Australian Newsstand Edition, Canadian Newsstand Edition, Direct Edition vs. Newsstand Edition Comic Books, Growing Newsstand Awareness

Applause To CBCS’s New “75¢ Canadian Price Variant” Labeling

By Benjamin Nobel, October 9, 2018

The first type 1A cover price variant to be labeled “75¢ Canadian Price Variant” by CBCS.

My fellow price guide collaborator, Angelo Virone, has just received back the very first CBCS slab carrying their new labeling treatment for Type 1A cover price variant comics: instead of “Canadian Edition” in the variant field of the label, going forward CBCS will now use “75¢ Canadian Price Variant” (with the variant name beginning with the individual variant cover price for the particular issue, 75¢ or otherwise)!

This excellent improvement by CBCS demands our applause! Three cheers for CBCS!!! I have no doubt this change required a huge amount of effort to accomplish; if you had asked me a year ago when I discussed the “what to call these” question and encouraged grading companies to make an improvement, I would have said that the best we collectors should hope for would be that a grading company like CBCS would be able to do a “find/replace” and go from “Canadian Edition” to “Canadian Price Variant” — i.e. that having the variant cover price itself in the variant name seemed like too much to hope for because of the man hours necessary to input each individual cover price and change each census entry one by one…

Since then, as collector interest in Type 1A price variants has continued to build, pressure on the grading companies to make a labeling improvement has built as well; and earlier in the year we saw an incremental improvement to CGC’s labeling — although they retained the “Canadian Edition” variant name, they began to input the variant cover price for each issue onto the right-hand side of their labels on a piecemeal basis as new books are submitted.

Not to be outdone, CBCS decided to take on the workload necessary to input each cover price into the variant name itself in their census entries — and in doing so, CBCS has now leap-frogged CGC in appropriately labeling Type 1A cover price variant comics as cover price variants and with the individual cover price included in the variant name!

This move by CBCS is a milestone moment. When I first looked at the new label atop Angelo’s slab (shown below), it struck me that for all of us who work so hard to hunt down these rare variants, we’re going to want this new CBCS label (I for one am absolutely going to send my next submission of Type 1A variants to CBCS) because we will feel gratification when our comics are appropriately recognized as the 1st print US-published cover price variants that they are!

75¢ Canadian Price Variant - CBCS

In the past I had argued that the ideal label name for a comic like the above was “75¢ Cover Price Variant,” but I recognized how time-consuming a task it would be to accomplish inclusion of the price in the variant name itself (necessitating each variant cover price be individually inputted for each of the many variants already on census). Since 75¢ was the intended price for Canada, using the shortcut “Canadian Price Variant” would have been understandable and likely a heck of a lot easier — so it is wonderful that CBCS has taken the extra time and effort to place the cover price itself in the name.

At first it struck me that including both “75¢” and “Canadian” was redundant — either of those words tells us we’re looking at the Type 1A variant — but I think CBCS may be including both of those words because the labeling change they have made is larger than the newsstand cover price variants of the 1980’s… They are actually changing their labeling for all of the different “classes” of Type 1A variants, and the inclusion of “Canadian” or “Australian” or “U.K.” helps identify which “class” the given book belongs to — here below is a quote from CBCS’s International Comic Specialist, Tim Bildhauser, commenting on the labeling change:

“CBCS’s perspective on labeling comics submitted for grading has always been to do so as accurately as possible and providing as much information about the books on the label as we can fit. We had previously notated these as “Canadian Edition” and, while that’s not necessarily an incorrect classification, it also doesn’t do a clear enough explanation of the difference from the standard U.S. versions of these books. A more detailed notation was needed to not only make them more identifiable but also to help educate newer collectors that might not be familiar with these books.

We will be carrying this change in notation over to both the Australian newsstand comics from the early 1990s as well as the various U.K. price variants as well.”

— Tim Bildhauser, CBCS International Comic Specialist

So indeed, this is a milestone moment not just for the newsstand-exclusive 1980’s cover price variants but for all Type 1A price variants! The terms “Type 1” and “Type 1A” were coined by fellow price guide collaborator Jon McClure. Most collectors are familiar with the 30¢ and 35¢ price variants of the 1970’s — these are “Type 1” variants. Such price variants are true 1st print US-published copies, fully identical on the inside to the other first print copies but carrying a different cover price; and as far as their distribution, Type 1 variants were restricted to certain test markets. Type 1A variants are also true 1st print US-published copies, also fully identical on the inside to the rest of the print run, but carrying a different cover price and restricted in their distribution to a certain country as the target market.

