It Went for How Much?

We are in one hot back issue comic market at the moment. A couple of months ago when I was sending my first batch of Star Wars comics from the warehouse collection down to CGC for grading I was trying to find 9.8 candidates as for most of the issues in the Star Wars run prices at CGC 9.6 were not worth the cost of shipping and grading, and sometimes pressing.

Star Wars Inside

That first batch is down as CGC at this moment and like I said above, almost all are down at 9.8 pre-screens. Pre-Screening is a service CGC offers at a cost, so you send say 10 copies of a book and tell them to only grade the 9.8s, they have a look and perhaps grade 7 of them at 9.8, the other 3 did not pass the pre-screen and are sent back to you ungraded, you are charged $5 for the service. The math behind pre-screening is that it is better to pay the $5 not to get it graded than the $20 and extra shipping to get it graded if the CGC 9.6 prices are low in the marketplace.

When I was looking up Star Wars #40s, a couple of months back, CGC 9.6s were getting $75 and I was trying to keep my grading restricted to books that could get over $100. Fast forward a couple of months and I see the last CGC 9.6 Star Wars #40 got $225!! Ditto goes for #84, #6 and a whole slew of others, Star Wars #6 was getting just over $100 a couple of months back at CGC 9.6 and was a judgment call, the last CGC 9.6 sold a few days ago for $309.

It looks like I’ll be re-visiting those Star Wars boxes and doing a CGC 9.6 pre-screen submission to CGC really soon. It’s crazy how hot the market is right now, especially for Star Wars.

We’re now over a month into our Vintage Comics section and it’s been doing well. I’m trying to figure out a more streamlined method to get the books up and available, I thought of using a generic photo for the issue and just recording the differing grades but I know as a buyer I’d want to see the actual book I’m buying. I have to look into auto crop software for the pictures as cropping each picture takes time as does naming them and actually physically taking the photos, maybe a scanner will be quicker. I have to make decisions fast as the Vintage Comics section of the site is working and it will only be hindered by our lack of ability to post stuff. A good problem to have I guess but still a logistical issue to solve if I want to dig deep into those countless warehouse comics.

Auction Highlight

Last night our ICE eBay auctions did great, we set a couple of new highest recorded sales records. We set one of the new records for a solid-looking copy of Journey Into Mystery (JIM) #85 which features the first appearance of Loki, Heimdall, Asgard and Odin, and it’s the third appearance of Thor. JIM #85 is a heavyweight Marvel key from the early, early days of 1962. The CGC census shows that this copy is among the top 660 copies graded by CGC, that’s some pretty good scarcity for a book this key, I think CGC 4.0s will be $2000 soon enough, Advantage Buyer.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

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  1. I have to ask – what is the discernible difference to a regular buyer like me between a 9.6 and 9.8 that would so drastically change the value/price?

  2. To first respond to tim: the discernible difference is that one has “9.6” on the case, and the other has “9.8”. Why stop there – how about 9.8 vs. 9.9, or 10? Same answer. Do not confuse the “objective” quality of the contents of the box with the value of that contents enclosed in the box. It is a “CGC 9.8 graded XXX #YY” people are buying, not a “NM XXX #YY”. Don’t worry that you can’t tell the difference between the contents of a 9.6 and a 9.8 box. Clearly nobody can tell the difference between the contents of a 9.8 and a 9.9 box. That isn’t the point. As Walt said in an earlier podcast, “don’t be that guy.” You can rage against the tide, but you will drown. If you don’t like the way the tide is moving, the best answer is to find another place than the seaside to vacation.

    Put another way, I feel you tim, but I have learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. More or less. I still am more confident buying an ultra-rare Detective from 1954 in 8.0 than a common but “single highest graded” Detective from the mid-sixties.

    Yes the market is absolutely off the rails. Where is the money coming from? I don’t know whether to hope that it is from outside or inside the established collecting community. On the one hand, “hot” money from outside could leave as quickly as it comes in, leaving behind the same kind of damage that it has in past emerging market manias. On the other hand if established collectors are driving the show, this could result in a very brutal episode of musical chairs. I think the best answer would be a recognition by the general population that vintage comics are a fun and key piece of _human_ culture (not “pop culture”, etc.), and as Will Rogers said, they aren’t making any more of them. Personally, while I don’t want to “be that guy”, it just seems like common sense that there must be scads of high quality post-seventies comics floating around, and the runups in these seem like the usual mistaking of few _graded_ copies to be the same as few _high grade_ copies. I am however cautiously optimistic that a good portion of the gains in value for true vintage books will stick, as people get the picture that the number of decent graded copies hasn’t changed much in the past decade.

  3. Tim, what Chris said. And to add, the small difference in grade adds to the “scarcity” of grade, so if you are an investor in comics and you see that an issue has 234 books graded at 9.6 or better but it only has 58 graded at 9.8 or better then there is obvious scarcity of grade at 9.8 so investors and collectors that want the best of the best will pay more.

