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The Comic Speculator: Watchmen

by Matt Baum (07/25/08).
Watchmen Portfolio
Absolute Watchmen edt
Cover of Watchmen #3
Cover of Watchmen #2
Cover of Watchmen #1

Welcome back to The Comic Speculator where each week Comic Book Worthologist Matt Baum looks at hot back-issue comics that are going up in value and discusses why they’ll be hot in the future.

As of yesterday The Dark Knight became the first movie to break the two-hundred-million dollar mark in five days; three days faster than the previous record holder Star Wars Revenge of the Sith. This means that everyone you know not only saw Batman 2 in the past week and may have done so twice. However, the buzz around the Dark Knight wasn’t just about the movie. The eagerly awaited Bat-sequel was preceded by one of the most eagerly awaited movie trailers since… Well since the Dark Knight trailer. Bat-movie-goers got their first look at the Watchmen trailer on the big screen this past week and the response was huge. While nerds like myself have been waiting for a Watchmen film for years now other movie-goers watched the trailer with heads half-cocked like confused dogs. After seeing the trailer the guy next to me whispered to his son “I don’t know what that’s about but it looks awesome.”. Speaking as a comic-nerd that does know what it’s about I can tell you Watchmen is awesome and the film adaptation by 300 director Zach Snyder looks to be awesome as well.

Snyder is the director that most comic geeks credit with the executing the best comic to screen adaptation ever made with his 2006 film 300 based on the limited series by Frank Miller. The film was image-for-image, page-for-page, and line-for-line taken directly from Miller’s story exactly as it should have been. Miller’s comic adaptation of the Spartan’s battling the Persian horde at Thermopylae (can’t believe I spelled that right the first time) was a perfect, hyper-violent-machismo-comic that Snyder held up to the light of the projector and brought to life on the big screen. I can’t think of anyone better suited to adapt Alan Moore’s dark and moody super-hero epic.

Watchmen is, as the trailer stated, “the most celebrated graphic novel of all time”, but before the story was collected as a graphic novel it was a 12-issue comic book mini-series written by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons. For some reason Hollywood hates to mention the term “comic book” when talking about source material. This could be due to the fact that so many movies are adapted from “best-selling novels” that the term “Graphic Novel” seems to give movie-goers an air of familiarity. Ultimately using the term “graphic novel” just sounds more mature than “the most celebrated comic book of all time”. After all, only nerds read comics, right?

All semantics aside, I can say without a doubt that Watchmen was one of the most important and best comic series I have read. In the eight-years I worked in a comic store I sold countless copies of both the comics and the collected Watchmen, each time with a personal money-back-guarantee in the event the reader was unsatisfied. In that time not one of those sales was returned. Alan Moore’s vision of the corruption of America’s superheroes changed the way comic readers thought about their heroes. When asked what Watchmen is about I like to answer: “We all know that Superman is a great guy but what if someone else had his powers? Someone like George W. Bush for example?” Watchmen’s premise can be boiled down to a quote from the British Historian Lord Acton; “Power Tends to Corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”.

Three years ago I tracked down a pristine run of Watchmen #1-#12 for next to nothing at the Chicago Comic-con. This was about the time that DC had first announced plans for a Watchmen movie, at that time Terry Gilliam was attached to the project, and a line of DC Direct action figures to coincide with the release of the , an amazing over-sized, slip-case, hard-cover edition. Both the figures and the movie were quashed at the time by creator Alan Moore who is famously unhappy with all the film adaptations of his work. Flash forward three years and both the Watchmen movie and ”DC Direct figures” (this time movie figures) are a go. Oh, and Alan Moore still has nothing good to say about the project. He’s grumpy. Unlike three-years-ago 1st-printings of Watchmen #1-#12 are not selling for peanuts any more. Since the announcement of the movie the comics have seen a steady rise in price. Now that the trailer has hit and it looks amazing expect the price on Watchmen back-issues to go through the roof.

Here’s a quick look at where the Watchmen issues and reprints worth noting are currently guiding and selling for. All guide prices listed are in Near Mint condition.

Watchmen #1, DC, 1986; Overstreet – $10.00; Wizard – $35.00.

Watchmen #2-#12, DC,1986; Overstreet – $8.00; Wizard – $10.00.

Watchmen Hardcover collected edt, Graphitti Designs, 1987; Overstreet – $80.00.

Currently a 1st-printing of Watchmen issue #1 is selling on line for $62.00 with two hours left to go on the auction. Also, earlier this week a set of Watchmen #1-#12 sold for $250.00 (about $21.00 ea). These comics are going to continue to rise in value as the movie’s release get closer. When all is said and done I wouldn’t be surprised to see issue #1 guiding for more than $100.00.

Original Watchmen issues aren’t the only books rising in value. The 2005 Watchmen Absolute Edition, $75.00 cover price, is selling for more than $200.00 and the 1985 slip-case, hard-cover edition from Graphitti Productions is selling for more than $250.00. DC also produced a limited Watchmen Portfolio that highlighted Dave Gibbons artwork that is selling for more than $100.00. If the movie is well received these prices could go even higher. If you were thinking about picking up a Watchmen run you may want to wait to see where the prices level off. If you’re thinking of selling your run I would wait until March, just before the movie hit’s theaters and the fan-boys are frothing at the mouth. For those of you who can’t afford the rabid fan pricing but want to check out Watchmen DC publishes a soft-cover trade-paper-back that collects the whole story and is available in comic shops everywhere. ”Click here for a comic shop locater to find a shop near you.” Also, this November DC will be reprinting the Absolute edition Watchmen.

For more on new comics check out my other blog, ”This Week in Geek” where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s hot collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section.

One Response to “The Comic Speculator: Watchmen”

  1. Lance D. says:

    This is great, I have the first complete editions of watchmen, Batman, the killing joke, and the dark knight returns.

    I also kept Electra: Assassin (complete)
    and the Black Orchid.

    all first run.

    I think I will hold on to them

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