I checked in with Jon to get his reaction to the new CBCS labeling change. He said as follows:

“How we categorize books, and especially what we name them, has a tremendous impact upon value and desirability. Calling any U.S. Published Cover Price Variants by the name “Canadian Edition” conflates them with foreign editions which is misleading to collectors. The new “75¢ Canadian Price Variant” CBCS labeling is a tremendous improvement! Type 1a variants are universally scarcer than regular editions, regardless of era, going all the way back to the Golden Age. Because scarcity and demand drive the market, CBCS’s new formal recognition of them as price variants ends the “Canadian Edition” (or UK or Australian edition) nonsense for U.S. published comics and provides accuracy for the fast growing market of Type 1a variant comics. CBCS has done the hobby a great service by properly identifying such books. I predict that the fast growing Type 1a variant market will reflect and embrace this important change with ever-increasing fervor, as collectors realize what they are actually looking at (for a change), and that they will pursue and invest in them accordingly.”

— Jon McClure, Senior Overstreet Advisor

CBCS is on a roll with their labeling improvements… Last year, CBCS began to “break out” newsstand comics broadly, from their direct edition counter-parts — recognizing what I would call a “mega-trend” in the hobby. On page 178 of this year’s Overstreet, Steve Ricketts of CBCS discusses this trend, stating as follows:

“Newsstand and Direct variants are quickly gaining popularity with the mainstream collectors. CBCS has seized the reins on this niche of the hobby, by being the only grading service to identify Newsstand and Direct Edition copies in the variant field of the label on books from 1977 through 2000. Once the CBCS census goes live, it will be interesting to see the numbers that have been submitted. In the late 1970’s, Direct Edition comics were less common than Newsstand Editions. As years progressed, Newsstand copies became more and more scarce, with the Newsstand copies of some comics being incredibly hard to find. The hobby will start to learn about the scarcity of each issue in the coming years. More information is better for everyone, especially involving something that was hiding right under our very noses.”

— Steve Ricketts, CBCS Head Presser

It is indeed an exciting time to be a collector of newsstand comics; and if we’ve already reached the conclusion that we should be hunting down the more-rare newsstand version of a given comic from the 1980’s-onward, instead of the prevalent direct edition version, then indeed if there’s an even-more-rare newsstand version — a Type 1A Cover Price Variant newsstand version — then shouldn’t that be the type we treasure the most? And after all of our hard work hunting down that most rare of all the types, do we not want our selected grading company to properly recognize our comic with appropriate labeling? My applause to CBCS for giving Type 1A cover price variant collectors that gift: the ability to now have a slab that dignifies our variants with a price variant label!

You can bet my next submission of Type 1A comics is headed to CBCS — I want that new label atop my Type 1A’s! 🙂 This change by CBCS has elevated their grading company to “top-of-mind” for Cover Price Variant (“CPV”) collectors. Fellow guide collaborator and CPV collector and historian Angelo Virone agrees and puts it this way:

“Eureka! C.B.C.S. has done it!

Being the “first mover” and correcting labels to better reflect historical accuracy, regardless of the cost incurred and manpower needed, elevates this respected company to a level that is second-to-none.

As a play on words from a famous quote after the lunar landing, “That’s one small step for a collector, one giant leap for the comic book collecting community.”

In my humble opinion, I believe we are now at the top of the second inning … skipping the third … and now entering the fourth. This is an exciting time to collect and/or start investing in Canadian, Australian and U.K. Cover Price Variants because awareness of their scarcity is picking up, thus increasing demand and leading to future potential price increases.”

— Angelo Virone, Cover Price Variant Collector and Historian

Happy CPV Collecting, everyone! 🙂
– Ben

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$3.99 Newsstand Editions, 35 Cent Variants, Australian Newsstand Edition, Canadian Newsstand Edition

6 Epic CGC Labeling Blunders Of Price Variant Comics, And What We Can Learn From Them

By Benjamin Nobel, September 26, 2018

Off the bat, the very first thing I would like to state is that I am a fan of CGC, a customer of CGC, and I would not hesitate to recommend CGC to others. And, I believe that everybody makes mistakes — we are all only human, after all! Labeling mistakes are bound to happen. And mistakes will happen at any grading company. Even epic ones, like mis-labeling a Star Wars #1 reprint as the rare 35¢ cover price variant (yep, that will be one of the six examples; read on…).

