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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Key Issue Comic Investments Still Under $100 Part 4

Hey, hey, hey! We are back with this series here, and I've been reading some of the advisor articles in the new Overstreet...well 2016-17 OPG. So, it was mentioned in there that Batman comics had the lowest printing in the history of Detective Comics and Batman titles during the late 80s.

Well, if that's the case, I'm gonna take it one step further here. In Part 3, I talked about being wary of Copper Age comics since they're often volatile due to the perception of plenty high grade copies out there and more speculator/flippers being able to acquire them and dump them quickly.

This Part, I'm gonna go in the opposite direction and speak of another perception shift that might gain more attention for those who grew up in the Copper Age like yours truly. Let's get this on!

1st appearance of Anarky

I believe Ace brought this up, but the information is contained in the latest Overstreet Price Guide in which an advisor claimed that late 80s Detective Comics and Batman titles were printed in lower numbers then. Once again, not sure how accurate that is, but apparently newsstand of new comics currently represent 1% of the market.

So if the direct market had 100,000 copies of a certain comic, only 1,000 copies were newsstand copies of an issue. I believe that might be for new comics currently. 

I am not sure of that percentage during the late 80s. Now, most comics are sold directly to comic shops and a lot less to newsstands. I do not doubt they are more rare than direct market copies then and now as the mid-80s were when both Marvel and DC started producing a majority of their material specifically for the direct market if they did not believe a series would sell well enough on the newsstands.

So, in the Batman and Detective titles during the late 80s, there aren't that many great keys in both titles during this period. The 1st appearance of Anarky is one of the few keys of this time, and I would suggest being on the lookout for a high grade newsstand copy.

I grew up reading this comic and actually liked the character of Anarky, but he never really blew up in a big bad way. So, if you can find 'em, high grade newsstand copy for Detective Comics #608, and it has the cover date of November, 1989.

Death of Jason Todd

Once again, if we're going by what is said by the Overstreet advisor, then newsstand copies should be a lot more rare than direct market copies back in the day and current times. If you're confused about direct and newsstand, I'll give you a freeze-dried history.

So in the early 1980s, comic shops began springing up a lot more. Before then, most comics were sold on newsstands and in grocery stores and maybe bookstores, etc.

However, Marvel started gearing towards direct sales to comic shops during the early 80s. DC Comics would also follow suit until newsstands, grocery stores, and other outlets like that began to stock and sell comics much less. By the late 80s, I would even agree that the percentage of newsstand comics were most likely a bit less and many of the publishers were concentrating on sales to the direct market or comic shops. I think by 1989, newsstand copies might of been significantly less compared to direct market copies.

To differentiate the two back in the day, the newsstand had a bar code and the direct market would have some picture or maybe some words in a box usually near the bottom left spine. Sometimes, a direct market copy won't have anything as in the case of this issue. I'll put up the direct market copy cover, so you can reference it.

Anyway, if we're talking about late 80s comics and if Detective Comics and Batman comics really did have lower print runs at the time, then newsstand copies must be quite rare in high-grades. Right now, prices aren't being differentiated for direct market copies or newsstand copies, but I think this will change in the near future.

Newsstand copies are starting to get recognized a bit more, and if you're on a budget, the Death of Robin II or Jason Todd is a known key issue and part of a classic Copper Age Batman story line. I'd be on the hunt for both direct market and high grade newsstand copies. 

Even 9.6 grades might even be worth snagging for these late 80s Batman key comics. I do see quite a bit of newsstand copies on eBay currently, so I'm not sure just how much water the whole rarity thing of newsstand copies holds in terms of 1988.  

However, many of them don't look high grade. Quite a few of them look over-graded and in the mid-grade or VF range.

Batman #428 has the cover date of December, 1988.

1st appearance of the Hood

If there's new character that has emerged in Marvel Comics that has been used quite often since since first debuting, it is The Hood, also known as Parker Robbins. He is a super-villain and a crime boss in Marvel Comics.

