Scarcity

A few years back I started posting about my new warehouse full of comics. I had just bought close to 2,000 long boxes of comics and was giving updates on stuff I was digging out of the collection. I recall the posts garnered some interest, and why not, digging through over 400,000 comics is a day/week/year/decade well spent for most of us reading and writing these posts. For some reason I fell off those posts, got a bit complacent, got a bit lazy, or maybe it was my piling even more clutter and overstock in front of that initial collection to the point where it was too hard to get at. Sloppy and shoddy work practices if you ask me. Fast forward a few years and I find myself having to move out of the warehouse I’m in and into a new one 800 metres down the road. The thing with the new space is that it’s about as big as the old one but configured differently, much more office space and about a third less warehouse space. What a perfect time to pare things down, tighten things up, filter things out, trim some fat and line things up for easy access again, like in the old days. I have until October 31st to vacate the current premises and the move is well under way, we got a good head start. I think I’m going to have 500 to 600 long boxes that I don’t want to bring across to the new place. I have to line up some public announcement to have people come to the warehouse with trucks and vans: I want loads of 20 to 50 boxes to be leaving at a time, I’ll even help load the van. We’ll see how that progresses; I’ll give you an update next week. Once I’m over into the new place I’d love to get back to sharing my finds from that warehouse pile on a regular basis.

This week’s “heading to the icecollectibles eBay auction” pile had a nice juicy copy of Amazing Spider-Man #11 in it. You are looking at one powerful book right here, at least in high grade. Did you know a CGC 9.0 copy of #11 can get you $15,600! A CGC 9.0 copy of #10 can get you about $1,740 while a 9.0 of #12 might get you $2,880. It’s all about scarcity of grade. There are only 45 copies of ASM #11 available at CGC 9.0 or better, compare that to the 195 copies available of #10. Here is a situation where the second highest graded copy is the sleeper buy, there are no CGC 9.8s to #11 and there are only 7 CGC 9.6 grades and only 10 CGC 9.4s. When you look at the total graded Universal population of 1,819 copies the 17 at 9.4 or better represent less than 1% of the total copies available. In a situation like this picking up a CGC 9.4 copy might be the bargain. Our copy is a little rougher but hey, check out that gloss.

There is something about those sparse Steve Ditko splash pages! I’ve featured a bunch over the years on these posts, most from his sci fi, fantasy once he did for the Atlas Kirby Monster issues. This splash from ASM #11 brings the same minimalist magic but with the Amazing Spider-Man as the central figure. Boy would I ever love the original art to this splash page!

I might as well milk the Amazing Spider-Man #11 for all its got, after all it’s not often we get to auction early Spideys raw on our auction. A few thoughts went through my head when I saw this ad, first was Al Bundy and all the comedy gold of him selling shoes to the ladies. The second thought was who the hell would ever sign up to sell shoes on their weekends off of school, what kind of kid are we dealing with here? Marty Scholls?

There was a beat-up copy of Dell Comics western Roundup #2; when I saw this I realized how cruel time can be and how meaningless and disposable the past can be. At one time Rex Allen and Johnny Mac Brown were where it was at, today you have to be an octogenarian to know who they are. I’m hoping customers of the Roy Rogers breakfast places and California Angels baseball fans throw in bids for this one.

Last night the weekly icecollectibles eBay auction produced some great results. Front and centre was this CGC 6.5 copy of Superman #76, our copy sold for $1725, a strong result and another indication of quality Golden Age being in a healthy spot in the market right now.

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
6 months ago

Too many long boxes in the world. Those folks who will be loading them up are presumably like Yukon gold miners, hoping that a nugget turns later as some book or title becomes hot.

Funny that you jump right to the proper counterpoint re ASM #11. There are only a handful of books where value is not strongly related to scarcity (ASM #300 comes to mind). Then there is “true scarcity” vs. “scarcity in grade”. I am buying very high grade Adams covers because they have always had value and seem to be more valued these day, but with trepidation because there are _lots_ of lower-grade copies. Where covers are showpieces I think there is some merit to having a very high grade copy, but otherwise even more questionable. So I focus on books where there are few copies in any grade.

Also I was watching the Heritage Signature auction this week, and I see more appreciation of scarcity than I used to, but there still seems to be the “higher grade = higher price” mentality out there. I saw books where there are, say, three in 9.2, sell at a higher price in that grade, than an 8.5 book where it is the single highest graded. This is not completely off base – in the latter situation there is a higher probability that a higher-graded copy will appear – but in most cases this is still a very low probability event. I am strongly biased towards the single 8.5 – even if a 9.0 or 9.2 shows up, I don’t think it will do that much to the 8.5, because the probability of _two_ higher graded copies showing up is vanishingly small.

I kind of like the Ditko splash but there’s too much text. I prefer a big “THE FINAL BATTLE!!!” hand-drawn title and almost nothing else, just show me the art.