Ever since CGC introduced the online form method of order entry by customers, it feels to me like I’ve been seeing more and more labeling blunders. Have you noticed this too? And to my way of thinking, an increase in labeling errors makes a whole lot of sense to me under this new system. Because with the old way, when submissions came in on paper, how did those books get entered into the computers at CGC? Well, while I have no first-hand knowledge of the detailed inner workings at CGC, I have to imagine that in those days of only paper submissions, a person at CGC needed to themselves enter each book into the computer, as the order was verified, book by book. How else would those books have gotten off the paper and into the computers?

Picture yourself doing the following task: you are going through a stack of raw books one at a time, with the information for each book listed out on a paper next to you, and you are typing each one of those books into a computer spreadsheet as you go through the stack — and one of the columns in the spreadsheet is the variant designation for the book. Because you are doing that data entry, you are probably more inclined to be checking for correctness as you type the books in, ensuring that if a variant is mentioned on the paper, that it matches up to the book before your fingers type it in…

But times have changed with the advent of the online submission system: now, the customer enters everything into the computer… So by the time the submission arrives at CGC, the computer already has all the information for each book as CGC’s staff is unpacking the order… that is, the computer has the information that the customer entered. And while I have no first-hand knowledge of the inner workings and steps of the internal process at CGC, I imagine that this new method is an absolutely huge time-saver, allowing for a much more efficient order acceptance process where instead of entering everything, they now only need to check everything that the customer already entered themselves.

Greater efficiency in the CGC submission process brings good for all of us — CGC presumably saves many man-hours and therefore costs, and in theory those incremental savings can be passed along to customers in the form of better rates, better speed, or both. But is some amount of accuracy lost in the trade-off?

In the book Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, the authors show just how powerful the concept of the “default option” really is — presented with a default, i.e. something that happens if we take no action, we humans are very likely to just go with that default. Thinking about this concept as applied to CGC’s new online entry system, what I believe we’re witnessing as collectors, is that when a customer enters their comic as a variant in error, it is now much more likely that it will remain in the computers there at CGC as that variant, in error, all the way through to arriving at your doorstep: because once the customer has entered the variant information, it appears that what the customer entered is now the default option — i.e. for an error to be corrected later, CGC staff would have to catch the mistake and fix it sometime during the rest of the process.

Suppose for sake of illustrative example, that someone owns one of these:
Star Wars #1 Diamond Reprint

As the customer, how would we enter that comic into the online form? First, we’d type in the Title: Star Wars. Next, we’d select the Publisher: Marvel Comics. For the Issue #, we’d type 1. Then the Issue Date: 7/77. Now comes the crux of what this post is about: the Variant field. A drop-down appears, and the customer may optionally select a choice from a drop-down list. As the mouse hovers up and down, the choice selected is highlighted in gray. Below is a screenshot of what this looks like:

cgc-comic-entry-form-online

It is extremely easy to select the wrong choice by mistake. Hover your mouse ever so slightly in the wrong direction, and you can select the wrong variant.

cgc-entry-form-star-wars-1

Erroneous selections by customers can in turn lead to labeling blunders where the book leaves CGC with the label erroneously identifying the comic as the wrong variant. In this post I will review six such observed mistakes as applied to various cover price variants, and I will discuss what we can all learn from these mistakes.

What Can We Learn From These Mistakes?

Before I present the six example CGC labeling blunders, I want to quickly address the “what can we learn from this” question — because observing the blunders is one thing, learning something from observing them is much better. First off, I want to share with you that in the process of researching this post, I learned something important when I contacted CGC: I learned about CGC’s policy regarding correcting labeling mistakes. I hadn’t really thought about their error correction “policy” very much before this. I sent them pictures and eBay links of some of the books you’ll see later, and what I learned in the process is that CGC will not correct this type of mistake if a third party (like you or me) sends them an eBay link.

Even if those eBay photos clearly show the certification numbers and clearly show the features of the comics that prove they are not in fact the variants listed on the labels, their current policy (as of this date) is to change the books only after being in contact with the rightful owners. At first, the CGC representative I corresponded with thought perhaps I was the owner of the initial book I had mentioned, and asked me for a photograph of the book along with something showing today’s date — like a newspaper — in the photograph. Clearly, their stance is that they need to be able to trust the photo before they take any action; and there are understandable reasons for this stance.

