Weekend Update with Nico
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This is your Weekend Update!
We are closing in on Baltimore and New York Comic Con. Those are the last two big cons before the end of convention season and the comic market is raging like a wild inferno. I want to spend some time at the onset talking about collector/speculator styles and the importance of refraining from black and white thinking in the speculation market.
Ask yourself, “am I more proactive or more reactive?” Some collectors hit eBay the moment that they get a news alert. Whether its a SDCC or D23 announcement, a key collector alert or a Top Ten list, reactive collectors tend to run out and buy the books. If you are reading this article, chances are you are more of a proactive collector. In other words, if you identify as a speculator, I suspect that you work real hard to predict the trends. What I want to encourage you to think about is when it pays to be reactive. When it pays to scoop up issues online in anticipation of a spike and when it pays to unload books to other speculators/investors who are compulsively reacting to news.
What I encourage you do is to be responsive rather than reactive. In other words, respond to market influences thoughtfully and deliberately whether its a news story on deadline, a tweet from Donnie Cates or information gleaned from a group on MeWe. Be deliberate and methodical about the choices that you make when you are buying and selling books.
Young Avengers – Kate Bishop
Monday variety broke exclusively rumours centered around Hailee Steinfeld being a prospective star of the Hawkeye television series. Steinfeld is a fan favorite because of her music career as well as her breakout role in the Bumblebee film. Kate Bishop is a couple years away from having her own TV show, and there is absolutely time to pick up key books. One that I am personally fond of is the 2nd print “Not for Resale” variant of Young Avengers #1 that comes in the Toybiz toy. CGC had not delineated these books on the census the last time I looked and the vast majority of these books are mangled by the manner in which they were packaged inside of the box insofar as the way that they bound in the box makes it nearly impossible to find a 9.8 candidate. Keep an eye out for these books. They are hidden gems and you can find them in the wild, discarded in dollar bins by retailers who don’t appreciate the prospective value of these books.
I’m someone who has been pushing newsstand variants for a long time and have already reminded you that these books all have newsstand variants. Check the indicia on the covers of the copies that you are pulling out of boxes at shows. Look at the copies you already have. Both the Hawkeye books and the Young Avengers books have newsstand editions. If for no other reason than many collectors are searching for these editions, you should be looking them up and buying them when they are being sold for the same price as the direct market counterpart. There continues to be a lot of opportunities to make money selling these books.
As we approach the release of the Joker film we are seeing speculators flock to books like Batman #251 (1973), Joker #1 (1975), The Killing Joke (1988), and Detective #880 (2011). We’ve highlighted Joker spec for more than six months and I would not encourage you to be buying these books right now unless you want these books for your personal collection. What I would encourage you to do is think about what’s coming next. It’s highly probable that Warner Brothers is already eyeing its next DC Dark film and that they will target an incredibly artistic director to spearhead the next project.
Some are already talking about a Lex Luther film with Brian Cranston playing Lex Luther. Others are suggesting that we will see something closer to John Constantine, Zatanna or the Swamp Thing. Still others point to the enduring popularity of Harley Quinn and suggest that the forthcoming DC Dark miniseries are already foreshadowing that Harley Quinn is the character who DC is focusing on pushing. This may be far too early in the speculation game to predict with probability and any level of relative certainty the direction of Warner Brothers next “elseworld” esque film; however, it is absolutely something you should be cognizant of and thinking about down the road.
Regardless of whether you think Harley Quinn is and will continue to suffer the same fate as the Punisher did in the 90’s (over exposure diluting the character to the point that he was permanently removed as an A lister). No one can disagree that her books are dirt cheap right now. I for one gave up on finding a CGC 9.8 copy of the newsstand edition of Batman Adventures #12. Perhaps I should start looking again. Take a look at some of her rare and formerly popular books. They are not moving but listed at about half what they used to regularly sell for. Admittedly her monthly comic book is bad and has been bad for a long, long time. However, the way her character was written in Batman: the White Knight was really enjoyable for me. Similarly, the Suicide Squad film was difficult for me to watch at points in time, but I legitimately enjoyed the first half of that film. Similarly, like many others I got nervous about the Birds of Prey film after some of the initial photographs and reports leaked. On the other hand, the reviews have been really solid for the film. I for one have no real hard and fast opinions about this character or these books. I think there is real risk in picking these books up right now, but there is the potential for a real reward if fans return to this character. Note that the Batman/Harley Quinn (1999) prestige book with the Alex Ross cover was at one time the exact same price as Batman Adventures #12. It is just a matter of time before people start arguing about the virtue of a black Alex Ross cover, blah, blah, blah and I suspect that we will see this book shoot up in price accordingly.
