Canadian Newsstand Edition

Gladstone Canadian Price Variants

By Benjamin Nobel, January 11, 2019

Hi everyone! My fellow price guide collaborators and I are hoping to expand our guide’s “coverage universe” in the future to include other publishers beyond Marvel & DC; we are very fortunate to be working with Toronto-based researcher Salvatore Miceli, who has been investigating other publishers including Gladstone. This post is to share Sal’s Gladstone research — a huge thanks to Sal for his efforts on this! 🙂

Readers of our Marvel & DC guide are already familiar with how those two publishers produced three versions of each issue during their cover price variant windows: a direct edition version (direct-sold to comic dealers/shops at a discount but on a non-returnable basis), and two newsstand versions (copies sold to the general public on newsstands, where unsold copies were returnable by the newsstand for refund/credit) — the two newsstand types were a higher cover price version and a lower cover price version.

While Gladstone followed this same pattern of publishing three versions, they were fond of placing their bar codes (and corresponding logos for the direct editions) on the back covers, making it all the more challenging to spot these differences online (most online sellers only bother to picture the front cover when listing these comics). To show you what I mean, here below are the three versions Gladstone produced for Donald Duck #246:

From a distance, at first glance these look like they are identical, but if you know in advance that the cover price boxes differ, you can discern that they are different — here is a close-up on those three price boxes:


The first price box shown above is the direct edition, carrying a large print “main” price of 75¢ with a smaller-print CAN 95¢ price beneath it; the second price box shown above is the single-price 75¢ newsstand edition distributed in the U.S., and the final price box shown above is the newsstand price variant carrying a single-price of 95¢ — such cover price variant copies are the subject of Sal’s research. Below is an example indicia page for Donald Duck #246 — as you can see these were printed and published in the USA:


I mentioned before that Gladstone liked placing their UPC codes (and corresponding logos) on the back covers… here below are the three back covers side-by-side, for the three Donald Duck #246 copies you saw earlier:

As you can see, looking at the bottom left corner, the direct edition copy has a “logo box” instead of a bar code (in this case it isn’t a graphical logo but instead has words that tie in to the poster advert), while the two newsstand copies have identical bar code boxes. Here below is another back cover comparison, this time where the logo box contains a graphical logo — Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #546:

And here are the front covers for the above — pictured at left is the direct edition (cover price box reads $1.95 in large print, with “CAN $2.50” in small print), and pictured at right is the single-price $2.50 Canadian price variant exclusive to newsstands in Canada (Canada has on the order of one tenth the population of the USA which drives the price variants to be the most-rare of the three types by a long-shot — read more here for a detailed rarity walkthrough with graphics from the Marvel & DC guide — the same basic big-picture concepts apply to the Gladstone situation as well):

So as you can see from the above examples, with the logo-boxes/bar-codes on the back covers, spotting the variants in the marketplace (and researching them in general) is all the more difficult a task (thanks again to Sal for taking on that task!). Below are a few more cover price variant examples, followed by a full “Issue Guide” for the Gladstone Canadian Price Variants.

Gladstone Canadian Price Variant Issue Guide:
15 regular titles (Oct 1986-July 1991) + 4 digest titles (Dec 1986-Sep 1987)
262 total issues