So one thing I learned, is that — as of today — CGC’s error correction policy makes it highly likely that erroneously labeled books will stay erroneously labeled. They will apparently only make a correction at the request of the owner of the book, whereas a third party like you or me pointing out an error does not seem to trigger any kind of “recall” process nor review of any internal photographs stored at the time of grading (which tells me that perhaps they do not currently take such photographs internally).

And so one thing CGC may want to learn from this, and may want to consider doing differently to “react” to error reports and be able to correct them, is to implement a process where they do snap a picture of each slab and store that picture internally for future reference. Then, if a third party like you or me points out a mistake on a given certification number seen on the marketplace, CGC would be able to reference their own internal photograph and examine that reference photo to verify the mistake. Adding such a reference-photo-step to their internal processes would mean they would not need to rely on the accuracy of third party photos uploaded to eBay by sellers; the “hurdle” to correcting an error would therefore be dramatically lowered, making it more likely that errors such as the ones you’ll see later actually get corrected. Leaving errors uncorrected can produce nasty marketplace results — just wait until you see what the mis-labeled Star Wars #1 sold for at auction… I’ll show you that in a moment.

Another thing CGC may want to consider doing differently, which could prevent this type of labeling error from occurring to begin with, is to change the internal process followed when the customer has entered a variant designation into the online form. For example, one possibility is to distrust the customer by default and literally prompt CGC grading staff to perform manual entry of the variant designation — I picture the computer system used internally by CGC staff refusing to “continue” until each book that was denoted by the customer as a variant is reviewed and manually categorized by CGC grading staff; and to ensure this review by the graders is not biased to any default, the staff member could be prompted to make their own choice without seeing what the customer entered in advance (knowing only that the customer denoted it as “a” variant but not knowing which variant — leaving it up to the CGC grading staff to review the book and choose the proper variant designation, and then once they have made their choice they could next be shown whether that choice matched what the customer entered).

What can we learn as collectors (and as participants in the online marketplaces)?

For one, if we spot a book we believe might be mis-labeled as a variant, and we enter that book’s certification number into CGC’s website, then unless the owner has contacted CGC to have it corrected, we can expect the bogus variant designation will show up online too — meaning CGC’s website will appear to “corroborate” the erroneous variant designation, to any market participant researching the book they are considering.

Let me pause on this point for a moment, because it is important. CGC is trusted as an “authority” and if the label says a comic is a variant — and the online lookup “corroborates” that it is a variant — but a collector’s own background knowledge tells them the book inside the slab is not that variant, then a collector who suspects a labeling error is going to be faced with an internal question: do I believe myself and my own background knowledge, or, does CGC know something I don’t?

“Might CGC know something I don’t?”

That’s a critical question… And our certainty of the answer depends on the situation. For example, let’s think through Type 1A Canadian Price Variants of the 1980’s and Type 1A Australian Price Variants of the 1990’s. Whether we are looking at a direct edition copy of a given issue, a regular newsstand copy of that same issue, or a Type 1A price variant newsstand copy of that same issue, we know in advance that by definition, all three of those types are identical on the inside. Said differently, the only information that tells the types apart is already on the outside. We need not crack a slab to know what we are looking at! We need only look at the outside of the comic!

With these thoughts in mind, let’s proceed to look at the “most epic” of the six blunders I will share with you…

Blunder #1: Star Wars #1 35¢ Variant

In the beginning of this post, we considered the hypothetical question of what we’d enter into CGC’s online submission form if we were submitting one of these:
Star Wars #1 Diamond Reprint

So first and foremost: What are these? One go-to resource we can reference is the Overstreet guide. Overstreet lists Star Wars #1 as follows:

star-wars-1-overstreet-info

As you can see above, there is the regular 30¢ cover price type (valued at $215 in 9.2), the 35¢ cover price type (the Type 1 price variant; valued at $11,000 in 9.2), and then the various reprint types each valued at just $70 in 9.2.

To help us identify the types, Overtreet notes that the 35¢ variant has “Price in square w/UPC code” and further goes on to say: “NOTE: the rare 35¢ edition has the cover price in a square box, and the UPC box in the lower left hand corner has the UPC code lines running through it.”

Why would Overstreet need to “spell out” that the UPC code has lines running through it? Shouldn’t that be obvious? Well, as it turns out, there also exists a 35¢ cover priced REPRINT where the UPC code box is “blank”/empty (just a white rectangle; no lines running through it). Overstreet is “spelling it out” to help collectors avoid a big blunder: buying a reprint by accident, thinking it is a first print copy.

