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

That Newsstand Comic You Didn’t Know You Owned May Be Worth Over $8000

By Benjamin Nobel, July 26, 2020

Both of the comics below are 1st print copies of Ultimate Fallout #4 (1st appearance of Miles Morales), in the same grade, and their original owners both paid $3.99 for their copies in October of 2011. I pose this question to you: are the two copies below different or the same? (It’s like that old spot-the-differences game! Hint: it has nothing to do with colors, or the artwork.)

ultimate-fallout-4-direct-vs-newsstand

If you said “the same” you just made a $6,700 mistake. But that’s not your fault. The Overstreet Price Guide (considered “the Bible” to many comic collectors and dealers) does not differentiate them in their guide as two distinct versions (instead they have just the one entry for the issue number), with just one guided value (with NM- listed at $80 as of guide #49). So there’s no “heads-up” in the guide that would even make you think that your copy might possibly be anything special or different from the rest:

ultimate-fallout-4-guide-value

But while Overstreet fails to differentiate the two versions shown before with their own separate value entries, Mr. Market meanwhile does differentiate them as having vastly different value: the copy you saw earlier at the left side of the picture is the one in the below screenshot which was bid to $8,100, whereas the one at right in the picture you saw earlier is the one below it that sold for $1,400:

ultimate-fallout-4-newsstand-worth-more

As you can see from the above screenshots, both copies had the same grade assigned by CGC at 9.8 and both were sold around the same time, in June of 2020. So what made one of them worth a full $6,700 more than the other?!?

The answer: The $8100 example is a “NEWSSTAND” copy: its printed bar code says “Newsstand” on it — meaning it was the returnable type sold in places like Barnes & Noble, whereas the $1400 example is a “DIRECT EDITION” copy: its printed bar code says “Direct Edition” on it — meaning it was the type sold in comic shops (where the comic shops ordered them at a discounted but non-returnable basis).

ultimate-fallout-4-upc-codes

But it isn’t these words themselves that drive the value difference (although sharp-eyed readers may also notice that the newsstand version of this issue has the neat quirk of being “mis-identified” by its UPC code as the “Black Panther” title), rather, it is the difference in rarity between the two types that Mr. Market is paying attention to.

By 2011 when this book was published, sales of newsstand comics had been on the decline for decades relative to their direct edition counter-parts, and made up only a small fraction of Marvel’s 2011 comic book sales sales — a 2003 BPA audit showed Marvel was down to 4.25% newsstand sales by May of that year and other newsstand rarity discussions and estimates peg Marvel’s newsstand percentage at an even tinier fraction later into the 2000’s (in their last year of newsstand sales in 2013, one insider estimates as low as 1% newsstand).

And there was also a stark contrast in the typical survival characteristics of comics sold via the two different distribution channels: direct edition copies were sold in comic shops where the proprietors handled them with great care (treating them as collectibles) and where the typical buyer was a collector who took great care to preserve them, typically in a plastic bag with a backing board.

By contrast, newsstand staff treated comics like magazines (something to read, not something to be handled with great care), and then the typical buyer of newsstand comics was a reader who most likely spent their $4 on a comic in 2011 in order to actually read it. A collector preserving newsstand comics was the exception, not the norm.

Thus, as a general rule, surviving copies of modern age comics in the coveted 9.8 NM/MT grade tier are much more likely to be direct editions, than newsstand copies. Said another way, 9.8 newsstand copies are in much lower supply and thus much harder to find… and market prices all boil down to supply versus demand. I recently studied the newly-released CBCS census and found that as the decades progressed, the 9.8 newsstand census numbers were drastically lower compared to 9.8 direct editions:

But amazingly, even with all the growing newsstand awareness out there, to this day I still see newsstand comics listed on eBay all the time that clearly show a newsstand comic in the listing’s picture, but are not identified as being newsstand books in the title or description (and where the owner quite often prices them for sale at the going rate for the issue number in general). For example I saw a “mis-listed” newsstand copy recently for Venom/Deadpool: What If? #1. In my imagination I draw a mental picture of the owner of the book opening up their copy of the latest Overstreet guide, finding the right page to look up its value, and seeing this:

venom-deadpool-guide-value

Here again, there is just the one entry, with NM- at $185 as of guide #49. [Notice the cover price cited at $2.99]. Seeing this guide entry, what would prompt the book’s owner to even think there is a possibility that their copy was anything different or special? And here, I find the guide’s “newsstand omission” even more egregious than in the case of Ultimate Fallout #4, because with this 2011 comic we are also dealing with the newsstand version being a cover price variant of the issue number:

venom-deadpool-upc

As you can see above, the newsstand version is indeed a cover price variant of the issue number — the original buyer paid $1 more, at $3.99, versus the original buyer of the direct edition who paid $2.99. There’s a chance someone might notice the cover price difference on their own, but most collectors looking up their comic’s value are probably not scrutinizing the UPC code box to notice whether the cover price on their copy matches the cover price information in the guide.

If Ultimate Fallout #4, as an example 2011 key comic, guides for $80 in NM-, and a CGC 9.8 newsstand copy of that issue fetched $8100 sitting here in 2020, then what might a CGC 9.8 newsstand copy of Venom/Deadpool: What If? #1 fetch today, what with its guide value at $185 in NM-? I wish I could tell you, but I’d only be guesstimating… I’ve had various discussions about this book since the time of my 2017 post about it, yet in all these years I haven’t once seen a 9.8 newsstand copy of the book hit the market.

CGC began broadly “breaking out” $3.99 newsstand comics (when price variants of the issue number) on census back in 2016, and so Venom/Deadpool: What If newsstand comics, as price variants, got their own census entry… and after all these years have passed, the grand total number of 9.8 newsstand copies of this book on record at CGC is… drum roll… TWO (as shown in the screenshot below):

venom-deadpool-price-variant-census

Not exactly strong odds of seeing a CGC 9.8 newsstand copy hit the market, with census numbers like these! And unfortunately that’s the case for a great many highly-sought-after newsstand comics. Here’s the $3.99 newsstand census entry for Hulk #1 (2008; 1st Red Hulk), also showing a mere TWO in CGC 9.8:

hulk-1-2008-newsstand-cgc

The other day I looked up the current census for one of the most sought-after 1990’s Spawn newsstand comics that I know of, one which currently stands as the one-and-only example that I know about of a newsstand-exclusive title from one of the big publishers (please tell me if you know of another example!): Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1. And I found that there is just one 9.8 copy on record today:

spawn-savage-dragon-1-census

How can we possibly guesstimate where a 9.8 newsstand copy would sell, with census numbers like these? If the one owner of the 9.8 wants to hold onto it, and the next 9.8 doesn’t appear until far out into the future, then we can kiss any potential near-term 9.8 sales data goodbye!

One way to get at least a ballpark sense of where an elusive 9.8 might sell, is to find the highest grade sale we can, and then find some other book that is “very close” with full sales data all the way out to the 9.8 tier, and then use that information to extrapolate. I’ll walk through what I mean by this. For example, the most recent sale of a CGC graded copy of Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 was a CGC 9.4:

spawn-savage-dragon-1-cgc-sale

Another comic that we could use as “something very close” to Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 in terms of its characteristics, could be newsstand copies of Spawn #1 — also from the 1990’s, also an important Spawn book, also a #1, and also coveted in newsstand. And for this book we do have recent example sales of newsstand copies of Spawn #1 in CGC 9.8 (and CGC 9.4 as well):

july-2020-spawn-newsstand-sales

From there, our extrapolation would have the 9.4 Spawn/Savage Dragon #1 (and a 9.8 question mark) on one side of the equation, and the two above Spawn #1 sales on the other side, and then we cross-multiply and divide (462.99 times 298, divided by 186.99) to extrapolate the missing 9.8 number… coming to a rounded $738 for the ballpark value of Spawn/Savage Dragon #1 in CGC 9.8. Who knows what it would actually get in the marketplace, but, this exercise does give us some “rough sense” of the potential — and to show you that this estimation method has the potential to sometimes work very well, suppose it was the Spawn #1 newsstand 9.8 that was missing sales data, suppose we had only the 9.4 sale example for the book, and suppose we chose regular direct edition copies of Spawn #1 as our “something very close” example to use. Here below are recent direct edition sales examples for Spawn #1:

july-2020-spawn-direct-edition-sales

If hypothetically we had been missing the Spawn #1 newsstand 9.8 data, but we did have the $186.99 sale data for the 9.4 newsstand copy, then using the above direct edition sales we could use the same extrapolation trick to compute an estimate: 110 times 186.99, divided by 44, equals (rounded): $467 as our estimate for a 9.8 newsstand copy.

Comparing this extrapolated estimate of $467 against the last actual sale at $463, we didn’t hit an exact bullseye but we’re remarkably on-target! So potentially, this type of extrapolation can give us a sense for where more-elusive newsstand 9.8’s might sell, in cases where sales data is itself elusive (while, naturally, the very fact that they are elusive could argue for the possibility of bidding wars and thus unpredictable market values).

What other newsstand books might hit $8000 next?

The $8100 sale for Ultimate Fallout #4 is a big newsstand milestone. What other newsstand books are chasing just behind in the horse race? I checked eBay for high recent sales under the “newsstand” keyword, and found a big 1990’s book which (fortunately) has recent CGC 9.8 newsstand sales we can look at: the Harley Quinn key Batman Adventures #12, published in September of 1993 by DC. There are two recent newsstand sales in 9.8, one just happened and the other was back in May for $3000:

july-2020-batman-adv-12-newsstand-sales

This compares to recent (and May) direct edition comparable sales examples I found below at about $1700-1900:

july-2020-batman-adv-12-direct-ed

And moving backwards in time into the 1980’s, Amazing Spider-Man #300 has a recent CGC 9.8 newsstand sale at $4500 (by the way, to find the below I had to search with “newstand” [one ‘s’] which is a good trick to know about in order to find newsstand books on the marketplace that others might miss by searching only with the correctly-spelled “newsstand”):

spider-man-300-9.8-newsstand

This compares against $2500 as the current going rate for direct editions in 9.8:

spider-man-300-9.8-direct

Moving even further backwards in time in the 80’s we hit the 1980’s newsstand “cover price variant window” where instead of printing newsstand copies that had prices for both the US and Canada (as, say, “60¢ US, 75¢ CAN” on the whole newsstand print run) like they eventually did, for the period from 10/1982 out to 8/1986 Marvel printed two distinct single-price newsstand batches (other publishers did this too; learn more about CPVs here)! Amazing Spider-Man #238 is one of Marvel’s biggest keys falling into this window, and a 75¢ variant newsstand copy in CGC 9.8 sold back in March for $4650:

asm-238-cpv-9.8-newsstand

Like with the $3.99 price variants, CGC also “breaks out” the 75¢ variants on census on account of the cover price difference, so this census visibility helps us to see what other big 1980’s keys are in the “elusive 9.8” newsstand category. One example that comes to my mind immediately is G.I. Joe, A Real American Hero #21, a raw VF-range copy of which recently sold for $589, and where the number of CGC 9.8 75¢ cover price newsstand copies on record (which they “break out” as “Canadian Price Variant”) is… drum roll… one:

gi-joe-21-cpv-census

If a CGC 9.8 75¢ variant newsstand copy of that book ever hit the market, it is bound to fetch a huge number at auction. I mentioned that other publishers beyond Marvel have 1980’s newsstand price variants too — from Archie, the big Cheryl Blossom key Archie’s Girls Betty & Veronica #320 has a 75¢ variant that could deliver a huge number at auction in 9.8, and from D.C., Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 has a 95¢ variant. [Here’s a top 50 list for the 1980’s CPVs]. And guess the number of CGC 9.8 copies on record for that Swamp Thing #37 variant? As of today, the answer is zero… a 9.8 for that 95¢ variant newsstand book is still a hypothetical!

swamp-thing-37-variant-census

Wow.