Donald Duck
Oct 1986-May 1990
34 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#246 $0.95 Oct ’86 $ 26
#247 $0.95 Nov ’86 $ 16
#248 $1.00 Dec ’86 $ 16
#249 $1.00 Jan ’87 $ 16
#250 $2.00 Feb ’87 64 Pages $ 18
#251 $1.00 Mar ’87 $ 16
#252 $1.25 Apr ’87 $ 8
#253 $1.25 May ’87 $ 8
#254 $1.25 Jun ’87 $ 8
#255 $1.25 July ’87 $ 8
#256 $1.25 Aug ’87 $ 8
#257 $1.95 Sep ’87 Giant Summer Special $ 8
#258 $1.25 Oct ’87 $ 8
#259 $1.25 Nov ’87 $ 8
#260 $1.25 Dec ’87 $ 8
#261 $1.25 Jan ’88 $ 8
#262 $1.25 Mar ’88 $ 8
#263 $1.25 Jun ’88 $ 8
#264 $1.25 July ’88 $ 8
#265 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 8
#266 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 8
#267 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 8
#268 $1.25 Nov ’88 $ 8
#269 $1.25 Jan ’89 $ 8
#270 $1.25 Mar ’89 $ 8
#271 $1.25 Jun ’89 $ 8
#272 $1.25 July ’89 $ 8
#273 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 8
#274 $1.25 Sep ’89 $ 8
#275 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 8
#276 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 8
#277 $1.25 Jan ’90 $ 8
#278 $2.50 Mar ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 9
#279 $2.50 May ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 9
Donald Duck Comics Digest
Nov 1986-July 1987
5 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.65 Nov ’86 $ 10
#2 $1.65 Jan ’87 $ 6
#3 $1.65 Mar ’87 $ 10
#4 $1.95 May ’87 $ 6
#5 $1.95 July ’87 $ 6
Oct 1988-May 1990
13 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.95 Oct ’88 Giant Size Issue $ 6
#2 $1.95 Nov ’88 Giant Size Issue $ 4
#3 $1.25 Jan ’89 $ 4
#4 $1.25 Feb ’89 $ 4
#5 $1.25 Apr ’89 $ 4
#6 $1.25 May ’89 $ 4
#7 $1.25 July ’89 $ 4
#8 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 4
#9 $1.95 Oct ’89 $ 4
#10 $1.95 Nov ’89 $ 4
#11 $1.95 Jan ’90 $ 4
#12 $2.50 Mar ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 5
#13 $2.50 May ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 5
Haunt Of Fear
May 1991-July 1991
2 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $2.50 May ’91 EC Reprint $ 4
#2 $2.50 July ’91 EC Reprint $ 4
Mickey Mouse
Oct 1986-Apr 1990
38 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#219 $0.95 Oct ’86 $ 20
#220 $0.95 Nov ’86 $ 10
#221 $1.00 Dec ’86 $ 10
#222 $1.00 Jan ’87 $ 5
#223 $1.00 Feb ’87 $ 5
#224 $1.00 Mar ’87 $ 5
#225 $1.25 Apr ’87 $ 5
#226 $1.25 May ’87 $ 5
#227 $1.25 Jun ’87 $ 5
#228 $1.25 July ’87 $ 5
#229 $1.25 Aug ’87 $ 5
#230 $1.25 Sep ’87 $ 5
#231 $1.25 Oct ’87 $ 4
#232 $1.25 Nov ’87 $ 4
#233 $1.25 Dec ’87 $ 4
#234 $1.25 Jan ’88 $ 4
#235 $1.25 Mar ’88 $ 4
#236 $1.25 Apr ’88 $ 4
#237 $1.25 Jun ’88 $ 4
#238 $1.25 July ’88 $ 4
#239 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 4
#240 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 4
#241 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 4
#242 $1.25 Nov ’88 $ 4
#243 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 4
#244 $3.75 Jan ’89 60th Anniversary Special $ 5
#245 $1.25 Mar ’89 $ 5
#246 $1.25 Apr ’89 $ 4
#247 $1.25 Jun ’89 $ 4
#248 $1.25 July ’89 $ 4
#249 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 4
#250 $1.25 Sep ’89 $ 4
#251 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 4
#252 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 4
#253 $1.25 Dec ’89 $ 4
#254 $1.25 Jan ’90 $ 4
#255 $2.50 Feb ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 5
#256 $2.50 Apr ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 5
Mickey Mouse Comics Digest
Jan 1987-Sep 1987
5 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.65 Jan ’87 $ 8
#2 $1.65 Mar ’87 $ 5
#3 $1.95 May ’87 $ 5
#4 $1.95 July ’87 $ 5
#5 $1.95 Sep ’87 $ 5
The Original Dick Tracy
Sep 1990-May 1991
5 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $2.50 Sep ’90 $ 4
#2 $2.50 Nov ’90 $ 4
#3 $2.50 Jan ’91 $ 4
#4 $2.50 Mar ’91 $ 4
#5 $2.50 May-91 $ 4
Tales From The Crypt
July 1990-May 1991
6 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $2.50 July ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#2 $2.50 Sep ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#3 $2.50 Nov ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#4 $2.50 Jan ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
#5 $2.50 Mar ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
#6 $2.50 May ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
Uncle Scrooge Comics Digest
Dec 1986-Aug 1987
5 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.65 Dec ’86 $ 8
#2 $1.65 Feb ’87 $ 6
#3 $1.95 Apr ’87 $ 8
#4 $1.95 Jun ’87 $ 6
#5 $1.95 Aug ’87 Low print run per Overstreet $ 9
Vault Of Horror
Aug 1990-Jun 1991
6 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $2.50 Aug ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#2 $2.50 Oct ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#3 $2.50 Dec ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#4 $2.50 Feb ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
#5 $2.50 Apr ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
#6 $2.50 Jun ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade
2 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $3.75 Winter 1988 Painted cover by Carl Barks $ 12
#2 $3.75 Winter 1989 $ 9
Walt Disney’s Comics And Stories
Oct 1986-Apr 1990
37 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#511 $0.95 Oct ’86 Donald Duck by Daan Jippes $ 32
#512 $0.95 Nov ’86 $ 18
#513 $1.00 Dec ’86 $ 18
#514 $1.00 Jan ’87 $ 12
#515 $1.00 Feb ’87 $ 12
#516 $1.00 Mar ’87 $ 12
#517 $1.25 Apr ’87 $ 6
#518 $1.25 May ’87 $ 6