Would you rather have a kid come to your door to sell you shoes, seeds, or Grit? Of course the answer is none. Get the kids started with multi-level marketing early, I say.

I get Roy Rogers and Rex Allen – look like good bros who could bring the beat-down when necessary, but Jonny Mack Brown? Was he attractive to the kids who like to knock back a few and watch the game from their La-Z-Boys? Good luck with that one. I might bid just as a bit of performance art.

I _did_ bid on #76 – you can thank me later (by not sending me a broken CGC case). I was very happy to see where that book ended up, both in this auction and in 9.2 last week. I have a really nice raw copy that I picked up years ago in an eBay “find” auction (back when those still existed), and I show the flag whenever one of these comes up. I estimated $1500 and this is the only book to beat my estimates in some time.

David Mackay
David Mackay
6 months ago

Hi Chris. A lot of fun facts lost to History. Johnny Mack Brown was a star basketball and football player before he became a famed Hollywood figure. He was a Rose bowl MVP and on a wheaties box by 1927. In North America he was very famous. He starred with Canada’s own Mary Pickford in an Oscar winning silent movie. When his hollywood career began to wane , he became a B western superstar. By the time he was appearing on comic covers in 1950 and on, he was aged 50 or more, and past his movie idol prime. But in the 1920s and 1930’s, Mr Johnny Mack Brown was indeed a superstar. He married in 1926, had children (4) and remained with his family his entire life. The stuff legends are made of methinks. He died of heart failure in 1974. I like him a lot, but not enough to buy that crippled Western Round up….a good read by the way.

David Mackay
David Mackay
6 months ago

Another fun Johnny Mack Brown note…he almost got the role of Tarzan in the movies, but at 5 foot 11, he was ultimately considered too short.

David Mackay
David Mackay
6 months ago

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Kids loved this guy

Johnny Mack Brown is best remembered as perhaps the first athlete who successfully pursued a motion picture career. As a football player at the University of Alabama, Brown played in one of the most important games in southern football history. Until Alabama defeated Washington 20-19 in the 1926 Rose Bowl, southern football did not enjoy the prestige it holds today. The 1926 Rose Bowl provided the first opportunity for southern football to gain national recognition. Trailing 12-0 at halftime, Alabama changed its offensive strategy to utilize Brown’s pass catching abilities. In the third quarter, Brown was on the receiving end of 61-yard and 38-yard touchdown pass plays. Alabama won the game. Alabama posted a 10-0 record while shutting out eight opponents. Brown’s play in the Rose Bowl inspired the game’s head linesman to say, “Johnny Mack Brown has the sweetest feet I have ever seen. The way he managed to elude Washington tacklers in his long runs was marvelous. He has a weaving elusive style that is beautiful to watch.” His speed earned him the nickname “The Dothan Antelope.” After graduation Brown became one of Hollywood’s most popular western stars.

David Mackay
David Mackay
6 months ago

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Spider
Spider
6 months ago

Scarcity is such an investment-centric discussion. All about you owning something that other people want but can’t get. It’s very emotional isn’t it, or is it an ego thing, your better than others because you have a book they can’t get? Either which way…I personally don’t understand it!

My week has been great: I’ve been reading the Astonishing Tales Deathlok run by Rich Buckler – as a child growing up in the 80’s it’s very nostalgic – these same themes of time travel, cyborgs, covert military missions – It’s like Arnold Schwatzenegger’s entire action movie catalog is being telecast in these issues.

Mel Taylor’s been influencing me! After getting disheartened with the varying quality of Daredevil in the #101- #157 range (the era between Colan and Miller) I’ve temporarily given that up – instead I’ve been reading as many high grade Gene Colan issues as I can locate and with a run between #20-#100 I’ve got many years of hunting and reading left!!! (Big D, if you find any in your warehouse attach them to the next migratory bird heading deep,deep south). May I just say that after buying early ASM’s (I’m focused on #50-#100 at the moment) early DD feels like an absolute bargain and whilst his villian’s can’t compare to Spidey’s, the art is wonderful (do I want to trigger people and say that a Top-of-his-game Colan beats a Ditko-impersonating Romita?). Also Marie Severin covers – could easily become another collecting strain there, please, take a moment to look at Daredevil #67 for a study in perspective, detail and beauty.

Also started on the Ed Brubaker Fatale run…boy, can that guy spin a yarn, a lot of people talk about how poor modern writing is…and I’m always baffled, surely there is good talent out there, why can’t Marvel find them? Brubaker just seems to write books that are so darn good!

Enjoy your books Gentlemen, read em..but don’t weep…cause the tears will stain!

David Mackay
David Mackay
6 months ago

Spider, Im with you. I love Ditko, but prime time Colan cannot be surpassed. Marvels unheralded superstar. His Ironman, Submariner and DD were Superb. His Avengers Run is striking, and his pencils on Captain America amazing.

And Walt…Johnny Mack Brown had the legs you always wanted but never achieved biking 20 klm a day 🙂