Canadian Newsstand comics do appeal to the rarity factor that I have always yapped about since the beginning of this site.”

Vic J. of Total Comic Mayhem, on 11/24/2017

Rarity matters. And Type 1A 1980’s cover price variants have rarity in spades: Not only did they have restricted North American distribution, but they were newsstand exclusives that were therefore purchased mostly by readers — because the “real collectors” meanwhile understood that the condition of newsstand comics was going to be terrible since they were handled like magazines with no staff training to preserve condition, and so most collectors were over in comic shops taking home pristine-condition direct editions!

Either one of those two rarity factors for 1980’s Type 1A variants (restricted distribution area + newsstand exclusivity) would already have made them plenty attractive… But having both factors in play leads to extremely low odds of a given Type 1A copy from Marvel or DC surviving in 9.8 shape from the 1980’s through to today. Hopefully over time collectors will come to grasp this rarity, but for now, judging by how often people ask me about 9.8 Type 1A copies for issues where none are even on census yet, it apparently remains baffling to many collectors out there just why they cannot find the 9.8’s they are looking for… Perhaps the newsstand exclusivity aspect isn’t being appreciated (newsstand exclusivity for Marvel & DC’s 1980’s Type 1A comic books that is — Archie is meanwhile known to have done some Type 1A direct editions here and there, one example being Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1, the first appearance of Krang in comics, which has both newsstand and direct edition $1.25 cover price types). As Overstreet Advisor Bill Alexander put it, “People just have no idea how ‘uncared for’ and mishandled newsstand copies were”:

“The chances of a Canadian cover price 75¢, 95¢, or $1.00 variant surviving in the top grades is very slim indeed. I can remember all too well how newsstand copies were not cared for, especially by the retailers who put them out on the spinner racks. I can remember how I would walk into a 7-11 store and see a shopping cart with string-bundled comics waiting to be unleashed onto the comic racks by store employees. The strings cut right into the spines on most of the comics in the bundle, leaving deep grooves and indentation marks. This lowered many of the NM copies down to FN/VF to VF grade even before they were crammed into the comic racks where they were then carelessly handled by kids. I believe the few comic rack newsstand copies that survived in NM grade were in the center portions of the bundled comics (protected in that way), or else the ‘string bundle effect’ would have surely gotten to them. People just have no idea how ‘uncared for’ and mishandled newsstand copies were.”

— Bill Alexander, Overstreet Advisor

And as Senior Overstreet Advisor Jon McClure noted in his recent market report:

“Most of the Newsstand editions were bought by non-collecting readers, with a much lower survival rate, and most are well read FA/G to FN/VF copies. Most VF/NM or better Type 1a Canadian Newsstand Cover Price Variants are 50 to 250 times Scarcer than their US Direct Market counterparts in high grade…”

— Jon McClure, Senior Overstreet Advisor

As more collectors come to further study newsstand comics vs. their prevalent direct edition counter-parts and read newsstand rarity discussions & estimates, and the drastic difference in high grade survivorship between the types eventually becomes common knowledge, perhaps “9.0 will be the new 9.8” when it comes to newsstand comics broadly (and 1980’s Type 1A variants in particular) — because for certain 1980’s keys, if you are going to be so discerning about grade that you demand a 9.8 for your Type 1A cover price variant copy then depending on the issue you might very well find your grade goal an impossibility! For a Type 1A copy to have survived from the 1980’s to present in 9.8 shape, it needed an incredible amount of good luck, plus it needed a collector to have taken it home instead of a reader.

“We have found that VF and NM newsstand editions are far scarcer as a percentage of issues that we purchase in collections. Simply put, newsstand readers (and the staff of newsstands) were far more likely to beat up their comics, and newsstand racks (such as metal spin racks) actually damage comics darn near the minute that they are racked. As a result, finding the few surviving NM newsstand editions is surprisingly difficult.

Aside from getting damaged, however, we have also discovered that comics purchased from newsstands are far more likely to have been destroyed. You would think that newsstand editions from 1980 would be relatively easy to find, and indeed, they are. But not nearly in the disproportiate ratios that the original distribution statistics would indicate. Our experience has shown that comics sold in comics shops had a 90% probability of being put into a plastic bag and preserved, while comics purchased from newsstands had a 90% probability of either being read to death, or thrown away.”

