Weekend Update with Nico
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This is your Weekend Update!
In the weeks leading up to San Diego Comic Con and the Torpedo Comic Collectors Convention, retailers, collectors and flippers are furiously toiling away to maximize their buying and selling opportunities. Comicbookspeculation.com will be with you every step of the way.
The Last Week before SDCC
This is our last week together before we get bombarded with news big and small as it trickles out of the halls of San Diego Comic Con. If you are scrutinizing your decision making about whether or not to buy a particular book in anticipation of news that will cause the value of that book to skyrocket online, I would stop while you are ahead. The reality is that there are going to be very few books that we won’t see coming in comparison to the countless pieces of information that will confirm what we have already suspected for months. If there are big announcements from Marvel, it is safe to assume that much of the information will have already leaked out of Disney and Sony. If there are big announcements from DC, it is more likely than not that someone inside Warner Brothers has intentionally or inadvertently leaked this information. Be very selective about the books that you buy in the moments following announcements from SDCC.
What is the criteria to use when making such a decision? For me, I am looking for properties like Shang Chi who get film treatment, that are classic characters where high grade copies of these books are in short supply. When news of the Shang Chi film leaked CGC 9.4’s and 9.6’s were relatively inexpensive online. Don’t get suckered into paying top dollar for the next Hit Monkey #1 (2nd print) when you can hit some retail shops and pull these books out of back issue bins. Also, think about the non-conventional books like ratio variants that you can buy before they explode in addition to 1st appearances. The price of the Morbius the Living Vampire #3 Coker variant didn’t explode for a considerable amount of time after the announcement of the film. Good luck finding that book in a dollar bin. It is the kind of book that you want to pick up at ratio because it’s super rare and paying ratio for a book like that makes sense following a major announcement.
I think it’s safe to assume that we are going to have some big announcements from Disney and Marvel comics at SDCC. I assume that they are not renting out Hall H merely to reintroduce the films and actors that we are already painfully aware are going to play a prominent role in Phase 4. I would expect some confirmation regarding as of yet unannounced films like Black Widow, the Eternals and Shang Chi. I would also anticipate that Marvel will give us some clues about when we can expect to see the next Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther and Doctor Strange films. Finally, I would expect that Marvel will have one or two big surprises under their belt. It’s safe to assume that they are going to want to steal the show at SDCC and that means they are going to have to make some big announcement(s). Whether that is a Nova film, a Fantastic Four or Doctor Doom project, Adam Warlock, Brother Voodoo or something totally unexpected, your guess is as good as mine. I would encourage you to expect the unexpected and to not be disappointed if you haven’t got around to picking up every possible book you could hope to have in anticipation of the event. Enjoy it for what it is, a celebrity media festival. If you are interested in buying floppy comic books, I suggest putting the Torpedo Comics Collector Convention on your 2020 calendar before you ever think about attending SDCC.
Warner Brothers film division is conspicuously absent from SDCC. We aren’t going to get any news about the forthcoming Wonder Woman: 1984 film and/or Todd Phillips’ film the Joker. This is disappointing and fascinating at the same time. I write below in detail about some of the developments at Warner Media following AT&T’s acquisition of the company and remain hopeful that we will actually see a New Gods film and/or a Supergirl film and/or any number of other properties which have been rumored to be in production over the course of the last year or two.
Getting to the bottom of Warner Brothers HBO Max and AT&T
Following the acquisition of Warner Brothers by AT&T and the appointment of newly appointed Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Ann Sarnoff, Warner Brothers announced HBO Max is coming to the streaming market with programming from HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, as well as a lot of originals.
Among the standout original programming offerings, subscribers can expect at least four new unnamed young adult movies from CW/DC producer Greg Berlanti, a new Dune TV show, a new Gremlins animated series, a Stephen King series starring Ben Mendelsohn, The Nevers, which is Joss Whedon’s next science fiction series, a new J.J. Abrams/Jordan Peele show, and a space satire from the creator of Veep. HBO Max will also include heavy weight titles like Friends and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Also HBO Max will include the forthcoming Watchmen, Batwoman and Katy Keene series.
