Next Year’s Prices

My first true comic con buying was most likely in 1984, as a young buck I remember setting up with a con with a small table to sell stuff I had and didn’t want so I could make some money to buy stuff I didn’t have but wanted. This would have been the first time I was exposed to a room full of dealers, many of whom would have been at it for years. In these early days I was more the buyer than the seller and I quickly got used to the unwritten rules of the cons. One of these rules was that the good dealers, the ones continuously bringing better and better stuff to each successive con, always had prices above the “Guide” values of the time. The local hacks, like me, had great deals but next show they might have nothing. Soon enough the smart, strong and forward thinking dealers like Harley Yee had big lines at their booth con after con and why not, they had the stuff! By this time there was a growing and I’d say already set belief in the hobby, we all knew comics were here to stay. What followed was 38 years of buyers willing to pay that extra for the good stuff, it was a safe bet considering the slow and steady growth in values over the decades. Sure there were a few rough patches along the way but none were very severe and none lasted too long.

So now let’s talk about the last 8 months or so. This almost four decade culture of paying a bit more for the better stuff has changed, people are still thinking of future value but in the wrong direction. I’ve had sellers tell me to post books at 90% of GPA hoping they can still get the sale in as prices continue to slide. And what of those dealers that have grown so accustomed to pricing up to future values? Most have made the proper adjustments, taking the hit on the books caught in the pipeline at the wrong time and adjusting their buying and selling prices going forward.

This whole thing is an important development in my mind and one that is still playing out with no clear answer to how it will affect the hobby in the long term. One observation I could offer up is that the hobby has become more splintered, no longer will old adages like “a rising tide lifts all boats” be true, we can’t generalize as much anymore and have to pay close attention to the sectors of the hobby that interest us.

Let’s get to the “destined for eBay auction” pile. The cover of the week has to be Green Lantern #13 by Gil Kane. The cover always stood out for me thanks to the big head Flash hogging the prime space. This is June 1962, very early days for Marvel, the publisher who would perfect the “crossover issues”. Visually I think its the Red against all that Green!

From the pages of Savage Tales #1 we get this fantastic splash page by the great Gray Morrow. Man-Thing’s actual first appearance is on the page before but this splash makes me wish they had saved the initial image of the character for this page, now that would have been an entrance! We’ve discussed before the value of original art being dependent on the importance of the page so maybe that fact might make this page a bit more affordable, maybe.

Our ad of the weeks takes us back to 1997, from Batman and Robin Adventures #17 we get this. Remember this? Yeah, this didn’t go so well. I actually remember the great Norm Macdonald covered this on his Saturday Night Live Weekend Update bit, still funny. DC has tried so hard to update and reinvigorate Superman over the decades to which I’d like to quite the great Lawrence Olivier who said to Dustin Hoffman (who had stayed up 2 days to look and feel haggard for the dental scene in Marathon Man), “why don’t you just try acting my boy”, or something close to that. So DC, just give us good stories!

Another of our weekly icecollectibles eBay auction finished last night and I noted the continued strength of raw comics. We sold this solid copy of X-Men #5 at close to its graded value which I see as a strong result. We’re trying to list more and more quality raw books, it is a bright spot in the market.

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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Chris Meli
Chris Meli
1 year ago

I continue to see what I have commented on multiple times this past year – bifurcation between the wheat and the chaff. Both saw a big runup to March 2022, but the chaff has taken it on the chin since then, while the wheat is stable to strongly appreciated. Key Golden Age is where it’s at. Silver Age Marvels below 9.8 is where it’s not at. DC SA is very variable. Even some Bronze Age DCs are really strong – look at those 20-cent Wrightsons! But I have been stung repeatedly on lower-grade SA Marvels I bid to “safe” levels, only to win – while high-grade copies of the same issue seem to be holding most of their value.

I am not too concerned about the price action, my core concern continues to be the age of folks in the hobby. If those under forty are moving away to Pokemon or video games, the gradual slide is inevitable. The recent ups and downs are similar to a lot of property bubbles, and these don’t tend to have a lasting impact if the underlying interest remains. (Particularly for collectibles, as there is little concern with the material quality of the asset decaying during the downturn.) The influx of common graded books vs. new buyers is a lot like what happened around 2006-8, and we (hopefully) don’t have to fight off the effects of another financial crisis in the near future, so I think there are many hopeful signs for the near term. But you might want to crack open those 8.5 Avengers and just read them….

The big head flash cover is cool but I don’t want a copy at market price. Collecting even GA, let alone SA, Flash or Green Lantern seems pretty hopeless to me. Lots of stories that have no impact on any continuity, and the unwashed only care about Batman and maybe Superman. Finally, after being schooled by this venue on the greatness of Kane, there are a lot of his covers in front of this one. (Conan #17 lives in the front of my mind.)

I sadly have to disagree about the Man-Thing splash. Maybe all can be attributed to the limitations of grayscale on newsprint, but I had to study it a lot to figure out what was there. No bid.

Of course you are right about the “reinvention” of Superman. The guy’s backstory is enough for a slew of great novels, regardless of his powers – add the powers and his opponents motivations, write good dialogue, and away we go. Instead “Superman’s new power!” story over and over.

Contrast that X-Men #5 cover with that Morrow splash. ’nuff said.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
1 year ago

The Kane of the 60’s is very clean, however not nearly as dynamic as the cover work he did for Marvel in the 70’s! Meli needs a better prescription… that Morrow splash is fantastic, but the Kirby X-men cover looks like he used a shoe horn to squeeze all the characters in. A year into selling comics in midgrade for the most part has told me there is still a strong market for those books and I am pretty sure the folks buying are a lot younger then me… over $40k in the last year says something I believe.

Chris Meli
Chris Meli
1 year ago

Gerald, if you don’t like shoehorning, I guess you don’t like Schomburg. Go back to your Audrey and Little Dot covers.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
1 year ago

Well Chris I have never had either of those titles but have a few pretty bland Disney Dell and Gold Key as well as Harvey’s like Casper and Hot Stuff I tried to use to interest my daughters into comics, all having one color backgrounds with sometimes a prop. Ugh! The stories were ok for a little kid… but I have to say there was something charming about them as well and am sure a few kids would like them today. Sadly aside my giving them out at Halloween there are few places to get such comics and sorry to say Walt… some of the stores in my neck of the woods would be a bit intimidating for the parent of say an 8 year old to take to… I am not saying all but some are more teen to young collage age guys hangouts who are really into cards and the few comic customers. I wish more stores were like the ones Walt runs and some I have been…but then I wish there were a few comics back in at least book stores.