The takeaway:

Clearly, for any important copper age or modern comic book you own, it is worth knowing if yours is a newsstand copy, or, just a prevalent direct edition. [Here’s a separate post to read if you need help learning more about how to tell them apart: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference]

Can you imagine if you had spent $3.99 in a Barnes & Noble in the year 2011 on a copy of Ultimate Fallout #4, if your copy has survived in NM/MT shape, but in the whole nine years since you bought it you never actually realized that you owned a newsstand copy? You could easily leave $6700 on the table without this knowledge!

And many people do leave money on the table by pricing their newsstand comics for sale at a buy-it-now which they set by checking the going rate for the issue number in general, either by checking the price guide or checking recent sales online for the issue number and clicking on direct edition sales examples. Don’t be one of the too-many collectors who own these treasures without realizing it!

Ask yourself this question: for any of the key books you’ve heard me touch upon here today (or any other copper or modern age keys you can think of), that you know you definitely own (somewhere deep in those long boxes of yours), can you answer right now without looking whether it is a direct edition or a newsstand copy you own?

Clearly the newsstand versus direct edition distinction is becoming more and more important to Mr. Market as time passes; it should be equally important to you too!

Happy Collecting! 🙂
– Ben

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

CPV Discussions In Overstreet #49 Market Reports

overstreet-guides

8/4/2019

Last week I got my copy of the Overstreet Price Guide (OPG) #49. I have fond memories of using the Overstreet guides as a kid to value my childhood collection from year to year, but the truth is that as an adult this is only the 3rd OPG I’ve acquired since I got re-hooked on comic book collecting back in 2003 (my 2003 plan to sell off my childhood collection “backfired” as it ultimately got me instead re-hooked on the hobby!).

The first OPG guide I acquired as an adult was a used copy of #40 which I picked up several years ago for the sole purpose of reading Jon McClure’s variant article on a recommendation from Bill Alexander (this was before I met Jon and before he put his article online); I next bought OPG #48 in order to have the market reports in print written by my fellow CPV guide collaborators where they would be mentioning our guide; and I bought #49 for the same reason — but across these past two consecutive years of buying the Overstreet guide to read my collaborators’ market reports, I’ve come to really enjoy reading the full market reports section!

But absent these above reasons, I don’t think I’d be acquiring new OPG guides; and I know there are many collectors out there who don’t bother buying the OPG guides anymore but instead simply check sold listings on eBay/etc. to gauge issue values. I even had a conversation not long ago with an eBay buyer who won one of my listings, where we had gotten into chatting about comics (as so often happens), and I had casually mentioned how the variant they had won from me wasn’t even listed in Overstreet yet. Their reply? “What’s Overstreet?” I kid you not! So for those out there reading my blog who might not be picking up Overstreet these days, I thought I’d make this post to share some short selected excerpts that relate to CPVs, and I’d recommend eventually picking up a copy of the Overstreet guide just to access all these wonderful reports in full!

In last year’s market reports section, I thought there was some particularly great discussion of the Newsstand vs. Direct Edition distinction, prompted in part by CBCS becoming the first of the two main grading companies to “break out” the types distinctly. This year, I was wondering what kind of buzz there would be surrounding CPV’s in the market reports following CBCS becoming the first of the two main grading companies to formally recognize Type 1A price variants as price variants on their labels (CGC finally started doing the same in May, which I expect will be discussed in next year’s Overstreet market reports!). And indeed, there were some great CPV discussions and mentions this year! I’d like to discuss a few selected excerpts:

Conan Saunders, MyComicShop / Lone Star Comics

“We received multiple mentions of the growing recognition of Canadian price variants, including a request that Overstreet provide more coverage of Mark Jeweler, Whitman, and Canadian price variants. We have expanded coverage of these variants within our own inventory database and have done well with them.”
— Conan Saunders, Lone Star Comics; OPG #49 page 209

And later, on page 210, in the section written by Buddy Saunders, he specifically mentions that Lone Star Comics will be expanding their selection of Canadian (as well as U.K.) variants! Some of you might remember a collection from many years back that had appeared on MyComicShop which had some stunning-condition CPVs in it — if memory serves it had been called the “WaWa Collection” and it featured NM-range copies of many issues that I’d been hunting for in high grade for years but had never found until that collection went up for sale — and for many of those issue numbers I haven’t seen copies in such high grade ever since!

I don’t know how they ever found that collection but I know that MyComicShop has a reputation for having an extensive network of buying partners… So the thought of MyComicShop actively looking for more great CPV collections makes me excited! 🙂 I for one still have so many variants that I’ve yet to land (or even set eyes on), and others in my collection that I’d love to be able to upgrade, and I’m sure many of you out there are in the same boat… so I hope MyComicShop succeeds in shaking some great CPV’s “out of the woodwork” for all of us, through their collection-buying efforts! But as hopeful as I am that they’ll succeed in sourcing some great new CPVs for their catalog, I also find myself wondering where they’ll actually find them?

Another market report, written by Jay Halstead of “ICE” (icomicexchange.com), described just how things have changed as far as CPV availability — and my own experience hunting for “mis-listed” variants is in-line with what Jay describes, where it used to be the case that with patience I could consistently find CPVs where the seller did not realize they owned a variant, listed their variant for sale as a “regular” copy (no indication anywhere in the title or description that the book was a variant, but the picture clearly showed the price variant) and then priced their CPV copy for sale at “regular price”… but over the years (and especially in the last year) such opportunities have become fewer and further between. Here’s a couple of excerpts from what Jay had to say (and I’d encourage you to read his full report for more details!):

Jay Halstead, ICE

“… [T]he difference between when I started [collecting CPVs] and the last year or so is, now, I look for high grade and WOW, what a difference. You’d think these were part of collections and would be attainable, but I’m telling you, they’ve really dried up in grade! I go through every bin, every box at many cons, and they are still readily available in VG, but in better than VF+ they are nowhere! Now I know a lot of this has to do with hoarding, and holding out until collectors/dealers feel they’ve gained enough value that they can start salting them out into collectors’ hands again, and I would believe that if I weren’t a dealer and getting into rooms before everybody else does. I’m going through dealer inventories when the lids are just being taken off the boxes and there isn’t anything to buy! I believe we (Canadians in general), just took them for granted, at least I know I did. Now that there is demand from south of the border, I’m looking at possibilities I have to start paying real money for some of these (I’ve always paid no more or no less for Canadian price variants, now, on keys anyways, there is at least a 20-50% mark-up everywhere I go)!”
— Jay Halstead, ICE; OPG #49 page 125

Wow: that’s some excellent “boots on the ground” insight there from Jay! Another report, from Marc Sims of Big B Comics, echoed the strong demand out there for CPVs: Marc talked about how in his prior report he had mentioned having boxes-worth of availability of Canadian Price Variants and was immediately inundated with calls and emails as soon as the prior guide was released! That small mention was ultimately the equivalent of an advertisement, generating such strong interest, but what Marc wrote in this year’s report — excerpted below — reveals that collectors were hoping there were keys in those boxes, but that those boxes aren’t filled with keys:

“Canadian Price Variants (CPVs) continued to show strong demand both at home and to collectors in the US. I casually mentioned in last year’s report I have boxes and boxes of CPVs (still true) and was immediately inundated with calls and emails as soon as the Guide was released. Unfortunately most collectors were laser focused on just the big keys, which pretty much sell as soon as I get them, but I am seeing a few more CPV completists these days. Hats off to them I say, as that is a major undertaking and a good life goal.”
— Marc Sims, Big B Comics; OPG #49 page 216

Jim McCallum of Guardian Comics also mentioned strong CPV demand in his report, and I really liked how he called them “natural variants” (contrasting against the great many manufactured rarities we see these days). He also referenced the general Newsstand vs. Direct Edition distinction broadly, which I feel is a huge “mega-trend” that will naturally produce increasing numbers of CPV collectors — i.e. since there are more and more newsstand-focused collectors, and since the Marvel & DC price variants of the 1980’s were newsstand exclusives, CPVs are “riding the wave” of increased awareness of newsstand comics broadly. Here’s a short excerpt from Jim’s report:

“Another huge area of demand appears to be coming from the natural variants, Newsstand vs. Direct Market, Canadian Price Variants, 35¢ cover variants, National Diamond Sales insert/Mark Jeweler insert and similar. Collectors are constantly asking us to find them more. With the use of social media platforms, learning about and obtaining these has never been easier, but lead to more costly comics as more and more continue to want these unique books.”
— Jim McCallum, Guardian Comics; OPG #49 page 174

Dr. Steven Kahn, of Inner Child Comics and Collectibles, also made mention of newsstand desirability in his (excellent) market report. Here’s an excerpt, and I’d highly encourage reading his full report — I especially enjoyed his writing, both this year and last!

“Price variants from the ’70s held no premium for years until the public responded to their rarity. Actually, 2 of the top 3 most valuable Bronze books today are price variants (Star Wars #1, Iron Fist #14). Other variants, such as newsstand editions (especially in high grade), Mark Jeweler’s inserts, or any low run prints are picking up as well.”
— Dr. Steven Kahn, Inner Child Comics and Collectibles; OPG #49 page 161

Continuing the newsstand theme for a moment, in last year’s OPG (#48), Steve Ricketts of CBCS said as follows in his market report:

“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 more 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; OPG #48 page 179

I am greatly looking forward to the CBCS census eventually being launched online, allowing us to examine the relative rarity by issue: we’ll be able to see the comparable Newsstand count versus Direct Edition count, for specific issues! Even though the CBCS-graded copies are just a silver of what’s out there for each issue, the relative rarity of the types on census will tell us a lot — just like election polling and television ratings are done by polling just a sliver of the population. But in the meantime there are lot of other ways we can study newsstand vs. direct edition rarity, such as reading newsstand rarity discussions and estimates and also studying relative rarity within the marketplace — as Ben Labonog did in his OPG #48 market report:

“Earlier in the year, I went on a brief run on buying solely newsstand editions of some 1980s keys: Daredevil #158/168, Wolverine #1-4, Amazing Spider-Man #238/252/300, Hulk #340, etc. It was fun and a new challenge for someone used to hunting for Timelys. The newsstand editions vs. direct editions piqued my interest, and so I decided to do a random, one time eBay sampling count of some newsstand keys from the early ’80s to the early ’90s. In most cases, the sample size on eBay was 200+ copies but a few books had sample sizes of 100+ copies. Here’s what I found — all %’s represent the percentage of newsstand copies on eBay for that particular books: Daredevil #168 (56%, 1981), Wolverine #1 (35%, 1982), ASM #238 (40%, 1983), Secret Wars #8 (16%, 1984), Hulk #340 (13%, 1988), ASM #300 (20%, 1988), New Mutants #87 (10%, 1990), X-Men #266 (8%, 1990), Silver Surfer #44 (12%, 1990), New Mutants #98 (13%, 1990), Infinity Gauntlet #1 (8%, 1991). Although the data is small and just a random sampling, it does support the theory that late ’80s/early ’90s newsstand copies are scarcer than early ’80s newsstand copies. This would make sense as local comic shops began appearing in the ’70s and ’80s. This meant less and less newsstand copies were being printed and distributed to grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, etc. through the 1990s. The direct edition copies were printed in masses and sold at local comic shops. Newsstand editions are commonly found beat, and much tougher to find in high grade. Direct editions are more commonly found in high grade because customers, who bought them from their LCS, were typically collectors who took very good care of their comics.”
— Ben Labonog; OPG #48 page 154

