Weekend Update with Nico
The following article has been written by Comic Book Speculation Dot Com writer, Nico. Read more articles from Nico here.
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I am refraining from discussing any speculation trends that have to do with Avengers: Endgame. Next week you’ll get my full breakdown of where the speculation trends are headed following the film. I have seen the movie and do not believe that there are any books that you necessarily need to run out today and buy. Similarly, if you haven’t sold certain spec books that we’ve discussed here in the weeks and months leading up to the release of the film, I think much of the opportunity to capitalize on the waves of speculation surrounding Avengers: Endgame has faded. That is not to suggest that there won’t be a new wave of speculation in the near that props up prices and sales on a lot of the same books. Nevertheless, we’ll talk about all of the emerging opportunities in detail next week. In the interim, let’s discuss what else is happening in our community.
– This is your Weekend Update!
Golden age books are booming! While many collectors are in awe of the bull market that Modern comics continue to enjoy, Golden age collectors are quietly astonished at the sales that continue to be recorded each week. For example, on April 20th, Matt Baker fans showed up with big bucks to secure a copy of his classic horror cover bidding a whopping $2,800 for a CGC 7.0 copy of Nightmare #13. The last recorded sale of this item was back in January when a CGC 3.5 copy sold for $350.00. This is an incredible shift in the price per point valuation principle employed by many collectors and indicative of the major money that collectors are paying to secure higher grade copies of rare Golden age keys.
Other monster Golden age books moved this week as well. A gorgeous copy of Mask Comics #1, which admittedly had a piece torn out of the front cover and a significant tear on the first page, sold for $3,905.00. A CGC 4.5 copy of Shock Suspenstories #6 moved for $1,083.88. It appears that each week we are seeing more and more pre-code horror comics crank out record sales numbers at a rate that it’s hard to even keep up with all of them. Just last weekend, for example, a CBCS 6.0 copy of Mysterious Adventures #17 moved for more than $3,000 in the early hours of morning on 4/20. This book is known as the notorious “bride of the dead” cover and depicts Satan attempting to wed a blonde woman to a deadman.
TV and film success doesn’t necessarily translate to speculation success
As comic books enjoy an increasingly important role in the line up of television and film studios, there’s going to be an even greater temptation for speculators to conclude that a quality film and/or television series will automatically translate to an increase in a comic book’s value. This is not necessarily the case, for a number of different reasons. Think about the wildly popular Sc-Fi network work TV show Happy. There are few that argue that this series isn’t a hit on the Sci-Fi network. It was renewed for a second season and by all accounts, the second season is quality television. The book however continues to languish. First prints of the first issue trade hands around $10.00 to $20.00. So few people are paying attention to this book that a copy of the Morrisoncon variant, which by all accounts is the premium book, sold on April 7th for $1.95. You can also look at the show Deadly Class which is again by most accounts excellent television. NM raw copies and 9.8 slabbed copies of the first issue of this book were in more demand before the show was released than they have been at any time after the release of the television series. The final example is the television show Lucifer which was a hit on major network television with three seasons under it’s belt. Even after it was canceled, it was promptly picked up for a fourth season on Netflix which has yet to air. The show has broad appeal to non-comic fans and is championed within the collecting community as quality television. That being said, there are so few sales of high grade copies of the first appearance of Lucifer Morningstar it’s hard to even reference them. One outlier is a CGC 9.8 SS copy of Sandman #4 which sold for the lackluster figure of $272.89 on March 17th. Compare this to Sandman #8 (the first appearance of Death) which has seen multiple CGC 9.8 copies move for well over $400.00 this month.
Very few books are going to do as well as Umbrella Academy and no book may ever do as well as the Walking Dead. That being said, many collectors are going to speculate on TV/film projects and that will drive sales figures and values in anticipation of the release of these properties on the big and small screen. If you are looking for longer term investments, it is absolutely necessary that you get a quality TV show and/or film, but unfortunately that it not sufficient to secure a long term increase in value. What appears to be the critical component shared by books like Umbrella Academy and the Walking Dead is that the shows inspired people who weren’t collecting the books to purchase the book. Both properties brought in new blood to the market for these titles (some already avid comic collectors and some who decided to collect comics as a result of the series). Admittedly, analyzing in detail why the Walking Dead and Umbrella Academy succeeded in doing this and shows like Lucifer, Deadly Class, Happy and others have not is a much more complicated analysis than I can accomplish in a few short sentences, but it is the kind of thing I encourage you to think about before you make speculative investments in TV and film properties.
