The Comic Speculator – Back Issue Report 02/26/2010
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), Comicspriceguide.com (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of ICV@.com. 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.
Back Issue Report:
Welcome to another edition of The TCS: Back Issue Report , where I take a look at what’s happening in the back issue world and give my own skewed, biased and often questionably sinister take on the back-issue-market. There were a couple of pretty big back-issue news stories this past week, so let’s leap right in.
Gold and Silver Oldies:
Action Comics #1
Detective Comics #27
Not a whole lot of news in the back issue world this week, unless, of course, you count two comics selling for a million dollars each within three days of each other. On February 22, the Action Comics #1 CGC graded in 8.0 condition that was up for auction at comicconnect.com smashed the previous record of most expensive comic sold at auction (set by an Action Comics #1 in CGC 6.0 that sold for $317,200 in 2009). The comic—which had been in a private collection for the last 15 years—sold for exactly $1,000,000, becoming the first comic to break the million dollar mark. A truly amazing feat that would cement Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman in 1938, as the most expensive comic in existence. Comicconnect.com co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Vincent Zurzolo called the sale “The single most important event in comic book history.” And it was, for 72 hours, anyway.
On February 25, comic book history was rewritten again when the Detective Comics #27 (DC, 1939), the first appearance of Batman, CGC graded in 8.0 condition up for auction at Heritage Auction Galleries sold for $1,075,500. This copy of Detective #27 was part of the Pinnacle Hill collection which was collected by a “discerning collector” in the 1960s and ’70s, according to the auction info. One important thing to consider here is the fact that Heritage Auctions adds a 19.5-percent buyer’s premium to their final bid price on their items. Meaning this Detective #27 actually sold for $900,000, but the final price plus the buyer’s premium puts the sale at $1,075,500. Comicconnect.com doesn’t charge a premium, meaning that the Action #1 that sold was actually bid up to $1,000,000. So, all things considered here, yes, the final price may have put Detective #27 at a higher price, but as far as this nerd is concerned, Action Comics #1 wins this battle. Mark one up for the Man of Steel.
Bronze Age and Beyond:
Captain America #602
Earlier this month, you may recall, a story about people being upset about the portrayal of the Tea Party movement in the pages of Captain America #602. Namely, a panel that showed a person holding a sign that read “Tea Bag the Libs before they Tea Bag you.” Undoubtedly, a little joke by writer Ed Brubaker. But in this age of the 24-hour-news-cycle, of course the story got picked up by cable news channels and it became a full on firestorm! Well, for about two days, anyway, and then it was on to the next big political stink. During the news cycle, Marvel issued an apology and recalled the issue from stands, although I can’t see any retailer in their right mind sending the issue back. Not when everyone smells collectible blood in the water. I’m not going to go into the politics here, but it is worth a look of what happened to Cap #602’s value during the news coverage.
Starting on February 9, Cap #602 was selling for $5-$6. Keep in mind, this was just as the story was hitting the media and the recall was announced. It’s the kind of controversy that could make for a $20-plus new comic in no time if the story could maintain its legs. Which, it would, for a little while, anyway. The next day, prices were hitting $10 and savvy eBayers had assembled what they were calling the “Tea-bag” set (Cap #600-#602), which contained the first three issues of the story. Some eBayers went as far as to list “As seen on Fox News” in their item title. With prices hitting $10, retailers caught on and a flood of issue #602’s hit eBay, Amazon and comic store Web sites for $10 and up. Sales would start to dip by Feb. 11, when sellers would try to counter by adding the word “banned” to their item title. Which is ironic, because I don’t think a recall counts as a “banned” book. Sales still hit the $8-$12 mark here and there, but the majority of Cap #602’s were not selling. By Feb. 12, the controversy seemed to have ended with prices dropping back to the $3 to $5 range. The news cycle may had moved on, but prices spiked back up for a few days with a copy selling for $30 on Feb 13 and a couple of copies selling for $20 on the 15th. From there, it was all down hill, with prices bottoming out at $2-$3 as of today.
So much for the book-burnings and misplaced political outrage, and sorry to all you retailers and speculators who horded piles of this issue. So, what happened here? Why isn’t Cap #602 selling for $50 and up? Well, to begin with, the news story never garnered much traction, even amongst the most reactionary talking heads. Another factor is the numbers retailers ordered before the issue became controversial. Cap #602 was the 11th-highest comic ordered of January 2010, shipping 63,948 issues. Even in a down month for comics, that’s a solid shipment. So the issue was well-ordered initially. The controversy blew in and out within 24-hours, and sellers inflated the price too fast to cause a shortage anywhere. It all adds up to an almost-instant-collectible. Now, don’t be surprised to see other shameless publishers trying the same stunt in the near future to drum up some sleazy sales.
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 me or post your question below in the “comments” section below. Also, you can follow him on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming! Want to know what your comics are worth? Join WorthPoint to search its database or use its “Ask A Worthologist” feature. Remember to post the title, issue number and cover price. And finally, a word to the Federal Trade Commission; all the comics discussed here are purchased solely by the writer, who receives no gifts or free merchandise from any publishers, even though he would graciously accept them.
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