By Bill Alexander, Overstreet Advisor, U.S.-published comic book cover price variant specialist and historian (Contact by email), with James Gilbreath, research assistant, October 2018
“2018 — The year of the CPV: 2018 saw many record breaking and high end sales for Canadian price variants in the hobby.”
Greetings from Central California!
Collectors, by and large, have always regarded copper books fondly. Legions of us grew up on these stories, yet they have never been considered top tier investment books. Why? There is a ton of great material and important keys in this era, yet Copper is still considered Bronze’s “baby bro” in the comic investing universe. How come?
The reason, of course, is an obvious one to any novice collector: The print runs were too high and far outstrip demand. In addition, most were well preserved, leaving high grade copies plentiful. The ceiling on these books seemed to be quite modest. And then…
The 1980’s Canadian Price Variants burst on the scene, as collectors old and new, were re-introduced and re-educated to the newest subset of investment collecting.
These newsstand Cover Price Variants, or Type 1A price variants, or “CPVs” as they are fondly known, are quickly becoming the new comic collecting Gold Rush. The community has seemed to hit a tipping point on awareness of these 1980s books and their true scarcity in high grade, as record prices are being commanded and realized in grades above VF/NM.
“Copper is finally tougher in grade than Bronze.”
“Copper babies” that are also serious collectors like many of us can finally rejoice! The impossible has happened: It turns out there actually are super rare copies of our favorite 80s comics after all. Copper is finally tougher in grade than Bronze.
2018 Market Report
Did an Amazing Spider-Man 238 (1st appearance of Hobgoblin) CGC 9.6 Canadian price variant close for $2,300.00 at auction on Comic Link in August 2018? Yes, the book did!
2018 saw many record breaking and high end sales for Canadian price variants in the hobby and Canadian price variant awareness for this niche in the hobby appears to be growing at an accelerated pace.
Finding many of the key Canadian price variant books in a certified 9.8 grade is not an easy task, and even today a few of the top 20 key Canadian price variants seen in the 2019 Marvel and DC 1980s Canadian price variant price guide have not yet graded in a 9.8 grade. A comparison of CGC 9.8 census numbers for 70s versus 80s key books is an eye opener.
One of the big name 3rd party grading companies CBCS is now labeling U.S. published Canadian price variants, UK price variants and Australian price variants as being price variants on their CBCS labels. This new labeling now identifies U.S. published price variant books in the hobby for what they truly are. Congratulations! to CBCS on this great and well needed improvement that the hobby can only benefit from.
“Canadian price variant awareness for this niche in the hobby appears to be growing at an accelerated pace.”
Canadian Price Variant History
There is an enormous! difference between Type 1A Canadian price variants and Canadian Editions and Canadian Whites. On Dec. 6, 1940, parliament in Canada passed the War Exchange Conservation Act which banned U.S. comics from entering Canada because they were deemed ‘non-essential’ imports during wartime.
During this wartime era some Canadian Publishers began putting out their own comics most of which had color covers but black and white interiors leading those to be dubbed Canadian Whites. Meanwhile U.S. publishers would also send their printing plates to Canadian publishers who would change the advertisements and publish a Canadian Edition of the U.S. comic on Canadian soil.
“Where and when the comic was published makes a world of difference!”
Where and when the comic was published makes a world of difference! Instead of being published in Canada at a different time, the Type 1A variants were U.S. published right alongside the rest of the print run and were allowed to cross the border into Canada. Although our 2019 guide covers the Marvel and DC Canadian price variants of the 1980’s, other publishers were publishing Type 1A Canadian price variants a few decades prior.
Dell Comics was the first publisher to begin publishing Type 1A Canadian cover price variants which began in 1938 and were published sporadically. In November of 1951 Dell for the first time began publishing Type 1A Canadian price variants on a regular basis to be sold and distributed in Canada beginning with their Dell Giants comic books. These Dell Giants featured a 35 cent cover price in comparison to the U.S. 25 cent cover price found on regular Dell Giant comic books. Surviving Dell Giant 35 cent Canadian price variants are extremely tough to find in FN 6.0 or higher grade mainly due to their thick card stock paper covers they were printed with and they are typically found in VG 4.0 or lower grade.
The first published Canadian price variant Dell Giants were Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Funnies #2 and Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade #3 and were November 1951 issues. Archie a short time later in early 1953 jumped on the band wagon followed by Harvey in late 1958. Harvey’s first two published Canadian price variants were Sad Sack Laugh Special #1 and Casper’s Ghostland #1. Both were published Winter 1958-59.
Happy collecting to everyone.