#519 $1.25 Jun ’87 $ 6
#520 $1.25 July ’87 $ 12
#521 $1.25 Aug ’87 $ 6
#522 $1.25 Sep ’87 $ 6
#523 $1.25 Oct ’87 1st Don Rosa 10 pager $ 15
#524 $1.25 Nov ’87 Don Rosa art and story $ 15
#525 $1.25 Dec ’87 $ 6
#526 $1.25 Feb ’88 Don Rosa art and story $ 15
#527 $1.25 Mar ’88 $ 6
#528 $1.25 Apr ’88 Don Rosa art and story $ 15
#529 $1.25 Jun ’88 $ 6
#530 $1.25 July ’88 $ 6
#531 $1.25 Aug ’88 Don Rosa art and story $ 15
#532 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 6
#533 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 6
#534 $1.25 Nov ’88 $ 6
#535 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 6
#536 $1.25 Feb ’89 $ 6
#537 $1.25 Mar ’89 $ 6
#538 $1.25 Apr ’89 $ 6
#539 $1.25 Jun ’89 $ 6
#540 $1.25 July ’89 $ 6
#541 $1.95 Aug ’89 $ 6
#542 $1.95 Sep ’89 $ 6
#543 $1.95 Oct ’89 $ 6
#544 $1.95 Nov ’89 $ 6
#545 $1.95 Dec ’89 $ 6
#546 $2.50 Feb ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 6
#547 $2.50 Apr ’90 Double Sized Issue; Don Rosa art $ 15
Walt Disney’s Comics Digest
Dec 1986-Sep 1987
7 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.65 Dec ’86 $ 8
#2 $1.65 Feb ’87 $ 6
#3 $1.65 Mar ’87 $ 6
#4 $1.95 Apr ’87 $ 6
#5 $1.95 Jun ’87 $ 6
#6 $1.95 Aug ’87 $ 6
#7 $1.95 Sep ’87 $ 6
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Adventures
Nov 1987-Apr 1990
20 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.25 Nov ’87 $ 8
#2 $1.25 Dec ’87 $ 4
#3 $1.25 Feb ’88 $ 4
#4 $1.25 May ’88 $ 4
#5 $1.25 July ’88 Don Rosa cover and art $ 5
#6 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 4
#7 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 4
#8 $1.25 Oct’88 Don Rosa art $ 5
#9 $1.25 Nov ’88 $ 4
#10 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 4
#11 $1.25 Feb ’89 $ 4
#12 $1.95 May ’89 Giant Size Issue; Don Rosa art $ 6
#13 $1.25 July ’89 $ 4
#14 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 4
#15 $1.25 Sep ’89 $ 4
#16 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 4
#17 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 4
#18 $1.25 Dec ’89 $ 4
#19 $2.50 Feb ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 4
#20 $2.50 Apr ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 4
Walt Disney’s Mickey And Donald
Mar 1988-May 1990
18 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.25 Mar ’88 Don Rosa art $ 6
#2 $1.25 May ’88 $ 4
#3 $1.25 July ’88 $ 4
#4 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 4
#5 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 4
#6 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 4
#7 $1.25 Nov ’88   $ 4
#8 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 4
#9 $1.25 Mar ’89 $ 3
#10 $1.25 May ’89 $ 3
#11 $1.25 July ’89 $ 3
#12 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 3
#13 $1.25 Sep ’89 $ 3
#14 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 3
#15 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 3
#16 $1.95 Dec ’89 52 pages $ 5
#17 $2.50 Mar ’90 Double Sized Issue; Don Rosa art $ 6
#18 $2.50 May ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 5
Walt Disney’s Pinocchio Special
1 issue
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.25 Spring 1990 50th Anniversary Edition $ 3
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge
Oct 1986-Apr 1990
33 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#210 $0.95 Oct ’86 1st Gladstone Issue $ 16
#211 $0.95 Nov ’86 $ 15
#212 $1.00 Dec ’86 $ 15
#213 $1.00 Jan ’87 $ 15
#214 $1.00 Feb ’87 $ 15
#215 $1.00 Mar ’87 $ 15
#216 $1.25 Apr-87 $ 15
#217 $1.25 May ’87 $ 15
#218 $1.25 Jun ’87 $ 15
#219 $1.25 July ’87 1st Comic Work Of Don Rosa $ 25
#220 $1.25 Aug ’87 Don Rosa art and story $ 8
#221 $1.25 Sep ’87 $ 4
#222 $1.25 Oct ’87 $ 4
#223 $1.25 Nov ’87 $ 4
#224 $1.25 Dec ’87 Rosa cover and art $ 5
#225 $1.25 Feb ’88 $ 4
#226 $1.25 May ’88 Rosa art $ 5
#227 $1.25 July ’88 Rosa art $ 5
#228 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 4
#229 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 4
#230 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 4
#231 $1.25 Nov ’88 $ 4
#232 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 4
#233 $1.25 Feb ’89 $ 4
#234 $1.25 May ’89 $ 4
#235 $1.25 July ’89 Rosa art and story $ 5
#236 $1.25 Aug ’89 $ 4
#237 $1.25 Sept ’89 $ 4
#238 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 4
#239 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 4
#240 $1.25 Dec ’89 $ 4
#241 $2.50 Feb ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 6
#242 $2.50 Apr ’90 Double Sized Issue $ 6
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scooge Adventures
Nov 1987-May 1990
21 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $1.25 Nov ’87 $ 12
#2 $1.25 Dec ’87 $ 4
#3 $1.25 Jan ’88 $ 4
#4 $1.25 Apr ’88 $ 4
#5 $1.25 Jun ’88 Don Rosa cover and art $ 5
#6 $1.25 Aug ’88 $ 3
#7 $1.25 Sep ’88 $ 3
#8 $1.25 Oct ’88 $ 3
#9 $1.25 Nov ’88 Don Rosa art $ 5
#10 $1.25 Dec ’88 $ 3
#11 $1.25 Jan ’89 $ 3
#12 $1.25 Apr ’89 $ 3
#13 $1.25 Jun ’89 $ 3
#14 $1.25 Aug ’89 Don Rosa art $ 5
#15 $1.25 Sep ’89 $ 3
#16 $1.25 Oct ’89 $ 3
#17 $1.25 Nov ’89 $ 3
#18 $1.25 Dec ’89 $ 3
#19 $1.25 Jan ’90 $ 3
#20 $2.50 Mar ’90 Double Sized Issue; Don Rosa art $ 5
#21 $2.50 May ’90 Double Sized Issue; Don Rosa art $ 5
Weird Science
Sep 1990-Mar 1991
4 issues
Issue CPV Cover Price Month / Year Notes Baseline (Non-Variant) NM- Issue Value
#1 $2.50 Sep ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#2 $2.50 Nov ’90 EC Reprint $ 5
#3 $2.50 Jan ’91 EC Reprint $ 5
#4 $2.50 Mar ’91 EC Reprint $ 5

