Creating Niche Markets?

This will be the last of a three week push into market analysis, we’ll change speed next week, we’ll come back to the tough stuff but only after we visit some lighter, more fun topics in the coming weeks.

There are a lot of niche markets within the back issue comic book market and many of these have sprung up relatively recently which leads me to assume more and more will spring up in the future. I’m saying that you and I will want stuff three years from now that we don’t know we want today.

How do we get ahead of these niche markets or an even better question could be how do we help create these future niche markets?

I’ve tried on many occasions to help establish niche markets, two years ago I talked about the coming CGC 9.9 market, the jury is still out but it is by no means a developed market as of this post. I was very high on the 1965 Dell Lobo comic very early and that book has panned out. I know I can’t call the Lobo a niche market but it did demonstrate someone raising awareness and then the market deciding that the book had merit.

While my Lobo may have been a one-off the boys over at the Canadian Price Variant price guide have been promoting just how unique and relatively scarce the Canadian Price Variants of the 1980s are and that market has developed quite nicely over the past couple of years, again thanks to someone bringing awareness and then more importantly the market deciding through higher demand that this new niche is a valid thing. You’ll note that I’m on the Canadian Price Variant website, I’m late to the partly as they asked me to join recently after all their heavy lifting was already done, good work boys.

My attempt to raise awareness to the three DC Romance covers that depict a mom and a daughter fighting over the same guy fell on deaf ears. I raised awareness and the response was crickets though my pal Chris O. really wants copies.

For this post I thought I’d try to start a new niche market, I’m sure there are collectors out there already on this but they are keeping hush hush. The market is driven by the relationship between supply and demand. Lets take a strong demand item like a Stan Lee signature then lets figure out a way to restrict the supply all the way down to the lowest possible point – one copy.

Stan Lee’s signature is the most numerous signature out there, I just randomly looked up Amazing Spider-Man #50 and saw 401 Signature Series copies and I’m assuming most of these are Stan Lee signatures. I’m sure there are individual comic issues with over 1000 copies with Stan Lee signatures.

Does a market exist that differentiates the actual population of a Stan Lee signature? What would a Stan Lee Signature Series copy of Amazing Spider-Man #160 get? Amazing Spider-Man #160 has that cool Spidey Dune Buggy cover and there are only 4 Signature Series copies. The CGC 8.0 copy is a Len Wein signature copy which now leaves us with 3 potential Stan Lee copies. The CGC 7.5 is a Stan Lee copy and it sold for $85 in 2016. There is an 8.5 and a 5.5 Signature Series of Spidey #160 so what if the CGC 8.5 copy is another Len Wein signature or a Gil Kane or John Romita signature. What if the CGC 7.5 Stan Lee Signature Series copy Amazing Spider-Man #160 was the only Stan Lee signature on that issue? Or what if it was the highest graded copy out there assuming the CGC 5.5 had a Stan Lee signature? What should that comic be worth if his signature scarcity for that particular book was important to the market?

There is definitely a market for Stan Lee signatures, could a niche market develop within that market where signature scarcity of particular issues drives value? I guess we’ll see.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1690


  1. Speaking of niche markets, what say you guys about the canadian whites field? I haven’t heard anything lately, though a couple books showed up with Heritage.

    My sales of Ivan’s reference books have been soft at best, I still find U.S. collectors, at least the guys in my catalog audience, are just not interested.

    The full color Anglo-American titles, like Grand Slam Three Aces, still occasionally show up dirt cheap. I have paid a premium to upgrade some of these, but then I list my old copies on MyComicShop to utter silence. I think I have sold just one there. My others have been on their site for many, many months as I slowly keep lowering my prices, which started out in line with Ivan’s WECA priceguide. MyComicShop lists all their stock on Ebay, too, so these are put there…

    Talk about niche, I have yet to learn that signed “run of the mill” comics command more than a token value, if any. For instance, a DC war title signed by Heath, a Black Magic signed by Kirby, even a pre-code title signed by Frazetta…most unauthenticated, of course. Do you guys see any significant premium?

    Its ironic, these are so much scarcer, by order of magnitude, than Stan Lee autographs. But personally, I have never been that enthralled with them unless its a signature I personally got. It kinda defaces the comic, even of on the splash page but particularly if its on the cover.

    I feel totally different about a signed or inscribed copy of a real book…then you have a blank page or a half-title or even title-psge with room. And the market has always placed a value, in the book world, on these.

    I found a Otto Binder in a book I bought, dated and inscribed. I thought it was charming, on an inside front cover, since I bet he signed very few books. A Kirby is kinda cool, but my buddy tacked on a mere $10 premium for it, and I wouldn’t honestly pay much more…

  2. Walt: That Spidey 160 cover is amusing – he says he has lost all his power yet he still carves fingertip lines down the side of the builldng.

    Bud: I have found that Americans want American editions, Canadians like Whites, when they can find them, Brits love their UK comics etc. A few fans here and there will know of, and seek out, other countries’ offerings, but I think they are in the minority. Myself, I’d love to own Whites but I just can’t afford them.

    As for autographed comics, I heard of scammers forging signatures on the comics and on the so-called certificate of authenticity too, so I steer clear of buying anything signed.

  3. Some niche markets develop but don’t end up with much of a shelf life, I’m certain the Canadian Whites don’t fall into that category. I know a small group of Whites fans including Ivan and myself plan a bunch of things for 2021 to celebrate the 80th anniversary.