And then for the Reprint entry, Overstreet says, “has “reprint” in upper lefthand corner of cover or on inside or price and number inside a diamond with no date or UPC on cover; 30¢ and 35¢ issues published.”

So by the above, a reprint copy can say REPRINT in the upper left-hand corner of the cover, or in the indicia inside. And clearly, from the above descriptions, Overstreet is teaching us that if there is a 35¢ price but that price is inside a diamond shape, the book we’re looking at is a reprint. Another resource, MyComicShop, catalogs/lists the various types out there for Star Wars #1 like so:

star-wars-1-mycomicshop-ver

So at MyComicShop, per the above, they have cataloged four different types: two first print types (30¢ and 35¢ cover prices) and two reprint types (“diamond” reprint with blank UPC and newsstand type with UPC). Note that the description on the diamond entry says “cover or indicia” indicating that the REPRINT designation is either shown on the cover itself for some copies, or, in the indicia for others.

In the marketplace, we sometimes see CGC-graded copies of the “diamond” reprints, where CGC denotes them as “REPRINT” on the label:

Note how the above example copy says Reprint at the upper left of the cover. And indeed, if we look inside other diamond copies for a Reprint indication in the indicia page, we’d see the indicia says this:

But once encapsulated, the example indicia page above would be out of view — one would have to crack the slab to see it. Suppose CGC were to encapsulate one of these reprints and label it — in error — as “35¢ Price Variant”? Would market participants “trust” their own background knowledge and conclude they are looking at a mis-labeled reprint copy? Or, would they place some odds — some non-zero chance — that CGC knows something we don’t, and the book inside is a actually special case first printing that nobody has yet discovered/documented?

We actually got to find out the answer to that “trust” question… because this (below) recently came onto the market (on eBay):

Image of CGC slab 1269363002

If you are reading this post around the time I wrote it (in September of 2018) then you can still access the eBay listing at the following hyperlink (note: you may see a message like the below — clicking the “View Original Listing” will take you to the original item): https://www.ebay.com/itm/283037236937

view-original-item

And this is the price it fetched at auction:
false-star-wars-variant-sal

Wow: as you can see, the book fetched multiples of what a CGC 9.6 first print 30¢ copy would normally go for — below are a couple of recent example sales of 30¢ copies:

star-wars-1-cgc-9.6-sales

Let’s examine the listing description of the “35¢ variant” copy that went for $1,075 at auction:

The description states: “Up for auction is a super rare 35 cent variant of the first Star Wars comic ever made!! As you can see, it has been graded by CGC at a 9.6!! HUGE VALUE!! I collect sports cards, and not comics, so I do not know much about these but I was told this particular version in this condition is worth anywhere from $6500 – $12000!! I am starting the auction at 99 cents and will let it ride. I was also told that this was an original as CGC always prints “REPRINT” on their grading page but I was also told to sell it as “I don’t know” to be safe. Again, I do not know much about these so am only going by what I was told. Serious bidders only please as I do not accept returns for graded items. They are the experts, not me, so I must go with what they say 🙂 Thank you for looking and good luck!! “

Notice how the seller points the finger of responsibility at CGC and basically says “they are the experts, not me.” Would they not have placed REPRINT on the label if it was a reprint, the seller asks? And by suggesting that, a small sliver if doubt is placed… because we don’t know what we can’t see and we can’t see the indicia page of a slabbed book… so is it possible this copy doesn’t say reprint inside? Is it possible CGC knows something we don’t? After all, their certification lookup tool “corroborates” the variant designation (shown below). [And that small doubt is likely what caused the copy to be bid to an insane price level.]

cgc-1269363002

It would obviously be better if CGC corrected the lookup above so that any future lookup did not falsely corroborate the book as being the 35¢ variant. I asked them to correct it, but alas, by CGC’s current policy, they will not correct the above unless the winner of the book contacts them. If the winner does contact them, they assured me they will be more than happy to make the correction. Hopefully any future bidder/buyer (should the book be listed for sale in the future) will google the certification number — #1269363002 — and find this post as a “cautionary tale.”

I dug deeper into eBay’s sold listings and discovered that this is not the first time this particular book has been sold! Does the below picture taken from an earlier listing look familiar? It is indeed the identical serial number atop the slab, previously listed by a different seller:
star-wars-1-blunder-cgc

And instead of pointing to CGC as the “authority” and suggesting the label must be accurate, this seller wrote as follows, in their listing description:

star-wars-1-false-35c-desc1

The description says: “We believe this copy is a reprint, thought it does not say REPRINT on the cover and it was graded and marked on the label by CGC as “35 Cent Price Variant” and not a “Reprint.””