— Chuck Rozanski, Newsstand Editions History

So to all the collectors who keep asking a variation on the same common question about 1980’s Type 1A Variants — I need 9.8’s but can’t find them! Help! — my advice is to take that grade goal down at least several notches… Think about those tables/charts showing the 9.8 census counts, think about the explosion of Direct Edition sales in the 1980’s and how well preserved those direct editions are that you’ve become used to, and then re-calibrate your grade expectations for Type 1A 1980’s comics as newsstand exclusives. If it was a 1970’s key you were collecting, wouldn’t you be thrilled to own a 9.0 copy of any of the key issues I selected to list in that table?

Since the 1980’s Type 1A cover price variants were newsstand exclusives with very low distribution as a percentage of each issue, I think collectors of these variants need to set their grade bar according to the reality, rather than according to what we’re used to when it comes to the direct edition peers.

Personally, when I open the box from CGC and see the Type 1A variant key I sent in achieved a grade of 9.0, I break into a huge grin; and when I see a 9.4 or higher I shout for joy and do a happy dance! The very few times in all these many years of collecting type 1A’s that I’ve ever opened the box to see a 9.8, I’ve felt like I spotted a unicorn!

Happy Collecting Everyone! 🙂

– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition, Growing Newsstand Awareness

Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop!

By Benjamin Nobel, 11/24/2017

Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop

Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop, 11/24/2017

Our 2018 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A) has been featured in Gemstone’s “Scoop” (here is a link to the article at!

As the publisher of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, the folks at Gemstone are keenly aware of the history in the hobby of the 1970’s Type 1 Cover Price Variants… and one of our price guide collaborators in particular — Jon McClure — was right in the center of that history.  Interesting how strongly history now “rhymes” with awareness of the 1980’s Type 1A Cover Price Variants!

I find it to be an excellent step in the direction of growing awareness of 1980’s Type 1A Cover Price Variants that key people at Gemstone have now become aware of our project, have come to understand the very specific scope of our project, have now learned more about just what these variants are and why collectors are increasingly coming to understand their collectible appeal, have now learned how — importantly — our project is not competitive to Overstreet but complimentary…  and that ultimately we were approved for Scoop inclusion!

Growth in CGC Census Entries: 5 in 2001, 532 by November 2017.

Growth in CGC Census Entries: 5 in 2001, 532 by November 2017.

Something that speaks volumes about the increasing collector interest in Type 1A cover price variants of the 1980’s is the growing number of CGC-recognized issues/titles that continue to appear on census year after year.  Back in 2001, in the first historical “Census Snapshot” available on Greg Holland’s CGC Data research website, we see that there are a mere 5 issues “broken out” back in 2001: these being Amazing Spider-Man #252, Transformers #1 & #4, and Uncanny X-Men #182 & #205. That’s it! Just five census entries for these variants back in 2001!  Advance forward in time from 2001 to 2004 and we’re up to 24 issues “broken out”, including Secret Wars #8 and Amazing Spider-Man #238; by the end of 2007 the count of broken-out issues had advanced to 58; 164 by the end of 2010, 207 by the end of 2013. But then by the end of 2016, the number of census entries has more than doubled: we reach 415… and fast-forward to the most recent November 2017 census snapshot and we’re up to 532!

Growth in awareness of the 1980’s class of Type 1A Price Variants is riding a wave of increased collector awareness about the newsstand vs. direct edition difference in general; and among collectors who have come to understand this difference between newsstand and direct edition comics, their eventually noticing that there are two types of newsstand comics during a period of time in the 1980’s is basically inevitable…

Timeline: 1980's newsstand comics

Our Scoop inclusion is one more incremental step towards broader awareness of Type 1A Price Variants, and will put our guide in front of a lot of very important people in the hobby… so we’re excited!  🙂

Happy Collecting! 🙂

– Ben p.s.  Since I don’t know how long they archive articles for at Scoop, I have also taken a screenshot of it below:

Scoop 11-24-2017:  Type 1A Cover Price Variant Guide Released

Scoop 11-24-2017: Type 1A Cover Price Variant Guide Released