I think that with CPVs, continued growth of investor interest benefits not only from the underlying “mega-trend” of increasing “newsstand awareness” among collectors, but also from an interest in “foreign comics” — which of course CPVs are not because they are instead US-published Type 1A variants, I repeat, not foreign editions, but, historically both CBCS and CGC (up until their respective labeling changes) have labeled Type 1A variants as [Country] Edition, leading many collectors who only look into them “at a glance” to falsely conclude they are foreign editions. And yet, this may have actually drawn certain collectors to CPVs because at the same time newsstand awareness has been increasing so strongly in the hobby, there’s also been a concurrent growth in interest in foreign editions! In his OPG #48 market report, Joseph Fiore of ComicWiz.com touches upon both of these factors; he also talks about the trend of collectors demanding super-high grades (9.6/9.8) for CPVs when the reality is that very few actually exist in the top grades; here’s an excerpt of his discussion:

“The one trend I have noticed which is of some concern are requests seeking out not only key issues, such as the 75¢ price variant of Amazing Spider-MAn #238 (first Hobgoblin), but a request for unheard of high grade examples only. I think I’ve received over a dozen inquiries for a CGC 9.6 copy, but this is a CPV that too infrequently shows up in 9.6, and you’re always holding some hope the Tattooz haven’t been removed regardless of grade. I think CPVs’ overlooked history might lend to a growing and sustained interest if enough people spend time to understand why the exist, their production numbers compared to US newsstand and direct editions, and if they don’t get too hung up with having a “best copy.” I also see the growing trend of collectors seeking US newsstand issues working to reinforce the aspects that have drawn collectors to CPVs. Foreign edition key focus collectors are also entering the mix looking for key CPV issues, but are seemingly more reasonably content finding 5.0 to 8.5 copies or “budget” copies.”
— Joseph Fiore, ComicWiz.com; OPG #48 page 133

When I think of foreign comics, my mind immediately goes to the person I’d consider the foremost expert in the hobby today in the niche: Tim Bildhauser of CBCS. In last year’s report, Tim mentioned that foreign comic book sales had been higher than ever in both price and volume; and in this year’s report he had a great discussion of this niche of the market. He also took the time to make mention of CBCS’s great decision to start labeling Type 1A’s as price variants, saying:

“After much consideration and discussion, the decision was made at CBCS to change the phrasing on the labels of Canadian Newsstand, Australian Newsstand, and U.K. price (both Shilling and Pence copies) books. Previously we had been notating them as Canadian, Australian, and U.K. Edition which, while not wrong, doesn’t explain clearly what makes them different from their U.S. counterparts. Going forward they’ll be notated as “(insert cover price) Canadian, Australian, or U.K. Price Variant.” This gives them a more accurate description of what exactly sets them apart. I’ve seen growing interest in the Canadian, Australian, & U.K. price variants, especially on the keys. There were two Australian price variant copies of New Mutants #98 that sold this year that broke the $1,000 price point. U.K. price variants seem to be shaking off the stigma that’s plagued them for decades and buyers are starting to pay equal, and in some cases, higher prices…”
— Tim Bildhauser, CBCS; OPG #49 page 105

In his report last year, Brock Dickinson mentioned pence and Canadian price variants as lesser-known price variants getting increased attention:

“While the 35¢ Marvel test price variants of the 1970s have been well-known for many years, there is an increasing fascination with other price and distribution variants in some portions of the marketplace. The 35¢ variants remain very hot and the earlier 30¢ Marvel price variants also gathered steam this year. At the same time, a number of other variants began to gain increased attention, and experienced some substantial price increases. This trend was probably led by Canadian cover price variants, which can credibly be argued (although actual print run data is scant) to represent about 2% of total print runs for some Copper age books. This makes these books elusive (especially in high grade), and in NM- or better these books will often command 200% to 1000% of current Guide prices. There was also strengthened interest in early direct market books, late newsstand editions, Whitman variants, and UK pence price variants, all from the 1970s and 1980s, and Marvel Pressman and DC Universe cover logo variants from the 1990s. Many of these books are extremely scarce, but so little is known about supply and distribution that prices can still vary widely. Nonetheless, there is a clear market trend to increased value for these books, and the 35¢ Star Wars #1 variant is a clear indication of how far these trends can go over time.”
— Brock Dickinson; OPG #48 page 116

The comparison to 35¢ variants is apt — and when I think of 35¢ variants my mind immediately goes to the person I consider the foremost expert on them: Jon McClure. Before Jon’s 1997 article in Comic Book Marketplace, only a select few of these variants were known to collectors, and seemingly little-to-no attention whatsoever was paid to their rarity characteristics as a “class” of comics. That all changed with Jon’s efforts to research how they came to exist and the extent of their existence, discovering hundreds of variants and writing about them extensively. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to work with Jon on our CPV guide, to hear first-hand the parallels he sees between Type 1 and Type 1A cover price variants, and of course when it comes to the Overstreet guide it is great to read his extensive market reports! I highly recommend reading Jon’s full report; you can also reach out to Jon via jonmcclurescomics.com. He talks about variants so extensively that it is hard to choose just one excerpt to share… but I’ll share this one below:

“CBCS’s groundbreaking decision to call Type 1A books “variants” on the labels is a positive step forward in understanding what they are and how to discuss them intelligently. Check out the free new online Price Guide for Type 1A Canadian cover price Marvel and DC comics from the 1980s at rarecomicsblog.com.”
— Jon McClure, jonmcclurescomics.com; OPG #49 page 177

🙂 Definitely read Jon’s whole report if you have picked up a copy of OPG #49 — or reach out to him on his site — because literally all of it is relevant and important reading if you are a Type 1A collector and there’s too much to quote here without going on for pages and pages. My fellow pence price variant issue guide collaborator Steve Cranch is mentioned in Jon’s report as well (go Steve)! 🙂 Something else to read from Jon is his market report from our 2019 CPV guide which you can find online here. And then I’ll just mention one more thing from Jon’s report… he mentions his OPG #40 article on page 176 and then says, “An updated version is in progress for the 50th annual OPG.” Woo hoo! Another spotlight variant article from Jon McClure, in next year’s OPG! Now I know for sure that I’ll be buying next year’s Overstreet! 🙂

My other fellow guide collaborators also put out great reports; and I was very happy to see that Bob Overstreet quoted Paul Clairmont within his main market report! Paul wrote a fantastic report — thanks Paul for the shout-out in the beginning! It has been great working with you as well! 🙂 Here’s a short excerpt from Paul’s report and then I highly recommend reading the full report in OPG #49 — you can also reach out to Paul at pnjcomics.com:

“…[S]ales [of Canadian Price Variants] were the strongest we have ever witnessed in our six years of business in 2018. We posted some of the sales results earlier in this report but keys had a very short shelf life and we had our best results by being “first to market” with many of the single highest graded copies.”
— Paul Clairmont, pnjcomics.com; OPG #49 page 112

You can also find Paul’s 2019 CPV guide market report, online, here. And I actually want to also quote Paul’s #48 market report too below, in an insightful section where he talks about modern age newsstand comics in general, and the treasure-hunt aspect of finding them in dollar bins where the dealer doesn’t realize/recognize the newsstand vs. direct edition distinction:

“People have started to hunt down newsstand copies in this era as a way to enhance their treasure hunting. There is a premium being paid for Image newsstand books such as Spawn #1. What makes this area interesting is that it is relatively new so there is no exact checklist of what was distributed in newsstand format. You can bet the numbers are low so finding them in high grade out in the wild on your adventures might be like spotting Sasquatch. Most dealers don’t make the distinction between newsstand and direct of this era so they are most likely populating the $1.00 and $2.00 bins at this time. Likely, that is where many will remain as its another niche area but Spawn #1 is a fine example of an issue that certainly garners higher premiums.”
— Paul Clairmont, pnjcomics.com; OPG #48 page 111

The thrill of the hunt! The joy of finding at “regular price” that rare variant you’ve been hunting for! That’s definitely what’s driven me to love CPV (and newsstand) collecting.

And it has been the thrill of my “collecting career” to collaborate with others in the hobby who are also passionate about the same niche collecting areas, and work with them on writing articles/guides. I feel that collectively we’ve made a real impact on the hobby in the Type 1A variant niche and contributed something great; and I am so happy that my collaborators are seeing a positive impact on their businesses — while for me comics is just a hobby, for others on our guide team comics is how they make a living, and I am very happy when I see these friends succeed in business! I’ll end this discussion with an excerpt from Doug Sulipa’s OPG #49 market report — I’ll say here once again that I hope you read Doug’s full report (you can also contact him at dougcomicworld.com) and I also hope you’ll read Doug’s 2019 CPV guide market report online here as well.

“The Canadian Newsstand Cover Price Variants are now officially recognized as Variants on the CBCS labels. Since the online Price Guide went live last year, demand has gone up around 400% and record prices are being set every week. Do an internet search for “2019 Price Guide for 1980s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A).” Archie comics might be added in next year’s Guide. When Gemstone published an article in the Scoop online e-newsletter, there was yet another big spike in demand.”
— Doug Sulipa, dougcomicworld.com; OPG #49 page 223

I hope all of these excerpts were helpful to see and have encouraged you to read the full market reports! 🙂 There are more excerpts that I could quote too but I’ll leave it there.  And I’ll make one last mention that our CPV guide has a whole market reports section with many great articles you can read online (here).

Happy Collecting! 🙂
– Ben

Standard
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):

star-wars-1-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:

star-wars-investment-growth

“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]:

cpv-decision-tree

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…

mis-listed-cover-price-vari

… 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:

wait-cover-price-variant

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:

pay-price-variant-premium

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

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

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

By Benjamin Nobel, October 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

75¢ Canadian Price Variant - CBCS

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

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

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

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

— Tim Bildhauser, CBCS International Comic Specialist

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

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

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

— Jon McClure, Senior Overstreet Advisor

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

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

— Steve Ricketts, CBCS Head Presser

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

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

“Eureka! C.B.C.S. has done it!

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

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

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

— Angelo Virone, Cover Price Variant Collector and Historian

Happy CPV Collecting, everyone! 🙂
– Ben

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Canadian Newsstand Edition, Growing Newsstand Awareness

Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop!

By Benjamin Nobel, 11/24/2017

Our Type 1A Price Guide Featured In Scoop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timeline: 1980's newsstand comics

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

Happy Collecting! 🙂

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

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

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

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$3.99 Newsstand Editions, Direct Edition vs. Newsstand Edition Comic Books, Growing Newsstand Awareness

Applause To CPG Accepting $3.99 Cover Price Variants Into The Price Guide!