So the prior seller of the book came right out and said “we believe this copy is a reprint…” And here’s how that prior seller had priced the book on a buy-it-now:

star-wars-1-false-35c-sale-

It is clear to me that what we have here is an epic CGC labeling blunder involving the #1 most highly valued bronze age comic book, inflating the census count of 35¢ variants on record in 9.6, and causing major market confusion as evidenced by the auction bidding taking the book to $1,075. Because the indicia page is buried inside the slab, it is likely that some market participants assigned non-zero odds to the notion that this particular copy was, in a ground-breaking discovery, not actually a reprint; but in reality this was a labeling mistake, pure and simple. A blunder… and quite possibly a blunder that originated with the submitter selecting the wrong variant from the drop-down list by accident.

The blunder draws attention to how the new online submission system may have made a major change to the “default” — i.e. the variant information associated with any books that are submitted through the online system now originates with the customer. The default action of “doing nothing” (leaving the designation alone) can now result in “false positives” where books are leaving CGC labeled erroneously as variants that they are not. The Star Wars blunder highlights how there is room for improvement in how the customer-entered online submission information is later error-checked at CGC before the book leaves the building. The blunder also highlights how the current policy of requiring the book owner be involved in the error correction makes any error correction “after the fact” extremely difficult; surely there is room for improvement in how CGC reacts to reports of such labeling errors in the future, perhaps by adding a step in the internal process to photo-document each slab before it leaves the building, thus allowing for later internal photo lookup by certification number and examination of that trusted internal photo to check for labeling errors at a later date.

Blunder #2: Amazing Spider-Man #654, “Sensational Spider-Man” Newsstand Edition

Newsstand copies of Amazing Spider-Man #654 — a key issue where Flash Thompson becomes Venom — have a really cool “variant-worthy quirk” (i.e. a feature which is remarkable enough in CGC’s eyes that it causes CGC to “break out” the newsstand copies as their own census variant, something they do not normally do [normally direct edition and newsstand copies are “lumped together”]): They were distributed as “Sensational Spider-Man”:

Note in the picture above how the word “Newsstand” appears to the left of the UPC code, and the words “Sensational Spider-Man” appear to the right: this tells us we are looking at a newsstand copy of issue #654. If we were looking at one of the prevalent direct editions instead, then we’d see the words “Direct Edition” aside the UPC code instead, like this:
asm-654-direct-close-up

Anybody can tell a newsstand copy apart from a direct edition in this manner; no examination of the interior of issue #654 is necessary.

The Blunder:

While ASM #654 newsstand copies are “variant-worthy” due to the UPC codes that mis-identify the comic as a different title than it actually is, another “variant-worthy” attribute that we sometimes see with newsstand comics, one which also causes CGC to “break out” newsstand comics distinctly from their direct edition counter-parts, is when the newsstand edition is a cover price variant of the issue number — and many Amazing Spider-Man newsstand comics in the 500’s and 600’s carry a $1.00 higher cover cover price, such as $3.99 for the newsstand edition while their prevalent direct edition counter-parts carry a $2.99 cover price. [Read more about the dramatically-more-rare $3.99 cover price variants here; one example key $3.99 cover price variant is Amazing Spider-Man #607]

For issue #654, both the direct edition copies and the newsstand copies carry a $3.99 cover price. So issue #654 is not one of the newsstand comics that falls under that cover-price-variant category. But when CGC created the newsstand census entry for this issue they accidentally named it “$3.99 Newsstand Edition” instead of just “Newsstand Edition.” So by the census, a cover price variant record existed! This mistake may have led submitters of direct editions to first look at the price tag on their copy, see $3.99, and reach the false conclusion that their copy was a newsstand copy. Oops!

I’m happy to report that CGC has now corrected the census entry name itself for issue #654, even though they would not correct the individual examples I gave them (because by their current policy the owner of the books themselves would need to request the corrections).

