Undervalued Spotlight #67

Dell Giant Christmas Parade #1, Dell Publishing, November 1949

In late 1949 Dell had this great idea of throwing together a truly giant Christmas themed book of comics. Christmas Parade #1 was a whopping 132 pages thick and featured a great 25 page Donald Duck Christmas story by the one and only Carl Barks. Other popular Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Cinderella and Bambi also make appearances in Christmas Parade #1.

Even at 25 cents the book was an instant success and it led to a solid 10 plus year run of not always related comics that are now collectively known as the Dell Giants. This then makes Christmas Parade #1 the very first Dell Giant! These Dell Giants are very, very collectible comic books, especially in higher grades.

The Dell Giant series produced some other memorable comics namely Vacation Parade #1 from 1950 and the colossal 212 page Peter Pan Treasure Chest from 1953. Christmas Parade #1 is the third most expensive Dell Giant behind the two just mentioned.

Because of the heavier and thus less forgiving paper stock needed for the covers of Dell Giants high grade copies are far and few between.

The 40th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide shows $504/$877/$1250 as the splits at the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grades.

Strengths that make this comic book a good long-term investment are:

  • 1st of a successful format
  • 25 pages of Donald Duck by the master Carl Barks
  • High grade copies are extremely rare

The most collected of the Christmas themed comic books

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. Charlie
    December 21, 2010

    I re-purchased one of my childhood books recently, Power Man Iron Fist #50, graded 9.2 and was surprised how cheap it guides for. In fact, ungraded books can be found in dollar bins around the city. I would have thought that this particular issue would be key… at least within the series considering the similarities with Green Lantern #76…

    • First time Power Man shares the title with Iron Fist (technically the 1st issue of a new title)
    • Not their first meeting but second or third (I think?)
    • John Byrne art (not Neal Adams but still a legend in his own right…)
    • One of the most iconic covers of it’s era
    • Black and white heroes united is a nod to racial equality (although the market may not respond in kind)

    I also like the concept of heroes using their powers to make a living. Unlike the FF or Iron Man who are already affluent… I guess it comes part and parcel with being a brilliant scientist.

    What do you think… another undervalued contender?

    ^_^

  2. December 22, 2010

    You make great points Charlie. The whole 48-50 trilogy is undervalued and under appreciated. I do have faith though, these late 70s books will dry up one day and this little run has the credentials to merit stronger demand.

  3. Charlie
    December 22, 2010

    Hey Walter, I’m one of those people who stopped collecting during the 90s and I started up again about 2 years ago. I buy frequently off eBay now and other auctions sites, and I’ve come to love and hate CGC books, especially the premium they command. Have read:

    http://darksatanicmill.com/?p=299

    Since I started collecting again, I’ve seen the value of books (especially bronze and modern) slashed by half. I’ve seen Hulk#181s sell for $25k previously but today can be had for under $13k. I understand that the US economy is in the dumps… but from someone who’s stuck with it all these years (so I assume you have the big picture), what’s your take on all this?

    Consider as well that collectors are getting older and will soon be ready to dump their books with no one behind us to pick up the surplus. Paper and printing gets more expensive each year and the trend is toward less readership. With all these factors riding against it… what kind of future does this hobby have? How are the folks who depend on this market preparing for the inevitable?

    I know, it’s deep and depressing thought but I’m hoping an expert like yourself will have some insight that I haven’t considered.

    ^_^

  4. December 23, 2010

    Hey Charlie, I address some of the issues that concern your Hulk #181 example in this report I posted last year: http://www.comicbookdaily.com/daily_news/market-trends-september-2009/
    and while you are at it please read: http://www.comicbookdaily.com/uncategorized/market-trends-2009-in-review-and-looking-ahead-to-2010/ (I called the $1,000,000 comic in this post).
    Just remember that when that Hulk #181 sold for over 25K there were only 2 9.8s on the census and no 9.9s. Now there are 38 Universal 9.8s and 1 9.9. If anything, the demand for this book has increaded, it’s just that there is now a 20 fold increase in supply.
    My take is that important expensive comic books will continue to be important and even more expensive since these books will continue to attract money from outside the collecting community. The run comics persued only by collectors will see a continued slow erosion in value (books like say Avengers #44 or Action #303) as the bell curve of collectors moves through the thickest part and starts thinning out.
    Invest in books with strong durable characters, issues with a hook of some sort and the highest grade you can afford. Now couple all of the above with correctly guaging the true long term scarcity of grade based on today’s census figures.

