From a Seller’s Perspective…

By Tony LeBlanc (eBay: mewant! / melike!), November 2020

“I started classifying comics as CPVs about 12 years ago. At first, I was surprised to see that roughly 80% of all my sales were predominantly from fellow Canadians. Now that CPVs are more mainstream, I would estimate that about 65% of my CPV sales goes to the States and this percentage continues to rise.”

Hello fellow CPV fans! My name is Tony LeBlanc and I want to begin by thanking Ben, Angelo, and the rest of the CPV Price Guide team for this great opportunity to participate in the latest edition of the guide.

The premise of this article is to provide collectors with a unique perspective from a seller’s vantage point. Although the seller’s market has really opened up in recent years, I’m sure some of you older CPV collectors will recognize my eBay handles “mewant! / melike!”.

Most of everything I’ve sold over the past few years have been CPVs and pretty much everything in the top 100 and more, have come through my seller’s account. It’s been pretty fun along the way and I have networked with a lot of great CPV enthusiasts who happen to be extremely engaged within this particular niche.

I have also had the pleasure of working in the newspaper circulation industry for nearly 30 years (currently with the Winnipeg Free Press) which has given me a good understanding of single copy sales and wholesale/retail distribution practices.

Prior to Ben’s Blog

I started classifying comics as CPVs about 12 years ago with absolutely NO success. Although I was able to convince a lot of people that logically, CPVs were much scarcer, the problem I was facing was that no-one was willing to shell out a premium for them!

A bigger challenge still, was convincing people that these comics originated in the US and were not Canadian manufactured reprints as seen during the 1940s. Sadly, as a seller, I was actually better off not bringing any attention to it. I didn’t get a lot of support from Canadian comic book vendors either, with many of them laughing it off. One guy I remember in particular, thought I was a complete nutjob for cleaning out all his key CPVs from his store.

Thankfully though, Ben’s blog started to publish some excellent research in support of this claim and at that point everything started to change. Prior to Ben’s groundwork work on CPVs however, I think some credit needs to be given to fellow Manitoban Doug Sulipa for introducing the scarcity of selected bronze and modern Whitman comics that helped carve out this new collectable niche.

And what’s nice about CPVs though, is that there seems to be enough raw supply to meet a growing collectable market with pricing within reach of most collectors.

Soon after Ben’s Blog

Soon after Ben’s blog started, but before the first price guide, I started really pushing CPVs and everything was selling. Even the non-keys. In particular, customers were really snapping up the paired copies I was selling with the US version and even the triple copies that included the direct edition. I highly recommend you sell your non-keys this way if you’re able. It will help move them for sure.

And I have to admit taking a few screen shots of Ben’s research analytics to help with the sale! At the same time, spreading the word and educating people. Great tool to use!

The difference compared to selling today, is that there wasn’t huge premiums for key issues back then. In general, most $10-$50 items were selling at about 15%-20% more than their US newsstand counter-part, in the same condition. It was during this period when some early collectors must have made a real killing! Kudos to James in California and Bill from Barrie Ontario to name a couple of keen investors!

2020 – sales trends (for me anyway)

  • Non-keys barely move anymore. The trouble with having a price guide with a desirability ranking chart is that now, my non-keys barely move! People are focusing on the top 10, and then the top 50, then the top 100, etc. In fact it’s not worth my time anymore selling non-keys unless they’re in either super high grade in large consecutive runs, or the title happens to be The Amazing Spider-Man.
  • Slabbed Keys outside the top 10, need to be in super high grade. There was once a time when titles like Avengers 257, Peter Porker 1, and various Batman’s, could command big bucks as a 9.2. Not now. Whether it’s due to a popularity swing from movies or an overstocked market, their time has come and gone. Flippers these days need to be very careful that the raw copy their purchasing turns out no less than a 9.6 or else their profit will be negligible. Unless of course you’re able to maintain a long shelf and cater to specific customer requests. I sold a complete CGC set of Star Wars miniseries in the low to mid 9s and almost lost my shirt on them. Meanwhile, raw HG keys are now surging in demand. I can’t keep the good ones in stock for very long! This is dependent of course if you provide a ton of close-ups, including reflection pictures.
  • Scarcity is taking more influence. Let’s face it. Thor 338 and ASM 252 are not hard to find books. At any given time on eBay, multiple copies will always be available. More than enough for every collector. The only reason that prices maintain high is purely because of popular demand. And people not necessarily looking for a CPV, will cross over if they feel they can get something more rare without spending a lot more. However, most hard core CPV collectors already have these issues. So instead, they’re now going after the “hard to find” issues. Much tougher, are higher grade copies of GI Joe 21, Batman 357, ASM 238 (with Tattooz), Transformers 1, and Swamp Thing 37. I’ve sold multiple copies of these over the years and prices still continue to soar. And soar with a far greater variance from their US counterparts.
  • Non-DC/Marvel titles. Definitely been seeing more interest on some of the key issues. And not just from the 80s! People tend to forget that there were a lot of CPVs in the 50s through 70s. From Dagar the Invincible #1 (20¢ copy – btw, totally ripped off by He-Man) to Archie – Pals & Gals 23 (35¢). I sold a “Good” copy of the latter (1st Josie) for a $400 BIN. The fact that it sold instantly has me kicking myself in the pants! I know exactly who the buyer is, so if you ever consider selling it back, let me know. Obviously it can be very difficult being both a CPV collector AND a seller (lots of regrets)! Also, anything related to Archie’s Cheryl Blossom is always good for business although it has had its high and low moments. Moreover, I had no trouble selling a bunch of mid-grade 35¢ giant size Harvey Sad Sacks from the 60s. And lately, there’s been an absolute crazy overnight surge in demand for TMNT Adventures #1 (1988 miniseries) which totally caught me by surprise. Just last year around this time I had listed a NM copy with a BIN for $30 and after 3 renewed attempts on eBay, I simply gave up trying. I stumbled across it again just recently (with the $30 sticker still on it) and after 1 hour on line, I received over $500 for it! I still can’t understand it’s magic, but as a seller you gotta sell it when the iron is hot! Especially on titles that don’t seem particularly rare because sometimes, it doesn’t take long before the market is saturated with the same copy from every other seller in Canada hoping to cash in. Aside from this, in generalities, I am starting to see much more interest in non-DC/marvel CPVs than ever before. I’m assuming it’s the result of mainstream CPV collectors looking to tap into emerging markets. Big shout-out to Sal Miceli (eBay: nostalgia_sal) who has been instrumental in this by pouring months of research into Archie CPVs for the price guide. If you have a question about Archie CPVs, he’s your man!

