Overvalued Overstreet | Conan #3

I guess I’ll stick with picking books from some of my favorite runs of comics and tackle Barry Windsor-Smith’s terrific run in Conan #1-24, focusing on one culprit in particular the “low distribution” issue #3.

In the late seventies and early eighties Conan was a very hot title and the first twenty-four issues of the series were immensely popular, and rightfully so, they were and still are some of finest comics ever produced.

Conan The Barbarian 3Our Overvalued pick Conan #3 carried a significant premium price and still does for having a “low distribution in some areas” notation attached to it in the Overstreet Price guide. For an elusive book every store I visited seemed to have one, and at a premium price. At the time I just considered myself lucky to find one, paid the premium price and happily added the treasure to my collection.

Fast forward to today. Conan the Barbarian comics have fallen on hard times. I can’t account for the deep drop in interest in these books. Perhaps they were overheated price wise for too long. The character Conan may have lost some of his appeal when Arnold Schwarzenegger got too old to play the part in movies. Outside of issues #1 and #23-24 (first Red Sonja issues) which hold their own, the rest of the issues in Conan #1-24 don’t get near guide. As a matter of fact, I have personally purchased a few over the past couple of years at about 60% of guide. I have witnessed many books going for less than 50% at auction and on eBay. I am talking books in the 9.0-9.4 grade range.

Conan #3 has been hit hard as well, however the price of the book is still the 2nd highest of the entire run and even if it doesn’t get near guide, costs much more than other books in the run. Why? What does “low distribution in some areas” even mean in a post internet world. Surely Overstreet doesn’t believe there is still a shortage of books out there when anyone with access to a computer and credit card can purchase books from practically anywhere in North America.

I searched for an answer to my “low distribution” question and actually found one. It is from a column written by Chuck Rozanski called “Fooling Bob Overstreet”.

Chuck Rozanski, for those of you don’t know, is the owner of Mile High Comics in Denver Colorado. He is also the man who has lived every comic dealer and comic collector’s dream by discovering the most famous and influential comic collection on the planet – The Edgar Church collection. Chuck writes a column called Tales from the Database, and I have read a few posts from it in the past and really enjoyed them. If you love comic’s it’s usually a worthwhile read even if you don’t agree or like what he has written…

I had not read Chuck’s “Fooling Bob Overstreet” column until recently and may have discovered at least a partial answer to my “low distribution” question. Here is an excerpt from the post that is most relevant to our Conan #3 spotlight pick. I do encourage you to check out the whole post though to put this into its proper context.

I want to tell you a short story about Conan #3. For the past 25 years, that issue has been listed in the OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE as having low print run in some areas. Ummm, I don’t think that really true. Back in the early 1970’s, CONAN was our best-selling title. A peculiarity about those early days, however was that the CONAN paperback books were all still in print, and fans really cared about which issue adapted which R.E.H. story. Issue #3 contains the adaptation of Grim Gray God, which was especially popular. As a result, we were constantly sold out of issue #3, while issue #1 tended to stick around longer because of the higher price. To rectify the problem, all of the Denver area dealers started marking #3 as “scarce” and pricing it above #1. To our amazement this “fact” ended up in Bob Overstreet’s price guide soon thereafter. To this day, I can’t help but smile whenever I see that notation in the guide.

Yikes! A need a moment pause for Overstreet content and how it get’s there.

Overstreet does have an opportunity to “fix” current Conan pricing with a 30-40% haircut to most of the books in the #2-22 run and a bigger one to issue #3. I can wish can’t I?

45th Overstreet valuations for Conan #3 are as follows 6.0 $36 / 8.0 $84 / 9.0 $185 / 9.2 $285.


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Mike Huddleston
Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.
Articles: 101

12 Comments

  1. Hi Mike, I wouldn’t hang my hat on what Chuck said. It’s anecdotal, it occurred in one part of the country. According to GPA Analysis there are a combined 20 graded #3 comics in the 9.6-9.8 range over the last 6 years. Like Incredible Hulk #181 OR Amazing Spider-Man #129, mid-range copies are abundant.

  2. Hi Ed,

    Yes I agree that it is just one area of a very large country and an opinion piece on Chuck’s part. As you point out though, mid-range copies of Conan #3 are abundant – how does the low distribution of books account for that? If they were truly a scarcer book they should in theory, be harder to find in all grades.

    Overstreet as a book really doesn’t take into account books in grades higher than 9.2 in a real serious way. They offer little price guidance (outside of the multiple for 9.2) for super high grade copies. I don’t think high grade buyers take much heed in that. .GPA analysis and results realized at auction do give a clearer indication of price for the 9.6 -9.8 crowd. Remember Chuck thinks these guys are an “odd lot” LOL!!

