Collecting and Investing Tips #44

Last updated on May 30th, 2013 at 02:25 pm

Data Analysis

-warning, some heavy math and healthy assumptions are used in this article-

In my Auction Highlights #43 I looked at the recent $21,250.00 ComicLink sale of a CGC 9.6 Amazing Spider-Man #11. This comic book has an Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide value of $2,400 in the 9.2 grade. ComicLink noted that the CGC 9.6 grade is rare for this comic book. The ComicLink auction had this note:

In fact, out of the whopping 466 examples sent in to CGC, only 7 have reached CGC’s Near Mint tier of 9.4 and this stunning CGC 9.6 is 1 of only 4 in the world to reach CGC’s coveted “top dog” CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 grade…

I went on to try and prove that #11 is no less scarce in high grade than other early Amazing Spider-Man issue and that there are many more out there still ungraded. Part of my piece read:

There are over 3 times as many Amazing Spider-Man #14s (1218 universal blue labels) graded as there are #11s (398 universal blue labels) and wouldn’t you know it there are just over 3 times as many 9.6s as well (13 9.6 ASM #14s vs. 4 9.6 ASM 11s). There are still a lot of very nice Spideys out there. People don’t generally grade their run books because cost is prohibitive…

I wanted to explore this topic a bit more.

I did a quick check on the CGC Census on Amazing Spider-Man #1-50. It turns out that Amazing Spider-Man #11 is statistically the 15th scarcest Spidey at a grade 9.6 or above. As of this post there are no Spidey #4s above the 9.4 grade, Spidey #1 is next scarcest statistically with only 4 of the 1259 graded coming back a 9.6 or higher (that’s less than a third of one percent). In fact Spidey #2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 15, 23, 28, 37 and #50 are also statistically scarcer than #11 in Universal grades at 9.6 or above. For all the above issues stated less than 1% of submissions come back at 9.6 or better. This tells us Spidey’s are scarce in very high grade across the board, in fact of the first 30 issues of Amazing Spider-Man only 3 register a 9.6 or better grade frequency above 2% (#18, 19 and 29) while 13 of them have a frequency of 1% or less.

Approximately half of early Amazing Spider-Man issues grade at 9.6 or better less than 1 in 100 times. No wonder prices are crazy.

But are 9.6s truly scarce? What supply point will bring prices tumbling down?

What if we looked at the CGC census numbers for Amazing Spider-Man #1? There are 1259 universally graded Spidey #1s out there as of this post. There are only 398 univerally graded #11s. This leads me to assume a few things;

1st – a higher percentage of the Amazing Spider-Man #1s that exist will end up graded. Economics will dictate this as almost any grade of Spidey #1 is worth grading. The fact that almost all #1s are worth grading will skew the high grade scarcity to even scarcer relative to lesser valued issues (if approximately the same quantities of #1 exist as #2 but #1 is worth 5 times more money, less low grade #2s will get graded because their market value in low grade does not justify the grading fees and this will make the #1s seem statistically scarcer in high grade).

2nd – here’s where I pull a Drake (Drake’s formula for estimating the probability of alien life). I will take a stab at guessing that half the Amazing Spider-Man #1’s out there have been graded so far (this number does not have to be accurate for my argument). So if another 1250 Amazing Spider-Man #1s get sent to CGC over the next decade we can assume 4 more will grade at 9.6 or better).

3rd – there are more Amazing Spider-Man #11s than there are #1s etc. In the beginning Spider-Man’s popularity was growing by the month so we can safely assume this.

4th – We must factor in the fact that people are practical and concede that many lower grade #11s will not get graded because they are not worth it based on market prices. This indeed is true. If you look at Amazing Spider-Man #1, 78% grade below 6.0 and if we look at #11 only 46% grade below 6.0 (this puts my faith back in people acting sensibly). If we weight this correctly by assuming all #11s were graded we’d actually see that the frequency of the grade 9.6 or better would fall from the current 1% and settle at a rate about twice the #1 levels (or just over 0.61%).

OK, some heavy math going on here but if I’ve done this correctly we should see about twice the frequency of 9.6s or better for Amazing Spider-Man #11s compared to #1s. There are more #11s out there though (I’ll guess one and a half times more).

Finally, if my crystal ball is correct then in the year 2020 there should be about 8 Amazing Spider-Man #1s graded at CGC 9.6 or better and there should be somewhere around 24 Amazing Spider-Man #11s at 9.6 or better (2 times the frequency multiplied by 1.5 times the supply) .

Year 2020

Estimate a potential of 2500 Amazing Spider-Man #1s graded (remember I’m assuming about half the Spidey #1s are now graded), frequency at which a 9.6 or better grade is achieved is 0.32%.

2500 * .0032 = 8 CGC 9.6 or better Amazing Spider-Man #1s

Estimate a potential of 3750 Amazing Spider-Man #11s graded (remember I’m assuming there are one and a half times as many #11s as there are #1s), frequency at which a 9.6 or better grade is achieved is 0.61%.

3750 * .0061 = 23 CGC 9.6 or better Amazing Spider-Man #11s

Will 5 to 6 times the current supply of CGC graded 9.6 Amazing Spider-Man #11s be able to sustain the current market price? Not unless we see a similar increase in demand.

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Walter Durajlija Written by:

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Marc Sims
    September 10, 2010

    Interesting article Walt.