By Benjamin Nobel, August 15, 2017

I’ve long been among the collectors who count ourselves in the “newsstand preference camp” and on this blog I’ve often advocated the idea that collectors come to understand the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics and then target the more-rare newsstand version of modern comics they were already looking to collect — especially in the case of newsstand-exclusive cover price variants where CGC recognizes them as distinct variants on census — with the notion that the relative newsstand rarity gives you a second way to win.

The first way to win would be if you make a wise choice about which issue to collect… i.e. the key issue you had already targeted to collect then successfully rises in value generally by issue number (maybe, for example, you targeted a first character appearance, and that character gained prominence). And then the relative newsstand rarity would give you a second way to win, as collectors over time broadly come to increasingly appreciate and prize newsstand comics for their relative rarity compared to their prevalent direct edition counterparts.

The rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness in the hobby has gained a lot of increased mass as of late, what with CGC recently deciding to “break out” large “classes” of newsstand-exclusive cover price variant comics as distinct census variants (including $2.99 Newsstand Editions and $3.99 Newsstand Editions, both “broken out” by CGC because for certain issues the newsstand edition is a cover price variant of the issue number), and, with competitor CBCS deciding to recognize newsstand comics in an even more broad fashion by publication range, with CBCS President Steve Borock stating the move was a way for CBCS, quote, “to help lead comic collectors into the future of this great hobby(and in doing so, CBCS has just provided an example path for how CGC might one day choose to follow suit and potentially re-organize their own census in similar fashion to what CBCS has done, should they ever choose to do so down the line…).

But as relates to $3.99 cover price variants as the specific highly-interesting “class” of late-modern CGC-recognized newsstand-exclusive variants that are the topic of this particular post (and by the way, here’s an introduction to that “class” of $3.99 variants for anyone who hasn’t encountered them yet), when looking at both online and offline price guides, neither Overstreet nor the largest online price guide, ComicsPriceGuide.com (“CPG” for short), had yet “weighed in” with their determination of separate value for these rare newsstand-exclusive comics that carry a $3.99 cover price versus their prevalent $2.99 cover priced direct edition counterparts… a $1 or ~33% original cover price difference.   CPG hadn’t weighed in yet… but that has just changed.

ComicsPriceGuide has a current count of 967,250 members

ComicsPriceGuide has a current count of 967,250 members

And this brings me to the news I’m pleased to share today:  ComicsPriceGuide.com (“CPG”) is a service I’ve used since “forever ago” — I made my very first CGC submission through their partner page back in the early days — and CPG proclaims to be the world’s largest and most accurate online community for obtaining comic book value information.  They show over nine hundred sixty thousand members as of today, so this is clearly a very heavily relied-upon resource for guide values online.  There is no charge for basic membership and I’d encourage readers to sign up if you’re not already a member there.  CPG describes their valuation methodology as follows: “Our values remain simple, but our technology is not. Using a proprietary value algorithm, paired with dedicated comic enthusiasts, we are able to observe real sales data to get up-to-the minute comic book value information.”

Earlier in the year, I reported to CPG the existence of the top three most-submitted-to-CGC $3.99 cover price variants — Amazing Spider-Man #569, #606, and #607 — and I was later contacted by an admin there asking for cover scans and more information about them.  We had an extensive email correspondence and I want to publicly state how impressed I was with the genuine interest in, and investigation of these variants by CPG ahead of accepting them into the guide. It could not have been easy for CPG to come to a determination of a guide value for each of these three, given the extreme rarity in high grade, with most of the variant sales not only few and far between but also raw/uncertified lower-than-near-mint-grade copies (on account of being newsstand exclusives; as we all know, newsstand comics are absolutely notorious for getting beaten up by staff and by readers and seeing a high destruction rate).  So formulating a near mint guide value must have been quite difficult a task indeed.

I was extremely curious to see what value CPG would ultimately ascribe to these variants when they eventually added them, and what kind of premium the separate guide value might represent, if any, over the “regular” prevalent direct editions…   And the answer is that all three variants were given a large premium.  I’ll encourage readers to look up the current guide values directly at CPG, and in the table below what I’ve done is ranked all of the $3.99 Newsstand Edition variants that I’m presently aware of as existing on the CGC census today, by the number of copies submitted to CGC of each variant, and included the top results below — I think that the most popular (as judged by submission volume) make sense as the first ones to have CPG’s focus in terms of creating separate guide entries — and then in the last column of the table, instead of presenting the absolute dollar value CPG has ascribed to the variant, I’ve instead presented the premium given by CPG over the direct edition (as a multiple):

Cover Price Variant Current Variant CGC Census Count Included in CPG yet? CPG Near Mint Guide Value Difference: Newsstand Premium vs. Direct Edition
Amazing Spider-Man #569 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 19 yes          4.2x
Amazing Spider-Man #606 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 11 yes          2.0x
Amazing Spider-Man #607 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8 yes          3.3x
Amazing Spider-Man #601 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 7 not yet
Uncanny X-Men #511 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 7 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #611 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 6 not yet
Uncanny X-Men #514 $4.99 Newsstand Edition 6 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #570 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 5 not yet
Uncanny X-Men #513 $4.99 Newsstand Edition 5 not yet
X-Men Origins: Emma Frost #1 $4.99 Newsstand Editio 4 not yet
Venom/Deadpool: What If? #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
X-Men Origins: Deadpool #1 Newsstand Variant 4 not yet
Uncanny X-Men #509 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
Daredevil #21 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #603 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #602 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #600 $6.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
Amazing Spider-Man #599 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4 not yet
[ There are others (browse this list), I’ve just presented the most popular/highly-submitted-to-date ones above. ] Average:          3.2x

As you can see, they’ve now got those top three most popular/most-submitted $3.99 cover price variants in the guide — which is an excellent start; and the premium they arrived at ranges from 2.0x to 4.2x the value of their “regular” direct edition guide value. That’s an average multiple of 3.2x against the direct edition guide value. Maybe as the $3.99 Newsstand Edition CGC census counts grow larger over time (and with that larger count, growth in observable market sales of CGC graded variant copies), they might add some more of these that are on the list too… Venom/Deadpool: What If #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #601 would certainly be good ones to add next, given the stand-out market values for regular copies of those issues…  For example for Venom/Deadpool, applying a 3.2x multiple against “regular” price would arrive at over $500 in NM for the $3.99 cover price variant which would rank it among the top most valuable late modern comics.

As a point of contrast, the multiple of the Star Wars #1 35 cent variant guide value over “regular copy” guide value for that issue in the current CPG guide page is… 11.3x.  The 35 cent variants are a very interesting “comp” in the history of cover price variants in the hobby.  A reader recently pointed out to me that a high grade Star Wars #1 35 cent variant just sold for twenty thousand dollars… you can buy a nicely-appointed automobile for that kind of money.  And all that’s “physically different” between that cover price variant example and its prevalent “regular” counter-parts is the cover price…  So, why are collectors of today willing to pay such a dramatic premium for certain copies carrying the very same artwork and very same interiors, copies that have nothing physically different to differentiate them from the rest except a higher cover price?  Because the higher cover price type are demonstrably more rare than the lower cover price type, and collectors have broadly grown fully aware of that fact.

But years back in time from today, even at the point of two decades after those 1977 cover price variants were published, the very idea of today’s super-premium market value for the variants might have seemed absolutely crazy — and it did seem crazy to many back then: Because indeed, the discoverer of that “class” of variants, Jon McClure himself, has described how in 1999 he was practically laughed out of the room when he suggested the incredible appeal of 35 cent variants as collectibles. To quote McClure: “When I presented my findings at the Overstreet Advisors meeting in Baltimore in 1999 and explained that the Marvel price variants were eventually going to be the most valuable books published after 1964, I was considered insane and treated with mockery and derision by the majority of attendees.”

Think about those early days of 35 cent variant awareness in the hobby: it would have been very similar to today’s early awareness of cover price variant late-modern newsstand comics… 35 cent variants had been broadly overlooked for decades as a “class” of variants, and someone who owned one back then in those “early days” might not have realized their copy was any different from the rest.  Back then, so many owners of those rare variants simply knew they owned a given issue number of a given title, but that was the extent of their knowledge about what they owned.  Imagine being one of those early collectors who were in the know amidst that early-awareness-environment in the hobby, being able to scour comic shops and garage sales and the like, and find those 35 cent variant bargains available at “regular” price in cases where the seller didn’t realize their copy was any different from the rest…  For near mint variant copies of Star Wars #1, little did such early cover price variant collectors know they basically had just bought themselves the equivalent of a future car in 2017 dollars!

Even as newsstand comics continue to get so much more recognition, a similar relative-value opportunity exists where to this day it is still possible to find newsstand comics, including cover price variant newsstand comics, listed for sale as regular copies, i.e. where the seller does not realize they own anything rare or special, does not realize there were two distribution channels with distinctly-printed versions, and so they fail to title their listing with the “newsstand” keyword, and then they price their rare comic at the going rate for regular copies of the issue… so that the only thing giving away that their copy is actually the variant is a zoom-in on the photo they provided (in other words nobody will ever find such mis-listed variant comics in a refined search with the newsstand keyword included, because the title of such a mis-listed comic listing lacks that keyword).

Readers have increasingly shared with me their own observations that such mis-listed relative value collecting opportunities are becoming harder and harder to find out there, with more and more sellers nowadays recognizing when their copy is a newsstand copy and/or cover price variant newsstand copy, including the “newsstand” keyword in their title, and pricing that copy accordingly when they list it for sale. [Side note: sometimes sellers will recognize their copy as a newsstand copy but place the word “newstand” in the title instead (misspelled with one ‘s’), and other times I’ve seen sellers instead use the word “UPC” in place of “newsstand” so it is worth performing searches of these different variations when hunting for newsstand comics, as doing so may turn up listings other newsstand-focused collectors have missed.]

Marvel Newsstand Rarity Percentages

This slide is part of my post entitled Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates where I have collected quotes and graphics related to the discussion of relative newsstand rarity over the years, compared to direct edition copies.

As we see continued newsstand rarity discussions and estimates make the rounds among collectors, and price guides like CPG adding newsstand guide entries, awareness of the relative rarity between the types is only going to continue to build in the hobby as time marches forward and the rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll down the mountain.  And those opportunities out there in the marketplace to find newsstand comics listed for “regular” price are going to become harder and harder to encounter.

Might we see some newsstand copies of certain of the mega-keys valued at automobile-level-dollars out in the distant future?  I can definitely think of certain ultra-rare newsstand cover price variant mega-key-first-appearances that I’ve covered on this blog having that kind of future potential in highest grades given the passage of enough time and the building of enough actual awareness of their existence out there among collectors broadly…

Meanwhile!  Over at Mile High Comics (not a price guide but a store with its own internal catalog of price data), Chuck Rozanski has put his own thought into what kind of newsstand premium multiple to apply over regular direct edition price, and he published his own range to his website — here it is, copied and pasted below, where as you can see the newsstand multiple he uses starts at 2.0x the value of direct edition, and the newsstand value multiple moves higher as the timeline moves later (which makes sense on a relative basis because the percentage of newsstand sales continued to dwindle over the years):

“1979-1985 2X regular catalog price
1986-1990 3X
1991-1996 4X
1997-2000 5X
2001-2002 6X
2003-2004 8X
2005-up 10X”

I should note that Rozanski qualifies his sliding-scale newsstand premium model with this statement: “While this pricing does accurately reflect the scarcity of newsstand editions, the fact that we rely upon base price as our starting point for our multiplier does lead to some distortion.” Also worth noting is that Mile High often runs sales/promotions where you can input a promo code for a large discount to catalog price, so the asking prices are routinely available on a “discount-code-adjusted” basis. For some of the big keys these multiples Rozanki is using strike me as realistic on a discount-code-adjusted basis (and for some of the Image Comics keys, which had a particularly tiny newsstand percentage, the resulting year-by-year newsstand asking price multiple under this sliding scale actually works out to be a bargain for the newsstand versions), but, these asking multiples do seem high for encompassing any and every in-between-the-keys comic book issue, especially towards the later years where as you can see, for the post-2005 publication time-frame of the three $3.99 cover price variant entries CPG just added into their guide, Rozanski would meanwhile have applied a 10x multiple… considerably higher than the 3.2x average multiple CPG gave, with Rozanski’s multiple more in-line with CPG’s 35 cent variant multiple for the Star Wars #1 35 cent variant.