The character is linked to Dormammu to an extent as he wears his cloak of invisibility and boots that allow him to walk on air. Other than being a magical based character, he also has access to HYDRA tech and uses guns.

If you're trying to predict new characters that might break out in the future or gain more fandom or popularity, this 1st appearance of the Hood may be one worth considering. Cover date for The Hood #1 is July, 2002, and estimated print run isn't exactly high and around 30,821.

eBay | mycomicshop | Amazon

I talked a bit about newsstand copies before and the UPC code that designated them during the 80s. However direct and newsstand during the late 90s to now are different. The covers will have the UPC for both, but it will directly state which one it is.

Once again, I've heard newsstand copies today represent 1% of the market place a few times already, but I'm not really sure where that info is coming from nor what the percentage of them were printed up back in the late 80s. So far I've only read two advisors in the latest Overstreet Price Guide say or claim that Detective Comics and Batman comics had lower print runs during the late 80s.

For the most part, newsstand and direct market aren't really separated or distinguished on a large level. If there is a price difference, it isn't by much. As I mentioned before, a perception shift could occur for newsstand copies as the niche for pence copies and foreign edition copies is growing more and more these days.

I'm still hesitant about calling them newsstand variants as the word "variant" is like a song on the radio that's overplayed. Like mentioned before, I've been looking for high grade newsstand copies of some early 1990s Spawn issues and even they are not easy finds in general within my local stomping grounds.

That also includes conventions. Direct market early Spawns? No problem finding those for most.

My personal opinion and why I think newsstand copies have a chance in growing more popular? Well, it's a way for collectors who prefer and grew up with U.S. copies to invest in something they would otherwise think is too abundant in high grades for late Copper Age key issues.

I grew up collecting in this age or era and have been pretty resistant when it comes to long-term investing in Copper Age key issues because of the perception of over-printing. No offense intended, but I'd rather have U.S. copies of a key than a Canadian or foreign edition or even pence copy.

Newsstands in 1989 and even early 90s can give more of a rarity factor to a Copper Age key once feared to have been way too plentiful in high grades. It's as silly as a different price in a different currency on a cover such as pence copies, but like I mentioned before, even that niche market is growing. The price on pence copies is the only difference. They are the exact same as U.S. copies on the inside, and newsstands from that era just basically have a UPC barcode to make them different.

But in talking about newsstand copies, I do have to make something clear. During the early 80s, I do not think newsstand copies in high grade are easier or harder finds than direct market copies.

I will use Daredevil #168 for example. There are newsstand copies and direct copies for that comic. Quite a few of both on eBay right now when I looked up CGC 9.4s all the way to CGC 9.8s. Just in case, here are both newsstand and direct market and pence covers of Daredevil #168.

I don't think there's much difference in rarity when it comes to early 1980s newsstand and direct copies that can be seen presently, and this even applies to Amazing Spider-Man #252 which is a 1984 comic. Newsstands and direct market copies are both pretty easy to find in the market for that issue also, and if there is a disparity between the two, I don't think it's by much.

However, look at Uncanny X-Men #266 and you will start to see that there are a lot more direct market copies out there as opposed to newsstands. Even less high grade newsstand copies. That comic came out in 1990.

Furthermore, look at the majority of New Mutants #98 (1991) on eBay currently. Most of them are direct market copies. Only a few of them are newsstand copies. Will a perception shift occur and will industry start to note them in the near future? Could be, and I'm not saying it's a definite. Just saying there's a possibility.



  1. Hey Mayhem,

    that Newsstand theme is interesting. I have a Wolverine 1 (1. limited) with a Barcode and without. I' m not sure which one to hold onto. What would you suggest? Wolverine 1 is always a quick flip, but if the numbers are 100.000 to 1.000, I would rather chose wisely...


