Mixed Signals

Happy Equinox to our Druids friends; I hope your narrow pathways fill with light.

Did everybody see that CGC 6.0 Action Comics #1 sold for $3.4 million? It was a private sale through the Goldin Auctions website and it bettered what I thought was an already high sale of $3.18 million for a CGC 6.0 back in January of this year.

There are obviously some record prices being set in the midst of this collectibles comic market downward trending price correction. I don’t have enough data to make an informed conclusion but from what little data I have see it seems like the highest of the high end is showing resilience, even strength while the much more common staples of the hobby are suffering price drops. That last statement isn’t entirely true as we’ve sold on our icecollectibles eBay auction two relatively common books where both beat previous sales and both bucked the downward trends: we had a CGC 9.6 Hulk #180 and a CGC 8.0 Detective Comics #359 both advance close to 10%. I think one of those was helped by it being a potential upgrade while the other had next to no recent activity in the higher grades. Suffice it to say there are many examples we can dig out of the marketplace showing books doing well in this market; I’ve actually added another at the bottom of this post so read on. It would be a great project to take all that data and see if we can find any common denominators among the books doing well.

Yikes, check out this ad from the 1980 release of New Teen Titans #2. Take heart kids, clowns and monsters are still ok. It’s amazing to look back at comic book content and even comic book ads over time and see just how unfit some of them are for today’s cultural sensibilities.

The cover of the week belongs to Mike Kaluta’s mesmerizing work on Phantom Stranger #26. I’m not even sure why this cover works so well, is it the negative space, or the colour scheme? I’d say it’s a bit of everything including the nail-biting subject matter. This is a great cover.

I found this interesting article in the pages of Moon Knight #25: it’s by artist Bill Sienkiewicz and it tells the process of how three of his Moon Knight covers, 9, 12 and 13, were shot down by Denny O’Neil and not used. Frank Miller ended up doing 9 and 12 and Ron Wilson did 13; as good as Miller’s 12 is, I kind of like Sienkiewicz’s version. I wonder if the original art is out there in a collection?

Last night’s weekly icecollectibles eBay auction produced some great results: the Captain America #23 CGC 1.0 shown below sold for $1350, way above my expectations. This is another example of what I discussed at the top of this post, not everything is going down. The last comparable was a CGC 2.5 that sold for $1500 in May 2021, near the height of pandemic prices. I think it also shows that Golden Age is not being affected by the downturn as much as Silver Age and Bronze Age are; again, it all comes back to scarcity.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1671

26 Comments

  1. I have a copy of that Phantom Stranger so hopefully your posting will peak some interest in it sales!

  2. Oh… I guess the statute of limitations wouldn’t allow me to comment on last weeks missives, however I have to agree with Chri$ Meli…reading all those Marvel comics must have made me dumber… cause I went out and bought a lot of DC comics I can barely get rid of today!

  3. I agree with your observations on price Walt. The very high end is solid – except for X-Men #14, which I recently found out – cross your fingers for The Sentinels! Also as you say, the best Golden Age just keeps on moving up. I don’t see anything touching the big Marvel and DC keys either. But the rest of the market is flaccid. eBay is especially bad – I try to help out here and there, but things are going for 60-70% of my already reduced estimates. Does anybody want an okay copy of DC Comics Presents #26? I got stuck with a couple of these recently for 50% of my estimated price.

    I think this is something of an overreaction, but it could take a l-o-o-ng time to come out of it. It won’t happen until we get past this bad economic talk AND it turns out the talk was overly negative. Otherwise hold onto your DC Comics Presents #26s or cut bait.

    The explanation for all of this is the same as always, which is the rich get richer. The rich will pay a record price for Action #1, while the man on the street needs to monetize his high-mid-grade Avengers run book. For the person in-between, I think there is opportunity to “help out” the man on the street by taking him up on select offers. (Not DC Comics Presents #26 – that’s just poor judgment on my part.) ComicLink has a mid-level auction this week that will probably yield some of these opportunities. (Not for me – a call on the Sinister Six has me down for the count until I hit the lottery.)