But while valuing newsstand rarities remains “tricky” to do with any kind of surgical precision, the bottom line is that a clear picture is starting to be painted out there in the hobby, that newsstand comics broadly, and the rare $3.99 cover price variants specifically as a newsstand-exclusive “class” of late-modern CGC-recognized variants, are worth a considerable premium over direct edition copies of the same issues.  As more $3.99 cover price variant entries make their way into CPG and are noticed by some of the 960,000+ members as they look up these issues, and as Overstreet one day joins in and eventually wakes up to their existence, perhaps awareness will ultimately grow to the point where a 10x newsstand multiple won’t seem so extreme looking back from the distant future, for certain keys?

That will take a lot more awareness-building among collectors, as well as passage of time for collections to turn over into new hands.  From hands who don’t know what they own, into hands that do.  Remember, unlike retailer incentive variants where thousands of retailers are continually educating customers about the desirability of such incentive variants before they buy them, newsstand-exclusive variants meanwhile have not been given that kind of intense exposure… the people who bought these newsstand comics originally generally did so as readers… as an entertainment purchase… which is a way-different situation versus retailer incentive variants as far as awareness among the original owners.

Outside of the Doc Collection, many of the best grade late-modern newsstand copies I’ve personally found out there have fallen under the category of “read once” condition at best.  But for so many copies out there among late-modern newsstand comics, the original buyer might have casually read it and then tossed it haphazardly in a pile afterwards.  The typical buyer didn’t treat these newsstand comics as the rare collectibles we now know them to be.  Did the original buyer of a $3.99 cover price variant know at the time of their newsstand purchase that the comic had incredibly low distribution as a minuscule percentage of the total sold, with rarity competitive to modern-day 1:50 incentive variants (and even 1:100 incentive variants in some cases)?  Not at all.  Did they investigate how CGC “breaks out” such copies as variants on their census?  Fat chance.

So I think the opportunities out there to buy the rare variant in the marketplace for regular price will continue to selectively appear for those who have their eyes open and their eBay email alerts in place…  And now with some early guide values out there online in CPG as an impartial source of pricing information, those collectors who land these rare variants for regular price can now have a better idea of just what kind of bargain they are taking home: in other words, in addition to knowing “I just landed the rare variant for regular price” someone can have the thought, for example, “I just landed a $200 ASM #607 variant for under $100” which is a thought that amplifies the specific value gained through their hunting effort in a more quantifiable way.

And for other late-modern $3.99 cover price variants not yet listed in the CPG guide, whether we apply a 2.0x multiple to figure out what they are likely worth, or a 3.2x multiple, or a 10x multiple, or somewhere in between, one thing is for certain: it is starting to become quite apparent that if you can find the newsstand version of a comic you already were looking to collect listed for “regular price” then you’re getting a relative value bargain, and by targeting the newsstand edition you have given yourself two ways to win instead of one: the issue’s value may increase broadly by issue number, and, the newsstand rarity premium may grow as newsstand awareness in the hobby matures.  And that’s especially true for cover price variants, which have the added appeal of being CGC-recognized with their own census entries, allowing the relative rarity to self-express in the census data.

And that is why newsstand comics present such a fantastic collecting opportunity today… those bargains are still out there to be found by collectors willing to put in the work.  If you’re willing to scour eBay listings for pictured newsstand comics that are not titled or priced as such (where the seller doesn’t realize there’s a difference between newsstand and direct edition), then having put in that hunting effort I can comfortably say that you are going to find these bargains out there in the marketplace today from within all the different “classes” of newsstand-exclusive CGC-recognized variants I’ve highlighted on this blog: $3.99 newsstand editions for sure, but also Type 1A price variants that were exclusive to newsstands, from the 1990s such as the New Mutants #98 type 1A variant, and from the 1980s with 75 cent variants (and 95 cent and $1.00 cover price variants too).

Happy Collecting! 🙂

– Ben

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Growing Newsstand Awareness

30 More Newsstand Census Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End

By Benjamin Nobel, June 20, 2017

At the start of the year, I embarked on a project to put together and share lists of key comic books by year, and in the process I also separated out a few lists of variants confirmed to exist at CGC, including cases where CGC recognizes newsstand comics with census entries that are separate and distinct variants of the issue number (only in certain “variant-worthy” special situations will CGC “break out” a newsstand comic as distinct from the direct edition, versus the vast majority of comic book issues where CGC simply lumps together the newsstand and direct edition types by issue number).

Looking at the most recent census data and comparing it to that year-end snapshot, I see that across Marvel, DC, and Image Comics, that there are 30 more newsstand issues (beyond the 66 new Canadian Price Variants already reported on which were also newsstand exclusives for Marvel and DC), that are now recognized with their own distinct census entries, that weren’t there at year-end. New census entries for newsstand comics are interesting to review because there’s usually a “reason why” behind any given submission — I think of this list as a good “hunting grounds” for interesting comics to collect… because it is always interesting to see what other people are submitting!

Here’s the list, and then I’ll comment further on a few:

Book CGC Count Issue Date Publisher
1. 4 Uncanny X-Men #509 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 6/09 Marvel Comics
2. 3 Daredevil #21 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 2/13 Marvel Comics
3. 3 Batman #457 Newsstand Edition/Second Print 12/90 D.C. Comics
4. 3 Superman #10 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 1/17 D.C. Comics
5. 3 Superman #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8/16 D.C. Comics
6. 2 Batman #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8/16 D.C. Comics
7. 2 Detective Comics #934 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8/16 D.C. Comics
8. 2 New Avengers #35 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 12/07 Marvel Comics
9. 2 Nova: Origin of Richard Rider #nn Newsstand Edition 2009 Marvel Comics
10. 1 Action Comics #958 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8/16 D.C. Comics
11. 1 Age of the Sentry #1 Newsstand Edition 11/08 Marvel Comics
12. 1 Amazing Spider-Man #513 $2.99 Newsstand Edition 12/04 Marvel Comics
13. 1 Hulk #9 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 2/09 Marvel Comics
14. 1 Savage Dragon vs. Savage Megaton Man #1 Newsstand Edition 3/93 Image Comics
15. 1 Spawn #29 Newsstand Edition 3/95 Image Comics
16. 1 Spawn #62 Newsstand Edition 6/97 Image Comics
17. 1 Batman/Superman #32 $4.99 Newsstand Edition 7/16 D.C. Comics
18. 1 Batman #2 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 9/16 D.C. Comics
19. 1 Justice League #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 9/16 D.C. Comics
20. 1 Batman #39 $4.99 Newsstand Edition 4/15 D.C. Comics
21. 1 Uncanny X-Men #442 $2.99 Newsstand Edition 6/04 Marvel Comics
22. 1 Uncanny X-Men #451 $2.99 Newsstand Edition 12/04 Marvel Comics
23. 1 Uncanny X-Men #456 $2.99 Newsstand Edition 5/05 Marvel Comics
24. 1 Deathblow #1 Newsstand Edition 5/93 Image Comics
25. 1 Venom/Deadpool: What If? #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 4/11 Marvel Comics
26. 1 Wolverine v3 #67 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 9/08 Marvel Comics
27. 1 Wonder Woman #1 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 8/16 D.C. Comics
28. 1 Amazing Spider-Man #583 Newsstand Edition/Second Print 3/09 Marvel Comics
29. 1 X-Men: Legacy #234 $3.99 Newsstand Edition 5/10 Marvel Comics
30. 1 Amazing Spider-Man #529 $2.99 Newsstand Edition 4/06 Marvel Comics

I’ve written separate posts about some of these already, such as the DC Rebirth $3.99 Newsstand Editions; the newly-recognized “class” of $2.99 Newsstand Editions from Marvel (including key issue Amazing Spider-Man #529); Venom/Deadpool: What IfNew Avengers #35 (What If Venom Possessed Wolverine?)Daredevil #21 (Superior Spider-Man cameo appearance); Wolverine v3 #67 is an interesting key to collect in the “Old Man Logan” story-line and features the first appearances of Tonya Parker and Ashley Barton.

batman-457-2nd-print-newsst

Some others on the list of new census entries that caught my eye: Batman #457… it seems that there must be some “variant-worthy” difference between direct edition and newsstand edition second print copies, because CGC is breaking out second print newsstand copies (I haven’t examined them myself to see what difference might have caused CGC to break them out, but apparently there’s something!).  Second print copies have the “New Robin Issue” banner along the top.  At right is a picture of a newsstand second print copy.  This issue features the 1st appearance of Tim Drake as Robin.

Deathblow #1

deathblow-1-newsstand

Great to see this early Image newsstand book broken out! Tremendous cover artwork by the talented Jim Lee on this one; the artwork being a “regular-paper-adaptation” of the embossed direct edition version… meaning the newsstand version has completely distinct cover artwork (different artwork being a known “variant-worthy attribute” at CGC where they’ll break out the newsstand edition as a distinct variant on census).

Also on the list from Image: I noticed Savage Dragon vs. Savage Megaton Man (1st “spin-off” from Savage Dragon), as well as Spawn #29 and #62 (appearance by Angela) on the list, presumably all broken out because of different paper (newsprint) used for the interior pages (manufacturing differences being a known “variant-worthy attribute” at CGC where they’ll break out the newsstand edition as a distinct variant on census).

Amazing Spider-Man #583 (2nd print)
asm-583-2nd-print-newsstand

The famous Obama cover that made headlines … including The Wall Street Journal (It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s… Obama)! So popular it went to several additional printings… and apparently there were also newsstand copies produced with the 2nd printing cover, in addition to second print direct editions (a yellow background was used for the second print instead of blue, and the artwork was flipped horizontally).

What’s the “variant-worthy attribute” causing CGC to “break out” these newsstand copies of the 2nd print cover? Take a close look at the UPC code:

asm-583-2nd-print-upc

That’s not the “Amazing Spider-Man” code you’re seeing. Note that the second set of numbers along the bottom reads 03503… as opposed to the expected 02457 that ASM newsstand comics are supposed to carry… What we’re seeing here is the code for Sensational Spider-Man (you can also see that title named at the left side of the code box). So by its UPC code, this comic is the February issue of Sensational Spider-Man! This is one of the interesting cases where CGC will “break out” a newsstand comic because its UPC code identifies it as a different title than it actually is!