Happy Collecting! 🙂

Happy Collecting, everyone! As of this writing there are very few of these Gladstone variants on CGC’s census yet: I found one each on census for Uncle Scrooge Adventures #1, #2 & #5, Uncle Scrooge #218 & #221-226, and Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade #2. Thanks again to Sal Miceli for sharing his Gladstone research! 🙂

– Ben

Archie Price Variants, Canadian Newsstand Edition, U.K. Pence

Archie Canadian/Pence Price Variants and the Betty’s Diary #36 Mystery

By Benjamin Nobel, January 9, 2019

Hi everyone! My fellow price guide collaborators and I are hoping to expand our guide’s “coverage universe” in the future to include other publishers beyond Marvel & DC; and another publisher that produced plenty of Canadian Price Variants was Archie. This post is to share some interesting Archie variant research from Bill Alexander (by the way if you’ve not yet read Bill’s market report from this year’s guide, you should check it out!).

Archie did quite a lot of quirky & cool things with their variants that you don’t see with other publishers. For example in one particularly surprising instance they produced both single-price newsstand and single-price direct edition Canadian price variants of certain TMNT Adventures issues! And here’s something else they did that’s very interesting: check out the below pair of pictures, for Archie’s 6/1987 Betty and Veronica #1, and spot what they did in the cover price boxes:

Betty and Veronica #1, 6/1987. Left: regular 75¢ cover price copy; Right: 95¢/40p cover price variant.

Betty and Veronica #1, 6/1987. Left: regular 75¢ cover price copy; Right: 95¢/40p cover price variant.

Their Canadian price variant — at right — isn’t single price but rather it also has a 40p price as well! [40p means 40 pence, the price in the UK; click here to learn more about understanding pence cover prices]. Since the “main” cover price is 95¢, we would still call this a Canadian Price Variant… but it has a special distinction of also having been distributed in the U.K. in addition to Canada!

So, this variant is a member of a fascinating “class” of Archie Type 1A variants with dual instead of single cover prices! Bill Alexander has put together a list of Archie issues with such dual Canada/U.K. pricing and I’ll share his research in a moment… but first, I think you’ll be interested to hear about the as-yet-unsolved Betty’s Diary #36 Mystery (and maybe even help us solve it!).

To introduce you to the mystery, take a look at the below direct edition examples for Betty’s Diary #34-38, with the CAN cover prices pointed out in the text along the top…

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong....

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong….

These examples all have the main US $1.00 cover price in large font at the top of the price box, then a Canadian small-print price, and lastly a 75p UK pence price; and the CAN price is $1.20 across all of them except for Betty’s Diary #36 (9/1990) which is $1.25! Let’s see a close-up of the #36 price box, shall we?


Bill researched to see what the indicia page for #36 shows the pricing should be in Canada for this issue number, and found that it says $1.20 (not $1.25):


Was Archie doing test marketing to gauge reaction to a nickel price increase? Did they conduct this test just with their direct edition batch, or, on Canadian newsstands as well? What will the cover price be on the Canadian price variant for this issue? Will it be $1.25 or $1.20? We have yet to spot the variant in the wild (these are all extremely tough to find, but especially the later issues as more sales volume shifted to the direct edition channel and the variants were newsstand exclusives), nor are we able to locate a picture of the variant online anywhere. If any readers have the variant for Betty’s Diary #36, please let us know and help us solve this intriguing mystery!

Bill’s Dual Canadian/Pence Archie List

Phase 1 Archie Comics Type 1A 95c/40p Cover Price Variants 5/87-11/87:

Archie #347-353
Archie Giant Series Magazine #569-578
Archie’s Pals N Gals #187-193
Betty and Me #157-162
Betty and Veronica (2nd Series) #1-6
Betty’s Diary #8-13
Everything’s Archie #129-132
Jughead (2nd Series) #1-2
Katy Keene Special #21-23
Laugh Comics (2nd Series) #1-3
Life with Archie #260-263
New Archies #1

Phase 2 Archie Comics Type 1A $1.20/75p Cover Price Variants 3/90-3/92:

Adventures of Bayou Billy #4 (An “Archie Adventure Series” test market $1.20/75p issue, the only one done as far as I can tell)
Archie #375-397
Archie Giant Series Magazine #608-630
Archie 3000 #7-16
Archie’s Pals N Gals #213-224
Archie’s RC Racers #4-10
Betty and Me #181-197
Betty and Veronica (2nd Series) #28-49
Betty’s Diary #32-40
Dilton’s Strange Science #5
Everything’s Archie #148-157
Explorers of The Unknown #1-6
Falculty Funnies #4-5
Jughead (2nd Series) #17-30
Jughead’s Diner #1-7
Jughead’s Pal Hot Dog #2-5
Jughead’s Police Time #1-6
Kooshkins #1-3
Laugh Comics (2nd Series) #20-29
Life with Archie #277-286
New Archies #22
Riverdale High #1-8
Veronica #7-19

Archie Digest Comics Type 1A $1.65/ £1.25 Cover Price Variants 3/90-3/92:

Archie Andrews Where Are You? #67-79
Archie Annual Digest #58-59
Archie Comics Digest #101-113
Archie’s Story and Game #14-22
Betty and Veronica Annual Digest Magazine #3-6
Betty and Veronica Digest #41-53
Jughead Jones Comic Digest #62-74
Jughead with Archie Digest #97-109
Katy Keene Comics Digest Magazine #9-10
Laugh Comics Digest #87-99
Little Archie Comics Digest Magazine #41-48
New Archies Digest Magazine #9-14

Dual Canadian/Pence Archie Example Pictures

Phase 1 Archie Comics Type 1A 95c/40p Cover Price Variant Examples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Phase 2 Archie Comics Type 1A $1.20/75p Cover Price Variant Examples:

From the Betty’s Diary series, although we’ve yet to find the #36 variant, we did find the below #34; here are all three versions so you can see them side-by-side (click to enlarge) — direct edition, US newsstand edition, and the Type 1A Canadian/pence price variant:

And here are some other “Phase 2” price variant examples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Archie Digest Comics Type 1A $1.65/ £1.25 Cover Price Variant Examples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy Collecting! 🙂

Happy Collecting, everyone! Do let us know if you have the Betty’s Diary #36 variant and can solve the mystery for us of what cover price they gave it! And thanks again to Bill Alexander for sharing his Archie research and scans! 🙂

– Ben

35 Cent Variants, Canadian Newsstand Edition, Direct Edition vs. Newsstand Edition Comic Books, Growing Newsstand Awareness, Rare Comics To Collect

Two Ways To Win Update

By Benjamin Nobel, October 29, 2018

“When collecting any given key comic book issue, it is better to have two ways to win, than just one.”

