November Rains

I wonder if the yearly rhythms of the comic book marketplace create discernible patterns. Are November sales always slow? Is June the traditional point of the year where we see price gains? I know markets have general directions I’m just wondering whether there are seasonal or monthly tendencies within the general direction the market is moving in. There is obviously a lot of data out there and I’m sure someone can crunch GPA numbers from the last two decades and come up with something but boy does that ever sound like a lot of work. I hope we can blame the slow start to the November sales data on these potentially true idiosyncrasies, I really do hope so. As the spoiler sentence you just read hinted at, November sales figures are off to a bumpy start with most of the usual “in demand” issues of the Silver and Bronze Ages all continuing their slide down. One bright spot has been the Golden Age: prices seem to be holding a bit better for the quality Golden Age offerings. Modern Age CGC graded keys look like they are taking a big hit; obviously, a readily available and ever-growing supply needs an ever-growing demand, and that’s not happening at the moment.

We are where we are; it’s best to be aware of it and adapt to the times. There are still so many fun – and profitable – ways to participate in the hobby. Case in point this lovely splash page is found inside Penny #1, 1947 from Avon Comics. At the time the success of Archie Andrews was well into its fifth year yet our Archiekins continued to fan a teen humour comic book gold rush. I’m getting hints of Ditko with that simple minimalistic layout.

Umm… I don’t think this one is making it to the auction! My cover of the week goes to Cowgirl #8 from Fiction House, Winter 1951/52. Grand Comics Database gives the art cover credits to Maurice Whitman with a question mark. Whoever did the art did a fine job if you ask me. Now does this belong in the Western Genre or the Goof Girl Art Genre? I’ve looked at all the covers from the Cowgirl Romances run and I’m definitely putting them in the Good Girl art genre.

I got a nice batch of raw X-Men I’ll be running on auctions over the coming month; it’s an almost complete run from #2 up. The guy who brought it in said he has no idea how he ended up with almost the whole run. He’s a big John Byrne-run fanboy, that was his youth and those were the books he set out to collect, a decade or two later he ends up with #2 up, talk about lack of focus! He said he’s gonna miss the Bryne run the most so I think I found a Christmas present for him. I was leafing through a stack of Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch from Charlton Comics when I found this little gem in the middle of issue #1. Jungle Stories features some very early Byrne comic book art, it’s May 1975 so probably just after his backup stories in E-Man. What’s better, a Byrne Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch or a Romita Our Love? The answer is they’re both great, it’s always nice to see great artists’ artwork from comics other than their classic runs unless, of course, you’re Jack Kirby who happens to have 23 classic runs.

Out ice collectibles weekly eBay auction ended last night and it continued to produce some strong raw comics sales results. A low-grade copy of Tomb of Dracula #10 finished strong at $562.77 USD, we had it graded at a 2.0. This result shows the floor is high on these tough Bronze Age keys, it is hard finding a Tomb of 10 or a Spotlight #5 in very low grade at a bargain, demand is strong for these books.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1688

17 Comments

  1. There are lot of sweet westerns out there Walt. SShhhhhush…..quit highlighting them !!!

    Thanks for great posts as always.

  2. I think you are seeing it a bit worse than I am. I have been watching various auctions and I don’t see a lot of deterioration in the past few months. I just looked at what I consider three of my weakest books: FF #67, Marvel Spotlight #2, and X-Men #14. I think on the whole their prices are around where they were at the end of June. Also along the lines of your comment about Golden Age, I think tough books are hanging in there fine. No you aren’t going to get March 2022 prices for anything, but the market is still way up from the end of 2019. My perception is that people who thought they would get great returns on common Silver Age books are unloading. It is probably worse for Bronze/Modern, but I basically stay away from those except in very select instances. I have won a number of fairly boring books at around 60% of my target prices, and I am not too concerned – I think the market is healthy even though prices are down.

    I buy that Whitman assignment of the Cowgirl Romances, but you can see a lot of evolution from the time of this book to his Planets of the fifties.

