The Comic Speculator Back Issue Report – Walking Dead #1 Clears $10,000 Mark

A copy of Walking Dead #1 (Image, 2003) in 9.9 condition sold for $10,100 recently on eBay.

The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previews World and Comics List. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.

The Back Issue Report

I know I promised you a blog on Phantom Variants, and it is coming, but last week something huge happened. The entire comic-collecting world—me included—slapped their hands on their collective faces, “Home Alone” style, after a copy of Walking Dead #1 (Image, 2003) sold for $10,100 on eBay.

I know, I owned a copy at one time, too. And yes, I’ve kicked myself a few times since selling mine for $400. Now, mine was probably not in 9.9 condition but I’m betting it’d be worth somewhere between $2,000-$5,000 today. But I digress.

The question now becomes, why? Why does a black-and-white comic just 10 years old sell for more than 10 G’s? Well, there’re a few reasons:

1. Having a critically acclaimed hit TV show certainly helps. Every time we’ve seen a comic make a successful jump to the big or small screen, said comic has seen a gigantic jump in back-issue pricing. Whether you’re talking Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man or Batman, every time you’ve seen any comic property make the jump to live action, back issues prices increase. Although I don’t have enough evidence to write a scientific paper, I’m willing to call it a solid hypothesis at this point. Don’t believe me? Go try and pick up a first appearance of Thanos for less than $200.

2. Print run. According to Eric Stephenson, editor-in-chief of Image comics, total orders for Walking Dead #1 back in 2003 were 7,300, making the issue very hard to find today. Keep in mind issue #100 shipped more than 350,000 issues and you get an idea of how popular the series has become. Also, with a low print run comes a very low number of copies in high-grade condition. The CGC Census lists 464 copies of this issue in 9.8 condition, and that’s a lot, but only nine copies in 9.9, which makes this comic in 9.9 condition more than scarce. At this point it’s probably safe to say the Walking Dead is the most successful black-and-white comic of all time and possibly the most expensive modern-age comic. I’ll get back to you on that one.

3. Quality, not just in writing but in art, as well. Walking Dead has been far and away one of comic’s highest quality reads on the stands since issue #1. And it just seems to keep getting better. Image has allowed writer Robert Kirkman complete freedom with this series and it has paid off in spades. There’s been several times I’ve said to myself, “I’m done with this series; you can’t just kill off characters that I love.” But I kept coming back, and mainly because the rules don’t apply here. No character is safe. Don’t fall in love with anyone because they could be eaten, shot or beaten to death in any issue. Kirkman has spit in the eye of classic comic storytelling and in doing so, created one of the most iconic and important comic book series of our time. If you’re not reading, your missing out.

There was a time, not too long ago, when I said “sell your Walking Dead #1s now; there’s no way they’ll go for more than $2,000.” Well, I was wrong. I can admit that now but, keep in mind, when I made that statement, it was pre-smash-TV-hit-series. I’m not trying to qualify my statements—and yes, if I had half a brain I’d still be sitting on my own Walking Dead #1—but I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

The moral of the story here is that there are still comic book investments to be made. I’m not saying go out and buy everything. Far from it. But keep your eyes open and pay attention and maybe you can make a better decision than I did. And don’t worry if you, like me, already sold your Walking Dead #1. Tap me on the shoulder next time you see me at the bar and I’ll buy you a beer. We can both have a good cry together.

Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply” box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!

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