We have just published The 2019 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A), which included a few new features this year — one of which is a new Market Reports & Articles section.

My fellow collaborators have done a fine job presenting discussions about the state of the market for 1980’s price variants, including example sale highlights, and so for my report I decided to approach a discussion from a different angle: to give you an update on the “two ways to win” strategy that I’ve been advocating for so long on this blog.

What is the strategy? For newer readers, let me describe it by painting a scenario. Suppose it is the mid 1990’s and you decide you want to collect a copy of Star Wars #1 (Marvel Comics, 7/1977). Before embarking on your collecting quest, it would be very useful for you to know that there exist both 30¢ cover price 1st print types as well as 35¢ cover price 1st print types of that issue, and that the higher cover price type is actually dramatically more rare than the lower cover price type.

Star Wars #1 35¢ Variant

Star Wars #1 35¢ Variant

Suppose at the time you embark on your collecting quest, the relative rarity of the 35¢ type versus the 30¢ type is not very widely known in the hobby: it might be possible for you to pay “regular price” (or close to it) for the more-rare 35¢ version! If you can accomplish that feat of landing the 35¢ version for a cost basis close to regular market value, you’ve just given yourself two ways to win instead of one: (1) the issue number itself may rise in value, and (2) collectors of the future may be willing to ascribe a hefty premium to the more rare type, as its rarity becomes better known throughout the hobby.

Had you executed such a strategy back in the early days of 35¢ variant awareness, today you’d be grinning from ear to ear — because look where the Overstreet price guide values the two different types today in its most recently released guide (OPG #48):

The regular 30¢ 1st print type is given a $215 value in 9.2 by Overstreet, while meanwhile the more-rare 35¢ type is given an $11,000 value in 9.2 — that’s a premium of ~51x for the price variant over its regular counter-part!

But that ~51x premium didn’t happen overnight… it built over the years, even after the rarity difference was widely known throughout the hobby. For example, check out how that premium has grown over the last eight years — here’s the same Overstreet guide page from back in 2010 (from OPG #40):


As you can see above, back then the regular 30¢ 1st print type was given a $95 value in 9.2 by Overstreet, while meanwhile the more-rare 35¢ type was given an $2,500 value in 9.2… for a premium of ~26x for the cover price variant.

With 20/20 hindsight, Star Wars #1 clearly would have been a good pick for a key issue to collect back in 2010, as its “base value” (the 9.2 Overstreet guide value for the regular 30¢ type) has grown at a +10.7% annualized rate of return during these past eight years.

But what about the 35¢ type? Even at a monster premium of 26x back in 2010, you were still better off collecting the cover price variant: because in the ensuing years, the 35¢ type would increase in value by +20.3% annualized!

Looking at this result, it is clear that those who had the choice but decided to collect the regular 30¢ type instead of the more-rare 35¢ variant lost out on all that additional upside. To illustrate this, suppose in 2010 you had invested $10,000 in each of the two types. At the 9.2 guide values back then, that would have resulted in a box of about 106 copies of the 30¢ type (rounding up a smidge) versus 4 copies of the 35¢ type. Fast-forward to today and here are what the two $10K investments would be worth at today’s 9.2 guide values:


“You won in two ways with the cover price variant.”

So in the above hypothetical scenario, had you invested your $10K into the plain old 30¢ type and ignored the cover price variants, you missed out on roughly $21,210 of upside! And that’s from a starting point where the 35¢ variant already had a guide value twenty six times higher than the regular cover price copies! With 20/20 hindsight, clearly you did dramatically better going with the 35¢ variant — because you “won” in two ways: (1) the issue number itself grew in value, and (2) the cover price variant premium over regular copies expanded in multiple. You won in two ways with the cover price variant.

Let’s keep that result in mind, as we fast-forward to a 1980’s key: Suppose you now decide you want to collect a copy of Amazing Spider-Man (ASM) #238 (Marvel Comics, 3/1983). Is there a “Two Ways To Win” collecting strategy?

You bet there is!!!

Before embarking on your ASM #238 collecting quest, it would be very useful for you to know that there were two distinct distribution channels through which comics of that era were sold: (1) newsstand sales, and (2) direct edition sales. The prevalent direct editions have a Spider-Man logo in place of a bar code, and were ordered by comic shops at a discounted but non-returnable basis — that Spidey Head logo was a way for the publisher to identify a direct-sold copy and be able to refuse refund and say “sorry comic shops: you’re stuck with any unsold copies!”

Newsstand editions meanwhile have a bar code, such copies were treated/handled by newsstand staff like magazines (i.e. something to read) and sat on newsstands waiting for a buyer… any unsold copies were returned to the publisher and typically pulped/recycled forward. The newsstand copies that sold tended to be purchased by readers (as an “entertainment purchase”) instead of by collectors (who instead were over in comic shops loading up on direct editions and carefully placing them in plastic bags), and thus newsstand copies saw a notoriously high destruction rate as compared to their well-preserved direct edition counter-parts.

So: collectible-condition surviving newsstand copies of the 1980’s are considerably harder to find versus collectible-condition direct edition copies… That already gives us a second way to win: to go for the more-rare collectible-condition newsstand survivor, versus settling for a prevalent direct edition copy…

But as readers of this market report already know — because you already read our guide intro — during a window of time in the 1980’s, Marvel actually published two distinct newsstand types: a lower cover price 1st print type (60¢ in the case of ASM #238), and a higher cover price 1st print type (75¢ in the case of ASM #238). And that the higher cover price type is by far the most rare type — the target market for that type had ~1/10th the population! [Here is a rarity walkthrough with explanatory graphics, here is Paul’s “common sense approach” to understanding their scarcity, and here is Doug’s scarcity discussion.]

