CPVs Are Hot on ICE

By Walter Durajlija and Jay Halstead, October 2019

“Can you believe, with how hot this book has been, that it’s now been almost 4 years since an Amazing Spider-Man #238 CPV has sold in 9.8?”

Thanks for giving us this forum to keep you filled in on the ever-changing world of Canadian Price Variants!

Jay Halstead

I guess I’m the first part of this report, so hold onto your hats! My name is Jay and I’m the GM at the International Comic Exchange (ICE, icomicexchange.com) and I work with Walt so he’ll be around later with his 2 cents. We’ve had a few CPV’s this year and some decent sales, but because we really haven’t had any of the big hammers in super high grade, I don’t have a lot to report from my job stand-point. All I can really say is there has been a big difference in demand from 2018 through 2019, as in we don’t get the phone calls and emails we did a year to a year and a half ago looking for these books. I truly believe this has mainly to do with how the prices have really exploded on some of the big keys!

Thor #337, 75¢ Variant

ASM #238, 75¢ Variant

Batman #404, $1.00 Variant

For example when Thor #337 was an affordable book it was on everyone’s list, now over a grand in 9.8 and there are less people who can and will shell that out. But an even bigger part of this is how, like I mentioned in last year’s Overstreet Market Report, there really hasn’t been a big change in availability of the big keys either. The stuff that didn’t exist last year still doesn’t exist this year! Can you believe, with how hot this book has been, that it’s now been almost 4 years since an Amazing Spider-Man #238 CPV has sold in 9.8? My feeling is though that if one of these grail Canadian books came up, and sold, for what I believe would be absolutely tremendous prices, we’d see more of them offered up for sale. IMO, many of them are mis-labeled, and that’s a massive part of the issue. If a Batman 404 CPV came for sale in CGC 9.8, and sold for a few thousand, there is no question collector’s who may have a non-identified CPV as their copy of Batman 404 would re-grade it and take the money. After all the U.S version is $100 or so in 9.8, that’s a heck of a difference. It seems that all of us Canadian Variant guys are all waiting for that proverbial shoe to fall. I know a number of other collectors just like me who are now just waiting around hoping they’ll see some of the big keys offered to them and there is almost this holding pattern going on. Not that the prices are dropping on the easier to find stuff (because in 9.8 they certainly aren’t), but we’re just not seeing the wild swings we did a year or more ago and frankly, that’s a good thing!

Now on the personal side, I’m still working on putting together the entire run of Marvel and DC CPV’s (ya, I know, get this guy to the nuthouse, I get it!). I really haven’t spent a lot of time or money this year trying to hammer the runs out because my stuff is buried in the garage, but from setting up and digging at about 10 well attended comic shows in the GTA this past year, this is what I can tell you.

Generally, the dealers down here, have over-priced their CPV stock. Again, as a collector, I’m not running into 9.8’s in a bin, that’s just not happening. But I am running across 8.0 copies and I’m sorry, but I can’t pay $10 for Legion of the Super Heroes issue X (as an example, just a random, non key, non high grade CPV) and frankly no one will–just because the book is a CPV doesn’t mean you’ve found the Ark! As we’ve seen on ebay, at least lately (last 3-6 months), more availability on mid to just before higher grade (7.5-8.5) has led to lower prices on runs like LOSU, Warlord, Avengers, even Amazing Spider-Man. I mean these are common folks, they are everywhere in Canada in 2.0-8.0. And even some books, like Thor 337 (I think we got to really see how Thor 337 was heavily, heavily speculated back in the 80’s), although still selling for big coin, is relatively common among CPVs. Again though, I’m not referring to strict 9.8. There have been more copies than usual of that book in particular (a big part of that is the movie hype of course), but generally speaking, most Marvel comic books are easy to find if you just want a copy. If you are looking for 9.8, well that’s another story, however some have come available this year (like Thor 337 and 338). However, DC, and more importantly, the long ignored and almost forgotten STAR comic’s brand, are very scarce.