The obvious question is whether this is the final nail in the coffin for the DC streaming service as it has long been rumored that it would inevitably be folded into the HBO Max service when it was launched. Note that DC television will be in attendance at SDCC and we may receive some concrete information much sooner than many anticipate. Also remember that Sandman is launching on Netflix which is presumably the number one competitor that HBO Max will face in the streaming market. The obvious question is “what does this have to do with the price of comics?” For my money, I am interested in the amount of exposure comic related titles have on television, where is the programming available and what kind of media can we anticipate being produced in the future and where. These are all longer term inquiries, but critical inquires to any predictive model for what comics to be buying and selling.
Vintage Comic Sales are Shaking the Status Quo
If you are a return visitor to this website or join us in our live podcast, you are well aware that we continue to discuss the increasingly large number of big books that are now routinely moving on eBay rather than at traditional auction houses. This week was no exception. In the Golden Age market we saw a slabbed Superman #1 conserved coverless copy sell for $8,988.88. Moments later a CGC 7.0 copy of Action Comics #252 (the first appearance of Supergirl) sold for $5,401.00. While the Superman family has been conspicuously absent from the silver screen, these books continue to demand profound numbers from serious Golden Age and Silver Age collectors.
The Pre-Code Horror market continues to thrive with big sales moving the needle on all fronts. A CGC 2.5 copy of Horrific #3 (1953) sold for $2,293. For those unfamiliar with the classic bullet in the brain cover by Don Heck, it depicts art borrowed from War Fury #1 (1952) that was cut and resized. Horrific #3 stands apart from War Fury #1 in part because it was directly referenced in Seduction of the Innocent and in part because the cover is arguably a more shocking presentation of the graphic artwork. A BIN listing on eBay for a CGC 0.5 sold earlier in the week for $1,175. This is a marked up tick on this book which last sold on eBay raw back in May 28 in a BIN listing advertising the copy in 3.0 to 3.5 condition.
Similarly, we are now seeing Phantom Ladies pop up in no reserve auctions. Phantom Lady is arguably the most coveted Good Girl Art (GGA) book of them all and copies rarely appeared online anywhere and almost never popped up on eBay. This week two copies of Phantom Lady, issue #17 which is a CGC .5 copy that presents well and issue #21 which is a raw copy in the Fair range, dropped on eBay in no reserve auctions. This further demonstrates that many believe that eBay is the premier destination to secure big numbers for their big books.
I want to talk a little bit about buying major books. The best example is Black Cat Mystery #50 (1954). There have been two recent eBay sales. One was a 2.5 Restored that sold for $3,240.00. The other was a CGC 5.0 that sold for $6,300.00. It pays to be patient when it comes to Golden Age books, and I have learned the hard way. Right now there is a CGC 5.5 copy that is sitting unsold on the CGC Boards for $6,5000.00 and a CGC 7.0 copy that is sitting unsold on the CGC Boards for $11,000.00. Clearly the buyer who paid $3,240.00 would rather have held out for the CGC 5.5 blue label copy that he can potentially negotiate the price down from rather than paying about $1,300 a point for a restored copy. What else is sitting unsold, a CGC 1.5 blue label copy on eBay where the buyer is asking $5,800 and a raw copy that is in the 1.0 to 2.0 range with an asking price of $5,500.00.
Where have I made a recent big mistake? Asking every major Golden Age dealer in the market for a random Golden Age book that I wanted. I created a false demand for a book that very few people were looking for other than me. Rather than drive copies to market, I inadvertently drove up the asking price on this book. Now if these books sell for this price, I have temporarily or permanently inflated the price of this book to my own detriment. Be careful not to do this when you are looking for a Golden Age book. Patience is the key to buying and selling Golden Age comics. The people who are the best at it, are the most disciplined investors in the comic game.
Rare Variants demand Top Dollar
Without question, the most shocking sale of the week was the Masters of the Universe #1 Wilkins variant which sold for an astonishing $5,499.99 in CGC 9.8 condition. This is a stunning number that cements this variant at the top of variant market alongside the most elite variants in the market. The Masters of the Universe #1 Wilkins variant is now as pricey as the Batman #608 RRP and the only variant that is really leaps and bounds ahead of it is the Amazing Spider-Man #667 Dell’Otto variant which is moving in private sales for as much money as an entry level copy of Amazing Fantasy #15.