This week DC announced that Daniel Warren Johnson will write and draw Wonder Woman: Dead Earth. This new DC Dark imprint which sees Wonder Woman awakening in a post-apocalyptic future with altered powers. Not much more is known about the book which is being released in December; however, it is indicative of the fact that DC is willing to continue to explore these darker gritty stories with its main characters and permit creators to explore more plot lines than many had feared following the censorship of the batawang. I do not necessarily suspect this particular book to go anywhere, but I do suspect that it is simply a matter or time before another DC Dark book takes the speculator market by storm. Irrespective of the same, believe that we should be keeping a close eye on these books with a relative level of security in the notion that it is simply a matter of time before Warner Media begins to look to DC Dark for inspiration on the big and small screen.
If you listen to the comicbookwars podcast then you heard us discussing the move by many Golden Age collectors to secure copies of Pulps ahead of the curve. I want to spend some time discussing Pulps and the reasons why I suspect that many sophisticated collectors are moving towards Pulps. First and foremost, the move by CGC to grade less conventionally sized periodicals including oversized magazines like Warrior Magazine has made some collectors hopeful that there is a future where Pulps will be professionally graded. Second, collectors need something to chase. The fact of the matter is that Pulps have gorgeous artwork (many Pulps are painted) and some really phenomenal artists, including Alex Schomburg covers. It is virtually impossible to find Schomburg Golden Age comics that are reasonably inexpensive. It absolutely possible to secure Schomburg Pulp covers for less than $100.00. Take the time to search Schomburg pulps on eBay and I promise you will be delighted by what you find.
I want to highlight one specific cover Weird Tales, October 1933. This book is the famous Bat Woman cover and it is impossible to find a high grade cover for less than $1,000.00 online. It is unclear how much upside there is for a book like this, but if Pulps take off in the way that many are forecasting, you can put a zero on the end of the price tag. Don’t let my taste in Pulps persuade you to focus on this or any specific issue. The reality is that this market is just explode and continues to mature as more and more comic art collectors matriculate into the Pulp market. Nevertheless there is already an elaborate Pulp market with sophisticated buyers and sellers of Pulps, and a ton for us all to learn about these books if we are so inclined. Keep an eye out for Pulps when you hit antique malls, antique books stores and other non-conventional places where you are hunting for comics. There are infinitely fewer hunters looking for these books in the wild and deals to be had.
While there are very few of us who have the resources or the capital to purchase a copy of the All-Story from October of 1912, it is important to appreciate that this is where Edgar Rice Burrows’ character Tarzan first appeared in print. What you may be less familiar with is that Weird Tales, December, 1932 is the 1st Conan story by Robert E. Howard and that Conan first appeared on the cover on a gorgeous Weird Tales cover in May 1934. Similarly, Pulps have stories from HP Lovecraft and a rich history with writers and fans of fiction. These are in my opinion tragically undervalued and underappreciated. Rather than spending a few hundred dollars on an incentive variant, that may be dead spec in a few months, think about investing some money in one of these books now while comic collectors are still on the fence about whether they want to dive into collecting these amazing books.
Remember that time when I told you to Buy Tank Girl
Much like the Joker books, now is far from the most opportune time to start hunting for Deadline Magazine #1 or Tank Girl #1 (1991). If you aren’t already in a position to be selling these books (and regular readers will recall that we discussed this character and I suggested buying these books months ago), the question you’ve got to be asking yourself is – is there room for these books to grow? Clearly, Tank Girl is a character who is every bit as popular as Usagi Yojimbo and the Crow. It is one of the most iconic independent comics in the last 35 years and it isn’t going away. Nevertheless, the lesson of Hell Boy and other independent films (and television series) is that once the projects get made, the books tend to fade away into obscurity. My suggestion is that if you are interested in these books for your Personal Collection three months from now is potentially the start of the last time to buy moderately reasonably priced copies until six months after the movie gets made. If Margot Robbie builds a franchise it may be the last time to get these books without spending tons of money – period. The Deadline magazine book is genuinely rare in any grade. Tank Girl #1 (1991) is rare in high grade. There are a total of 20 CGC 9.8 copies on the census. The highest graded copy of Deadline #1 is a CGC 8.5. A Deadline #1 in CGC 8.0 condition sold for $449.00 in July. Today, the cheapest copy of this book available on eBay is a CGC 7.0 for $1,200.00. I don’t suspect that the price tag on this book will come down any time soon.