Conclusion: going after that dramatically-more-rare 75¢ cover price variant type gives us our strongest “Two Ways To Win” when collecting our ASM #238.

Back when I began this blog, it was widely possible to collect the cover price variant (CPV) for any given 1980’s key published during the price variant window, and pay “regular price” for it: awareness throughout the hobby about this type of variant was historically sparse back then, so there were many people who owned variants in their collections without realizing it, i.e. they knew they owned Amazing Spider-Man #238, but did not realize there was anything different or special about their copy, with its 75¢ cover price.

“I refer to such listings with generic titles but pictured variants as “mis-listed” variants.”

Such a person, when looking to sell, might look up the recent OPG guide value or the recent market price that the issue number in general was selling for, and then list their rare variant on a buy-it-now asking “regular market price” for it (or auction it off). Since they did not realize their copy was anything special, they would choose a “generic” listing title (e.g. “Amazing Spider-Man #238, Marvel Comics, 1983”) as opposed to a title that would allow CPV collectors to find it in a refined search — no “Variant” in the title, no “Canadian”, no “Newsstand”, no “CPV”, nothing you might search for when looking for this type of variant. But zoom in on the picture to see the cover price, and it would clearly show the variant. I refer to such listings with generic titles but pictured variants as “mis-listed” variants. Many of us have been successfully hunting down such opportunities for years (high five, fellow hunters!).

And that brings me to my Update on the Two Ways To Win Strategy. Applying this strategy to my own collecting of 1980’s CPVs, my approach over the years can be described by the below “decision tree” [it is a general representation of the approach but some things are “assumed” such as, for example, that there is a “grade hurdle” in mind for the variant in advance of hunting for it — personally I aim for “9 out of 10” on the grade scale (VF/NM) and if I can exceed that goal I’m thrilled]:


For years, my collecting of these variants mostly ran along two paths down the branches — often, I could hunt through listings and either find myself a “mis-listed” variant to collect…


… or I felt confident that with enough patience — which I should make clear was often measured in months or even years of waiting — I would eventually see a mis-listed variant come onto the market:


I’m not the only one who has pursued this collecting approach, and here’s why the approach is important to understand when considering the current state of the CPV marketplace: for many years, given the state of collector awareness (unawareness) of these cover price variants, I was reluctant to traverse down the branches towards that “pay a premium” box for a given issue. I was so confident that with the passage of enough time I’d eventually land myself a mis-listed variant copy of the issue I was looking for, that I was very reluctant to pony up a premium price.

That may sound hard to understand when at the same time (1) I’d mentioned before that it could be months or even years between mis-listed variant sightings for given issues, and (2) clearly I am someone who has studied the rarity of these variants and I know very well that they are deserving of a hefty premium. So why was I so reluctant to pony up a well-deserved premium? Consider this: suppose hypothetically that you have a given issue where you tend to see a mis-listed variant hit the market once a year. Waiting around for that opportunity might sound nearly futile. But suppose for sake of argument that you have 365 different variants you are hunting for, each of which tends to produce a mis-listed variant opportunity once a year? Well my friends, on any given day you should expect that an opportunity would come your way! You just wouldn’t know which opportunity. [By the way, this was the inspiration for this year’s Top 365 / A Variant A Day list].

So picture yourself executing this strategy of hunting for mis-listed variants over the years… As the years progress, and more and more collectors learn about the variants, more collectors then recognize when they own variants and in turn more often list them properly. Thus, over time, you begin seeing fewer and fewer mis-listed variant opportunities. Instead of an opportunity per day among your hunt list of issues, you’re seeing an opportunity per week… then every couple of weeks… then even longer… Now suppose a new key issue catches your attention to collect, one which you do not already own in any grade — i.e. something you have not been trying to collect or upgrade, until today, so that you do not even own one single starter copy of the variant. How are you going to approach the decision tree? In today’s marketplace of rapidly increasing variant awareness, you are probably going to be increasingly willing to traverse down that “pay a premium” path:


And speaking for myself, that above path down the tree is where I have been finding myself these days. For example, one of the issues I collected in the past year was Detective Comics #583 (February 1988, first appearances of Ventriloquist and Scarface, and a gorgeous Mike Mignola cover). It was during one of the proof-reads of our 2018 guide that decided I wanted to own this variant. Let’s go down the tree: Were newsstand copies published for the issue? Yes. Do Type 1A cover price variant newsstand copies exist? Yes! Was I able to find a “mis-listed” variant for sale at “regular” price? No. Not a mis-listed copy in sight, at any price. I decided very quickly that I’d be willing to pay a premium for a properly-listed copy. But there were zero properly-listed copies available. I found myself waiting for one. And waiting for one. And waiting for one…

Detective Comics #583 $1.00 Price Variant

Detective Comics #583 $1.00 Price Variant

Eventually, a variant appeared on the market! It was properly listed, with the listing title identifying it as the variant, reading: “Detective Comics – 583 – Rare 1.00 Price Variant! – DC Comics – NM- 1988″… The buy-it-now cost with shipping was $58.12, representing a premium price over the going rate for direct editions in the same grade. Friends, I didn’t even hesitate: I slammed that buy button. And I’m so glad I did — I have yet to see its equal come onto the market since. In fact, I sent my copy to CGC, and as of today the CGC census still shows only one variant copy on record for the issue… my copy. I tell this anecdote to illustrate how my own behavior has changed over the years, as the hobby’s awareness of this type of cover price variant has grown. How many others like me fit this description, and how are we impacting the CPV marketplace in the aggregate?

