3/28/04 - The new Overstreet Price Guide is scheduled to be released on 21 April. I always look forward to the Guide. There have been discussions the book has become irrelevant due to the advent of slabbed comics and their prices not being listed, different buy prices on eBay, or true NM comics routinely getting multiples of guide. While I'll agree these may be valid arguments for collectors, the fact is the majority of collectors DON'T buy slabbed comics, tend to treat eBay as a wholesale warehouse so expect prices to be lower, and don't pay multiples of guide for true NM raw copies; if they did they would be buying slabbed comics. They are perfectly happy with buying mid and higher grade raw copies and that's what makes Overstreet valuable to these collectors. Also, the Guide is just what it says it is; a guide on comics prices. It's not the end all for what a collector should spend or a dealer should sell a comic. It provides a reference for collectors to get a gauge on how much, theoretically, their collections are worth.
So in anticipation of the new guide, I thought it'd be interesting to look back at an Overstreet Guide from the past. 1977 to be exact.....
The 1977-1978 guide didn't even identify itself as an "Overstreet" guide. It was simply known as the "Comic Book Price Guide" in those days and was the 8th edition in the series. Sporting a Women in Comics cover by Bill Ward, the guide has most of the same aspects as today's editions. A short synopsis on collecting comics, a couple articles, a market report, the price guide, pictures of various comics (probably very valuable to collectors in those pre-Internet/Gerber Photo Journal days), and multiple pages of ads.
The articles in the guide focused on Jay Disbrow's recollections of working on comics in the early 1950s, Bill Ward, and women in comics through the ages. Pretty generic, though informative, stories that can easily be found with an Internet search these days.
The market report was one page buried in the collecting comics section. What was hot in 1977? Evidently Good condition comics were selling well. The Dell/Gold Key file copies had just entered the market and there was worry about how many there actually were in the warehouse. Carl Barks duck paintings were commanding high prices (a Money Bin painting having sold for $6,000 while $10,000 wasn't uncommon for nicer paintings!). And finally, two copies (G/VG and F/VF) of Marvel Comics #1 were sold; both for $7,500 a piece. That's essentially it. No dealer reports. No in-depth convention reports. No other evaluation of the market in the whole guide. Collectors evidently had to do their own leg work in 1977! There was though a section called Investor's Data....
First spreadsheet is the Top 100 comic titles by price of a COMPLETE MINT RUN in the guide. The Top 10 with a rundown of prices for the last 4 years:
|1977 Price||1976 Price||1975 Price||1974 Price|
|Marvel Mystery Comics||$21,130||$16,660||$10,528||$7820|
|More Fun Comics||$12,183||$8,712||$7,174||$5,474|
|Walt Disney's Comics & Stories||$11,327||$9,527||$8,033||$6,314|
Next is the Top 50 complete runs which have increased in value since 1971. The Top 10 with 1977 and 1971 MINT values:
|1977 Price||1971 Price|
|Marvel Mystery Comics||$21,130||$2,854|
|More Fun Comics||$12,183||$2,816|
|Walt Disney's Comics & Stories||$11,327||$1,487|
Finally is the Top 50 comics which have increased in value since 1971. The Top 10 with 1977 and 1976 values. I've also included the 2003 guide ranking for comparison:
|1977 Price||1976 Price||2003 Ranking|
|Marvel Comics #1||$7,500||$5,000||3|
|Action Comics #1||$5,250||$4,200||1|
|Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1||$4,500||$2,000||36|
|Batman #1||$1,800||$1,600||6 (Tie)|
|Captain America #1||$1,800||$1,500||6 (Tie)|
|Walt Disney's Comics & Stories Vol 1 #1||$1,800||$1,200||42|
I find it interesting how far MPFW #1 and WDC&S #1 have fallen down the rankings over the years.....
Now on to the Price Guide itself. Of note only three prices are listed: GOOD, FINE and MINT. Also the typeset is crude and large compared to recent guides. Three pages could probably be condensed to one in the current guide. The real interesting part is the prices though. To give an example of today's prices versus those in 1977, I'll use the current OS listing of the Top 10 Silver and Bronze Comics and add another with various notable keys from those eras:
|1977 Price||2003 Price||% Change|
|Amazing Fantasy #15||$360||$48,000||133X|
|Showcase #4 (Flash)||$450||$38,000||84X|
|Amazing Spider-Man #1||$300||$32,000||107X|
|Fantastic Four #1||$600||$32,000||53X|
|Incredible Hulk #1||$240||$19,000||79X|
|Showcase #8 (Flash)||$150||$16,000||107X|
|Showcase #9 (Lois Lane)||$45||$9,600||213X|
|Brave and the Bold #28||$27||$7,500||278X|
|The Flash #105||$150||$7,500||50X|
What's surprising is the low price of Brave and the Bold #28. I guess collectors didn't care much for old Justice League of America stories.....
