Weekend Update with Nico

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This is your Weekend Update! 

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Have you ever dated someone who was truly amazing, but they just weren’t right for you?  In other words, they had all the qualities that you wanted in a person, but there just wasn’t that spark.  Something just wasn’t right. That was the experience I had with a CGC 4.5 copy of Crime Suspenstories #22.  It is a beautiful book, one of my all time favorite covers, and a PCH Classic. I love stuff from Seduction of the Innocent and this book was the centerpiece of the congressional investigation.  But it just wasn’t right for me.
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So with great trepidation, my CGC 4.5 copy of Crime Suspenstories #22 parted ways.  I put it up in a live auction and it sold for little more than $2,500. I personally think it’s a $3,500 book (which is closer to the number that it would cost to buy one on Heritage, Comiclink and/or ComicConnect).
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Nicos CSS

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A part of my was sad to see it go, but the romantic in me knew it wasn’t the book for me.  I didn’t like that there was pencil writing on the cover of the book. I didn’t like that it needed pressed.  The reality is that the book is gorgeous, someone picked it up for a slammin deal and promptly paid (I already assumed they knew they got a slammin deal, but the prompt payment was indicative of the same).

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What the hell does this have to do with anything?  Here’s what I am challenging you to think about – do you really love your personal collection?  Are you buying books that you really love? Are you selling people books that they are passionately in love with?  How can we do a better job of this?

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I often joke that I have a lot of friends who love comics, but they are “comic book stupid”  What I really mean is that they are not “insiders.” The are normal people who love to talk comics, with but they don’t really know enough to lost the joy of the hobby.  I imagine that it must be hard for a PhD level literary, film, or theater critic to enjoy a novel, broadway play, or a movie. When you have begun to master an artform, you see all the moving parts, but it’s hard to take a stepback and allow yourself to watch them work seamlessly together.

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If you are like me and you are suffering from comic book fatigue, speculation fatigue, etc.  We can come up with a thousand names for it, and I’m sure someone has a really good one, but it isn’t me.  Anyway, if you are like me and you are suffering because you haven’t been comic book stupid for a long time.  If you are like me and you can see all the moving parts and you are losing the wonder and joy of comics. If that is the case, then maybe it’s time to allow yourself to be romanced by comics all over again.

The Next Big Thing(s)

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We are navigating a market where many claim that “everything has already been speculated on.”  In other words, the days of low hanging fruit when it comes to picking keys that haven’t already matured may be over.  That is to say, we are in a situation where there are very few key books that are “undervalued.” That is a demonstration of a mature market and a good sign of price stability across the market, but that means as speculators/investors we have to be smarter about our picks, work harder than the competition and that the days of feeling are way through our speculation/investment strategy are over.

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What I have noticed more and more about comics is that readers reward quality story telling as does Hollywood.  In other words we are seeing prices move on books that have a rabid fan base and Hollywood utilize storylines and storytellers that convey a heart felt message.

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Recently we’ve seen Jason Aason’s run on Thor embraced by Kevin Feige with the appropriation of the Jane Foster storyline.  Similarly, we’ve heard rumblings in Hollywood that Kieron Gillen’s Die is getting a lot of attention and just this week websites are reporting that Monstress is getting a small screen treatment on HBO: Max.  What does all of this mean for the future of comics? In large part, I think it means that there is always a reason to buy and hold books are amazing stories. That your intuition to buy and cherish titles that win Eisner awards is well placed.  Finally, I think it means that solid spec that once was hot because of the quality of the writing/art is never bad spec.

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I want to think for a second about one of those books.  One of my personal favorites that Chew #1 CGChad a rabid fan base and at one time was getting a lot of attention in Hollywood.  The book that I’m thinking about is Chew #1. The story of Tony Chew is about an FDA detective named Tony Chu who gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats (i.e., Tony takes a bite of a chicken, from that small bite he visualized the chicken being born, the farm he was raised on, all the way up to the butcher who slaughtered him).  At one time, this was the hottest title in comics and was slated for an animated adaptation with voice actors Steven Yeun, Felecia Day and Robin Williams. The animated treatment went side ways following Williams death. The Hollywood Reporter indicated that David Tennant was going to fill Williams role, but ultimately the project never got the Hollywood treatment that I and many others believed it deserved.  Long story short, this is the kind of book that I think you should be buying. Books that deserve Hollywood adaptation because they were amazing. It is the reason why last week, I suggested that it was a good idea to think about buying copies of Saga, and the reason why books like Monstress #1 were a good pick before the recent news cycle about the series getting attention in Hollywood.