I do still see mis-listed variants out there as well — those opportunities certainly haven’t yet “dried up” completely (here’s a mis-listed variant I landed recently) — but nowadays I do find myself time and again traversing the tree down towards that “pay a premium for a properly listed copy” box. If other market participants are behaving like me, then mis-listed-variant-hunters are increasingly losing their patience to wait for mis-listed opportunities and are realizing that the best move, if we actually want to land that variant we’re looking for, is to be willing to pony up that hefty premium (especially in the highest grades where supply is so very limited). This marketplace behavior change which I observe in myself — and then potentially multiplied across other mis-listed variant hunters out there if their behavior has similarly changed — certainly would argue for a continued shift towards higher marketplace premiums paid for properly listed variants. How much of a variant premium is reasonable these days? Each collector will need to find their own answer to the question of what a reasonable premium is, for them, for any given issue in a given grade at a given point in time. (Hopefully our guide is a useful tool to help in that decision).

What kinds of premiums have informed collectors been observed paying lately for properly listed variants? Looking at the new Noteworthy Sales section of the guide and looking at the sales prices for variants compared to where the prevalent direct editions in the same grades have been selling lately, I can confidently say that those cover price variant premiums being paid these days still seem very reasonable to me in relation to the underlying rarity. Still “early innings” is a good way to describe it — and actually, fellow guide collaborator Angelo Virone recently gave a baseball analogy himself (quoted in this post), i.e. what “inning” are we in as far as awareness in the hobby about this type of cover price variant, its extreme relative rarity, and incredible collecting appeal?

Angelo placed us in the second inning as of that day; but as those who have been following my blog already know, there has recently been a major milestone for Type 1A 75¢ variants like our ASM #238 example: CBCS has begun to dignify them with a price variant label, e.g. “75¢ Canadian Price Variant”. That will make for a huge leap forward in collector awareness: The proverbial snowball of growing awareness was already rolling down the mountain at unstoppable speed, but now just got a huge step-up in mass. This is a leap forward for Type 1A price variants.

How much of a leap? Angelo described it as skipping the third inning and jumping straight into the 4th. I have to agree, that this milestone is going to result in a huge step-up of collector awareness about Type 1A price variants (my blog’s “stats page” was on fire with hits when that news broke) — in fact, I have to wonder to myself just how quickly our guided values in our 2019 guide edition will slip woefully out of date? As an example, at the time we conducted our annual value survey for the 2019 guide, our median advisor value for the ASM #238 cover price variant in 9.2 came in at $425… Meanwhile, in between that survey and today, we have seen more record-breaking sales for ASM #238 including a CGC 8.0 (VF) copy selling on the marketplace for north of $600 (fully +44% higher than our 9.2 guided value, for a CGC 8.0)!

And this continued rise in the variant premium over time is our second way to win by targeting the dramatically-more-rare 1980’s newsstand cover price variants: The first way we can win, is by making a strong selection for which keys to collect — looking issue by issue at the collecting merits, and selecting wisely; the second way we can win is the potential for the variant premium to widen over the upcoming years as awareness continues to grow in the hobby and as other comic book “authorities” follow in the footsteps of CBCS in properly recognizing Type 1A price variants for the true 1st print US-published cover price variants they are!

Happy CPV Collecting Everyone! And now please read more Market Reports & Articles from our 2019 guide! 🙂

– Ben

Canadian Newsstand Edition

Canadian Price Variants: Noteworthy Sales

This page continues the noteworthy sales section of our 2019 price guide. Have you been involved in a recent noteworthy sale of a Canadian Price Variant as a buyer or seller, or have you observed a noteworthy sale of a Canadian Price Variant that occurred after our most recent guide was published? If so, please help us in our efforts with future price guide editions by reporting a noteworthy sale in the comments forum section at the bottom of this page — click here to see what others have reported.