|1977 Price||2003 Price||% Change|
|Incredible Hulk #181||$1.20||$1,150||958X|
|Giant Size X-Men #1||$1.80||$1,125||625X|
|Star Wars #1 (.35 Variant)||$4.50||$750||167X|
|House of Secrets #92||$21||$725||36X|
|DC 100 Page SS #5||$1.05||$650||619X|
|All-Star Western #10||$.45||$500||1111X|
|Vampirella Special HC||N/A||$475||N/A|
This list isn't really fair as the Bronze Age wasn't over in 1977 so listings for later Vampirellas and Cerebus weren't included. Of note though, Wolverine was broken out individually so there is evidence that the character was getting hot in 1977. Also, the Star Wars 35 cent variant hadn't been broken out yet. The price used was for a normal #1 copy. The late 70s was indeed under Star Wars mania.....
Now finally, a list of notable keys. I don't claim it's exhaustive. Just a sampling of those issues that don't normally make the Top 10:
|1977 Price||2003 Price||% Change|
|Action Comics #252||$30||$2,300||77X|
|Adventure Comics #247||$36||$6,800||189X|
|Amazing Spider-Man #3||$60||$3,600||60X|
|Amazing Spider-Man #14||$18||$2,800||156X|
|Amazing Spider-Man #50||$3||$650||217X|
|Amazing Spider-Man #129||$.75||$260||347X|
|Captain America #100||$4||$525||131X|
|Challengers of the Unknown #1||$60||$3,000||50X|
|DC 100 Page SS #6||$2||$220||110X|
|Fantastic Four #3||$150||$3,500||23X|
|Fantastic Four #5||$75||$4,800||64X|
|Fantastic Four #12||$30||$1,900||63X|
|Fantastic Four #25||$12||$575||48X|
|Fantastic Four #48||$12||$1,350||113X|
|Green Lantern #76||$18||$275||15X|
|House of Mystery #174||$.45||$85||189X|
|House of Secrets #81||$.60||$80||133X|
|Incredible Hulk #102||$5||$300||60X|
|Iron Man #1||$12||$575||48X|
|Iron Man #55||$1.50||$120||80X|
|Journey into Mystery #83||$225||$7,000||31X|
|Journey into Mystery #112||$4.50||$320||71X|
|Justice League of America #1||$60||$5,300||88X|
|Marvel Tales #1||$15||$385||26X|
|My Greatest Adventure #80||$2||$650||325X|
|Our Army At War #83 (Sgt Rock)||$5||$2,500||500X|
|Phantom Stranger #1||$3||$130||43X|
|Rawhide Kid #17||$6||$450||75X|
|Richie Rich #1||$30||$2,100||70X|
|Sgt Fury #1||$36||$2,000||26X|
|Showcase #22 (Green Lantern)||$60||$6,400||107X|
|Silver Surfer #1||$30||$625||21X|
|Space Family Robinson #1||$9||$325||36X|
|Star Trek #1 (GK)||$12||$550||46X|
|Strange Tales #101||$36||$1,350||38X|
|Strange Tales #110||$15||$1,700||113X|
|Strange Tales Annual #2||$18||$1,000||56X|
|Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #134||$1.50||$90||60X|
|Tales of Suspense #39||$105||$6,400||61X|
|Tales of Suspense #58||$4.50||$375||83X|
|Tales to Astonish #27||$120||$5,000||42X|
|Teen Titans #1||$6||$325||54X|
|Weird War Tales #1||$1.50||$300||200X|
All very interesting. A couple of quick notes though. Number 1 overall, it's curious that JLA #1 commanded a higher price than B&B #28. I guess collectors were more eager to collect the series than the first appearance? Also, Neal Adams was already hot in 1977 so the multiples from then to now tend to be lower as the comics were already priced higher.
So there you have it. A trip back 25 years to see what collectors then were paying for comics, according to Overstreet, and what they thought were most desirable versus what we know now. Somebody 25 years from now will probably do the same comparison and find the same differences in collecting goals. Some collectors today tend to think they are keen on what will and won't be hot in a decade's time. Some are actually right but the reality is, as in most hobbies, no one knows what the future holds. So collect what you like and don't go chasing the money. You'll be much happier for it.....
