How Low Can You Go?

My pal Chris sent me a text showing this auction item from ComicConnect, all he sent me was a link to the auction and the letters – WTF?

The auction closes in about two weeks, I’ll give the link here. Here is the ComicConnect description;

“Own pieces of history! Pieces of Action Comics #1 that flaked off as the consignor expertly separated an incomplete, brittle copy won in our auction and then CGC’d the pages; these are the first pages certified by CGC – includes a staple! 1st Superman by Siegel and Shuster The most important comic book in history, Action #1 stands as the introduction of the archetype of all other heroes to come as Superman transcends comics and pop culture as an icon of truth, justice, and the American way! bag measures 2″x3″

I’ve actually known for a while that the best investment in comics I could have made these past ten to fifteen years was buying ultra low grade key issues. I’ll list a few examples that actually had relevant data we can use and compare to;

  • Superman #1 from 1939, a CGC 0.5 Blue Label sold for $7,700 in 2004 then again for $23,900 in 2015.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 from 1962, a CGC 0.5 Blue Label sold for $1,130 in 2013 while the last sale in 2020 went for $8,625.
  • Incredible Hulk #181 from 1974, a CGC 1.0 Blue Label sold for $148 in 2003 while the last sale in 2019 got $980.

These were some of the best rates of return across all grades.

It seems that we are settling for less and less as the years go on and as books get more expensive and availability dries up. I remember balking at a guy trying to sell me a Hulk #181 with the Shanna Marvel Coupon clipped out, years ago I also didn’t buy a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 because it had an ad page cut out that did not affect the story, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sell it. I was a lot younger back then and I think most of the guys buying off me were my age or older so they most likely shared the same or had even tougher tolerances on what they would accept.

Back when I was collecting more actively I had a low-end threshold I tried not to go below, no tape, no brittle pages, no chipping, no resto, must be complete, etc, etc. My motto was that I wanted to be able to look at the book without wanting to throw up. But that was when I could still afford to make a play at a CGC 8.0 Hulk #181 or even a CGC 2.5 Amazing Spider-Man #1. As the prices for the key issues started climbing I found myself priced out of the grades I preferred, it was time to lower my standards or abstain.

How low would you go to have a copy of some book you really wanted? No ad page? No cover? Just the cover? Shards that fell of the book while somebody sent the single pages down for grading?

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1714


  1. this is pretty pathetic… more a sign that the comic market is completely out of wack and people need to be real careful what they buy and what they pay for a book. or in the case, scraps of a book. i saw this too and shook my head. new low for Zurzolo imo. next month .. a piece of paper that SMELLS like an action comics 1… just the smell. no relation to action 1 though. ..

  2. Unbelievable!!! Just how desperate can people get? This is a sad reflection on our hobby if people can seriously unload their junk online like this. You don’t suppose this was intended as a joke, do you? Let’s hope so!.

  3. Shards? Who certified these are the real thing? No matte, that is ideed a shock. A sucker born every minute.

    I happily will buy coverless rare early Golden Age. Superworld has a coverless Zip #27 I may never own, I am considering. Pre-Batman Detectives, Centaurs, Comic Magazine Company, most pre-hero DC’s like Adventure, More Fun… its a place holder, and I really still enjoy looking thru the book. A good cover repro is a big bonus.

    Many of the Wenker DC collection were like this, Adventure, More Fun and Detectives…I bought quite a few from Jaime Graham (at 50% off one Sunday at Comic-Con) and from filled in runs from Terry O’Neill, when the collection first came up.

    I have a bunch of early Spideys with ad pages out, I think they cost me $2 ea, in the ‘teens and #20s. After I sold my Marvel collection in the seventies, these sufficed.

    Even cfo copies of decent Gold…a coverless copy will come along sooner or later. Or hey, you still have what, nearly 90% of the book. Often the cfo pages are minor back up strips. And if its a decent copy otherwise, it looks good from the outside.

    But I also draw the line at brittle, for sure, or coverless with outer leaves missing, even just one, that’s too much gone.

    I just this Fall bought a Coverless Detective #38, first Robin. It guides for $9700 in good. This cm copy is in VG, and the cover was redone from the splash, so looking at it, it even looks like the front cover. My very good friend, who may be reading this, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, after I had dismissed being able to afford it, even coverless. Maybe someday I can get a cover recreation from Tracy Heft…

    I always meant to do that for my Captain America #1, but alas. I paid $400 for that, 20-25 years ago. A couple years ago, Heritage sent me $9000 for it—it auctioned for $10,800. Guide was $25,000 in GD at the time. I enjoyed owning it! And what a great investment, the best. I miss it, but I bought a lot of other great books with the money.

  4. Mel, I hope its a joke too. Where are some printed images to prove what itbis?

    Back in 1971, Vince Davis did a spoof on fan fanaticism. It alluded to the infamous Frazetta drinking cup, a paper cup that Frank allegedly used at an early convention appearance. Here’s one page I founf online, though not the one directly related. I will have to scan my copy and post it for you guys, it was a great little 3 pager that came from Vinces’ (Myron Moose) observations at San Diego Comic-Con.