Age of the Sentry #1

Here’s yet another case of an unexpected UPC code on the newsstand edition.  Let me present it this way… take a look at the following three codes (chronologically from left to right), all from Marvel comics published in 2008:

fantastic-four-560-559

The top-right-hand numbers of the newsstand UPC code structure refer to the month — 10 is October, 11 is November, etc. So, seeing the above picture, you might conclude by the three UPC codes side by side that you’re looking at the October, November, and then December issues of Fantastic Four (the title “Fantastic Four” is shown at the left of all three codes, and all three carry the numbers “02462” along the bottom which is the Fantastic Four newsstand code). But now let me zoom out on each code to show you more of the actual comic each code above is on:

First code:fantastic-four559-newsstand

Second code:fantastic-four-newsstand-no

Third code:fantastic-four560-newsstand

So if the first was Fantastic Four #559, and the last was Fantastic Four #560, what on Earth is in the middle, #559-and-a-half?! Why, it isn’t Fantastic Four at all… it is Age of the Sentry #1 you’re looking at!  Here is its full cover:

age-of-the-sentry-1-newssta

Uncanny X-Men #509

xmen-509-psylocke-newsstand

Greatest Psylocke comic book cover of all time?  Definitely a contender!

Wow, what a stunner of a Psylocke cover by the talented Greg Land! This one is broken out on account of being a cover price variant of the issue number, at $3.99 versus the standard $2.99.

xmen509-cover-price-variant
Happy Collecting! 🙂

– Ben

p.s. Here’s the prior list of CGC-recognized newsstand census variants from back in January.

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Canadian Newsstand Edition, Growing Newsstand Awareness

66 New Canadian Price Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End, a 16% Increase

By Benjamin Nobel, April 28, 2017

At the start of the year, I embarked on a project to put together and share lists of key comic books by year, and in the process I also separated out a few lists of variants confirmed to exist at CGC — such as this list of CGC-graded 35 cent price variants, and this list of CGC graded 1980’s Canadian price variants.

When I now look at the most recent census data snapshot from this week, I see that the list of 35 cent variants at CGC hasn’t changed since year-end (to be clear, I’m not talking about the copy count change, but rather the list of issues — the list of census entries)… and this makes sense, because it is a very “mature” class of variants that the hobby has paid attention to (and submitted to CGC) for many, many years.

But then I checked the most recent census data for new Canadian price variants that weren’t on census yet back at year-end.  And wow, was I surprised: the list of confirmed CGC-recognized 1980’s Canadian price variants has grown by 66 new census entries since the start of the year!

That’s a 16% surge in the list of census entries at CGC for 1980’s price variants, in just a few short months!!

To be clear, this isn’t the number of copies of price variant comics that’s increased so much, this is the number of 1980’s price variant issues they’d never seen before at CGC as of year-end — census entries that weren’t previously there — but now are.  For most of these new ones among the 66, the submitter of the book now owns the only copy on record of the variant to date at CGC for that issue… which is pretty neat for those collectors to be able to boast!

What this surprising recent growth in the number of issues with confirmed price variants on record at CGC shows me, is just how “young” this entire “class” of variants really is in terms of the hobby paying attention to them and submitting them to CGC. To see a 16% surge in the number of issues with variants on record at CGC, in just a few months, is really quite something to witness… and I take it as a sign that collectors are indeed now waking up in a big way to the existence of these variants.

I’ll present the full list below, all of which are interesting to review because there’s usually a “reason why” behind any given submission, which can reflect personal tastes of the submitter but can also reveal collecting ideas and broad themes — for example continued growth in the Star Wars fan base, and excitement over the upcoming New Mutants movie, likely account for a good number of issues in those two titles showing up on the list.  So I think of this list as a good “hunting grounds” for collecting ideas… other collectors had the idea to submit these, so let’s see what they submitted! Before the full list, a couple of issues in particular that I found noteworthy and want to point out:

Batman #405

batman-405-variant

Very cool David Mazzucchelli cover on this one, and of course a Frank Miller story within the “Year 1” storyline. The cover price on variant copies is $1.00, and something to note about these $1.00 copies (and the 95 cent variants that preceded them) is how the indicia pages of these comics do not actually specify a per-issue price in Canadian dollars… in fact, the indicia does not spell out a per-issue price at all. So, we only know they are Canadian price variants by outside reference information, such as looking up the small-print-Canadian-price on the cover of direct edition copies. Related post: 95¢ and $1.00 DC Price Variants: How Do We Know What They Are?

Ghost Rider #75

ghost-rider-75-variant

A reader commented on a past post, that among very-hard-to-find Canadian price variant examples are the “Ghost Rider 75 cent variants (near the end of the series run, and its popularity plummeted, hence lower print runs on all Ghost Rider variants); this holds especially true to the very very low print runs of 75 cent G.R. issues.” For issue #75, I notice that this issue marks the 1st appearance of Steel Wind.  Perhaps interest in this first character appearance prompted the collector to hunt down and then submit this variant.

New Mutants #25

new-mutants-25

The Legion television show on FX has gotten some rave reviews, including an impressive 90% tomatometer rating… and Legion’s first appearance credits are in issues #25 and #26 (“1st appearance of Legion in cameo” for #25, “1st full appearance of Legion” for #26).

There’s more first appearance credits among the list of 66 as well, including Daredevil 232 (1st Nuke) and Fantastic Four 270 (1st full Terminus). Without further ado, the full list below. And by the way, I’ll have an update like this for another Newsstand-Exclusive “class” of variants as well in the near future, $3.99 Newsstand Editions.   (Special thanks to Greg Holland whose great research website made this page possible to assemble).

Canadian Price Variants Now Confirmed At CGC, That Were’t There At Year-End:

Book CGC Count Issue Date Publisher
1. 1 Aquaman #1 Canadian Edition 2/86 D.C. Comics
2. 1 Avengers #267 Canadian Edition 5/86 Marvel Comics
3. 1 Batman #385 Canadian Edition 7/85 D.C. Comics
4. 1 Batman #401 Canadian Edition 11/86 D.C. Comics
5. 4 Batman #405 Canadian Edition 3/87 D.C. Comics
6. 1 Batman #407 Canadian Edition 5/87 D.C. Comics
7. 1 Batman #421 Canadian Edition 7/88 D.C. Comics
8. 1 Daredevil #231 Canadian Edition 6/86 Marvel Comics
9. 1 Daredevil #232 Canadian Edition 7/86 Marvel Comics
10. 1 Eternals #3 Canadian Edition 12/85 Marvel Comics
11. 1 Eternals #4 Canadian Edition 1/86 Marvel Comics
12. 1 Eternals #5 Canadian Edition 2/86 Marvel Comics
13. 1 Eternals #6 Canadian Edition 3/86 Marvel Comics
14. 1 Eternals #7 Canadian Edition 4/86 Marvel Comics
15. 1 Everything’s Archie #114 Canadian Edition 11/84 Archie Publications
16. 1 Fantastic Four #270 Canadian Edition 9/84 Marvel Comics
17. 1 Ghost Rider #75 Canadian Edition 12/82 Marvel Comics
18. 1 Green Arrow #1 Canadian Edition 5/83 D.C. Comics
19. 1 Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #3 Canadian Edition 1/85 Marvel Comics
20. 1 New Mutants #13 Canadian Edition 3/84 Marvel Comics
21. 1 New Mutants #21 Canadian Edition 11/84 Marvel Comics
22. 2 New Mutants #25 Canadian Edition 3/85 Marvel Comics
23. 1 New Mutants #27 Canadian Edition 5/85 Marvel Comics
24. 2 New Mutants #3 Canadian Edition 5/83 Marvel Comics
25. 1 New Mutants #5 Canadian Edition 7/83 Marvel Comics
26. 1 New Mutants #9 Canadian Edition 11/83 Marvel Comics
27. 1 Nightcrawler #1 Canadian Edition 11/85 Marvel Comics
28. 1 Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner #2 Canadian Edition 10/84 Marvel Comics
29. 1 Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner #3 Canadian Edition 11/84 Marvel Comics
30. 1 Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner #4 Canadian Edition 12/84 Marvel Comics
31. 1 Rawhide Kid #1 Canadian Edition 8/85 Marvel Comics
32. 2 Rawhide Kid #2 Canadian Edition 9/85 Marvel Comics
33. 1 Rawhide Kid #4 Canadian Edition 11/85 Marvel Comics
34. 1 Secret Origins #1 Canadian Edition 4/86 D.C. Comics
35. 1 Sectaurs #7 Canadian Edition 8/86 Marvel Comics
36. 1 Star Wars #103 Canadian Edition 1/86 Marvel Comics
37. 1 Star Wars #105 Canadian Edition 5/86 Marvel Comics
38. 1 Star Wars #106 Canadian Edition 7/86 Marvel Comics
39. 2 Star Wars #79 Canadian Edition 1/84 Marvel Comics
40. 1 Star Wars #83 Canadian Edition 5/84 Marvel Comics
41. 1 Star Wars #87 Canadian Edition 9/84 Marvel Comics
42. 2 Star Wars #88 Canadian Edition 10/84 Marvel Comics
43. 2 Star Wars #89 Canadian Edition 11/84 Marvel Comics
44. 1 Star Wars #90 Canadian Edition 12/84 Marvel Comics
45. 1 Star Wars #93 Canadian Edition 3/85 Marvel Comics
46. 1 Star Wars #94 Canadian Edition 4/85 Marvel Comics
47. 1 Starriors #1 Canadian Edition 11/84 Marvel Comics
48. 1 Starriors #2 Canadian Edition 12/84 Marvel Comics
49. 1 Starriors #3 Canadian Edition 1/85 Marvel Comics
50. 1 Starriors #4 Canadian Edition 2/85 Marvel Comics
51. 1 Super-Villain Classics #1 Canadian Edition 5/83 Marvel Comics
52. 1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures 2 Canadian 10/88 Archie Publications
53. 1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures 3 Canadian 12/88 Archie Publications
54. 1 Uncanny X-Men #183 Canadian Edition 7/84 Marvel Comics
55. 1 Uncanny X-Men #198 Canadian Edition 10/85 Marvel Comics
56. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #1 Canadian Edition 10/85 Marvel Comics
57. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #10 Canadian Edition 7/86 Marvel Comics
58. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #2 Canadian Edition 11/85 Marvel Comics
59. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #3 Canadian Edition 12/85 Marvel Comics
60. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #4 Canadian Edition 1/86 Marvel Comics
61. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #5 Canadian Edition 2/86 Marvel Comics
62. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #6 Canadian Edition 3/86 Marvel Comics
63. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #7 Canadian Edition 4/86 Marvel Comics
64. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #8 Canadian Edition 5/86 Marvel Comics
65. 1 Vision and the Scarlet Witch v2 #9 Canadian Edition 6/86 Marvel Comics
66. 1 West Coast Avengers #1 Canadian Edition 10/85 Marvel Comics

And here’s the prior list of CGC graded 1980’s Canadian price variants from back in January.

Happy Collecting! 🙂

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Growing Newsstand Awareness

Applause to CBCS Now Recognizing Newsstand Comics!

By Benjamin Nobel, April 20, 2017

“This is just one more way for CBCS to help lead comic collectors into the future of this great hobby.” — Steve Borock, CBCS President

I would like to publicly applaud CBCS for their decision to identify the newsstand vs. direct edition difference on their labels!   I hadn’t seen the news yet (from a couple weeks ago), when this afternoon a newsstand copy of Spawn #1 popped up on my eBay alerts…  And I was surprised to see this on the label:

CBCS copy of Spawn #1 now denotes “Newsstand Edition” on the rare newsstand copies!