    I keep seeing people buying those really low-grade books – I sort of get it – but for a common book like that one, I would want my copy to be “special”, i.e. better than most. I would rather have fewer well above average showpieces than have a cruddy copy of every key. To each his own, that’s what makes the market.

  3. Isn’t the collector’s story of owning X-Men #2 onwards just great! Relatable to all of us! We start by saying ‘I’ll just stop here’ and oh how quickly those self imposed limits are ignored when we find that bargain copy that’s outside our range.

    I understand low-grade keys, for some guys they just need to be able to say, own it, read it…it satisfies the collecting itch. It’s the guys who need their books in 9.8 slabbed behind plastic before they are truly content that I feel sorry for:

    A man who most obtain perfection is a man destined for disappointment.

    (That was surprisingly deep for this time of morning, I must have read it in my fortune cookie last night)

  4. Spider, I’ve got caught in that spiral a few times over the years, small little excuses to expand the focus can lead to, over time, a #2 up run! I went to the Mandarin on the weekend, my fortune cookie was the one that ends in the smelly finger!

    I like your optimism Chris, your experiences can also speak to your advanced tastes in the hobby, seems like the stuff that interests you is doing well which just highlights the strenghts of your tastes.

  5. I think that’s Whitman, although the faces are a bit unusual for him. But he did nearly ALL the covers on Fiction House titles in the last year or two of their existence. Lovely, lovely work it all is. The best he ever did, I think. But I think whoever was coloring those covers also contributed mightily to make them some wonderful. My gosh, those last Planets, Jumbo, Jungle, they are so sharp. Cowboy Romance is still not a particuarly expensive run, but they go qualify as GGA comics for sure.

    As a sub-genre of romance, “cowboy” romance was quite a thing at that point in the early 1950s—most of the companies from Atlas/Marvel, Charlton, Ace, Star Fawcett and Prize all had their own cowboy romance going on. Most were pretty schlocky, particularly the ones with photo covers. But Simon and Kirby upped the quality on their versions.

    The pulp Ranch Romances ran for some incredible number of issues all through the 1930s, 40s and 50s, one of the all-time most popular pulps…and almost totally unwanted today, no surprise. Now if Fiction House had been doing them, that’d be different. The Fiction House pulps switched over to good girl covers in the early 1940s (Fiction House was doing pulps in the late 1920, like Wings and Action Stories, but they were pretty bland). These GGA covers are all pretty desirable these days, particularly Planet Stories, Jungle, Wings…all counterparts to their comic book titles. Even their Frontier Romance pulp went GGA…the feistly girls their, tied to wagon wheels or sportly Winchesters, they do NOT look like authentic 1800s pioneer women, but who cares?

    I’m not surprised that slabbed Bronze books that are not keys have softened…what little I know about this market, it seems way overblown to me. Lots of copies of those books out there. Just because someone pays CGC so slab one, they get to mine big bucks. Until now. What about all those nice readable raw copies still out there?

    The high prices result in more copies being slabbed, but there’s a big base of them all ready to come out. Then they do, and the supply outstrips the demand. You guys know that. There were a LOT of collectors all through the Bronze years, taking good care of their books. Not like pre 1970.

    The same economics happen on more rare books, like Silver and Gold, but there is by definition a lot less copies available to it’s harder to get oversupplied. I don’t notice the Golden Age books I am looking for on Heritage are going for any less in the past few months, it’s almost the opposite as more and more titles elude me no matter how aggressive I get. I regularly wonder why I’m wasting my time; then I win a few items and I wonder what I was thinking paying THAT much for this copy. So I try to stay conservative.

    Unfortunately enough of the high-rollers now know about MyComicShop’s Prime auction, so better material is getting bid up there just like at Heritage. The days of me scoring bargains on more desirable books seems to be over, but there’s usually plenty of lesser things to pick off.