Star Wars Speculation is Booming
Disney’s ambitious Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge, opened at its California Disneyland park in May and I think the people at the back of the line are just now getting on rides. Disney announced that Rise of the Resistance, its next major ride will open: December 5th in Florida’s Disney World Resort and on January 17th, 2020 in Disneyland. Disney is committed to the success of the multibillion dollar franchise and there are no signs that Disney’s investment in Star Wars will stop any time soon. As we are fast approach the release of the fifteen million dollar an episode Mandalorian series on Disney streaming, it may be time to take a hard look at Star Wars comics.
In that regard, it appears that others are already doing just that. On July 4th a 35 cent price variant of Star Wars #1 in CGC 8.5 condition sold for $5,700.00 in a live auction. This is a monster sale of a book that rarely comes to auction. As many of you are probably already aware, these Marvel price variants were released regionally in test markets and high grade copies are in extra short supply. Star Wars fans are rabid and spend money on Star Wars licensed properties. Modern Star Wars comics set sales records and resulted in the highest ratio variant I am aware of ever being printed by a publisher. While we haven’t seen any sales of this book since May of this year, the Star Wars Vader Down #1 1:4999 B/W sketch Zdarsky variant is highly coveted by collectors of Star Wars and elite variant hunters. This book has no problem fetching a thousand dollars raw and is very difficult to find in the secondary market.
There are a ton of plays if you are interested in Star Wars speculation, and I am just beginning to delve deeper into these books. First and foremost, with the forthcoming Mandalorian series by Jon Favre on Disney Plus get your copies of Star Wars #42 and #68 ready. Issue #42 of the original Marvel comics volume one has long been considered Bobba Fett’s first appearance; however, some will argue that Marvel Super Special #16 is the true 1st appearance of Bobba Fett. Marvel Super Special #16 is notoriously difficult in high grade so be cognizant of this fact when you are examining these books. Higher grade copies are always preferable, but for some books the price difference is dramatic. Like most magazine size books, this is one of those books.
Another big book for modern Star Wars comics is the 1:300 Quesada variant of Star Wars: the Force Awakens #1. It is a gorgeous cover with sales all over the board depending on condition. It’s a black cover so it’s hard, but you’ll see sales of raw copies of this book between $150.00 and $300.00. That kind of price fluctuation is an opportunity to make money on this book. It is the first appearance of Rae and is coveted by Star Wars collectors. Insofar as the next Star Wars movie may plot lines from the Dark Horse books (which Disney has previously declared non-cannon before introducing characters from this run into the Marvel Star Wars books), you may want to keep an eye out for Star Wars Dark Empire platinum books which are reportedly limited to 400 copies.
There are a number of potential Star Wars long term investment plays, unfortunately none of these books are cheap. The Star Wars Clone Wars #1 Dark Horse limited to 100 copies variant is a couple hundred dollars for a BIN on eBay and hard to find. It is the 1st appearance of Ahsoka Tano who is arguably the pivotal character in the Star Wars : The Clone Wars animated film and subsequent television series. She is introduced as the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker and has an enormous fan following. There are a ton of other key books and I am just beginning to dip my toes in the water of Star Wars comics, but this is an increasingly interesting area for me because of the rabid fan base that is willing to spend substantial money to get exactly what they want when they want it.
We do our best to provide quality speculation and insight into emerging trends so that our listeners and readers can make informed decisions about where to invest their hard earned money. That being said, there are many poor examples of speculation and perhaps we could do a better job of pointing out the trash spec picks that get passed off as “news” when they are nothing more than rumor and conjecture. One of my least favorite speculation angles is the “celebrity played dress up” angle. This week has a couple glaring examples of celebrity cosplay resulting in rumors of forthcoming castings.