Noteworthy Canadian Price Variant Sales Examples from the 2019 Guide
Issue Grade Sale Price Sale Date
Amazing Spider-Man #238 CGC 9.6 $2,300 Aug-18
Amazing Spider-Man #238 CGC 9.6 $1,827 May-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.8 $1,800 Oct-18
Transformers #1 CGC 9.8 $1,800 17-Dec
Batman #357 CGC 9.8 $1,500 Jan-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.8 $1,282 Oct-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.8 $1,150 Aug-18
Marvel Tails #1 CGC 9.8 $1,092 Oct-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.8 $1,020 PNJ, 12/24/2017
Marvel Graphic Novel #4 CGC 9.8 $1,000 Jul-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.8 $1,000 17-Dec
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 CGC 9.8 $1,000 17-Dec
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.6 $764 Aug-18
X-Factor #6 CGC 9.6 $750 2018
Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 CGC 9.6 $750 2018
Tales of the Teen Titans #44 CGC 9.8 $750 2018
X-Factor #6 CGC 9.6 $650 2018
Amazing Spider-Man #238 CGC 8.0 $614 Sep-18
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 CGC 9.6 $615 2018
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.6 $610 Aug-18
Batman #386 CGC 9.6 $600 Jul-18
Brave and the Bold #200 CGC 9.8 $600 2018
Thor #337 CGC 9.8 $513 2018
Thor #338 CGC 9.8 $500 May-18
Wonder Woman #7 CGC 9.6 $500 Aug-18
Batman #359 CGC 9.6 $477 Oct-18
Thor #337 CGC 9.8 $452 2018
Thing #1 CGC 9.8 $450 2018
Batman #368 CGC 9.8 $445 Apr-18
Detective Comics #523 NM+ $396 2018
Thor #337 CGC 9.8 $396 2018
Transformers #1 CGC 9.6 $385 Oct-18
Punisher #1 CGC 9.6 $385 May-18
Web of Spider-Man #1 CGC 9.8 $376 Apr-18
Marvel Team-Up #141 CGC 9.6 $359 DCW, 10/22/2018
Batman #366 NM $330 2018
Detective Comics #523 CGC 9.6 $307 Oct-18
Marvel Tails #1 CGC 9.4 $300 PNJ, 10/15/2018
Punisher #1 NM+ $300 Sep-18
Wolverine Limited Series #4 CGC 9.8 $294 2017
Uncanny X-Men #164 CGC 9.6 $290 Sep-18
Batman #357 PGX 9.4 $278 Jul-18
Batman #353 CGC 9.8 $275 PNJ, 12/13/2017
Batman #369 CGC 9.8 $270 PNJ, 3/16/2018
Wonder Woman #298 CGC 9.8 $265 PNJ, 6/28/2018
Marvel Movie Showcase #1 CGC 7.5 $265 2018
Avengers #257 CGC 9.6 $255 Sep-18
Batman #423 CGC 9.4 $250 2018
Amazing Spider-Man #252 NM+ $250 PNJ, 3/7/2018
Amazing Spider-Man #252 CGC 9.4 $250 Oct-18
Amazing Spider-Man #263 CGC 9.6 $249 Jul-18
Brave and the Bold #200 CGC 9.6 $242 PNJ, 12/13/2017
Detective Comics #523 CGC 9.4 $232 PNJ, 12/14/2017
Batman #373 CGC 9.6 $230 PNJ, 1/13/2018
Batman #363 CGC 9.6 $230 PNJ, 1/15/2018
Thing #35 CGC 9.8 $215 DCW, Sep-18
Amazing Spider-Man #252 NM $215 PNJ, 6/3/2018
Justice League #1 CGC 9.8 $211 PNJ, 1/17/2018
Justice League #3 CGC 9.8 $211 PNJ, 1/17/2018
Justice League #1 CGC 9.8 $209 PNJ, 1/17/2018
Marvel Movie Showcase #1 CGC 7.5 $208 2018
Transformers #1 VF/NM to NM- $200 Sep-18
Tales of the Teen Titans #44 PGX 9.4 $199 Sep-18
Batman #366 CGC 9.0 $190 Jun-18
Batman #366 CGC 9.2 $189 Mar-18
Batman #353 CGC 9.8 $179 DCW, 2018
Star Wars #68 CGC 9.0 $175 Sep-18
Thing #1 CGC 9.6 $175 Jul-18
Batman #359 CGC 9.2 $175 Feb-18
Batman #356 CGC 9.6 $175 PNJ, 2/17/2018
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 CGC 8.5 $174 Aug-18
Tales of the Teen Titans #44 CGC 9.4 $170 PNJ, 12/14/2017
Batman #383 CGC 9.8 $169 PNJ, 6/21/2018
Batman #370 CGC 9.8 $169 PNJ, 6/21/2018
Batman #359 CGC 9.0 $165 PNJ, 12/13/2017
Amazing Spider-Man #238 VF- $160 PNJ, 2/23/2018
Batman #365 CGC 9.6 $155 PNJ, 6/22/2018
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #10 CGC 9.8 $150 Oct-18
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 CGC 9.4 $150 Apr-18
Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 CGC 9.4 $150 Apr-18
Uncanny X-Men #164 CGC 9.6 $150 Apr-18
Amazing Spider-Man #239 CGC 9.4 $150 Sep-18
Suicide Squad #1 NM- $150 2018
Thor #337 CGC 9.4 $140 PNJ, 12/7/2017
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 CGC 9.6 $135 DCW, 10/24/2018
Alpha Flight #1 CGC 9.2 $134 Jul-18
Ewoks #1 NM+ $132 2018
Thor #337 CGC 9.2 $129 DCW, 2018
Wonder Woman Vol 2 #9 CGC 9.4 $125 Aug-18
Uncanny X-Men #164 CGC 9.4 $125 DCW, 2018
Wonder Woman #7 CGC 9.4 $125 DCW, 2018
Thor #337 CGC 9.2 $120 PNJ, 1/20/2018
Thor #339 CGC 9.8 $119 DCW, 2018
G.I. Joe, a Real American Hero #21 CGC 9.0 $115 2018
Daredevil #196 CGC 9.6 $109 PNJ, 1/17/2018
Amazing Spider-Man #252 VG/FN $108 Aug-18
Justice League #2 CGC 9.4 $107 PNJ, 1/18/2018
Thor #339 CGC 9.8 $107 DCW, 2018
Wonder Woman #300 unspecified $100 Sep-18
Batman #358 PGX 9.0 $100 Sep-18
Batman #367 CGC 9.2 $99 PNJ, 2/17/2018
Fantastic Four #265 CGC 9.8 $99 DCW, 2018
Fantastic Four #286 CGC 9.6 $99 DCW, 2018
Wonder Woman #9 CGC 9.2 $99 DCW, 2018
Marvel Tails #1 VF/NM $95 Sep-18
Wonder Woman #7 CGC 9.2 $95 DCW, 2018
Detective Comics #524 PGX 9.2 $90 Aug-18
Avengers #250 CGC 9.6 $89 DCW, 2018
Fantastic Four #262 CGC 9.8 $89 DCW, 2018
Thor #337 CGC 8.5 $85 Oct-18
Detective Comics #524 CGC 8.0 $83 Jun-18
Alpha Flight #33 CGC 9.4 $79 DCW, 2018
Avengers #257 CGC 9.0 $79 DCW, 2018
Spectacular Spider-Man #90 CGC 9.0 $76 Feb-18
Alpha Flight #1 CGC 9.4 $75 DCW, 2018
Daredevil #197 CGC 9.4 $75 DCW, 2018
Avengers #266 CGC 9.4 $57 PNJ, 1/18/2018


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

$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:


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.


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:


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:


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):


And this is the price it fetched at auction:

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:


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.]


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:

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:


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:


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:

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 (


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:


Certification #1993043003 ( 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:


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:


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 (



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 (


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 (

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 (

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.
Canadian Newsstand Edition, Future Classic Covers

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

By Benjamin Nobel, July 13, 2018


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

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

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

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

Amazing Spider-Man #238:

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

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

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

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

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

Web of Spider-Man #1:

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

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

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.


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