    1. Wolverine #1 is an early 80s comic. Marvel was just beginning to see promise in direct market and producing direct market comics for comic shops. I don't think the rarity difference is much during the time, and the shift from newsstand to comic shops had to have been a gradual process over time.

      I think what the advisor was saying about 1% was the newsstand editions still being produced today, not back in the late 80s. In this post, I did mention that I was not sure of the percentage of newsstand copies being printed back in the late is most likely less and most likely more in the early 80s when direct market was beginning to blossom.

    2. Of course, I could be wrong...I think an investigation might be in order?

  2. Yes please, Mr. Mayhem, sir. Throw on them research engines!


  3. Hey Mayhem. Being a Canadian I know that in the early Eighties the new stand editions of many comics were vastly undershipped to Canada. Why? Think about this for a minute. The United States have approx 10 times the population of Canada. So let's say the states have 100 million people to Canada's 10 million. Not accurate but let's use that scenario for comparison issue. So it's only natural that comics would be reflected in those numbers too don't you agree. We here in Canada have comics that state directly on the cover over or under the price CANADIAN. These particular issues were made specifically for the canadian consumer and are much much rarer than the states version. This applies also for the new stand barcoded issues. So I predict that in the next 5 years you will or should see a price difference in these comics. DOUG SULIPA has been preaching this for years to the overstretch advisors and I'll be dammed if they are too blind or ignorant to the issue to reflect it in the guide. IT WILL CHANGE AND THE RARITY will be noted. Hold on to those comics folks . You heard it here first!!!! Thanks

    1. I think you're probably right there Nova.

      I do agree that newsstand editions will get more play in the future, but I still don't think the early 80s newsstand editions were that disproportionate to the direct market least not from the data I'm currently gathering and at least not for U.S copies.

      We shall see if both Canadian and U.S. newsstand editions get more sought after. I am leaning more towards yes than no or maybe.

  4. Hmmm. Maybe it' s just me, but I don' t want english, french or canadian versions of my comics, I want the real (american) deal! Rare or not rare, that is just not everything, and that' s probably why the Overstreet guys left their behind sitting on the exact same spot, as far as Canadian Variants are concerned.


    1. I prefer the same Gizmo, but rarity is becoming a big deal in this market and I don't think the mentality or perception is going away anytime soon. The niche of Pence copies, and foreign editions are starting to grow more and more. I do prefer the comics I grew up with, but even I admit some prices are getting up there for Pence and Canadian key comics.

  5. I for one would rather have the rarer Canadian priced issues not because I'm canadian but for the rarity factor. I can understand the Patriotism for the US versions but that's like saying YOU would want only American paintings as apposed to owning a Mona Lisa. It's all matter of individual tastes however. The comics are exactly the same in cover and content except for the price variant. Compare these variants to the insane number of variants in today's marketplace. I mean come on seriously 24 Variant covers for a single #1 is obviously just a money grab for the big two. Marvel and DC and in my opinion will never hold their value over a long time period. However the Canadian price varants will only be me more scarce in the marketplace when the collecting world finaliy realizes just how low in numbers they are to the US counterparts. Just sayin.

  6. Keep preachin' buddy but I ain' t buying. I want an italian Mona Lisa and not a canadian! To be honest, you will always find crazy people, like those, wo payed thousands for a 35 c Star Wars price Variant. Go search for the canadian version of that comic and you might become a millionare ;-)

    Nuff said


  7. I've heard that Canadian Editions are 10x rarer than the US Editions. It's the same exact comic except for the price is higher on the Canadian books. They are starting to become more popular and sought out in the market because of rarity and they are harder to find in high grade. I would only stick to buying key books with the price variant. I was able to snag a CGC graded Betty and Veronica 320 1st Cheryl Blossom Canadian Edition about a month ago. As of now there are only 14 graded CGC copies on the census and the avg. grade is a full 2 grades lower than the US Editions. I think they still have room to grow in the market.