As you can see, it says “Newsstand Edition” on it.  I looked up the serial number on the CBCS website and sure enough, it is there too in a lookup, it says “Variant: Newsstand Edition”:

Variant: Newsstand Edition

Variant: Newsstand Edition

I did some searching and sure enough, found the following announcement from two weeks ago… it isn’t just Spawn getting this new treatment, it is everything until 2000 (not sure why they ended there… perhaps that will change eventually):

cbcs-newsstand-announcement

It says: CBCS is proud to announce that we will now identify the difference between Newsstand and Direct Edition variants on our label, for comics published from 1977 through 2000. This was a change made in response to the increasing number of requests that we’ve received over the past few years from customers and dealers alike. CBCS recognizes this trend as one of those collecting niches that has been overlooked for a long time, and we agree that the change is due. Given the growing number of passionate collectors who are starting to acknowledge and accept Newsstand and Direct Market variants as different copies of the same comic, we will now start identifying them on the CBCS labels. “We are always looking for ways to improve our product and our hobby, as well as give people what they want,” said Steve Borock, President of CBCS. “This is just one more way for CBCS to help lead comic collectors into the future of this great hobby.”

This makes two of the biggest three grading companies to denote the newsstand edition vs. direct edition distinction on their labels in a “broad” fashion…  PGX has been denoting “Newsstand Edition” on their labels for a number of years now.  CGC does break out newsstand comics, but currently does so only in limited special situations, as opposed to more broadly.

Here’s a zoomed out look at that CBCS-graded Spawn #1 newsstand edition, and then just to give PGX their due credit for being the first to label Newsstand Editions this way, a PGX copy:

spawn-1-newsstand-cbcsspawn-1-pgx-newsstand

With this move, CBCS has just given the rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness a great deal more mass — this snowball is well beyond unstoppable now. I also like seeing the recognition that A) newsstand comics are “one of those collecting niches that has been overlooked for a long time,” B) acknowledgement of “the growing number of passionate collectors who are starting to acknowledge and accept Newsstand and Direct Market variants as different copies of the same comic,” and C) that this is an important move for “the future of this great hobby.”

Again, my applause to CBCS for this great decision!

 

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Growing Newsstand Awareness

“Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition”

By Benjamin Nobel, February 3, 2017

Direct edition vs. newsstand comics of the bronze age, copper age, and modern age (basically any comic from 1977-onward): a critical distinction that all collectors should know about, but many still don’t; yet, awareness is quietly building like a snowball rolling down a mountain

[Author’s note: if you are not already in-the-know about the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics, then before proceeding I recommend you read the following first: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference ]

Long-time readers of this blog include several people I’ve come to know through extensive email conversations about the desirability of newsstand and cover price variant comics compared to their prevalent direct edition counter-parts that flooded the specialty comic shops in quantities that began to outnumber newsstand comics by the middle of the 1980’s.

Marvel Newsstand Rarity Percentages

This slide is part of my post entitled Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates where I have collected quotes and graphics related to the discussion of relative newsstand rarity over the years, compared to direct edition copies.

Those of us who fall into this same camp, of having personally come to the collecting decision ourselves to prefer newsstand (and cover price variant newsstand) comics over their prevalent direct edition counter-parts, then naturally find ourselves wondering: how long is it going to take the collecting community at large to fully catch on to what seems so darn obvious from our perspective?

Well, with this post, I’d like to share some specific insight that maintaining this blog gives me, into just how much newsstand awareness is quietly building out there, like a snowball rolling its way down a mountain: and that insight is that my “WordPress Stats Page” lists out search terms that people have entered into search engines and then landed on my blog from there.

I always find this list fascinating to review whenever I check my stats page, because each one represents things actual people wanted to know, on that day… which means these people typing these searches are aware of their question (obviously they’re aware… because they typed it!).

Hence, reviewing this list is basically reviewing things that other collectors actually want to research, here and now.  It is like looking through a peephole to their keyboards and seeing what they’re typing, as a group.  And if they actively want to research something on this list (which they are, by searching), that means they are transitioning from uninformed to informed — informed both about the importance of asking their question in the first place, and then hopefully becoming aware of the answer to that question, and joining the rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness.

Hopefully you will find the following list as fascinating as I do; I’ve plucked out the recent price variant and direct-edition-vs-newsstand-related search terms from my stats page and presented them below, and then following this list I will have some additional commentary including a couple of searches that stood out to me as particularly fascinating to have witnessed:

  • difference between direct and newsstand comics
  • comic newstand rarity
  • spawn 2 newsstand edition
  • what is the difference with newsstand edition comics
  • why comics newsstand issues cost more
  • newsstands comic books
  • learn about 1980s canadian price variant rarity
  • rarity of 35 cent variants newsstand
  • spawn newstand rare
  • newstand edition vs direct
  • what has more value a direct edition or book stand edition comic
  • direct comic books vs
  • how to tell a marvel direct edition from a newsstand edition
  • comic book, newsstand v direct sales
  • dazzler #1 newsstand
  • marvel comics direct edition
  • which is more expensive newsstand or direct
  • canadian price comics 1980s
  • canadian price variant
  • newsstand vs direct comics
  • comics newsstand vs direct edition
  • 95 cent canadian variants
  • why are newsstand comics worth more?
  • savage dragon newsstand rare
  • what does “direct edition” mean on a comic book
  • x-men 75 cent variant
  • how do you know if a comic is a newsstand copy?
  • canadian price variant comics
  • was there a differents in the dark kmight returns direct edition amd the newsstand edition
  • are direct edition comics worth anything
  • why is spawn news stand rare
  • canadian varient comics
  • rare comics newstand
  • direct edition vs newstand
  • comic newsstand print run
  • difference of newsstand comics
  • newsstand edition comics
  • upc code and none on comics
  • direct sales comics
  • 95 cent price variant comics
  • newsstand variant
  • comics newstand issue more valuable
  • newsstand and direct print runs
  • spider-man 700 newsstand rarity
  • how much is spider man 700 newsstand issue worth
  • what is difference between a regular comic book and collectible comic book
  • what is a comic return copy
  • spawn 1 newsstand edition cgc 9.8
  • comic has lines through
  • comic book direct sales vs newsstand
  • what’s the difference between direct sales on comic books
  • how do tou now newstand copy of comic book
  • comic newsstand edition
  • 75 cent variant comic
  • canadian comics 75 cent
  • marvel price variants 75
  • what is the difference between first print and newsstand
  • some comics have no barcodes
  • newstand vs direct edition
  • amazing spiderman 569 newstand variant prices
  • comics format newsstand
  • limited prints such as savage spawn
  • list of rare newsstand edition comic books
  • difference between newstand and direct
  • comics with barcodes
  • new mutants 98 $1.50 ben nobel
  • comic newstand
  • rare newsstands comics
  • difference of newstand to direct edition comics
  • rare newstand comics
  • rare comics from the 1980s
  • spiderman 400 direct edition value
  • marvel canadian price variants still first print
  • newsstand vs direct
  • newsstand variant comics
  • how much will my star wars #3 sell 35
  • what does a line through a barcode mean
  • comic upc has line on it
  • print run on 35 cent comics
  • what is meant by “direct edition” on a comic book
  • marvel 1983 60 cent 75 cents
  • canadian price comics 1st
  • difference between spiderman and barcode
  • direct sales barcode
  • amazing spider-man 238 newsstand variant premium

These are just from the trailing quarter (3 month period) and for each string you see on this list there are literally hundreds of other people who landed on my blog from a search engine but WordPress couldn’t discern the search string and lists it as ‘unknown’ (some engines have figured out how to disguise the search string for privacy). So the above list as actually more of a “glimpse” into a larger world of similar searches, but definitely gives us some very interesting observations [including that someone apparently was looking for my specific post on the New Mutants #98 newsstand-exclusive AUS cover price variant].

Many of the searches in this list struck me as highly interesting and I’d like to comment further on just a few.  Did you notice the person searching for a Newsstand Dazzler #1?  That comic was a direct edition exclusive, so there is no newsstand version of it… but I can picture an obvious scenario that would have led to this search: someone wanted one, i.e. they wanted to collect Dazzler #1 but were not satisfied with owning the direct edition, so they went searching for the newsstand edition. This search obviously would have landed them with no eBay results, so they turned to the Internet. This person looking for Dazzler #1, quite clearly, was showing an interest and probably even a preference for newsstand over direct edition comics as they sought out a copy of Dazzler #1.

Another search I found interesting was the different variations on the theme of whether Canadian newsstand comics are 1st printings — yes, they are. It is almost as if these searchers found a comic they liked and then wanted to confirm this one fact before committing to a purchase… hopefully they then read my post about Canadian Newsstand editions and came to more fully understand just what these are and that indeed they were published at the same time, on the same equipment, right along-side the rest of the print run, and are therefore indeed 1st print copies. Having confirmed that they are indeed first print copies, perhaps these various searchers then joined the snowball of awareness about how these rare newsstand-exclusive cover price variants are so much more preferable.

Finally, I want to comment on the “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string, because that one really struck me, and it also came through on my stats page right around the exact same time as I had a direct edition comic listed on eBay which drew the remark, “Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition” (which struck me so much that I used it as the title of this post).   Like so many of us, I use eBay to help trim my collection around the edges and turn some old finds into cash for new finds…  and many of my old finds (pre-dating my own newsstand rarity “awakening”) were direct edition copies.

Like so many other collectors, back then, I too had a myopic focus on the grade of the comic I was targeting for my collection… instead of operating on a system of “newsstand first, grade second” as I should have been doing for later modern comics, I had unfortunately still been operating on basically a “grade first; what’s a newsstand copy?” wavelength back then…  I was mildly aware there were some copies with bar codes and some with logos, but I’d never stopped to research that difference so far as to actually consider whether I should prefer one type over the other (without Overstreet breaking them out, there really wasn’t much of a “prompt” to make me devote thought to them).

So naturally, for me today, many of those direct edition copies I once collected have since found their way onto eBay, as easy candidates to cull in order to raise cash for something new (my fondness for newsstand comics has grown to the point that it even started to bother me to still own comics with the Spider-Man Rectangle or similar logos on them, when I knew a far-more-rare newsstand version to exist for a given issue… so the culling decision in cases where I owned direct edition copies and could recycle the cash into newsstand copies — especially cover price variant newsstand copies — was pretty much a no-brainer).

To bring this story back around to that comment in this post’s title, I had listed one of those “culled” direct edition comics for sale, and the comment it drew was just so striking to me because it is what I myself often think about the listings of others, but something that I’d never be so rash as to actually say to someone else… yet, here it was coming in my direction!!  I think this, out of anything, shows me the “newsstand preference camp” is quietly growing in number beyond what I myself have even thought sitting here in 2017 (it is hard to break the impression I formed many years ago that nobody knows about these, when even to this day I keep encountering the rare newsstand version pictured in listings by others but not titled or described with the “newsstand” keyword, thereby revealing that the seller is unaware there is any difference — or if they’re aware there is a difference then they haven’t put any thought into what that difference might mean about the rarity or market value, because if they’d thought about those things then for sure they would have put the “newsstand” keyword in their eBay listing title in order to maximize their sale proceeds).