    Phantom Stranger is so killer and I have so few. I loved that book as a kid and I didn’t buy the high-grade copies a few years ago when nobody wanted them. Sayonara. I will gladly buy raw books but so few are in really good shape. My solace is my nice copy of the big daddy of the series.

  4. I didn’t look at the serial number Ivan but if it was then the seller walked away a bit ahead after any commission to Goldin.

    Glad I coluld help Gerald.

    Perhaps being dumb as a kid ended up being a blessing in disguise, know what I mean…

    I’m not sure why that Sentinels didn’t do well Chris, perhaps you didn’t put it in the right auction, ahem…

    What happens in DC Comics Presents #26?

  5. Walt, that last sentence is like kicking someone when they’re down. The first appearance of N’Gom used to be a huge draw, I can’t understand why it has fallen so far.

  6. Meli… you know the numbers… if it ain’t Batman… and it ain’t Marvel… then it ain’t nothing….

  7. Do not worry Meli- you are not alone. I have a DC Comics Presents #26 too, except I bought mine right off the newsstand when it came out. I paid a massive 50 cents for it ! I was thinking of getting it double-slabbed for the extra protection ! Such a key book !!!

  8. Reviewing the comic book increases year over year is a suspect endeavour. One sale can throw a comic book value sky high or back to earth. And since humans are buyers either way is possible.

    I reviewed the Top 100 comic books’ increases and chose to review 2020 over 2019 values as it is the year before the Promise Collection appeared. The Promise sales would tend to skew things to the Atomic Age. In 2021, the year after the time period I chose 44 of the top 100 comic book increases were due to Promise Collection sales. 2020 was also a bit of an off year with the beginning of Covid slowing sales temporarily until February 2021 when comic collecting exploded.

    I have broken down increases into as many categories as possible based on where the fastest growing comics appear and I ranked and totalled the comics based on where they appear on the list.

    Highest increases by year:

    1953, 1952, 1954, 1949, 1955, 1951, 1948, 1950, 1943, 1941. Much of this will be explained later but 1955 was the most startling as it is Post Comics Code. Two Matt Baker covers, two Batman related comics and Marvel’s Black Knight 1 led to 1955’s appearance.

    Highest increases by genre:

    Multiple genres were allowed so a comic that has two genres such as Saddle Romances would count fully for each genre.

    Horror-Suspense, Superhero, Romance, Humour (includes Teen & Satire), “Good Girl Art”, Crime.

    I realize GGA may not really be a genre but it explains something.

    Highest increases by Publisher:

    DC, Star, St. John, Archie, Superior, Story, Ajax-Farrell, Fiction House, Fawcett, Toby, Marvel.

    Some of these publishers have strong affiliation with key artists (Star, St. John), while Superior, Story, Fawcett, etc. have some incredible covers.
    Highest increases by title:

    I included the number of issues in parentheses. Ginger is not worth that much compared to the others but I did it just to see.

    Ginger (4), Batman (7), Detective Comics (5), Wild Boy of the Congo (2), Mysterious Adventures (2), The Texan (3), Dizzy Dames (1), Tales of Horror (1).

    Archie is generally experiencing a slow decline, so Ginger’s increases are astonishing. Ginger was much higher on the list (three in the top 20) than comics that had more issues appear (Batman highest issue was 20th.)

    Highest increases by cover artist:

    The unknown artist leads the way followed by L.B. Cole, Matt Baker, Win Mortimer, Gil Kane, Mel Keefer, Jo Doolin, Alex Schomburg, Jack Katz, Jim Mooney.
    The youngest comics on the top 100 list were Werewolf By Night 32 at 56th position, Fightin’ Five 40 at 24th and Showcase 15 at 69th. It is difficult for a comic that sells hundreds, if not, thousands, of copies a year to compete with a comic that sells 0 to 3 per year so WBN 32’s appearance is something.

    The most valuable comic on the list is Mask Comics 1 which I have currently at $75,000 in near mint minus.

    The median increases starting with this year, so far, over last and continuing to 2021 and 2020 are: 12.7%, 13.5% and 8.4% based on 3,132 comics that I have reviewed and have confidence in.