  5. This reminds me of the back cover of an Amazing Fantasy 15 someone had CGCed a couple years back and wanted $10000 for it… no image of Spidey and it could have been from any comic! How did CGC determine it was from said comic? I dunno. I have settled for a Hulk 3 with a third of the back cover gone… still presents nicely, and I have an Airfighters and a late golden age Subby with centerfolds missing but they were cheap!
    On that note I just completed my Christmas display with a Batman 45 with centerfold detached but present and am happy with it! The other Christmas comics in the 6 issue display include Dell 4 color 205 Santa Claus Funnies by Walt Kelly, Famous Funnies 137, WDCS 99, Big Shot Comics 8, and Archies Christmas Stocking 20!

  6. I thought they were Dead Sea Scroll fragments when I first saw them!

    Still a good score on the Cap Bud, and I got Trace to build back that Marvel Mystery Annual that I did pretty good on.

    The response here is definitely one sided, but there is obviously a trend towards less and less for more and more.

    N – the smell ! They can bottle it and sell it as a cologne, perfect to spray on before heading into a con.

  7. This is sort of related… some 40 ~cough~ plus years ago there was a really nice copy of Adventure Comics 43 that sat and sat in a shop I used to frequent. U think it had a $95 dollar price on it. One day I was in the shop and there were a bunch of older collectors hobnobbing with the owner and a couple mentioned the Adventure. The owner looked st me and said “ I’ll sell it to you for $70”. The older collectors all chuckled when I laid my money down. They didn’t want it because it didn’t have a superhero cover! I am the one chuckling now!

  8. About thirty years ago I was in a comic store that was selling a brittle copy of All Star #3 for $100. I was seriously tempted, but that was a lot of money for a comic that was literally falling apart at the touch. Nonetheless, I have often regretted not getting it. The one that got away.

  9. Harder to judge on eBay but for me no “shreddies”, “brownies” or “poop catchers”. My local had a box of shreddies he was trying to ding a buck for. I laughed, it’s gone now. I don’t mind some reader wear on older items since that’s my plan – to read – and in a way kind of adds to the ambience of the nostalgia though I don’t pay through my budget cap for them.

    I can make those bags of scraps! We can make a mint, anybody got some old scraps? Never mind, I can get some low grade somethings and bleach/fade them more in the sun, maybe a bit of water damage. Oh, scraps with parts of panels on them, bits of super faces. A mint, I tell ya, a mint!

    One of the oddities that ran across me was a supposed “fusion” of two different vintage issues (Bats or Supes + something, I forget what) that had been “mis-stapled” together during bindery into a “unique comic”. $1Million opening bid. uh-huh. (I could make these too, hmmm…) How much are staples worth, I’m sure I’ve got a box of Action #1 staples around here somewhere?

    Thanks for the thoughts on the coverless, not something I’d considered. Cheers!

  10. Many years ago, a fellow I knew, worked at the local distributor and would cut the Marvel Value Stamps out of all the cover-stripped returns before they went for recycling. He had hundreds, if not thousands, of these stamps, including what must have been hundreds of the Shanna stamp, from Hulk 181.

    He passed away abiut 25 years ago (before eBay) and his wife threw all of his stamps, etc away. This topic has made think what those Shanna stamps would sell for today. They were all mint, and buyers of stamp-removed issues would probably bid high to complete their books.

  11. Klaus, great story! Those damned wives, after all that work, too often things get tossed. Even if the project or the collection goes cheap or is given away, there’s always someone out there who will appreciate it. I ended up with Edgar Church’s clip files, which include a low point, a few small boxes of pulp illustrations clipped. Very few full pages, just small vignettes… the entire clip file was about half a pallet, and I still haven’t sorted everything out, but most of it is magazine covers and illustrations, wonderful stuff some of it, filed by artist or, more often, subject, from the 19-teens to the forties.

    Church also tore the covers of about 4000 pulps, after buying them used. Chuck Rozanski also sold me thrse, nearly the entire lot, when his plan to matte and sell them fell through. I kept them for several decades and then moved them on for a good sum.

    But those pulp clippings, augh, my significant other, who is also a book dealer, and knows this stuff, even she is tired of seeing these taking up space downstairs! It’s not that I want them, but hey, it’s Mile High pulp pieces! Maybe in baggies with a certificate of authenticity, like our friend here? In my spare time, hahaha.

  12. Bud, please, please bag them all and certify them. I would love to see if this is some sort of deranged trend or if it’s actually going to catch on.

  13. Klaus! What a great story, thanks for sharing. I think we mostly have wives and moms to thank for half that old stuff having any value at all, they were the Supply Terminators!

    I’m with Chris O. Get those Mile High Pulp Pieces to market Bud.

  14. Oh boy, Chris, I can be contributing to a “deranged trend.” At least I would not have started it. Thanks for the ecouragement, or is this enabling, my friends? I will add it to my (endless) back burner projects.

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