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There are a ton of other books that fit in this same category.  Harrow County is another great example that checks a ton of boxes.  There are a ton of variant covers, it’s tough to find copies of this book in the wild, but they are inexpensive on eBay.  Hack/Slash is another great example of a book that is destined for Hollywood treatment that has had a lot of interest (so much so that it once advertised it on a banner on the book) and it is relatively certain that it will receive more interest in the future.  How about books like Akira #1 and Akira #38. Same analysis and while you are going to have to be the judge about when is the opportune time to buy in, there is an opportunity to secure some amazing books with awesome potential at a fraction of the cost. In an effort to be proactive, I would think about picking up these kinds of books ahead of the news cycle.
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Similarly, there is no predicting what kind of price tags serious collectors will pay for beloved independent books.  We’ve seen Albedo #2 (1st appearance of Usagi Yojimbo) sell for astronomical sums already and this week we a record breaking sale for Crow #1 with a CGC 9.8 selling for $3,200.00.  I suspect that we will continue to see jaw dropping prices for rare independent books into the future, but it is going to be essential to focus on high grade copies key books if you are looking for the next Albedo #2 or Crow #1.
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This week news broke that Jeff Smith’s beloved character Bone is being animated at Netflix.  First prints of the first issue of this book are scarce in any grade and I suspect Thorn_ Tales From the Lantern - a very rare…that we will see explosive growth for this book.  Add me to the long list of characters who loved this book as a child and will now be unwilling to pay the profound price tag that a NM copy of this book will fetch.  Prior to the news, the last CGC 9.6 copy of issue #1 last sold on eBay on August 27th for $2,000. On Wednesday, a CGC 9.6 copy sold for $2,199.99. I suspect that this will be considered a deal in the coming months as excitement builds for this character’s adaptation at Netflix.  Thorn Tales from the Lantern (1982) is the big boy. I’ve never seen one in real life, but it is the first appearance of the character and a true ghost. Note that a Bone comic strip also ran in the Ohio State University school newspaper from 1982-1986 and I have never seen one of these for sale either.

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In a week where people where getting excited that the Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy is getting Sang Kyu Kim as a replacement showrunner for Steven DeKnight, the news about Bone has left many independent comic fans faint.  Keep an eye on this series, if the cartoon is as well received as the show, this may be the biggest development in comics in a long time.

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The People’s Champ

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If you joined us this past Tuesday on the comicbookwars podcast, then you already know how excited I am that Kevin Feige has been elevated to Chief Creative Officer at Marvel.  Feige is an old school comic book guy who honors the traditions and storylines that have made comics great in a way that speaks to generations of movie goers. The move by Disney to position Feige atop of all creative direction for Marvel is much more than a symbolic gesture.  To the contrary, it is a direct message that Disney values the Marvel Cinematic Universe and wants its television and film apparatus to work in unison with print comics.
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This means that all of the forth coming true believer comics are now much more interesting to comic book speculators.  This means that there is at least the possibility that we will have Donnie Cates, Jason Aaron and Al Ewing contributing at meetings with Hollywood television and film producers.  Most of all it means that there is a single point of accountability for all of the creative decisions made at Marvel. This is big news and a sure fire sign that the library of Marvel comics is more important than ever to its television and film counterparts at Disney.  On behalf of comicbookspeculation.com and the comicbookwars podcast on YouTube – congratulations to Kevin Feige.
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In terms of speculation, I suggest taking a harder look at the books, characters and series that changed Marvel comics.  I would think about the projects we’ve heard Feige discuss in the past that didn’t have firm foothold in the comics and wait and see to what extent these characters may be re-introduced in an effort to familiarize hardcore comic fans before these characters appear on the screen.