    Based on the circulation figures for other Marvels however a 1.5x increase in sales for ASM from #1 to #11 is highly unlikely. It is in fact entirely possible that the circulation numbers for #11 are lower than #1.

    There is no data available for ASM until 1966, but we do have data for Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, Strange Tales, and Journey into Mystery.

    These are the average circulation numbers for 1963. Publishers were only required to sumbit average yearly numbers so a monthly breakdown is impossible.

    Tales to Astonish 189,390
    Strange Tales 189,305
    Tales of Suspense 188,110
    Journey into Mystery 187,895

    and for 1964:

    Tales to Astonish 207,365
    Strange Tales 215,090
    Tales of Suspense 207,065
    Journey into Mystery 205,075

    When Spider-Man was really in its stride from 1966 to 1967 circulation only increased from 340k to 360k. Most titles seem to increase at a rate of ~+10% per year in fact.

    I would also think it likely that Marvel as a publisher would print more copies of a #1 than say the #2 or #3 issue. This is certainly the case in modern comics and I think a lot of the same logic would still have applied in 1963. It is difficult to say how that would project out to the #11 issue. Would the success of the property after 10 months have warranted a boost back up to (or beyond) the sales level of #1? Hard to say.

    I’m sure all this affects your math to reduce your projected number of high grade #11s but I’ll leave that up to you to calculate 😉 .

    I think you also have to account for the dark cover on #11 as being a significant factor in its scarcity in high grade (especially compared to #1).

    All that being said, your underlying point is still valid. There are more high grade spideys out there. Don’t buy the comiclink hype…

  2. Marc Sims
    September 10, 2010

    Circulation figures by the way can all be found at John Jackson Miller’s site

  3. ComicBookDaily
    September 10, 2010

    @ Marc – is an amazing site, thanks. I wish I’d referenced it before posting! But hey, it gives me an excuse to do more calculating!

    Still I dispute 2 of your statements.

    First – Tales of Suspense #39 (Iron Man) was a character title launch much like Spidey #1 was (both were published March 1963). The fact that 1964 saw a 10% increase in sales over 1963 should also work for the Spidey title. Perhaps my factor should be 1.1 and not 1.5 (I do think 13 months is more than long enough to see and react to an increase in demand so circulation certainly shouldn’t be less).
    Second – My data disproves that #11 is scarcer in high grade because of its dark cover. Three times as many Spidey #1s have been graded and yet there are only 4 #1s and 4 #11s graded at 9.6 or better. When we factor in more low grade #1s being sent in we still get #1 being twice as scarce in high grade. Other non dark covers have lower frequencies of 9.6 grades within the run as well.
    New #11 formula should be 2750 (based on 2500 times the new 1.1 factor) * 0.0061 (frequency of 9.6 or better grades) = 16.77 rounded up is 17 issues of #11 vs. 8 issues of #1 still to come in at the 9.6 or better grades.


  4. sornios
    September 12, 2010

    a few comments….

    Too much thinking on the sales figures boys. The important number is what I term the “high grade survival”. A 200,000 print run means nothing if the books don’t survive. Anyone say “chipping” or “ink bleed”? How about “war time paper drives” (sorry…I am dating myself). How about the CGC error factor? “What’s that?” you say. GP Analysis, CGC census or any other published stats do not account for flaws in the system and this (unfortunately) directly affects the prices of the comic books. Re-submission after pressings, cracked open cases, grading errors, etc., all affect the market and statistics. I acknowledge there is no perfect system and we work with what we know, but I sincerely believe we haven’t even touched the surface of seeing (and knowing) the best condition books out there. Why would I submit my 9.8 Spidey #11 and see the title drop in value? My 9.8 will look nice but the ones under it will suffer. Remember the 10.0 Spawn #1? OUCH! I show my prejudice here but I lost faith in the CGC system a long time ago when they gave a colour touched up More Fun #52 a blue label. Don’t get me wrong – I collect and trade CGC books but I don’t look at the statistics as the “to be all, end all”. Remember: the most important known comic book (Mile High Action Comics #1) has never been CGC graded, but some of us that have seen it know it would be $$$$$$$$

  5. Frank Chang
    September 14, 2010

    Yes ASM#11 is scarce in hi grade but its a NON Key, some collectors thought it was the 1st app of Betty Brant but thats in ASM#4. So when you factor the long term demand on a NON key then supply outstrips demand.

    21K is outrageous. I would take an ASM#1 cgc 8.0 for the same kind of money spent and yes its a top 10 marvel key.

    In fact I would put 5K back in my wallet and spend the other 16K on a Hulk 181 cgc 9.8. Yes indeed I love the demand on this book despite everyone saying its flooded and overvalued.

    GL76 CGC 9.6 is not worth considering from a dealer or collectors perspective at 25-30K though due to falsified hype demand. There is not an increasing number of Neal Adams fans but in fact its on a decline in my opinion. Bob Overstreet must be well connected to guys hold 100’s of copies to have that particular book shoot up to 2K in the guide. Guys like Steranko and Wrightson are just as good. Bob Overstreet will make it shoot up to 5K in 9.2 and YES this will be the 1st non variant Bronze age book to hit this elusive mark. But the actual realized sales will be well below this mark and those holding the GL76 in 9.6 will be stuck holding the hot potatoe but be aroused when they look at the guide in dream world.

    Bottom line don’t buy ASM11 and tie up your money because down the road nobody will be there to pay you what u want for it. You’ll be sorry for making a bad investment decision.

Make It Good.