Rise the offbeat incentive variant
In what can only be described as shocking, the 1 in 50 incentive variant for Marvel Comics Presents #4 featuring Wolverine and Moon Knight by beloved artist Bill Sienkiewicz caught fire and burned into a raging inferno. While many expected this to be a hot book and very few retailers purchase any where near 50 copies of Marvel Comics Presents, I don’t think anyone anticipated a european bidding war that ensued early this week. The live auction hovered around $150 before taking off on Monday and soaring to near the $600.00 dollar mark. By the time the auction was over, the book had sold for $595.00. It is unclear where this book will land but it is fair to conclude that it is major hit and if you haven’t secured a copy at ratio (which I did not) and still want one (thankfully I do not), you are SOL. There were a few other reported sales in the UK following the release of this book where it appears that best offers were accepted on copies listed around GBP 300.00 but I have not been able to secure any additional information about these reported sales.
Some collectors and sites are asserting that all of the aforementioned sales were manufactured, shilled, etc., but I do not have any information to confirm or deny these allegations. I’ve found that barring a few striking examples of shilled bidding, analysis of bidding history tends to lack objectivity. Whatever emotional conclusion I’ve made at the onset of my analysis is generally the conclusion which I thereafter rationalize. In other words, when I value a book at a high dollar amount then I tend to think that the bidding was legitimate, but when I don’t my mind tells me that the bidding was shilled. My experience has always been that I am better off looking for extraneous evidence (e.g., this same book was available with a BIN of xxx amount on this date). For me, it is too early to tell what the market value of this book is, but in the next few weeks after a couple more live auctions have ended we should have a much better idea of where the market price is for this book.
Variant covers are nothing new to Marvel comics, but it has been many years since we’ve seen Marvel employ the unique gimmicks that gave rise to the mega variants that gave birth to the modern variant cover movement. One of these monster variants is the Deadpool retailer incentive variant of Wolverine #1 (2010). The only way to secure a copy of this book was for a retailer to tear off the cover and of 50 copies of specified comics from a list provided from Diamond. The initial list made the book next to impossible, but Marvel loosened up and expanded the list and retailers had a August 2010 deadline to participate. This variant is probably equally rare or rarer than the Siege #3 Deadpool variant, which had a similar incentive scheme (but returning DC comic covers rather than Marvel). In total we estimate that there are about 300 copies of this book floating around in any condition. CGC 9.8 copies in Fall of 2014 were selling for around $3,000.00. Variants like this are still incredible valuable and sought after in the secondary market. Last weekend a CGC 9.6 copy of this book for $3,375.00. There are few that will suggest that we will see a new variant that will rival books like the Deadpool Wolverine #1 RI variant and/or the Siege #3 RI variant, but like the search for the next Walking Dead media property, the search for the next Deadpool RI variant continues.
Netflix Marvel Properties
If you are anxious for the return of the Netflix Marvel properties, you may want to relax and lower your expectations. Indiewire, is reporting that a production executive told them that Disney has been warned by Netflix’s lawyers not to even start developing content featuring these characters until the two year contractual interruption period is over. For example, this would mean that The Punisher would be pushed out until approximately 2013 if Disney decided to produce the character on Hulu or FX as the show wasn’t canceled until 2019. If this information is accurate, Daredevil wouldn’t be available until October 2020 to begin the development process, this means at best the character won’t return before 2021
Get ready, Joe Hill is coming
NOS4A2 (pronounced Nosferatu) is based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, and is set to premiere on June 2, 2019 on the AMC network. The novel was adapted by IDW and solicited as Wraith with multiple variant covers including a 1:10 and a Hastings variant. The A cover is a classy looking cover, but all of the covers are starting to get heat as copies are drying up on eBay and have disappeared most everywhere else. Some speculators are really hot on this book as a result of their faith in the talent of Joe Hill (who happens to be Stephen King’s son). Others are likening this property to the Strain which also began as a novel and was produced as a comic before appearing on the small screen. Either way, if you can get these books for a cheap price, there is money to be made as we approach the release of the television series.