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If I am a betting man, I suspect that we will see the events of the cinematic universe bare a closer relationship to the stories that are told on the pages of Marvel comics and look forward to a time when we can affectionately describe Marvel Comics as the House of Ideas again.
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For my purposes, I intend to pay extra close attention to whether or not we see the return or re-imagining of properties like Power Pack, Ironheart, Namor, Kazar, Captain Britain, Dark Avengers, Nova and Werewolf by Night in the pages of forthcoming Marvel Comics.  All of these properties have had some sort of serious Marvel Movie speculation at one time in the past, but none of these properties have been explicitly confirmed by Marvel as currently in development. Similarly, I think it is going to be incredibly telling how Hickman’s re-imagined X-Men will continue to develop, what direction the Fantastic Four will take in the coming months and whether Feige will shake up the creative teams on these books.  For my money, I will not be surprised to see some major creators deciding that they want to work for Feige and jumping ship to Marvel Comics.
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The future of DC Speculation 

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Maybe one of the most frequently made suggestions from informed speculators/investors is to buy DC keys which are often perceived to be undervalued.  I for one am not a fan of using the term “undervalued” in this sense. When I talk about a book being “undervalued” what I generally mean is that a dealer and/or retailer has a book priced at far less than the value that myself and others place on this book in the current market.  To suggest that something is “undervalued” in the traditional sense of “everyone should value at a higher price tag and will in the future realize the scarcity and worth of the item” is more of an amateurish observation. It assumes that everyone else is stupid and that they will come around in time.  It reminds me of the guy who is waiting around on an ex-girlfriend to come to the realization that he is the one or some other sort of egomaniacal fantasy.
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Sure, some books are undervalued because the market doesn’t appreciate how rare they are and/or because some definite future event is known to certain people but not everyone and that event is a known value driver.  But by in large, these situations are few and far between. Similarly, to suggest that DC keys are somehow collectively “undervalued” is silly.
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Notwithstanding the foregoing, there is a big opportunity to scoop up books for less than market price when people are busy paying attention to other news.  My analysis is always that the best time to buy a book is before people start talking about it and that the second best time is when people stop talking about it.
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In that regard, now may be an opportune time to pick up those key Sandman books we’ve discussed in prior weeks.  Sandman #1 and Sandman #8 (particularly the Karen Barger variant) are books to be looking for right now. Similarly, the heat is off Mister Miracle, New Gods and Apocolypse.  Think about picking up Mister Miracle #1 (1971), #2 (House of Secrets #92(1st appearance of Granny Goodness), #4 (1st appearance of Big Barda), etc. Think about spending the cash on key books like the first appearance of Batgirl in Detective Comics #359, the first appearance of Supergirl in Action Comics #252 or the first appearance of Zatanna in Hawkman #4 as longer term investment books.  These are blue chip books and when they eventually pop they will enjoy explosive growth. Don’t wait around to buy these books, be proactive and buy them ahead of news cycles and tv/film speculation. The same analysis applies to books like the first appearance of characters like John Constantine, Swamp Thing (House of Secrets #92 is way down right now) and any number of other characters who have yet to enjoy their day in the spotlight.

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Think about a book like the first appearance of Sinestro.  For my money, it is a great book to buy if you are like many other and have reservations about the number of Green Lantern iterations that have worn the ring, the prospective length of the hold, etc.  It is unclear exactly which Green Lantern would be featured in a rumored Green Lantern HBO Max series or film franchise and the buy in on the first appearance of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern #7Showcase #22 is substantial. However, the first appearance of Sinestro in Green Lantern #7 is a relatively inexpensive purchase for a major Silver Age key and when Green Lantern gets a TV show and/or film, this is undoubtedly the adversary that will be utilized to tell the tale.  The last CGC 7.0 sold for less than a thousand dollars and CGC 4.5 sold for $365.00 on October 1st. This is the price of most any modern CGC 9.8 worth thinking about and clearly an obtainable book that is a great example of a long term blue chip key that you can add to your collection by buying, pressing/cleaning, slabbing and flipping modern spec books. I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy this book by any means, but it is the kind of book that I would encourage you to think about picking up with the proceeds of speculation wins.

 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of  Weekend Update. My apologies for the short article this week, I have a convention to prepare for.  I am bringing a few boxes to Baltimore Comic Con and will be set up with Rob from Moving Pictures Comics and Collectibles at booth 405.  Please come and introduce yourself and buy books from Rob. If you read this article, I’m already intimidated by your skill set.

 

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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3 comments

  • “Thorn Tales from the Lantern (1982) is the big boy. I’ve never seen one in real life, but it is the first appearance of the character and a true ghost.“

    Thorn is definitely a tough to find book, but it’s not a first appearance; it collects the strips and those strips are the real first appearances of the Bone characters.

  • Nice article.

    What is your opinion on Amazing Spider-man #238? I think this book has been undervalued for a long time.

    I appreciate your response.

    Thanks

  • Great article!!! For some reason I’m banking on Simon Baz Green Lantern iteration to do something before anybody else …….. Green Lantern #0 New 52 FCBD 1st appearance

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