Comic Book Table Talk: Predict, Invest, Collect!

By Angelo Virone — Cover price variant collector and historian (Contact by email), October 2018

“Introducing my personal method when investing: I call it my “Comic Score Card” (C.S.C. for short)”

From the time that our first C.P.V. guide was released last year, prices have gone up for a majority of books in this space, especially key issues. Without a doubt, if you’re reading our market reports, chances are this is something you are most definitely aware of.

I strongly believe that prices should continue rising given that demand remains strong and supply remains weak in higher grades. Hence, a look into the future is what most comic book investors are seeking. I will attempt to offer a few facts for newcomers entering this space as well as introduce my personal method when investing: I call it my “Comic Score Card” or for simplicity, “C.S.C.”

First and foremost, I would not be here if it weren’t for six savvy and hard-working advisors who have made this possible. A big thank-you to Ben Nobel (project organizer and advisor), and to the other collaborators (alphabetically), Bill Alexander, Paul Clairmont, Walter Durajlija, Jon McClure, and last but never least, Doug Sulipa. Years of hard work and relentless research in unchartered territory has truly made these six individuals beacons and pillars within our comic book collecting community.

Some C.P.V. Pointers

Without further ado, for those who are just starting to explore and collect 1980’s newsstand ‘Cover Price Variants Type IA’ (aka C.P.V.’s or Canadian Price Variants), below I offer a few pointers.

  • This niche market has shown continued future price potential which may or may not materialize given any number of factors no one can predict with 100% certainty;
  • Always ask more than one trustworthy and knowledgeable collector, preferably individuals with different collecting styles when seeking to form a well-rounded opinion yourself;
  • First issues in a title are not as scarce as last issues due to lower print runs, however a majority of collectors still gravitate towards #1’s;
  • First appearances are always more desirable;
  • Never purchase a book based on the price of a single copy that sold, instead find other comparables;
  • Census numbers cannot be considered 100% accurate because mislabeled copies do exist both as “false positives” (a direct edition or a regular newsstand copy being incorrectly labeled as a variant), as well as “false negatives” (a variant inside the slab but where the label makes no mention of being a C.P.V.), but time will help rectify this issue as more collectors demand proper labeling;
  • A common run book that is scarce in higher grades might not necessarily equate to a higher value if the collector demand is not there for that comic;
  • Not every collector gets his or her books graded so one must assume that raw copies of a particular book may (or may not) be found in the wild or sitting in a private collection — sometimes in multiples;
  • In regards to supply, C.P.V.’s are much scarcer than direct editions and US newsstands, therefore they make a better choice as investments (looking at the census helps support such stats);
  • Unlike today’s modern cover variants that are printed as manufactured rarities for big bucks, C.P.V.’s have naturally evolved over the last few decades to be scarce on their own merit;
  • C.P.V.’s are not reprints but rather first prints and referring to them as “Canadian Edition” is ahistorical when in fact they are “Price Variants.” (Just recently, CBCS changed their labels to better reflect this historical accuracy which is a milestone achievement that should be celebrated by all collectors alike!!!).

Introducing: Comic Score Card (C.S.C.)

On a different point altogether, any investor wanting to add an extra layer beyond the classical two dimensional checklist we’ve all grown accustomed to over the years, I’d like to introduce something different. A Rubric that helps investors decide which books would best suit their personal investing needs: the “Comic Score Card” or a “C.S.C.”

A rubric helps me decide whether or not a particular comic (be it a direct edition or a C.P.V.) has strong future potential as an investment. Rubrics are great tools that educators use on a daily basis to help evaluate a student’s progress. I simply adapted this tool to help when investing in comics. A rubric can be simple or very complex, all depending on what you decide the criteria should consist of and how much value (how many points) you lend each category.

According to Wikipedia:

“In education terminology, rubric means “a scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of students’ constructed responses”. Rubrics usually contain evaluative criteria, quality definitions for those criteria at particular levels of achievement, and a scoring strategy.”

