The King of Kings

This is going to be one of those observational posts, I’m not going to be backing up my words with hard numbers, though I’ve glanced quickly at some data just to make sure I’m not delusional and it seems to check out.

I’ve mentioned here before that Silver and Bronze Age DCs are finally picking up some steam though they do have a long way to go to start challenging the Marvel fervor in the back issue marketplace. So if I’m calling the back issue market for Silver Age and Bronze Age Marvels a fervor then what the heck do I call the marketplace around the Amazing Spider-Man title?

Way back when I was just starting out in the business and I quickly adapted a business strategy, a rule so to speak, to always mind the Spideys. If a guy walks into the store with them he’s not walking out with them, if I’m scouring a con or a shop for items to buy for resale the A bin gets my attention first, when I go to a con to sell the one bin that has to be topped up better than all the others is the Amazing Spider-Man bin, my high end wall books had to be littered with Spideys.

I’d give myself an A- grade for my Spidey rule over these past few decades, yes there are some that I should have bought but didn’t, still overall I worked really hard, and am still working really hard at acquiring all the Amazing Spider-Man issues I can.

Where I score a C- is my mindfulness at selling them, I’ve always sold lots and lots of Spideys thanks in part to my aggressive buying, it’s just in retrospect I should have set the same rule for the selling end of the equation; I only had the rule for the buying end. What I should have done is been much more firm on pricing, I’ve always haggled and always given deals, I should have adopted a different, golden rule for Amazing Spider-Man issues only.

The title is performing beyond anyone’s expectations, starting from the now impossible Amazing Fantasy #15 working all the way up to the end of the original run at #441 (35 years worth of issues). I don’t think there is a weak era left in the run. We all know the big long Silver Age Marvel runs that made it into the 1990s, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men and by extension through the re-launch stuff Cap, Hulk and Iron Man. All these titles have those dead zone eras where you are lucky to sell copies in the $2 bin, except for Amazing Spider-Man, there is no dead zone left in this title. Amazing!

Amazing Spider-Man has become the flagship title for comic book collecting, people coming into the hobby seem drawn to it more than any other title. The 1st appearance of villains the title boasts is beyond impressive, hammer after hammer after hammer keep coming up.

The title is so heavily traded too, have a look at the next ComicLink auction, there are usually pages filled with just the Amazing Spider-Man run but the demand is so crazy it seems record prices are set weekly all up and down the run. My worry is that the Spideys will slowly start to dry up, of course if that happens then we’d see price increases that would free up some more copies, kind of like what we are seeing now I guess.

My advice to all is to mind your Spideys!

Speaking of Amazing Spider-Man we had one sell last night on the internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction, a nice sold CGC 5.0 copy of Amazing Spider-Man #7 sold for $865.55 USD beating the previous GPA sale of $787 USD earlier in October. A Strong, beautiful copy of a single digit Amazing Spider-Man for under a G Note? 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. No one was more thrilled than I when Amazing Fantasy #15 broke the comics sales record and bounced that dreadful Action #1 out of the top spot! I mean, after all, Steve Ditko could actually draw! And, when you look at popular media as a whole, Supes has not really been keeping up. Spider-man is also probably about to bounce Mickey Mouse from icon status world wide. I couldn’t be happier!The Marvel heroes have always shone above the DC just because of the innovation of Marvel’s storytelling and the depth of character. Let’s face it…Spidey Rules!!!

  2. Well… not to discredit Spidey as now the most iconic comic hero… Ditko had a lot more years of drawing comics of many genres then Shuster did when Supes came out! Spiderman did endear himself to the entertained public however more then did Superman. Besides the comic he had a cartoon with a catchy song, was a cameo character on a children’s educational program, was on multiple products from cereal to underwear and has had a relatively successful movie franchise! With that much public awareness why shouldn’t Spiderman be #1. While other characters have branched out in similar fashion…there was just a chemistry with Spiderman that has surpassed anyone else… and I think its the collective if his character that makes it so…

  3. Gerald
    You’re right of course. I should cut Shuster a little slack for his lack of experience, but I have never actually ever understood the appeal of the character, apart from him being the first of his kind (or the last of his kind, depending on how you slice it). But,seriously, I could point to literally thousands of people with more artistic talent. Imagine if somebody with the artistic licks of a Kirby or Lou Fine had illustrated that first issue! I noticed too a few years back that the 1000th issue of Action passed with barely any notice from the media at large. I guess you have to kill the guy to get anybody besides a die-hard fan to take any notice!

    cheers, mel

  4. Ah, the tiresome Marvel fanboys and the even more tiresome Spidey fanboys. The only reason I come here is I don’t like preaching to the choir.

    Walt gets a break in front of the commenters, because he is just stating facts. No question that the Spidey-mania is with us. While I have not been a beneficiary to large extent (#13 and #129 the only serious issues in my collection), I have watched this building for years.

    While I feel bad about missing the train financially, I don’t feel too bad because chasing Spidey would have been contrary to my philosophy of speculating in collectibles. I have no affinity for the character, My formative years were the Romita days, and as I commented a few years back, to me the book looked and felt like Mary Worth. I guess it was a good way for conflicted people to get in touch with their feminine side – maybe that is why the title remains so popular. “Renew Your Vows” etc. – a romance book dressed up as a superhero book. Harry Styles (Eros) and I have no conflicts, so when it came to superheroes, I wanted gritty detectives (Batman) or cosmic beat-em-uip (Superman, Green Lantern). I still have zero interest in the character – I appreciate the craft of the movies – Tom Holland is great – but that’s as far as it goes.