    The way I look at comics values is if every comic out there sold in one year, what would the last sale be worth? So, yes, the average bronze is not a great buy, but a Tec 359 or Hulk 180, which are not average, all the way. And Silver Bronze is usually cyclical. After big increases there is a plateau, a slight down and repeat.

  9. Alex your post is so information-dense that I have to take a cold shower. I think the knuckleheads that run this site should give you actual post space and not just comment space. The comment above is worth fifty pages of “expert commentary” in the Guide. I think Overstreet probably already have their hit men out for you. The mega-ist of mega kudos to you!

    So:

    To all you Marvel fanboys above, have a look by that “highest increases by publisher” list and stop yer yappin’. Marvel is Ken Griffey Jr. to DC’s Mickey Mantle.

    I am not startled by 1955, regardless of Black Knight. If you look at populations you can see 1955 is an extremely tough year. Code books didn’t really start getting accepted until well into 1956.

    PCH continues to move but I perceive that people are making stronger distinction between books than in the past. Mystery Tales is kind of PCH but is dead dead dead.

    The cover artist data is probably the best thing here. I don’t know if all of this is relevant – Win Mortimer is more about people remembering that Superman is keyest of the key titles and Mortimer’s covers are on the scarcer issues. Alex, if you have time – what are the Gil Kane books driving his name on this list? As I said a few years ago, I’ve gone from a Gil hater to a Gil lover, and I’d especially like to add some of his older gems before they are simply untouchable.

    Regardless of miniseries, WBN continues to confound me. Maybe there are many collectors with multiple personality disorder.

    Mask #1 is a Thing, not a comic. I’ll bet 90% or more of Mask #1 owners have no idea what the stories in the book are about. Worthy as a cool scarce Thing, but I can’t get excited.

    I think your last sentence is pretty extreme, but after reading it through a couple of times I am in line with your general point, which is basically desirability x scarcity = value. One of these is flexible, the other is not. So first identify the scarce population and focus on that. Desirability is where the money will be made and lost.

  10. Chris, the Gil Kane covers were Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog 4 and WBN 32. This Rex comic has been flying for a few years now.

  11. Thanks Alex. I know that Rex book, that cover has it going on all cylinders and it is super rare. Also CGC notes, “1st appearance of Detective Chimp” – you don’t want to give short shrift to the impact of this on the skyrocketing value.

    Yes, of course WBN, it had to be WBN…

  12. Well, I’m here to read and enjoy, my work in finance/banking means I see enough data and analytics in that side of my life…so I just like to focus of the pretty Gil Kane covers and nice Dave Cockrum montages.

    I will say my latest reading has been the 1968 Strange Adventures Deadman run by Neal Adams – I’m now up to 5 of these books. Market wise, they were manufactured by a company called DC so I pick them up for cents in the dollar in auctions as no one else wants them. Brilliant to see Adams being influenced by Steranko and the books contain a 16 page main story but then a 6 page GA story, the contrast is so dramatic! Great reading!

  13. Hey, got a funny story for you all…I was talking to a mate of mine who’s an older Canuck who’s been collecting for decades and I told him about this cool little community here….I described it as Old Canadian Men Talking Comics: OCMTC….cause he knows I do love some OCMTC!!!

    We now have an acronym!!!

    OCMTC!!!!

    (t-shirts coming soon!)

  14. That is jingoistic. There are participants from The Greatest Country In The World as well. (Bud is our guru!) Please update to Old Canadian Men And Old Men From The Greatest Country In The World Talking Comics, or OCMAOMFTGCITWTC. You can wrap around to the back of the t-shirt.

  15. Can’t we just call it ‘INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF CROTCHETY OLD FARTS DISCUSSING COMIC BOOKS’ or IBoCOFDCB for short ?

    and, for the young turks like Alex and Chris, who feel that comic books will remain an iron-clad investment ’til Kingdome Come, a sub-group called

    'DETECTIVE CHIMPS SEEKING JUSTIFICATION TO MAKE COMIC BOOKS EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE' or DCSJtMCBEME for short.

    Eep !