The first such rumor is that DC is eyeing Daisey Ridley to play Batgirl. This rumor has caught fire after fan art surfaced of Ridley as Batgirl. The origin of this rumor is a “news” article form wegothiscovered which claimed Daisey Ridley and/or Katherine Langford would be cast as Barbra Gordon (presumably in the forthcoming film The Batman), but there has been absolutely no evidence of this other than the article in wegothiscovered. Wegotthiscovered makes a lot of allegations, but I have not seen any of there alleged insider scoops come to fruition. You can decide for yourself whether this is a bet worth making, but for my money, I strongly encourage you to refrain from putting any credence in these unsubstantiated rumors.
An even more ridiculous rumor is that Bree Larson is set to appear in the forthcoming Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic trilogy or some other Disney Star Wars property. This rumor surfaced shortly after Larsen was photographed in a Jedi costume. I liken this type of speculation to when a B list celebrity gets quoted as saying “I’d like for X to happen” in a movie and rumor mongers spread the fantastical wish of a B list celebrity as if it is a viable possibility for a plot development. If there is one thing that all smart investors do, it’s that they check their sources, do their homework and research before they invest their money.
Marvel Horror and Hulu
There are a number of speculators who are clamoring to secure high grade copies of key books from the Marvel Horror genre. We’ve already seen huge price increases in Tomb of Dracula #10 (the 1st appearance of Blade) this year and recent rumors regarding the development of a Man Thing series on Hulu have inspired some to pay an incredible amount of money for Savage Tales #1 (1971) which is the 1st appearance of Man-Thing. A recent eBay sale will set a GPA record at $1,999.99 for a CGC 9.6. This is noteworthy and should be on your radar. Collectors don’t generally set GPA records without some indicia that there is a bright future for the book/property.
Long live the Walking Dead
While the jury is still out on the future of Walking Dead comics and smart speculators continue to debate the efficacy of investing in Walking Dead comics, there is no debate about the future of the Walking Dead on the AMC network. As a matter of fact, the upcoming Walking Dead spinoff that will focus on two female protagonists has found of its leading ladies. Variety is reporting that Alexa Mansour will play a likable rebel whose sense of humor masks an inner sadness. Additional cast members include Nicolas Cantu and Hal Cumpston. Cantu will play a karate kid who’s small for his age while Cumpston will play a big-for-his-age loner who hates the fact that he scares his peers. I for one am keeping a close eye on the Walking Dead.
In more concrete news, Gizmodo is reporting that the main Walking Dead television series will see the charachter Dante added to the cast. This is peculiar because much of the character’s story arc in the comic focused on his relentless pursuit of a love interest with Maggie, but Lauren Cohan’s character has parted ways with the show. Dante first appears in the Walking Dead #131 and I do not expect for this book to take off now or following his introduction on the show. Nevertheless, it is an interesting development and may be an opportunity for a back issue bin flip. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before collectors sell there books and even more interesting to discern how long it will take before they decide to buy them all back.
For the time being there has been no shortage of interest in Walking Dead comics. A CGC 9.8 copy of issue #1 sold on Wednedsay for $2,500.00 and copies of issue #193 have been selling as low as $20.00 and as high as $45.00. Many speculators are moving this issue and other Walking Dead issues in small lots in an effort to capitalize on the renewed interest in the series fearing that as time passes there will be a fire sale on the books. It is uncertain whether or not this is the case, but as we have mentioned in the past there will always be value in the exceptionally rare books from this series. Issues like the Heroes Initiative variants, issue #35 error variant, issue #33 (2nd print), the Lucille variants, and other truly hard to find books will always have a market.
Bronze Age Good Girl Art
Much like the move from Golden Age PCH books to Bronze Age horror comics, I firmly believe that there is an opportunity to capitalize on the interest in Good Girl Art (GGA) from the DC Bronze Age. While there has been some interest in Lois Lane’s new series because of Jenny Frisson’s B cover, don’t forget about all the great bondage covers from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. Some great examples are issues #111, #120, #123 and #133. As I’ve said before, I suspect that we will see classic DC women emerge in increasingly important roles in television and film as well as in monthly comics and the move towards telling the story of Superman through the eyes of Lois Lane the fearless reporter may be one such plot devise. Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #1 (1958) is a steal right now. The last slabbed copy sold on Jun 30, 2019 for a little more than a thousand dollars. It is a gorgeous cover that has her dressed like a witch flying on a broom with a full moon in the background. You can’t beat that.