And then that “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string may be the “ultimate” as far as the newsstand versus direct edition distinction — imagine a day when the snowball of awareness has rolled so far that many collectors only want to own the newsstand version of a late modern comic, and “shun” the direct edition version as the inferior choice… in that extreme, if that day does come (and maybe we’ve already neared that point and haven’t fully realized it), the newsstand version of a given comic is essentially going to be viewed as the “real” collectible version in the sense that the direct edition version will have only secondary derivative value.  Let me explain further what I’m getting at, with the following approach as a thought exercise:  with the 35 cent variant of Star Wars #1 for example, anyone collecting that issue would prefer to own a 35 cent cover price copy, right?

The answer to that question seems pretty obvious, almost as if it is ridiculous for me to even ask the question in the first place, right?  Yes, because the 35 cent copies are worth a dramatic premium over 30 cent copies.  But if they weren’t yet worth a dramatic premium, you should have preferred them anyway because you know they had a lower distribution percentage and were identical in every way to regular copies other than the cover price.  What I’m getting at is this:  If, in a hypothetical world, you could actually have the choice of a 35 cent copy of Star Wars #1 or a 30 cent copy of Star Wars #1, at the same price, in the same grade, you’d pick the 35 cent copy without hesitation.  It would be a no-brainer.  The only way you’d choose the 30 cent copy in your right mind in my scenario, is if the 35 cent copy was instead priced so far above the 30 cent copy that it was simply out of your budget or at such a high price you concluded it was unreasonable.  Hence, the value of 30 cent copies would be a derivative of the value of 35 cent copies — the “real” collectible comic for issue #1 of Star Wars from 1977 is the 35 cent variant, which then “pulls up” the value of the 30 cent copies because the 35 cent variant has gotten so far out of reach that some collectors are willing to settle for a 30 cent copy because that’s the best they can afford or they balk at the premium for the 35 cent copies as too high. The more desirable 35 cent variant soaks up part of the demand — those who must own the more rare and only the more rare version — and then the demand for the 30 cent copies is what’s left over after that.

Will that scenario ever happen with newsstand copies “pulling up” their direct edition counter-parts?  Is that already happening and we just don’t collectively realize to then talk about it?  [Without the newsstand versus direct edition values broken out in Overstreet, collectors would have to notice the going rate in the marketplace and reach their own conclusion that what they saw isn’t merely a one-off but rather was reflective of an established market value difference between the types]. The person searching on “are direct edition comics worth anything” seems to have had that worry that the prevalence of the direct edition type of comics could restrict their value… if they are worth less than the cost of shipping them to a willing buyer, then, in effect they are worth nothing

So arguably, that searcher’s concern is very real for the “in-between-the-keys” late modern issues, where the total demand for some issues would be so low that the more-preferable newsstand copies might very well soak up all the demand! Maybe the searcher even noticed this very phenomenon first hand, having experienced trouble selling listed direct edition comics of theirs (maybe at the same time they witnessed the newsstand version of the exact same issues selling regularly without a problem, and in frustration turned to the Internet with their search).

As possible evidence of my point here about newsstand comics being the “real” collectible and then “pulling up” the value of their direct edition counter-parts in a derivative fashion, consider Amazing Spider-Man #300.  If we’re going to see this effect in action, we’re going to see it in a comic like ASM #300 as such a high value issue.

And the highest value will naturally be in the highest grade — copies so nice that they were sent in to a professional grading company like CBCS or CGC.  If I search eBay for “spider-man 300 cgc -ss -chromium” (I’m asking eBay for CGC graded copies but not Signature Series [SS] ones because the value of those will be derived in part by the signatures themselves, and not chromium copies, to take those out of the equation) here’s what I get when sorting the “sold listings” from highest to lowest:

amazing-spider-man-300-valu

Top 10 sorted from highest to lowest in the “sold” section of eBay… There’s just one newsstand copy in this list: and it is right at the top. Coincidence? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here.

Indeed, the highest priced sold copy is a newsstand copy, with a wide margin to the next copy (a direct edition). In fact, that top copy stands alone as the one rare 9.8 newsstand copy in the list of highest sales — you do not see these newsstand 9.8’s often; for instance at this particular moment in time I checked eBay and found -zero- newsstand 9.8’s on the market for issue #300.

Is this just a fluke one-off result where the newsstand copy sorted to the top with such a wide margin of separation compared to the prevalent direct edition counter-parts? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here. Informed bidders were willing to pay more money for the more rare type in high grade.

And if that’s true, then consider: Is the “real” market value of ASM #300 set by newsstand copies, and the direct edition values are derivative?  Would someone who didn’t really understand the newsstand versus direct edition difference, but knew about the difference of a 9.8 versus a lower grade, look at that high listing and think to themselves, “another 9.8 got that high $1,600 price, mine is a 9.8, and therefore I am going to price my copy accordingly?”

If they had that thought, and theirs was a direct edition copy, it might sit there forever and the seller wouldn’t understand why… they might lower it bit by bit in price and still see other 9.8’s getting sold at a premium… “why??” they might wonder in frustration, why is my 9.8 copy not selling for what these other 9.8’s are selling for?

Eventually, maybe I’ll see the search string “why are some 9.8 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #300 selling for a huge premium while others aren’t” show up on my WordPress stats page. 🙂  And maybe that searcher will land here on this very post.  And upon reading this far, then they’ll have learned why: it is the newsstand versus direct edition difference in play.

I believe this same effect is in play all over the comic book marketplace, but is much harder to spot with lower value books.  For example if instead of comics priced at $1,600 and $1,200 we were talking about $16 and $12, that price difference could easily be a multitude of other things and if our eyes weren’t already peeled to try and spot a newsstand versus direct edition market value difference, we might just as easily dismiss it as something else if we were to casually witness it… because that kind of price difference can just as easily have to do with combined shipping discounts, seller preference, or any number of other things [who among us hasn’t shelled out an extra $5, even $10 or $20+ depending on the situation, to do business with a seller we know and trust versus an unknown seller with poor feedback?].

So we really need to study a super-high-value issue like ASM #300 for this newsstand premium effect to magnify out in a way that we can most easily see it through the normal market “noise” of the myriad other variables that cause people to spend different amounts of money on the same comic book issue.

Or, we need to study an issue where the issue’s value might be lower than the extreme of #300 but the newsstand rarity itself is more extreme for that particular issue.  One extreme newsstand rarity situation was the dual-batch newsstand “publication window” of the 1980’s. For issue #300 with the 1st appearance of Venom, we’re mid-way through 1988, and already past that Canadian price variant “window” of even-more-rare newsstand copies with higher cover prices at Marvel… But turn back the clock a little bit to Secret Wars #8 — origin of the alien symbiote that eventually becomes Venom — and we have $1.00 cover price newsstand copies where the rarity percentage is dramatic to an extreme (look at the minuscule fraction of “Canadian Edition” copies on the CGC census for this issue versus the total and you’ll be shocked).

So there, we might get a similar “magnification effect” like ASM #300 gave us by having an extreme market value, but get it in the case of Secret Wars #8 because $1.00 cover price newsstand copies have a very extreme rarity, due to their newsstand exclusivity on top of lower North American distribution by geographical area, for a bottom line rarity percentage to rival that of the 35 cent variants of 1977.

Here’s the output of the same type of exercise I did before with the “sold listings” section of eBay sorted from highest to lowest recent sales, but applied to Secret Wars #8 (and indeed, notice the “perfect 1-2-3” we get here among the top sales):

secret-wars-8-values

Top 10 sorted from highest to lowest in the “sold” section of eBay… There’s a “perfect 1-2-3” here: the single highest sale is a $1.00 cover price newsstand copy in CGC 9.8, the #2 highest sale is a 75 cent newsstand copy in CGC 9.8, and all the remainder underneath are direct edition copies. Coincidence? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here.

The #1 sale, and dramatically above the rest due to its extreme rarity math, is a $1.00 cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… the #2 sale is a 75 cent cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… and then everything beneath it are direct edition copies.  Is this just a fluke one-off result that the top sales sorted themselves “perfectly” by rarity in this manner? Not a chance.  It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness in the comic book marketplace at play here once more.

Before, I asked you to picture a seller who didn’t know about the newsstand-vs-direct-edition difference, and went ahead and priced their 9.8 copy — a direct edition — using a newsstand 9.8 copy as a comp to shoot for (not knowing the difference, they’d just think about it in terms of the grade, thinking “I’d like to get top dollar for my 9.8, and here’s the top dollar price that another recent 9.8 sold for”).  Picture this seller’s listing getting quietly ignored by those in-the-know about the difference, and their frustration growing over why their copy isn’t selling… maybe they start to lower the price, by $10… $20…  Those in-the-know about the difference continue to ignore the direct edition listing.

But now, picture that an uninformed buyer comes along.  Someone who hasn’t entered search strings (like the newsstand-related list I shared earlier) into search engines; i.e. who hasn’t investigated the newsstand versus direct edition difference.  Let’s picture this buyer as someone who simply knows grade is important and wants to own a 9.8 copy.  That unsuspecting buyer might come across our frustrated seller’s listing and think, “wow, $20 less than what this other 9.8 sold for, what a great deal!

Is it a great deal?  We know it’s not.  But they have no clue about the newsstand versus direct edition difference, and are just looking at that giant 9.8 in the upper left corner — effectively they have blinders on where that number on the left-hand side of the label is all they can see.  They click the buy button… and in doing so, they set a direct edition sale comp in the sold listings section as a derivative of the high newsstand sale price.  But meanwhile, the “real” market price is being set by those copies at the top… the newsstand copies.  

All the while, if we were to look only at the asking prices in the marketplace at any given time, this phenomenon would be harder to spot.  But examining the sold listings for high-value (and high-rarity-newsstand) keys such as the examples I explored here with ASM #300 and Secret Wars #8, I think the market value difference between newsstand and direct edition is practically glaring right at us!

And imagine, as the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll towards its final destination, how the behavior of both the hypothetical buyer and the hypothetical seller I asked you to picture would change: the seller would know to peg their ask to the highest direct edition sale and the buyer would be operating on a system of “newsstand first [cover price variant newsstand before that, when they exist], and grade next”… and you can start to envision how the market values would then continue to pull apart in an even more visible way as time continues to march forward and the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll down the mountain.

I hope you found the list of search strings shared with you here to be as interesting as I found them to be — definitely quite reflective of a growing awareness out there about the direct edition vs. newsstand difference!

Happy Collecting! 🙂

[ 2/27/16 Update: It was brought to my attention by a reader that since the time of this post, there has been another auction of a 9.8 newsstand copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300.  I figured I’d screen-capture that recent sale and append it to this post, as it reflects an even further widening of the newsstand value versus the direct edition value. ]

Update: newsstand value for Amazing Spider-Man #300 is widening even further away from the value of the prevalent direct edition. A couple of weeks ago when I put up this post, the high sale was $1,600 (a newsstand 9.8). This most recent sale, a newsstand 9.8, is up at $2,026.18.

Update: newsstand value for Amazing Spider-Man #300 is widening even further away from the value of the prevalent direct edition. A couple of weeks ago when I put up this post, the high sale was $1,600 (a newsstand 9.8). This most recent sale, a newsstand 9.8, is up at $2,026.18.

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