  16. Walt, I believe you intended “the League of the Gracious Brotherhood of Trivial Quibblers International, Amalgamated”. Brings us fully into 2022 as I understand from the intraweb.

  17. I’ll stick with “Old Boys,” and at 70 I’m afraid I qualify. Walter and some you you guys are still youngsters. To me, anyone 65 or younger is now a youngster…

    I just did the OAF-Con in Oklahoma City, attendence maybe 500 or so. Still my favorite comic show, and man, it’s indeed an “old boys” show through and through. Most of my buddies there I’ve known since 1969, 1970. The first Oklahoma show I attended was 1970’s Multi-Con, literally meant to be comics, films and who knows what else. And so, it still is, OAF is the same group that put on that show, albeit we are sadly a few friends short of the original attendees these days, including the legendary Jerry Weist.

    60% of the stuff I picked up (and I got a lot of stuff, a full magazine box of comics) was NOT comics. Such as several Dell 1940s subscription premiums and Dell Comics Club cards, 1930s Mazda Christmas Tree Lights (Fantasia, Popeye, Barney Google & Silly Symphonies), a file copy bound set of Film Fun cira 1940, a 1942 Walt Disney Calendar, a 1921 first-ever newstand distributed “comic,” Comics Weekly Vol 1 #1 with Polly and Her Pals—this series lasted for 12 issues and I’ve never had a single one until now. The one that got away was a complete set of the JSA Junior Justice Society membership kit: a 16 page comic by Shelly, patch, membership card, mailing envelope and more…I’d love to own it but at $2500 I had to walk away from that one.

    I did upgrade a Hit #22, but that was the sole early Golden Age I found, all my other comics were mid-1940s to to silver age. I didn’t get a slabbed book in the bunch, so there! Bedrock City had a nice bunch of hi-grade pre-code romance for me, another friend was selling his near complete runs of All Star Western, Western Comics (DC) and Tomahawk, so I filled in several and upgraded others…

    While I was digging through Bedrock City’s boxes, I watched Ricky Evans, who is one of my favorite dealers, trade four beautiful slabbed Human Torch issues for an X-Men #1, CGC, around FN- or so. We all three of us thought it was very, very strange to be trading early beautiful Human Torches for a Marvel, but hey, you guys know for a dealer, it has to be about the bottom line. And I’ll bet he can flip the X-Men right away, faster than even the HTs since they were not cheap. He had about ten Torches from #3 to #32, I hadn’t seen that many together in some time! All out of MY price range.

    I wonder if the Win Mortimer prices have a lot more to do with Joker covers than with poor Win; I’ve mentioned here before, he is an unsung great cover artist from the late 40s and early 50s DCs, including his long runs of Detective and Batman. But I can’t imagine his name carrying any weight with buyers. It’s all about who is ON the cover, I think, and all that Joker stuff still seems to be crazy money these days.

  18. Hmmm. I started that whole missive above to say thanks to you guys for alerting me to the present value of Fightin’ Five #40. I’m going to fish out my copy, which dates back to the sixties, I may have bought it off the spinner rack…and flip that puppy. I like Peacemaker as much as anyone, but come on now….

  19. Bud, nice haul, I love that you picked up all those cool realted collectibles, with those things you never knew you wanted one until the moment you saw one. I agree on Win, who’s a Hamilton, Ontario boy by the way, its about the covers.

  20. Hey Bud
    Take heart. My buddy Bob MacMillan who wrote The Encyclopedia of Canadian Animation, Cartooning and Illustration (canadianaci.ca) is well into his ’80s and still a die hard comic fan with his specialty being the Canadain wartime comics, but anything Canadian beyond that also made it’s way into his extensive archive of Canadian illustratiion from 1867 to 2017, all of which he is donating to the McMaster University archives in Hamilton.
    My old Da asked me, when I turned 60 eight years ago (I’m catching up on your quick Bud!), if I was finally going to give up comics. We all know how that discussion went!

  21. Just a quick heads up that the Win Mortimer covers on the top 100 were Tec 219, 158, 159 and Batman 71, 74, 90 – not in that order. He has some pretty cool compositions and situations for Batman and Robin.

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