    I just finally subscribed to GPA, I was making an offer to a buddy selling parts of his collection and needed more data than Heritage was giving me on some Timelys. So far it helped a bit, but I’m just learning to navigate it. For more common stuff, pricing it, like lesser and more common Silver Age and Bronze Age, I just look at what MyComicShop is asking for their own (raw) copies (not what consignors ask, those guys are mostly way aggressive) and I price at or below that.

    I just exhibited at my first comic show in several years, since I stopped doing San Diego in 2018 and gave up on the local Sac-Con as it went down the anime rabbit hole. I had a very good show, a little vintage-comics-only Berkeley Calif show that runs several times a year. So I will be back next time in January.

    Dealers hit me up early, and I really only had lesser Gold and Silver and even some Bronze books, just a handful over $100, most under $50. My buddy helping me (he contributes here occasionally, Jeff Keply) did well with some nicer VFN Daredevils and X-Mens, including #94. It was fun talking comics with enthusiastic buyers and seeing people buy reading copies (I didn’t have a single slabbed book).

    But I had less time to look around than coming in as a civilian, so I may have missed a few things. Still, a fun show. The heavy hitter as far as exhibtors at the show was Brian Peets’ A-1 Comics, he had a wonderful run of mid/lower grade Batman, Superman, Sensations, going back to the early issues. He sold a Batman #15 with the machine gun cover to a friend of mine, an admittedly serendipitous buy on his part—he’s a publisher and was only there to deliver 15 or 20 boxes of his latest books to me for my art book business. His inner collector surfaced!

    I knew I’d need to spend some time with Brian’s latest acqusitions, so I went by his store in Sacramento the day before the show, spent four hours looking at the latest, and dropped a bit of cash. (I should have been pricing more books to take to the show, but surely we all have our priorities).

    I bought Sensation #20 and 23, Flash #82, Four Color #7 (a wild Smokey Stover issue), a nice Airboy upgrade, two lovely vg+ Adventures in Terror, the pre-code Atlas title with Maneely and Gene Colan…and a bunch of oddball Gold and pre-code in lower grades. I wanted to upgrade my Superman #14, but his $5500 copy was WAY behind my price point. So were the very early Sensations, even in mid-grade, darn it. I’ll just live with mine, apparently that patriotic Superman cover has become one of the expensive keys…Batman #15 must be close too, luckily I bought mine long ago and in VG-, I’m thrilled to have one at all.

  6. Sorry for the typos! That’s “suggestive” and cowgirl.” And, the more I look at it, the more it suggests! Tallk about “the hidden persuaders!!!” Vance Packard would have a field day with this one!

  7. Mel, of course that’s “rather suggestive cross-hatching”! That’s why you buy the book! Maybe it’s like X-Ray Spex – you open the cover and then…

  8. I was also thinking that Wertham would probably have a stroke, but it sounded too much like something Walt would say.

  9. hahahaha! Mel was so bloody focused on the crosshatching his fingers couldn’t work properly!!!

    looks like the ole’ suggetive cow-gilllrr really got to him!!!

    Hey Mel, it’s winter up there mate, you do what you need to in order to get through, am I right!!!

  10. You guys really should be reading SPICY WESTERN pulps. That will take your minds off of ‘crosshatching’ !!

  11. We have to stop making Mel the BUTT of our jokes, some of you are started to make real arses of yourselves with this kind of humor. Mel’s taken it well so far, but just like the horse on the cover, he may REAR up on us at any time.

    Do I need to further remind you gentlemen of our Old Canadian Guys Talking Comics charter:

    What a grown man does with his cross hatching in the privacy of his own home with his barely functioning fingers is his business!!!

  12. Humour? Jokes? No, no, no…this is a joke:

    I was standing on the corner the other day when a hooker walked up to me and said, “I’ll do anything you want for 50 bucks!” I said, “Paint my house!”

    Don’t worry about me though, I’ve been the butt of a million jokes in my lifetime. I encourage it, as a matter of fact, because, silly me, I love jokes. My old man used to say that, when I came out of the womb, my first words were, “Have you heard the one about…?”

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