Ewoks #1, 75¢ CPV
Droids #1, 95¢ CPV
Peter Porker #1, 75¢ CPV
Strawberry Shortcake #1 75¢
Muppet Babies #1, 75¢ CPV
Care Bears #1, 75¢ CPV

You can (as I have been doing), wait a long time to see anything good come up for sale in regards to either of those companies, in high grade (and yes, before you yell at me, I realize Star was an imprint of Marvel Comics). I am trying to work on some of the better selling Star sets, and wow, some of them I can’t even find ‘A’ copy! Droids should have sold well in Canada. Ewoks should have sold well in Canada. Peter Porker should have sold well in Canada, but guess what folks, I can’t find them! Gang, I’m at 10 shows a year, rip through dealer inventory AND work in a comic book store—and I can’t find them! Now that’s not to say I haven’t seen VG’s at the Fan Expo for sale in the $40 range (c’mon!!!), however reasonably priced (essentially what they’re worth—and no, the $40 copies DO NOT sell), you cannot find them. Forget about the hard to find sets like Rainbow Brite, or Muppet Babies, or Care Bears! They are nowhere. I realize these don’t get many people excited, but these are scarce books, and I can assure you there are more people interested in them than there are copies available. I wrote about this in the Overstreet last year—if someone were to buy a collection up here, with runs of nice, 9.0ish+ CPV copies of most of the Star Comics, the prices they would command in auction would make your head spin! Get Along Gang I miss you, where are you? Please come back to me!

Swamp Thing #37, 95¢ Variant

Superman Annual #11, $1.60 CPV

I’ll say a few words about DC but I know Ben has some real data he is going to share so I won’t bore you with my own opinions (and that’s all these are gang). The longer I collect these, and the older I get, I have come to the conclusion (however wrong it may be), that most DC titles were purchased by readers, who didn’t care nearly as much about collecting and condition as Marvel guys did. Because today, the DC books simply aren’t around in high grade. How is it possible Swamp Thing 37, that we all remember, doesn’t have a single copy in 9.8 as a CPV? Where are the high grade sets of Batman Year 1 (Batman #404 to 407)? There should be multiple, multiple CPV sets, yet there are none. Even the Superman Annual #11 written by the great Alan Moore has 1 copy in 9.8 and 1 copy in 9.4 on the census–where the heck are the copies? I really can go on and on, however as mentioned, Ben has real data for all of you (mind blowing honestly), so make sure you read his report! But if you find a stash of high grade CPV Bat’s, call me!

As for me, I’m tapped, I hope you learned a little and if you didn’t, you’re about to learn less from my boss so enjoy…

Walter Durajlija

I’m not even going to pretend I know half as much as Jay Halstead does about CPVs, his knowledge and passion for these books is beyond impressive. What I can add though is add my views on what is happening in the marketplace.

Because the CPV collecting strain is still in its relative infancy (relative to comic collecting in general) there a fresh excitement within the collecting community on all things CPV. This excitement has manifested itself in a very rapid increase in values and perhaps an ambitious expectation of continued gains. As the CPV segment of collecting matures I think we will see a stabilization and adjustment period in realized values. This will be a healthy and necessary adjustment based on true supply and demand.

I don’t know anybody who collects every comic ever published, I did know a couple of brave souls who were trying to piece together the entire Marvel Comics run but those are guys I knew 30 years ago. The collecting of comics has changed over the years, when I started out most of us build runs, we were completists, today the majority of collectors are selective, focusing on key issues, great covers etc. CPV’s as a collecting strain has arisen in this new era of collecting, I don’t think we’ll see most of the collectors trying to amass the complete CPV list, they will focus on key issues, key covers, scarce and coveted issues etc.

The initial rush the CPV market experienced saw many books get big premiums that will eventually not get big premiums. There will also be many CPVs that will shoot up in value because they will be in demand for a number of reasons including the reasons mentioned above.

There was a bit of a wild west feel to the CPV market over the past couple of years, this collecting strain is still growing and the valuations of the books are still being settled. The initial knee jerk reaction of aggressively pricing every CPV is now meeting some resistance, record prices are still being set and will continue to be set for many issues, at the same time realized prices for other issues are adjusting to an increase in supply thanks to the growing and evolving market.