  5. Charlie
    December 24, 2010

    Walter, thanks for the links and good call on the $1M sales call. It was quite the news when it hit.

    Most people I talk to also reference the census as well but there are a few problems with this theory; When I saw the Hulk#181 9.8s sell in the $25K range, there were still plenty recorded on the census. In fact, ComicLink had 3-4 listed on their site, as did Heritage, ComicConnet at the same time. The 9.9 was certified about 10 years ago but I’m talking about a 2 year time frame. And if you look at GPA history, the curve seems to have peaked about 2-4 years ago. Probably fueled in part by CGC hype and we all know what happens once the hype dies down. Speaking of Hulk#181, the famous 9.9 is finally up for sale:

    http://www.comiclink.com/itemdetail.asp?back=/search_adv.asp%3Fall%3Dy%26TITLE%3D%26TITLEOPT%3DALL%26ISSUE%3D%26Condition%3D%26ConditionTo%3D%26CensusRank%3D%26Pedigree%3D%26PRICEF%3D500%26PRICET%3D%26DESCRIPTION%3D%26DESCRIPTIONOPT%3DALL%26SearchRemarks%3D%26SearchCGC%3D%26EXCLUDE%3D%26CATEGORIES%3D-1%26WCATEGORIES%3D-1%26SORT%3DNEW%26_where_forsale%3Dy%26_where_auctions%3Dy%26x%3D17%26y%3D10%26where_forsale%3Dy&id=873511

    Any collectible is only worth what buyers are willing to pay so in addition to the census and the economy, I suspect there are less and less buyers… and this will become more evident over the next decade as boomers retire and eventually die off.

    Part of the fun is to try and grab books under value so when GPA records sales of X#94 for $3K… the next guy will try to get it under $3K. The only reason CGC exists is due to online trading… ie, flipping books, …this make sense in order to max margins. So if this is the case, then the census and GPA work against the investment mentality. In fact, I would argue GPA erodes value since I (and other like myself) would never pay at the high end of the GPA scale. Evidence of this can be seen in books like Conan#1 and DD#168 which used to sell for $8K and $3k in 9.8s respectively. Today, they can be picked up at 1/5 of their former value, and even at their current value, I would not touch these books because, as you noted about growing census, the downward trend continues.

    Books like Action 1 and Detective 27 have historical and cultural significance but how many characters or books can make the same claim. Which is why important books are defined mainly by “first appearances” and rarely the quality of the content. While the census and GPA are interesting references, they are far from being accurate. And at a time when every other market is in decline, I have no idea how Overstreet can list a 60% jump for a book like Hulk#1. What metrics do they use… And considering most advisers are also retailers, isn’t this a little self serving? Sort of like how real estate agents try and pump up the housing market in order to keep the party going.

    Essentially I collect for fun, but as a business study, I find the new economy fascinating. That is, the internet seems to have given comics a boost the the 90’s crash and spawned tons of businesses like CGC and Heritage, but considering global trends, I find it amazing that many retailers wax positive despite the pending freight train headed their way. Perhaps they are thinking they will retire before the train hits.

    As a fan boy, I want this medium to survive and I think it will in some altered form… but I’m not so sure about the secondary market. I guess I’m hoping to be convinced otherwise but the boys at ComicLink don’t seem to have any insight beyond what you’ve mentioned either.

    In any case, thanks for the dialogue. I’m looking forward to reading about the next under valued book. Have a look at Power Man Iron Fist #50… definitely a contender ^_^

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