    When I was a kid Klaus all I caught was the cool dune buggy, maybe its a stucco building…?

    I like the idea of signatures, I have a Kirby autograph from 1975 from a Florida con, there was Wrightson autograph in there too, on the last page, a blank page the owner used to walk around and get autographs, I forget some of the other names on it.

  4. I always thought I was partly a niche collector because I collected M.E. Westerns and AirBoy comics. I thought romance was a niche but I can see by the prices these days its not anymore! Even the Archie’s are getting up there!
    As for signatures… possibly on the bottom of the first story page but on the cover… no way! As I mentioned last year…I watched Joe Sinnott cover sign an FF 52 and cringed as much as I loved his embellishments!

  5. Oh, yeah, Gerald, that makes me wince. I met Sinnott a couple years ago at a show in Massachusetts, what a nice guy but I can imagine your angst. Yeah, keep those signatures off the cover.

    Glad to hear more Whites promotional stuff is coming. I want Ivan to do his Photo-Journal version on the Whites! And include true Canadian variants , at least pre-code. Some fun stuff there.

    Klaus, I think you nailed it. There is just never has been much cross-over of fans in books from other countries. As much as I have wishful thinking each time a new reference book or archive comes along.

    Those U.K. Reprints of Atlas and pre-hero Marvels are fun, and still very cheap, I am just discovering there’s a lot out there. And Stanley Pitt did some astonishing good stuff in Australia, but the problem is its like Canadian Whites…you just never, ever see it. I found 3-4 books last year at SoCal Comics in San Diego (well, SD IS the closest point in the U.S. to down under). i was THRILLED. A Stanley Pitt-drawn Silver Starr, my first-ever in 50 years, and a couple of his Yarmaks, the Aussie Tarzan.

    There was a good, no, a superlativly GREAT book published on Australian comics history published in 2018, via Kickstarter: From Sunbeams to Sunset: The Rise and Fall of Australian Comics, 1924-1965. Packed with covers, art, info, artist bios…It came and went immediately through Diamond, they never filled two reorders we made, and try as we might, we could not make a workable deal bringing more in from Australia…I think it had gone out of print (also, shipping cost is really monstrous from there to here).

    The point being it was a wonderful book, filled with comics and covers and art totally new to me. These years in Australia were a lot like the Whites era, beginning with primitive art but then developing, since they had 20 more years to groom artists and characters. Amazing stuff, but again, not much interest here in the U.S. I managed to get 25 copies to my customers, and got a very cool signed deluxe for myself.

  6. I see a lot of late golden age DC on eBay from Australia. So are remastered covers from Action or Worlds Finest, but some are new to me and must be originals. A few even have different colored costumes! I thought about getting a couple… but as you said the shipping is pretty steep… makes getting books from Hamilton seem cheap!

  7. Gerald, I guess I don’t see the entire picture because I have never embraced eBay. So many horror stories, and as it is, I probably (ha, I DO) spend too much on comics…so I don’t need another source. But that does leave me missing out on stiff Heritage or my favorite dealers may not mess with…

    I have a buddy who’s not very good at seeing restoration, and he’s often gotten books on eBay that don’t state that.

  8. Walt: I just visited the CPV site and am completely knocked over by the amount of CPV there is. Somehow, I thought they were rare. There are a slew of them.

  9. Hey Klaus, yes there are but the print run was much less than the US versions.

    Those Australian comics sound interesting, worth exploring more I’m sure. Is there a web site?

  10. One last ‘niche’ comic I have just become interested us one I got from looking at Archie! Its a short run comic from the noir era called Sam Hill. Why this comic interests me is it has a lot more influence from radio then it does from the other crime comics from the late 40’s and early 50’s. The cavalier main character is written in the vain of Richard Diamond, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and many other popular radio shows.

  11. Gerald, I like Sam Hill as an offbeat pre-code comic. The way the character is drawn makes me think he might be inspired by the long-running T-Man from Quality, i.e. the beefy, lantern-jawed hero. The cop strip hero in post-Plastic Man Police Comics, when it became a crime title with #103, have that same big guy look to the heroes. Fred MacMurray/Robert Mitchum look.

    Looks like Sam Hill #1 is all drawn by Harry Lucey and Harry Sahle…talk about Archie veterans. We mentioned Lucey above for his work on another Close-Up title, Darling Love. Lucey was far more primitive in the early 1940s days with the MLJ heroes, but tightened up his work to become much more polished by 1950-51.

    I discovered Sam Hill not long ago too, and found it easy to put together all seven issues. You high-grade guys might approve, I scored a vf/nm copy of #5, raw, but I know it couldn’t have cost me more than $75 or so. These are cheap books, 1950|51.

    Walter, here’s a quick snapshot of Australian VERSIONS of US comics at mycomicshop:

    Here’s another more wide-ranging blog…reminds me of Ivan’s WECA but less detailed and not as well-illustrated, but informative:

    My buddy Dick Swan told me of a good site, but I have lost it. Just checking back with him to get it for you.

    Meanwhile, google “austalian comic books golden age” and hits IMAGES and you get some more interesting work.

    Here is a link to images for “Stanley Pitt comics” that will show you the very best from down under, lovely stuff:

    Here’s THE book on the subject, I’m sorry I can make it easy by having copies in stock…here’s the book and at least one source:

    It was a kickstarter project, so there’ more details still there.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: