This week’s Overvalued spotlight falls on one of the great-granddaddies of Marvel Annuals – Fantastic Four Annual #1. A huge book back in 1963 it was, along with Strange Tales Annual #2, the first super-hero themed annuals produced by Marvel, and a milestone for the company.
Fantastic Four Annual #1, July 1963.
46th Overstreet Prices: 6.0 $210 / 8.0 $555 / 9.0 $1253 / 9.2 $1950.
The Fantastic Four were Marvel’s flagship comic back then. I didn’t start collecting comics until a few years after this book came out, but it was spoken about with great reverence by Fantastic Four fans, and it moved quickly to my want list. It turned out the book wasn’t too hard to find. The problem was the books usually looked like they barely survived a rummage sale. Missing pages (pin-ups) were also a big problem. I owned what would have been a 4.0 type copy for years and moved to a slightly better copy years later, but never owned a nice copy 8.0 or better in my life. I have been making a half-hearted effort to buy a better copy in the last six months or so and have been surprised how low the books have been selling relative to guide.
On a recent ComicLink auction a very nice looking copy of Fantastic Four Annual #1 8.0 went for $408. It guides for $555, so the sale was 73.5% of guide. Yikes! I must have been away fishing that day. A look at the current “for sale” section of ComicLink shows similar demand. Three books 8.5 or better. Two have no sale – no bids, the third has a low-ball bid (why not?) and no sale. A second group of eight lower grade books have four sales at an average price 64.5% of guide, and the remaining four have no sale – no bids. Not much to get your heart racing there.
I know annuals are not as heavily collected as monthly issues in a title. The first six Fantastic Four Annuals are different from most annuals. The stories inside most of them are directly connected to the content in the regular monthly issues. Origins of the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom. The wedding of Sue and Reed Richards, birth of Franklin Richards and much more. All in a double size format, and led by the first annual #1. For more on our featured book today, and the rest of the Fantastic Four original content annual books check out my previous Arcs & Runs article here.
Today the prices realized for Fantastic Four Annual #1 look like a bargain compared to the Overstreet Price guide prices. Are they bargains? Will they ever get back to current guide values – or are they dead money? Are the Fantastic Four fading from the consciousness of the collecting public? Have the bombed movies and cancelled comic book publishing just pushed them to the back burner? Will the Fantastic Four bounce back if they get back to the Marvel fold, or are they down for the count? Place your bets folks 😊. All I can say is right now, and I think for the foreseeable future this book is overvalued in Overstreet.
I think the current lack of Marvel’s flagship title on the newsstands has dampened collector’s enthusiasm for the title as a whole. Mind you, it hasn’t hurt first appearances of the likes of the Inhumans and the Black Panther. Just look at the leaps and bounds in price those books have taken, even after the demise of an ongoing title. It’s actually rather difficult to pin down the problem with that annual, apart from the fact that annuals are notoriously badly bound and very hard to find in nice shape, never mind about mint.
Still a favourite old gem of mine.
Hi Mike —
Overvalued means : “not enough mice chasing too much cheese.” or ….”supply exceeds demand.”
Because the number of copies existing (in theory) is not fluctuating, it has often been assumed that changes in demand of existing collectables solely determines prices. Movies, movies, movies affect purchasing interest increasing overstreet values and driving prices.
But with this particular book, none of that holds up. The real world does not always follow the predictions of theorists! The prices on Fantastic Four Annual # 1 have been very flat over the past 12 years. The average VG CGC graded copy has sold for between $338 and $537 from 2005 until now. And, it fact, it more depends on the cover whiteness, more than any overall upward or downward trend.
At any given auction, a beautiful copy may hit $500 in 8.0 or a faded or yellowed one in 8.0 may fall to $350. But, overall it has been level flat pricing! There is no upward or downward trend on this book. This book never seems to heat up or cool off. Is it made of teflon?
The problem is clearly that people do not collect annuals! The number of CGCed copies is only 564 total and some of them are restored. Supply is rather low. Fantastic Four #1 is 4x as common. But far more collectors want the 1961 regular series issue. Annuals have not stood the test of time.
Demand is lowered due to the lousy cover. The ugly grey-blue cover yellows badly. Submariner sits in a Rodin stature pose on a throne like toilet. Subby wears green boxer shorts and a big yellow dunce-cap crown.
No action is on the cover. The Fantastic Four are trapped in an air bubble. The alternative cover of this issue has more movement.
Jack Kirby drew in these issue 52 pages of the greatest art in the history of mankind where an underwater race attacks Manhatten in conquest. Stan Lee rejected the cover proposed by Jack Kirby. But the published cover is worse! What we have is a static dull cover on the most thrilling book immaginable!
No wonder people want to have a copy to read, and reread, not curate an ugly cover! I will take a 2.0 to pull apart for pin-ups.
No thanks on putting a 8.0 CGC copy under my pillow.
Mel – Good points. I think those Inhuman’s and Black Panther first appearances would have shot up in price no matter what title they were in, however they also took place in much beloved and collected story lines, while the FF were at their peak of popularity – that didn’t hurt either.
Hi Steven more good points.
1. I agree with the long-time flatness of the price of this book. Part of the reason I single out these type of books is Overstreet’s reluctance to acknowledge flat or lowering demand in the their price guide. It simply is not cricket, and hurts it’s own credibility as a price guide.
2. I also agree with you on the unpublished cover being better than the published one. I thought I was the only person on the comic collecting planet to feel that way. I’m not alone anymore :)!
3. It is still a great book. Maybe I’ll stay with my 5.0 cover copy after all……
Need to put FF in the MCU and do a Sub-Mariner project for this book to get any hype in the market. Still one of the best Marvel Silver Age Annuals.
Hey Nathan – Completely agree. Even the #1 on the cover and the year date box (i love those things) can’t get it moving now. No question it’s still a great book town, just a question of how much money you want in the book.
FF have two problems – they are running below the radar at the moment because of those atrocious movies and they are, at least in the sixties run, pretty annoyingly sexist (Invisible Woman should sue). However, the second Marvel get the rights back to make an FF movie, all FF books will be strong again and they have some of the best stories and art of the whole Marvel output. Give us a decent version of Galactus, Silver Surfer, the Thing, then OMG it would be huge!
Grabbed a 4.0 copy on Ebay for under $30 last summer. I absolutely love this book.
I can almost smell a Fantastic Four revival on the wind, and, with Ben Grimm still active in the Marvel Universe, he will obviously be the touchstone (pardon the pun) for their return. It struck me as absurd when Marvel cancelled their flagship title out of spite, to say nothing of the slap in the face to fans, but I seriously think there will be a return at some time to the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.
Looks like we are building some consensus on the Fantastic Four and this book. We all want them back in the fold, and we all like this Fantastic Four #1 Annual.
If someone can see the money in it they will be back. I think it may be a couple of years off. The good news is I often make these guesses wrong on the long side so maybe they return sooner than later. Let’s hope they do it right. Mel – your right about the long-time fans who were completely forgotten in what they would call a business decision.
Tim great pick-up at an excellent price. You can’t go wrong with that buy. Was this the first time you had owned the book? It is a wonderful comic book to own in any grade.
Well, first time I owned an original. I have it in Masterworks and Omnibus form as well. Any time I can grab some SA Marvel books that have covers and staples attached, and are a good price, I’ll usually do so…it’s allowed me to build up a pretty solid collection without crushing my budget…
I assume your 4.0 is not CGCed because grading would have cost more than your book. An ungraded 4.0 can be beautiful if just a small 1/2 inch crease. I like the Canadian version with blank back cover.
My FF Annual #1 was not officially graded, but I have grabbed books that didn’t even sell for the price of the grading, before.
Tim, – sounds like you have a solid plan for buying comics and not going broke at the same time. Added bonus for that FF#1 annual comic is that old silver-age smell :).
Steve – I have three of those “Canadian blank ad page” books in my current collection. Being Canadian I had never thought of them as being different enough to warrant a discount, but I have noticed they really get punished price wise at auction. I have picked up books at a significant discount to a US copy. They aren’t hit as hard as British copies though….
I think the big plus of this book is the sheer size of the story.I believe it was the largest Silver Age story up until that time.I have a real nice 7.0 that I cracked from it’s plastic prison.Nothing better than reading a 50 plus year old book that looks great and has that great acid smell to it.
This is purely supposition.
There is a certain amount of price fixing going on with Overstreet. It doesn’t truly represent the market value of books, and I question their motives in their pricing.
While price jumps in highly sought after books are fairly well represented, they seem reluctant to show flat returns or even depreciation on many books. They generally want to show that nearly all books will have some kind of growth in value whether it’s demonstrated or not.
I agree with all of your comments including your supposition about a certain amount of price fixing going on at Overstreet :).
My biggest beef is an almost complete refusal to show a drop in prices on any books in the guide. At best when a book hits a wall they leave the price the same and hope for a rebound. There credibility takes a huge hit here. How can they dispense investment advice with little to no downside?
Thanks for chiming in Bob.
Personally, I don’t think FF Annual #1 is an over valued book. My reasoning behind this is simple. It either contains the original or re-imaginining of the story of how Spider-Man first meets the FF in Amazing Spider-Man #1 or it is the 4/5 appearance of Spider-Man depending on which way you look at it. For those reasons alone it would keep the value high. It has little to do with the Fantastic Four.
I think as you read the comment section here you can see that most of the folks on here really love the book, including me. It does contain an early appearance of Spider-Man, featuring a more detailed re-telling of the first meeting of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, a plus for the book to be certain. The problem with Fantastic Four Annual #1 today is no one is paying the Overstreet guide prices for the book in almost any grade. It’s a key book from Marvel’s early formation, and it can’t get guide prices and hasn’t for some time now.
If I read you correctly, you think Overstreet has the book properly valued and the marketplace has it wrong. Is it a good time to buy the book at these depressed prices? You might be right – it could be. I don’t think this is the case in the short-term (1-3 years) and maybe longer, and Spider-Man’s early appearance here won’t be enough to move the dial, without a re-bound in popularity of the Fantastic Four.. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Thanks for commenting Adam!