    My main beef is with the prices listed in the guide, which I think are seriously out of touch with reality and should be corrected..

  3. I think the same could be said about Silver Surfer #4. These low distribution books seem to always be around. I think part of the problem may be one of demand. If no one wants a particular book, the low distribution aspect may be a moot point.

    Love BWS. Next to Byrne’s X-Men and Miller’s DD, his Conan run is the stuff of comic book legend. It’s unfortunate there are less and less people who can appreciate this but I guess that’s just the result of time passing. We need more run collectors.

    Very interesting Mike!

  4. Charlie, really? Miller’s Daredevil? For me the Bendis/Maleev and Brubaker/Lark run blows him out of the water, no offense whatsoever to David Mazzucchelli.

    But! Back to the point, These “low-distribution” issues seem to be a new twist on “rare” or “scarce” (two other purely subjective terms I hate). And I certainly think Overstreet has to seriously review any number of prices in the guide. I’m getting to the point where I can’t take it nearly as seriously as I used to, but then, it is “only a guide” as we have been told on many occasions, either buying or selling. Local demand used to be an issue, as was supply, at Lou’s Variety back in the 60s. Things have changed.

    Great conversation piece Mike, just as I’ve grown accustomed to from the world’s greatest comic book fan.

  5. Good point Charlie on the Silver Surfer #4. My love for that book made me forget the “low distribution” notation in Overstreet on that book as well. I think you are correct on the demand side of it as well. You don’t see any dogs with the notation.

    I have owned that Conan #1-24 run a couple of times in my life. Trading the whole run each time for a “bigger” book. I was happy with both trades, but find myself pining for the Conan.books later, picking them up again one piece at a time.

    This is a run collectors dream right now. Small quantity (24 issues), fabulous quality, and suppressed prices and demand. Your right – we need more run collectors.

  6. Hey Mel,
    I think Overstreet really needs to make some changes to the price’s in it’s guide. As an annual it won’t catch and shouldn’t be expected to catch, price changes for books affected by new movie announcements or movie speculation. I am talking about long downward trends on books like these Conan’s and others we will touch on here,, that reflect the actual market as it is, now how it was. A “guide is just a guide” as I too have often heard just doesn’t cut it anymore. If Overstreet wants to remain a vital part of this industry and retain some sense of credibility it had better start reflecting the downside of the market as well as the upside. If they don’t they can expect the “value” and interest in their own book to decrease too. I think that was a rant. Rant over. I’ll just blame this on Mel!

  7. I considers Byrne’s X-Men and Miller’s DD to be the apex of comics but I recognize that Bendis and Brubaker are popular among the generation that followed. I’ve read Powers, Jinx and Criminal… and enjoyed it enough collect the whole series. But being post Watchmen/Tarantino, much of their writing feels too familiar. I’ve always felt that Criminal is essentially Sin City done right and Fatal is one the few books that I continue to buy (although I haven’t had a chance to read any of it yet).

    Miller is also guilty of borrowing of course. Much of his panel sequences are taken directly from television and often resembles storyboards. This is basically what hooked me on to his Daredevil run.

    But like BWS, all these great “…moments will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain.” (Blade Runner) ^_^

  8. Hey Mel

    Stadium Variety for me, in the shadow of Ivor Wynne on Barton Street, Hamilton. That’s where I picked up my stash. Sadly it closed way back in the early 90s as did most shops on that stretch of Barton 🙁

  9. Hey Charlie
    Thanks for grouping me with the “generation that followed.” Actually, an old fart like me should more likely be put in the generation before Miller, or Byrne for that matter, so I’ll take that as a compliment. : ) I’m one of those rare old birds that still reads comics even into his 60s.

  10. It would be interesting to see what the print runs of both of these “low distribution” books actually were compared to the issues before and after. I do remember Conan# 3 particularily hard to find in my area..

  11. Thanks for putting this up here Charlie. A real “run ‘ collection. Honest guy – notes the dreaded water stain. The price seems pretty fair, but I would seek out higher graded copies myself at this point Slabbed 9.0-9.4 copies seem to be all over the place. Some pretty nice wall and bin books out there as well. Being picky and picking them up a book or two at time is fun too. The 9.4 #13 displays the kind of CGC grading that drives me nuts, with the mis-wrapped cover. A subject for another day.

    I think you and Dennis might be right about that age thing. I have a two-post long look back to yesterday coming up in June. Or maybe it’s just this depressing weather.

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