Interesting Sales analytics

Here are some interesting observations I’ve made from selling CPVs…..

  • Other Vendors. Roughly 25% of all my sales go to other vendors. Not so much store front dealers per say, but other comic enthusiasts…
    • Who are upgrading their collections and selling their doubles;
    • Who are more willing slab to flip;
    • Who want to expand their inventory for their new on-line store;
    • Who are in a good position to maintain long shelf-life and/or to cater to specific clients
    And do I mind? Absolutely not! It makes it a lot easier to move large volumes and big ticket items. Especially from someone who doesn’t have a lot of patience for shelf life. And let’s face it. Every one of us is going to end up selling at one point or another. Just don’t wait until you kick the bucket and your wife is forced to sell everything! You’ll be rolling over in your grave if she decides to sell everything based on the prices you told her you paid!
  • Canadian buyers vs. American buyers. At first, I was surprised to see that roughly 80% of all my sales were predominantly from fellow Canadians. If I had to speculate, I think it’s probably because a lot of Canadians already had a fair quantity of CPVs and it was less overwhelming to complete their collections. They were also less apprehensive to collect CPVs considering it was from their own country! Now that CPVs are more mainstream, I would estimate that about 65% of my CPV sales goes to the States and this percentage continues to rise. And with the US market being 10X that of the Canadian market, the future of CPVs continues to look very promising. Sales to Europe including the UK however are basically non-existent for me at the moment. I guess they have their own UK variants to collect!
  • Sales landscape. As to where my CPV customers reside, it’s interesting to note that about 70% of my sales are shipped to the western seaboard. Although I’m seeing a lot more business coming from the NY area as of late. California and BC have been very good to me. Many thanks!

Sales predictions for 2021

With CPVs having gone mainstream now for a few years, it will no doubt continue to draw in more collectors. And because of this steady inflow, I suspect that anything in the top 50 will remain popular, highly desirable, and continue to sell very well. Although the top 50 may change slightly from year to year, these issues have always been good sellers. I have however, started to see much more interest and corresponding higher prices coming from books outside the top 20 and in particular, what I consider to be the “hard to find” issues.

These are books typically with lower print runs, that serviced smaller niche markets, and targeted very young children where HG survival rates are extremely low. People snapping these up are traditionally my more seasoned and longtime CPV customers, who over time, have come to recognize and appreciate just how hard these books are to come by. Personally, I have a number of ebay searches set up for myself for a variety of obscure issues that if I’m lucky, will generate 1 or 2 results/yr. Some never!

Titles like Marvel’s Blip and DC’s Rainbow Bright in my opinion, are the Unicorns in this business and should absolutely command much more than current book values. I recently sold a raw Blip 1 in F/VF for $350 to one of my favorite regulars who definitely appreciated the rarity of this item. As more collectors gain experience in this market, I totally expect them to be going after “the obscure” for 2021.

Last, I would venture to say that 2021 will show a much stronger demand for key issues and #1s within the Archie, Harvey, and Gladstone families.

  • Archie – in particular 80s cartoon pop culture genres like Street Sharks, Space Ghost, Jetsons, Scooby, Flintstones, Koosh Kins, as well for off-beat super heroes titles like Shield, ManTech, and Steel Sterling. I expect Sonic to remain popular and TMNT will continue to climb – most notably the higher issues with lower production runs.
  • Harvey titles such as Little Dracula, Monsters in my Pocket, Beetlejuice, & Back to the Future
  • Gladstone – early Disney that followed Whitman and their 50s horror reprints.

Anyway, I hope there was at least something from this article you can take away or find insightful. I wish you all the best in treasure hunting for 2021!