The other major Joe Hill property that I can only assume will receive his undivided attention following the release of NOS4A2 is Locke and Key which is set to premiere on Netflix. Variety reported exclusively in February that Felix Mallard had been cast to play Lucas Caravaggio in the upcoming Netflix adaptation. The show is currently filming. This book has always been a fan favorite with a near cult like following who has championed the lovecraftian horror comic. CGC 9.8 copies of the first issue of this book are down significantly and in the last couple months have been selling for less money than they have in many years. Following the success of Umbrella Academy, look for speculators to swarm this book at the last minute attempting to secure copies when the first trailer drops.
Warner Brothers attempts to spark interest in the Swamp Thing
Following last weeks news that season one of the DC streaming series Swamp Thing may be the first, last and only season of the show, interest in the series waned. In an effort to kick start excitement around the project, DC released a killer teaser trailer. Nevertheless, it appears that fans of the Swamp Thing are less than impressed. There’s no definitive answers about the future of DC streaming but it is safe to assume that this series was incredibly expensive and Warner Brothers decided to stop spending money until it had a handle on how viewers and critics would respond to the series. If you are a Swamp Thing collector keep an eye out for opportunities as some speculators will be unloading these books in an attempt to hedge their bets on this property.
Don’t buy these on eBay
A lot of the titles we discuss here are books that are hot or are getting hot. I generally refrain from prognostication in an effort to report the what is happening in our community. Therefore, it doesn’t always make sense to look to eBay to purchase the books we discuss here. That being said, it generally makes sense to look for the modern comics we discuss here at or below cover price. A couple great examples of books that can readily be found on shelves or in back issue bins at cover price or less (at least for the time being) are the key titles associated with the character Ramone Watts a/k/a Alloy. Keep an eye out for both West Coast Avengers #9 and #10. Issue #10 is the last issue of the series and with it’s black cover is outpacing issue #9. Also keep a look out for Hawkeye #1 (2016). There’s a ton of variants including a 1:10 design variant, two 1:25 variants (the David Aja cover is asserting itself as the winner), hip hop variants, and both a color and a black and white phantom variant. These books are at retailers around the country who are too lazy to know what’s going on and they are there for you to get at or below cover price. I have no idea whether this character will do anything at all in the future or not, but these books are something that it makes sense to pick up on the cheap and either sit on them or throw them up at market price on eBay.
Deconstructing Naomi Speculation
It is hard to understand how Brian Michael Bendis created the most popular speculation comic character in history, but he did. I’ve been around the comic industry on and off since the early 90’s and there has never been a new character/title that has risen to the heights that Naomi has in the course of a mere 120 days. Naomi is now a solid $500.00 book in CGC 9.8 condition with multiple sales at or above this price point. It is not an exaggeration to state that the entire collecting community is befuddled by what has happened. One such member our community, a wise friend and comic book mentor of mine, poignantly remarked, “there have been less than 20 non-variant comics (admittedly a recent thread on the CGC board recently came up with 30+ books) in the last 30 years that are $500.00 9.8s. Is Naomi one of the best book in the last 30 years?” To be honest, I’m not so sure Naomi is one of the best books in the last 25 months.
That being said, I did not start writing this article to provide my opinions on the efficacy and soundness of judgment in the speculator community as much as I did to report what was happening in the comic community. What I will say is that I would caution collectors to not miss out on the opportunity to capitalize on this book. While there will always be mild regrets when we miss an opportunity to move a comic at a higher price point (because it jumps a few weeks or months after we sell our copies), no one wants to be the person left holding onto multiple copies of a book after its lost it’s luster. Be prudent with how many copies of this book you are holding onto and how much risk you are willing to assume on rumor and conjecture regarding the future development and integration of this character in the DC universe.
I hope you enjoyed this segment of Weekend Update. I’ll be back next week with more news and original content. In the interim, “Happy hunting! You bunch of savages!!”
– Nico, Esq.