    (My usual aside is the webs. Green Lantern got his ring from the Guardians of the Universe. I can understand that this has wild physical powers. Peter concocted his webs in – a high school chemistry lab? These webs have miraculous properties that make the Ringworld’s scrith look like stone arrowheads. Sure it is a comic book, but at least try.)

    So let’s forget about all of the weird psychological tics that drive the Spidey fanboys, and get back to the market. As with most manias, the current situation is both good and bad. A rising tide lifts all boats, and Spidey is certainly lifting a lot of boats. I would like to hold the absolute winners (say ASM #50), but I’m happy to hold any winner. The bad is the concern that people who don’t follow my philosophy – who speculate only because others are buying – cut and run when the market flattens or turns. Some really really weak results in ASM #129 of late, and I think the up and down both were driven by these types. The key is for the real collectors to not get spooked by this action. If they hang in there – and don’t say “collecting is dead” as they did 2012-2013, I think all will be well. I think the fan base is broadening and moving down the age spectrum, so as long as people are willing to sit at the current (run up) price level for a couple of years, we stand to see even more gains ahead.

  5. Ok… I will take the Marvel fanboy moniker… however it wasn’t Spiderman that did it but the FF! For DC … I found the Flash with his array of villains more to my liking way back when… Green Lantern I always found boring until Adams took over the title!
    This year I gave out 13 comics with two pieces of candy in the bags. Mostly 70’s Disney and Harvey titles. I was actually please at a couple if Oooo’s and one kid said it was the treat he got… plus done thumbs up from parents! I did my best to continue our hobby to another generation!

  6. Well, I guess I can live with the “Marvel fanboy” moniker, but, with only four Spider-man books in my collection (and I quit reading it as soon as Romita took over, largely because I thought he never had any place beyond the romance comics he did so well), so I could hardly be called a “tiresome Spidey Fanboy.” As a matter of fact, if you ever met me, you would likely find me neither “tiresome” nor guilty of displaying any “weird psychological tics.” So, let’s stick to the discussion instead of making nasty remarks, shall we?

    Mel Taylor RFO, KOF

  7. I am sure Mr. Meli meant nothing malicious in his commentary Mel. He is quite knowledgeable on the business aspects of our hobby and has simply reached a point of fandom where how many numerals follow the decimal point out rank character, artist, or publisher!

  8. For months I’ve been trying to get Gerald’s email address so I can discuss his collection and what’s for sale…

    Now that he’s giving them away in bags I guess J want his address too


  9. Gerald, if you see a 6 foot 7 ‘kid’ dressed as Lurch next year’s Hallow’een making repeated visits to your door….make sure you say hi to me!!!

  10. Hey Chris
    I thought only “tiresome Marvel fanboys” used expressions like “Nuff said.” Do I detect a closeted fanboy? Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

    Cheers, Mel Taylor RFO, KOF

  11. Spiderman is so popular, that Disney and marvel turned him into “Ironman ” in the movies. Go figure. At least I can go to the movies and see Iron-man #6 starring Tom Holland

  12. Last year, Marvel sold approximately $1.3B worth of Spider-Man products, which is approximately four times the $325M they made from the Avengers. Meanwhile, their competition over at DC has struggled to keep up. Unsurprisingly, their most popular property was Batman, who brought in a respectable $494M, while their second most popular hero, Superman, brought it about $277M.

  13. Also of note,other licensed characters …early 1970’s Tarzan…from the New York Times. This is 1970’s dollars…AMAZING

    Everybody seemed to be rejoicing that Tarzan, whose popularity has risen and fallen cyclically for decades, Appeared to be a hot property again, and, mostly by design.

    “The world‐wide gross of Tarzan products sold under license to us is at least $50million a year, and that’s conservative,” asserted Robert M. Hodes, a 44‐year‐old Brooklyn‐born lawyer who heads the Tarzan empire.

    Mr. Hodes is president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., a company that is owned by the heirs of the author and that held today’s promotional festivities. Mr. Hodes was hired by the family in 1967 to run the company, and he said in an interview that he discovered the family was doing nothing to exploit the commercial value of Tarzan.

    Since then, especially since 1970, when the company had Tarzan stories translated into French and touched off a cult‐like interest in Mr. Burroughs abroad, the family’s revenues from Tarzan products has jumped 10 times, he said.

    “We’ve created this [Tarzin boom] ourselves,” said Danton Burroughs, a 31‐yearold grandson of the author.

    “About 70 per cent of all of our income comes from overseas,” Mr. Hodes said. “Tarzan is much, much more succesful overseas; next to Coca‐Cola, Tarzan is the bestknown name in the world.”
    Besides the income from some Tarzan movies and TV programs, he said, there are royalties from two million Burroughs books published annually, three‐million comic books published monthly in more than a dozen languages, and comic strips in 250 newspapers. Also, advertisers pay for use of the Tarzan image, and manufacturers pay royalties on Tarzan products.

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