3/25/04 - It looks like Marvel Comics may be finding their way back into 7-11s and drugstores in the very near future. As you're probably already well aware, one of the major obstacles in getting new readers into the hobby is the disappearance of comics at corner shops, convenience stores, and pretty much anywhere that isn't an independently run comics shop. Looks like this may change according to this news release. The announced agreement between Marvel and Source Interlink, a distribution company with access to 8,000 retail outlets, sounds great on the surface and should prove an interesting experiment to settle the old argument of whether pushing comics back into general distribution will generate new readers in this day and age of declining readership across all media. I've been critical of Marvel in the past due to what I believe has been their short sighted vision for the future of this hobby. Actions such as this agreement makes me wonder if in fact they're thinking farther out than I've given them credit for......
3/17/04 - When I first started reading comics regularly in the early 1970s, the Avengers was one of my favorite titles. I say one of my favorites because nothing surpassed the Fantastic Four in my young eyes. But that's another story. For those that might not know, the Avengers were the resident super team of the Marvel Universe. A collection of heroes that could tackle the most powerful villains. The title though was more than just your generic superhero free for all in the early 1970s. The continuing storyline outlining the love affair between Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, an android, was a very topical comment on the racial divide in the US so recently after the Civil Rights movement had made great strides. The Living Bomb story, detailing people whose hatred of the affair was so deep they strapped bombs on their backs in an attempt to kill the Vision, is still as topical today as it was in 1973.
I continued to read and enjoy the Avengers until the late 1970s when I stopped collecting and diverted my attention more towards girls, sports. and other assorted "stuff". I picked up the title again in late 1986 and it seemed as if I'd never been gone. The ongoing storyline at the time was the "Siege of Avengers Mansion" by the Masters of Evil; a truly great story that ranks among the best of the entire series. Over the years, the title had it ups and down but I have to say I enjoyed it more than didn't. Then in 1996, everything changed....
Marvel announced that four titles were going to be canceled and the numbering restarted with a new #1. The titles were going to be 12-issue mini-series' called "Heroes Reborn". The HR titles were going to be out of continuity and guided by two of the more popular artists at the time; Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee. Both had left Marvel 4 years earlier to start Image Comics, an independent publisher that directly targeted Marvel and DC's fan base. Liefeld was slated to take over the Avengers and Captain America titles and Lee would oversee Fantastic Four and Iron Man. Each artists was scheduled to provide the art for 6 of the 12 issues. To say I was unhappy is an understatement. I couldn't believe that Marvel could so casually cancel titles that had been a part of the line from the beginning. It seemed to me at the time that Marvel was disrespecting both their history and collectors who, like me, had bought every issue even if the current story wasn't the greatest. Now they were giving the reins to these upstarts who had a reputation of lame stories and missed deadlines since they started Image.
To say Heroes Reborn was a disaster is being kind. Lee's titles were generally much better written and drawn (Lee is a wonderful artist). Liefeld's titles on the other hand were terrible. The Avengers and Captain America were barely readable with art that was sloppy and rushed. And not surprising, all the HR titles started running very late. Liefeld's run was so bad that Marvel fired him after 6 issues and gave the titles to Lee to finish out. New artists and writers were brought in but they couldn't fix already incoherent storylines. All HR issues ran an additional issue (13 in all) to allow a crossover between Lee's characters and Marvel's before the "experiment" was ended.
The Avengers title went on hiatus for 4 months before the title was restarted with yet another new #1 in early 1998. The relaunch, called Heroes Return, would return the characters to established continuity and was much hyped by Marvel. Questions were asked by fans on why the title didn't just resume the original numbering that had ended with HR? The excuse given was new fans were more apt to pick up a #1 versus #403. They further justified the renumbering by saying a poll had been done with retailers and the results indicated starting with a new #1. Who they talked to and when this poll was accomplished was never made known and retailers who contributed to the various internet newsgroups had not been contacted. Not surprisingly, Avengers Vol 3 was much better than HR (most anything would have been) and has had a couple of stories that rank as the best ever (Ultron being one).
