Price Variants and the International Collector

By Tim Bildhauser, CBCS International Comic Specialist, Overstreet Advisor, and Associate Editor of Foreign Comic Collector Magazine
October 2018

“One of the main styles of collecting comics, that is growing in popularity, is assembling what is referred to as a set.”

First and foremost I’d like to thank the publishers of The 2019 Price Guide for 1980’s Marvel & DC Newsstand Canadian Cover Price Variants (Type 1A) along with those reading it for the opportunity to contribute. What I’d like to bring to the table is the perspective on price variant editions, primarily those published for Canada, Australia and the U.K., from the perspective of not only an American collector but that of someone who collects international comics as well.

Let’s start with a little background of what all can be involved when it comes to collecting comic books on a global scale. One of the main styles of collecting comics, that is growing in popularity, is assembling what is referred to as a set. The collector chooses a key issue, favorite story, favorite cover etc. (in most cases something originally published in the U.S.) and begins the hunt, tracking down that comic from as many countries and in as many languages in which it was published.

Here is one example set, for Amazing Spider-Man #239, encompassing not just the US-published editions but widening to an international scale:

example-set-asm-239

For more example sets, visit my website (myforeigncomics.webs.com).

This isn’t the type of undertaking suited to the casual collector. A significant amount of time is required to accomplish it. Step one is to find out what other countries published the book in question. Step two is to begin the search trying to track down a copy.

From Sweden, with cover art from Batman #423

Example foreign edition from Sweden, with cover art from Batman #423

This isn’t always as simple as it might sound. There are plenty of countries with an eBay presence but that’s not necessarily the go to source when it comes to buying and selling. Many countries have their own auction sites that have been around longer and are more popular with buyers and sellers. Traditional sources don’t always bear fruit, there are times where you actually establish contact with someone within the country that’s willing to help track it down.

Sounds easy enough, right? Add on top of that getting over the hurdles of language barriers, establishing a price, currency conversion, non-standard payment methods and you finally get to the point of having it shipped, sometimes with no tracking method available and in some cases long wait times clearing Customs on both ends, then crossing your fingers that it shows up.

From Finland, with cover art from Amazing Spider-Man #606

Example foreign edition from Finland, with cover art from Amazing Spider-Man #606

Collecting like this opens up a very deep well and once you fall into it, it doesn’t take long to discover that it takes quite a while before you get to the bottom. With some books it can literally takes years to track down a copy, any copy, and high grade copies are non-existent.

This brings us to the point of answering the question, what makes a complete set? This is determined by each collector on an individual basis. Personally, if they exist, I’m always inclined to include Type 1A price variants that were published for Canada, Australia the U.K. as well as (in some cases) both direct sales copies and newsstand copies published for the States.

“These Type 1A price variants are important, they show the progression of growth within the hobby in different regions and absolutely need to be recognized for the fact that they’re far less common than their U.S. cover price counterparts.”

These Type 1A price variants are important, they show the progression of growth within the hobby in different regions and absolutely need to be recognized for the fact that they’re far less common than their U.S. cover price counterparts. Proper identification, classification and recognition of them is just as important as it is for any other variant.

To the majority of comic book collectors the differences in these books is so slight as to be considered almost insignificant. For others, even the most minute variation in detail makes that version of the book a requirement to obtain in order to have a complete set. It requires discipline and focus to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by all of it and the most important thing to remember is this, have fun with it, that’s what this hobby is all about!

Tim Bildhauser
CBCS, International Comic Specialist
Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, Advisor
Foreign Comic Collector Magazine, Associate Editor

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