MCU Black Night a/k/a the Mad King
I am legitimately shocked at the enduring interest in the Black Knight. While I have been vocal about my disappointment in the market’s choice of Avenger #47 rather than Avengers #48, I am nothing short of stunned at the staying power of this character. Many of our readers have heard me discuss the fact that the eBay top ten trending items is an incredible resource for the comic speculator. Following the D23 announcements (which included a number of Eternals character castings, including the casting of Sersi – the matriarch of the Eternals series), She-Hulk, Kamala Khan and Moon Knight – the Black Knight was the character who lead the day in eBay search terms.
Collectors have been flocking to Dane Whitman’s appearances in Avengers #47 and #48. These books had already seen major spikes following early leaks about the character’s appearance in the MCU. The book that is starting to heat up now is the Atlas published Golden Age first appearance of the Black Knight in Black Knight #1. This book is a Stan Lee classic and it is incredibly rare. On September 5th we saw a live auction for a copy that was missing the back cover end at $173.50. On Thursday, a low grade copy with a major tear, detached staple(s) and missing pieces sold for more than $500.00. This book is becoming a monster. Keep your eyes on this book.
Explosive PCH growth
The Pre Code Horror (PCH) market lost its mind this week when a CGC 3.0 copy of Mask #1 CGC sold in a live auction on comicconnect for $11,422. There are about 50 slabbed copies of this book that has always been a major PCH key but this auction result is truly astonishing. Earlier this year a CGC 6.0 sold for around $13,000.00. The holder of the highest graded copy commented on the auction results on Instagram as follows: “Glad I bought this book before people lost their minds It’s a great book, but it’s not THAT great.”
Whether you think it’s “THAT great” or not, there is no denying that this is an unbelievable result for this book. It is such a remarkable result that many PCH collectors doubt the validity of the sale. I am not necessarily one of those collectors but I continue to be shocked with the sales numbers that PCH books bring in live auctions. If you aren’t paying attention to these books, I strongly encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourself with this market. There are some rabid collectors, some amazing people and some truly breathtaking opportunities to make money buying and selling Pre-Code Horror comics. One PCH collector who I truly respect recently remarked to me in a private conversation that he is not buying PCH books because the prices are simply insane right now.
Don’t chase this week’s hot garbage
I’m as excited as anyone about the opportunity to purchase hot books. I like to be able to splurge with the money I made from cashing in on other wise investments. And my experience is that I often give the advice I need to hear. That being said, don’t chase this week’s hot garbage. We all know what those books are. Sometimes you see them on the various top ten comic websites and/or Key Collector Top Ten, sometimes we talk about them on Tuesday in the first few minutes of the podcast, it doesn’t matter necessarily who puts the bad idea in your brain – what is important is that you are able to discern what books you should be aware are hot so that you promptly flip them, what books you shouldn’t risk flipping because they are going to be stone cold by the time they get delivered and what books you can’t buy enough of.
Comic book collecting is a labor of love and the full fruit of any labor of love always comes in its right season. Sometimes it is a selling season for a particular title and other times it is a slabbing season for a particular time. There is a time to sell and a time to buy. Be intentional about the decisions you make to buy and sell books.
Remember that we are great ones for self deception. It is the nature of addictive behavior. It’s really easy to rationalize the most destructive behaviors (e.g., “I should buy this now before it goes up, I don’t want to buy this now because it’s already gone up some, etc.) and to miss the opportunities that are right in front of us. Do your best to take a step back. Take a week or two off and don’t buy or sell anything and gain some perspective. Talk to people about comics that don’t have the same collecting habits as you. Gain some perspective from someone else and you will improve the gains in your speculating practices.
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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