Some of my favorite Wonder Woman Bronze Age covers are her bondage covers. I am specifically a fan of issues #162, #196, #188, #199, #200, #205, #209, #215, #217, #219, #221, and #229. Issue #205 is arguably the standout. Although it is not the most striking cover by any stretch of the imagination, this issue which was written by Don Heck features Wonder Woman on her back bound with a missile between her legs and was apparently very controversial when it was originally released because of the imagery. I may be desensitized because that I didn’t appreciate that it would have been controversial until after it was pointed out to me. Also, there are some amazing Brian Bolland covers from the copper age that you should also be hip to and consider shoving in a box for safe keeping. These issues include: Wonder Woman (volume 2) #67 and #83.
If you are interested in the kinky back story behind the creation of Wonder Woman check out Professor Marston and the Wonder Women which the Guardian describes as “a drama that tells the remarkable true story behind the creation of a groundbreaking superhero.” Note that this film is about polyamory and sadomasochism. According to Vice who describes the film as “tender”…“[t]he comic was, apparently, the product of an ex-harvard psych professor’s ruminations on submission, domination, bondage, and the power of women in the world.” For example, in issue #4 of volume 1, Wonder Woman uses BDSM techniques to turn corrupt businessmen into patriots. There’s also a book called Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine that is available free online where you can read all about this stuff.
We reported early on Wednesday that IDW would have the comic speculation world going crazy in a matter of days. We were right. In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Jennika In issue #95 of the ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series received a blood transfusion and transformed into female turtle. While some have astutely pointed out that this isn’t the first female turtle, it is certainly the one that counts and IDW appears to have big plans for this character. Issue #51 is Jennika (Jenny)’s first appearance and speculators are attempting to make plays on issue #52 by pushing it as a “first full appearance.” There is a second printing of issue #95 with brand new art that has some excited, a SDCC variant and a slew of other variant issues that are forthcoming.
While I am generally apprehensive about the long term investment potential of any modern comic, I like this spec play if you can get in for a reasonable price tag. The retailer incentive cover of issue #51 is preferable to the retailer incentive for issue #95 in light of the release of the 1/200 SDCC cover which will undoubtedly be the most sought after book. If Jenny becomes part of the team, she will be featured in toys and ultimately in a film. This is a shrewd marketing move that just make sense. Young girls and grown women will more likely identify with a female turtle character than a male turtle character and that means a larger audience for a franchise that has struggled at the box office for years.
Like so many other books, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to pay market for a single copy of this book. Try and buy multiple copies, sell copies and bank profit until you have a zero capital investment position or at least a minimal capital investment in these books so that if Jenny is gone is six issues it won’t sting. If she sticks around, there is no telling what the price of these books could look like five or ten years down the road.
Beloved Drug using Dirty Hippies
The 1960’s counterculture comic series Furry Freak Brothers is beloved by fans across the globe and has sold more than 40 million copies. Today it was announced that the comic centering on three characters, Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek, Phineas T. Phreak, and Fat Freddy Frekowtski, and their pursuit of the eternal high — or to put it another way recreational drugs. There are a couple key points in your pursuit of these books. First and foremost, those who deal with underground comics are as shrewd as they come and they love to play stupid. Don’t think you are going to sneak something past them, or you may end up with a 14th printing. For my money, slabbed is the way to go on these books or you are going to need to educate yourself and that means research.
There are two key books that everyone seems to chase when it comes to the Furry Freak Brothers. The first is Feds ‘n Heads. The second is Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Be careful on these books that you appreciate and understand the indicia that marks the different printings. Also remember that just because they are later printings doesn’t mean they are valueless. Many collectors are happy to pay $50-$100 for a later copy that they can read and enjoy. Independent collectors are less inclined to obsess about graded books, first prints and high grade copies than modern ratio variant collectors, but they know what they are doing when it comes to underground comics.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Weekend Update. That’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week with more news. In the interim, “Happy hunting You bunch of savages!”
– Nico, Esq.
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