Here’s how I adapted this Rubric tool to comic book investing:

Introducing Comic Score Card

Below you shall find two Comic Score Card examples: the first example analyzes five categories to obtain a quick score, and a second longer example below that one is intended for those seeking additional categories with more detailed information. Each C.S.C. evaluates specific investing targets I personally aim to achieve when purchasing a book and may or may not be the right Comic Score Card for you, so please adapt the general score card idea according to your own style and interests.

  • C.S.C.’s are meant to be open ended tools. You can create, adapt, change the percentage weight of categories or simply remove those that do not meet your expectations. It is important to remember, as an investor, that you must justify using common sense (as opposed to emotions) as to why each category is being evaluated within your Comic Score Card.
  • My Comic Score Card is but one tool an investor can use but it should never be the only determining factor. Always do your own research and take everything into consideration — including your own instinct.
  • In regards to the final grade calculated on any one given C.S.C., it is for you, and only you, to determine whether or not a particular grade percentage (%) meets your investing needs or wants — similar to investing in a publicly traded company on the stock market.
  • Two investors can achieve different grades for the same book due to the subjective nature each one brings subconsciously to the table. Personal “needs” vs personal “wants”, oftentimes battling each other to win over one’s conscious approval.

Instructions:

A) Print out one or both Comic Score Cards seen below.
B) For each category (vertical left column), highlight the box (under the points 0-4) that best describes the book you are analyzing.
C) Tally up the amount of points after completing all categories.
D) Once you have your points, please put that point total over 20 or 100 (the max. score you can obtain for example #1 is 20/20 and 100/100 for example #2).
E) Calculate the percentage out of 100% (e.g. 50/100 = 50%, 15/20 = 75%, etc.) and then see which letter grade the book received.
F) You must now decide if that grade point average is worthy enough for you to invest in?

EXAMPLE #1: QUICK COMIC SCORE CARD

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quick comic score card

EXAMPLE #2: EXTENSIVE COMIC SCORE CARD

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extensive comic score card

After calculating the percentage score for a given book, assign a letter grade corresponding to that score as follows:

Total
A+ 100%
A 95%
A- 90%
B+ 85%
B 80%
B- 75%
C+ 70%
C 65%
C- 60%
D+ 55%
D 50%

Using Comic Score Cards: Swamp Thing #37 Example

Saga of the Swamp Thing #37, 95¢ Cover Price Variant

Saga of the Swamp Thing #37, 95¢ Cover Price Variant

Suppose I wanted a quick score as well as an extensive score for a graded 9.6 Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 variant. Here’s how I would fill out my two comic score cards.

Example: Quick Comic Score Card for Swamp Thing #37 variant in 9.6:

Here’s how I would fill out my quick comic score card (see sample card below; click here to enlarge).

quick-score-card-example

As you can see, it achieved a score of 17/20, or 85%, which means the book earned a ‘B+‘ representing a positive above average investment.

Example: Extensive Comic Score Card for Swamp Thing #37 variant in 9.6:

Here’s how I would fill out my extensive comic score card (see sample card below; click here to enlarge).

extended-csc-example

As you can see, it achieved a score of 80/100, or 80%, which means the book earned a ‘B‘ representing a positive above average investment.

Taking a medium average between the two Comic Score Cards:

Considering the possibilities for having one or more errors when completing any score card (i.e., personal bias and/or categories that don’t exactly fit perfectly in a score card) an average medium between the two score cards would help reduce this unintended consequence. See below on how I calculated mine:

85% (quick Comic Score Card)
+
80% (extensive Comic Score Card)

/2

= 82.5 % average medium Comic Score Card
(Representing a positive above average investment)

* I take into consideration books that hit a minimum score of 60% (C-) considering there is always a margin of error and that certain categories might not be perfectly suitable within that C.S.C. and unintentionally lower the overall percentage.

* Comic Score Cards are not perfect by nature and should always be used in conjunction with other tools.

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