    Chris, I know what you mean re the current market but I wonder are we (you and me and those like us) now a part of an insular group that feels uncomfortable once our collectible of choice outgrows our relatively smaller circle that seemed to have an inflexible price structure quasi policed by the likes of you and me (through our refusal to pay more)? Those old collecting communities in the 60s railed against books busting past the $100 mark as we now rail against books passing the $10,000 mark?

  4. I clicked on the ebay hotlink in the article above, it took me to a seller who is called:

    international collectible sex change

    I took a quick scroll down the items for sale, all very fine comics, and can confirm that Walter’s giant-sized Man-Thing wasn’t listed in the sale items. I am relieved.

  5. on a more serious topic:

    new money and new behaviors.

    Coming from the world of finance I find it very interesting and causes me introspection over what practices in the new world of collecting ring my internal alarm bells and what doesn’t cause me alarm:

    for example: I am completely OK with the price increases of Giant Sized X-Men or Hulk 181, Amazing Fantasy’s new heights. I look at Byrne/Cockrum X-Men & Miller Daredevils and think they represent amazing value. I can see the first 100 issues of Spider-man doubling, tripling in price. there is an inherent rarity of the comic

    what causes me concerns about a bubble: analyzing ever single piece of gossip and frame in the MCU and buying books solely on the hope a character becoming important, the constant use of ‘key’ (everything seems to be key these days!) and the general move away from collecting runs, arcs, writers, artists to this 1st appearance focus that so many of the young guys have these days. There appears to be whole segments of the market built of froth and gossip.

    Just like all markets, there are good, stable areas with underlying value, however there are also areas of hype and speculation…the trick is to know where you are.

  6. Great to see that you are now selling vintage comics on the website: I can only encourage this – more please!

  7. The whole collectibles exchange thing reminds me of the SNL Celebrity Jeopardy skit where Sean Connery would always misread a title in the most awkward way !!

    Spider, I see what you are saying re the investing, the blue chips will grow slower and steadier with way less downside, the speculation stuff will shoot up quickly but can just as easily fall quickly, the whole thing mirrors the actual stock market in a sense of the risk/reward relationship.

  8. I have less than zero interest in paying the premium for 9.8s, or even 9.6s. The defects that make the difference at those grades are never defects that I care about, especially for modern books.

  9. My last 24 hours on the net: watched a You-tube video where the spruiker claims that Secret Wars #8 is the first time people ever saw Spider-man in the black suit (it had been many months since ASM#252, SS#90 and Team-Up #141) then popped over to watch a Instagram auction where the spruiker said the mid-late 70’s book he held was a ‘newsstand edition’ and therefore the much better version (he didn’t elaborate as to what, I took it he meant the direct market which was at least a year or two away).

    There is a reason why I found Walter’s site and felt at home; highly educational and thought provoking without the hype

    I miss Under-valued articles Walter!!! Best comic articles I’ve ever read!!!

    Oops: I used Australiana in my comments:

    SPRUIKER (noun) definition and synonyms

    spruiker noun at spruik verb. DEFINITIONS1. 1. (Australian English) someone who tries to persuade people to buy something, use a service, etc often in a dishonest or exaggerated way.

  10. Thanks for the kind words Spider, I’m going to start using Spruiker in my vocabulary, last year I started using Wanker to great effect, next I’ll need some Scottish, Welsh, Irish and New Zealand words to add to round things out.

  11. Thanks for the responses Chris and Walt. It’s an interesting situation of scarcity and commerce and I’m not sure what I’m trying to say… So I’ll just float on the tide and let everybody else drown in point numbers and spine ticks. When all the high grades and middle grades are mined out my ungraded copies of Bee-Man 1&2 will be on all the want lists and worth who knows what. haha! : 0 : ] : )

    Backtracking, I just noted that your recent find of Star Wars #68 had a cover by the late Gene Day, a Canadian artist who I knew by mail and doing art for his fanzines before Marvel. I don’t know if he did the interior but it might be worth tracking down a copy for the memory of him.

  12. Walter, wanker is a fantastic term to know…it will be of extreme usefulness wherever there are a collection of middle-aged white males. Next one, try a few ‘mate’ into your vocabulary, it can mean everything from ‘you’re great to you’re an absolute idiot’ brilliant, eh!!!

    Spruiker: when they start yelling about Mark Jewelers Inserts or an actress’s instagram account that you’ve never heard of that she will be playing the character in an upcoming movie in 2022. You are being spruiked!!!

  13. I’m not a spruiker but latina ex-Y&R actress Sasha Calle has been cast as the new Supergirl in the upcoming Flash movie and in her own followup movie next year, the first time a latina has been cast in the role. I hope they make her costume closer to the comic unlike the tv Supergirl.

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