Here are two mis-labeled examples I’ve come across to date; as you can see, the CGC slabs read “$3.99 Newsstand Edition” but inside the slab is just a plain old prevalent direct edition! And we do not need to see the interior of the comic to know for certain that we’re looking at a direct edition, because the interior of newsstand copies is 100% identical to the interior of direct edition copies; thus, from the outside of the slab we can see the defining feature, that UPC code box, which tells us when we’re looking at a real newsstand copy. In this way, we know for certain that the following copies of issue #654 have been mis-labeled:

Certification #0341630004 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/401558181947):

image-0341630004image2-0341630004

A certification look-up still erroneously lists the above copy as the variant, although as you can see, CGC has changed the variant name from “$3.99 Newsstand Edition” to “Newsstand Edition” (the “$3.99” part was removed) and the entry now includes a note about the Spectacular Spider-Man quirk in the Key Comments:

cgc-0341630004

Certification #1993043003 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/123381315710) is another example of a plain old direct edition labeled as “$3.99 Newsstand Edition” and still comes up in a certification lookup as a newsstand copy, in error:

image-1993043003image2-1993043003cgc-1993043003

Blunder #3: Transformers #1

Transformers #1 is one of the “mega-keys” that fell within Marvel’s 1980’s cover price variant window on the newsstand (ranking #6 in the 2018 guide) — during the window, instead of one batch of newsstand copies carrying both US and Canadian prices, Marvel printed two distinct newsstand batches each with their own cover price. All three types — the two newsstand types plus the prevalent direct edition type — were published in the USA on the same equipment and at the same time (so all are 1st print copies) and all types are fully 100% identical on the inside. The higher cover price batch is “broken out” by CGC as its own census variant.

Arguably, the name CGC chose when breaking out these Type 1A cover price variants is itself a blunder… There is no special name ascribed by the publisher, so CGC needed to come up with one; at their own choosing, CGC picked the name “Canadian Edition” which is arguably a blunder because it conflates these Type 1A price variants published in the USA, with the actual Canadian Editions of the 1940’s/1950’s. Read more on the topic of “what should we call these 1980’s newsstand-exclusive price variants” in this separate post.

But the census name itself is not the blunder in question with this example. The blunder in this example has to do with the cover price of the variant. Imagine if a 30¢ first print copy of Star Wars #1 was given a “35¢ price variant” label — that’s essentially what happened here, with this Transformers #1 example.

An easy mistake to make with these Canadian Price Variant comics, is to assume that newsstand comics with a 75¢ cover price are the variants… after all, “75¢ variant” is a highly common phrase you’ll hear with this class of variants. But the cover price actually varies from issue to issue and for Transformers #1, the 75¢ copies are actually the “regular” cover price copies, while the $1.00 copies are the variants. Here is an example variant below:

transformers-1-variant

Having seen the variant above, with its $1.00 cover price, you will recognize that the 75¢ cover price copy within the slab pictured below is not the variant… it is just a regular newsstand copy.

Certification #1276709017 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/352452127491):

image-1276709017

cgc-1276709017

Blunder #4: Amazing Spider-Man #276

You might notice that the Transformers #1 slab from the prior example has no indication anywhere on the CGC label of what the variant cover price is supposed to be… The slab says “Canadian Edition” but doesn’t give any inkling of a definition for what that means to a collector. But if you look at the very bottom of the certification lookup picture above, you’ll see that it says “$1.00 Cover Price.” This last line is now there because a good incremental improvement to CGC’s labeling was made recently, whereby CGC now places the variant cover price on the right-hand side of the label.

For comics where the variant cover price is not 75¢, this new labeling improvement should in theory help with identification (and error-catching) — because if a CGC staff member is looking at a slab and sees, say, 95¢ Cover Price on the label note, but the book inside the slab carries a 75¢ cover price, they will be more likely to realize that something is amiss. But unfortunately the below copy slipped through the cracks anyway!

Certification #1272465008 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/223135444963):

image-1272465008cgc-1272465008

Blunder #5: Secret Wars #8

A mistake in which newsstand type you are looking at is one thing; but for a direct edition to pass as the newsstand price variant is a tough error to understand any CGC grader making “on their own.” Anyone should be able to tell a 1980’s direct edition comic from its newsstand brethren at a glance, even from a great distance (just spot that Spidey-head logo in place of the bar code and you know you’re looking at a direct edition). Yet somehow the below direct edition Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 was labeled “Canadian Edition” which I can only imagine originated with erroneous customer-entered information and then “slipped through” CGC without being noticed.

Certification #1245151020 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/192664685427):
image-1245151020

Fortunately, the owner of the above copy appears to have contacted CGC, because the certification lookup tool itself no longer denotes the book as the variant.

Blunder #6: Amazing Spider-Man #361

There are newsstand-exclusive Type 1A variants from the 1990’s too! Marvel experimented with Australian newsstand distribution for a window of time, and just like the 1980’s newsstand price variants these Australian price variant copies are 100% identical on the inside to the rest of the print run. For Amazing Spider-Man #361, the variant carries a cover price of $1.80 AUS (read more about these and see pictures here). The cover month differs as well, and CGC catalogs the variants by the cover month instead of the indicia month.

Similar to the Secret Wars #8 example, you will find that the below “Australian Edition” labeled slab contains a plain old direct edition inside instead of the newsstand cover price variant! Can you picture a CGC grader making this error if they were the one choosing the variant designation, with no default option selected? I can’t imagine that; no way. I can only imagine this kind of error occurring because the customer entered it as “Australian Edition” and then the error went unnoticed as the book proceeded through the grading process at CGC all the way through to leaving the building.

Certification #1266443016 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/173265969239):

This one too may have been corrected — a certification lookup now fails, and, the eBay link indicates the original seller ended the item due to an error in the listing.

Circling Back: What We Can Learn

What can we learn (and what can CGC learn) from these example labeling blunders? Earlier, I described two suggestions for things CGC can consider as improvements to their internal process — one being an idea to counteract how customer-entered variant information changes the default versus the old paper method by forcing the grader to make their own selection; another idea being a way CGC could improve its “after-the-fact” error correction capability by snapping in-house reference photos which could be referred to in the event of error reports by a third party.

As for us as collectors, I think we have learned:

  • We cannot go by the labels alone; if we are in the market for a variant, we must be able to see the book in a photograph and verify for ourselves that it is indeed the variant we seek.
  • We cannot expect that a mis-labeled book will see a correction later to the online certification lookup tool; CGC’s policy today demands involvement by the owner of the book before such a correction is made. This means mis-labeled books may stay mislabeled indefinitely.
  • Census data therefore isn’t always going to be 100% accurate; these uncorrected books will linger there on census until/unless a future owner puts in for a correction; e.g. there are not three Star Wars #1 35¢ variants on record in the top 9.6 grade today… because the “false variant” pictured earlier is still counted toward that total.
  • We can be 100% certain in spotting newsstand versus direct edition labeling errors, since the interiors of each of the books are already known to be identical. But when a labeling error raises the question of what might be inside the apparently-mislabeled slabbed copy (like in the Star Wars example), a small sliver of doubt — the thought of “what might CGC know that I don’t know” — can cause bidders to pay absurd prices, inflicting real monetary damage on the unlucky winners.
  • Realization of absurd market prices may create an incentive for bad behavior — a bad actor could purposefully make an “error” on the online submission form and hope it slips through.
  • Because the online submission form has “changed the default”, we collectors should not be surprised if we see a continuation of labeling errors or even an uptick in labeling blunders.
  • Based on this expectation for continued errors or even an uptick in errors, CGC may want to consider taking one or more steps to “adapt” their process to the reality of what the customer-entered “new default” means for the likelihood of continued errors; I gave two suggestions earlier which I believe would help.
  • We are all only human. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, so we should forgive CGC the occasional labeling blunder; but we should also expect their organization would strive to be the best it can be, which means reacting to the new online-submission-form-reality with improved processes for error checking and correction.
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Canadian Newsstand Edition, Future Classic Covers

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

By Benjamin Nobel, July 13, 2018

web-1-asm-238-cover-swipes

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.

Sound! That's the answer, isn't it?

Sound! That’s the answer, isn’t it?

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 — for the first time — that the symbiote does not trigger Spidey’s spider senses, and we also see Peter fighting the symbiote with sound by using the sound from large church bells to break the bond with symbiote. 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.

web-of-spider-man-1-swipe

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

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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:

cgc-canadian-edition-75c-95

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:

batman-423-canadian

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Canadian Newsstand Edition

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

By Benjamin Nobel, June 13, 2018

voltron-cover-price-variant

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.

voltron-netflix-93-percent

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:

voltron-1-cgc-example

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):

voltron-1-us-newsstand

• $1.00 Newsstand (most rare type of 1st print copy of Voltron #1):

voltron-1-variant

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:

voltron-2-type-1a-variantvoltron-3-price-variant

Happy Collecting! 🙂

– Ben

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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:

spectacular-spider-man-maga

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

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:

tmnta-full-census

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

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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 the time this article was published, 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 Price Variant”, and as of recently CBCS began labeling Type 1A variants with price variant labels, e.g. “75¢ Canadian 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

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