Flash to today.........Marvel recently announced they intend to cancel the current Avengers title in October and relaunch with a new #1 issue at some point in the future. I really don't see a need for it. One factor is the title is selling in the 50,000 range. In this market, that's mighty respectable. Two, DC has proven with Lee/Loeb's Batman that a title doesn't have to be rebooted/relaunched to attract new readers. Not to mention, the relaunch fad has pretty much run it's course among collectors and hasn't proven that new readers will flock and stay on these titles. Case in point, Wolverine. Arguably Marvel's most popular character after Spider-Man, his title was recently relaunched due to declining readership. The result? Wolverine #189, the last issue in the old run, had a circulation of 61,282. Wolverine #11, according to the most recent data available, sold 69,696. Sure it's a small increase but not one to scream home about. And the title seems to be losing about 5,000 readers an issue, so in two months the numbers should be equal or below #189 numbers. Compare that to the eleventh issue of Batman which was selling double what it was pre-Lee/Loeb.
So why relaunch? I think it's one of three scenarios (or all):
One......Marvel has become event driven versus story/character driven. Every month during the summer, it seems one event or another is happening. If it's not Secret Wars, it's X-Men Reloaded, or Spider-Man movie gloating, or return of the Ultimates, or something else that can be hyped to the moon. I don't necessarily dislike hype but too much of it tends to turn me off especially that which seems more suited to make something hot versus making the book better. So, I'd expect more hype to keep the circulation numbers up.
Two.....Marvel has placed potential licensing of their characters above their publishing operations. Marvel wants titles and characters that can easily be transferred to movies and associated non-comics media. On one hand I can't say I blame them as the potential licensing revenue makes their publishing profits seem like peanuts. But on the other hand, the movie gravy train won't last forever and after it's run its course, and it will sooner rather than later, the comics may not have any readers left.
Finally......new ideas......the "House of Ideas" has finally run out of them. They have finally used all avenues they can come up with to temporarily boost their sales. So now they have to go back to methods that although may not be popular have worked in the past. Seems pretty desperate if you ask me because, as I've already noticed on various internet boards, there is a considerable negative feedback to the relaunch. And if they had anyone who even remotely is connected to the current market, they should have expected this.
Regardless of the reason for the relaunch, Marvel has finally done something that 30 years ago would have been unheard of; they have finally given me a reason to give up the title. I don’t really care anymore. And not just about the Avengers but most all other Marvel comics currently being produced. The endless amount of hype, spin, and seeming disregard at Marvel concerning anything approaching long term thinking has finally worn me down.
But that's OK....because no matter what they do to the Avengers, the Fantastic Four remains my favorite title. At least they haven't started screwing around with it.......yet.......
3/13/04 - I'm starting to get a fair amount of feedback concerning this site ranging from "It sucks" to "I like it". Fortunately, the majority of feedback falls into the latter. Frankly, my in-box could be filled with "It sucks" e-mail and I wouldn't really care. If that's all the message says, I'm going to blow it off as a troll with nothing better to do. If, on the other hand, it's followed with a sentence or paragraph telling me why they feel that way or something about the site that bugs them, it's really helpful on gauging things that I haven't necessarily thought of. The redesign of the front page to cut down on the graphics being an example. So if you have feedback, let me know. Even if it's negative.....
On that note, I'm going to address some of the questions or responses I've received lately....
Avengers #77 Variant - A couple of weeks ago I asked you all if you'd seen this comic as it was different from both the Direct and US newsstand version. Click here for the article. Well I can confirm that this issue did in fact go to most European, and at least one Pacific, overseas military location. It was pulled from at least two locations and replaced with a "normal" newsstand version due to a "printing error" according to the area manager of the military Bookmarts in southern Germany. That explains why I saw a "normal" issue at another base. The issue was also distributed at military bases in England and at one location stayed on the racks for the entire month before being pulled for #78. I've had no confirmation that anything other than the "normal" issue was offered at stateside military locations. So what does this all mean? I'm not sure. At a minimum, I probably lucked out and was able to get a rare comic variant just by buying off the newsstand. The reality though is it probably won't be worth much more than a normal newsstand issue. And that's fine by me......
Book of the Day - Yes I know I don't post one EVERY day. I write one when I have the time. I have plenty of comics pulled out of the comic boxes exclusively for this purpose. Time is the factor. When I have the time, I make every effort to write one. So expect them to continue. And no, I not going to rename it "Book of the Week" as I have written more than one a week since this site started. Now if it comes to the point where I write one a month, then maybe I'll reconsider.
Another note.....I've had requests on whether the various "Book of the Days" (or the other comics linked to this site) are for sale. The simple answer is no. There may come a time when I will be willing to part with one for the right price but that's not likely before I return to the States. The problem is the military side of the postal system. When I send a package it doesn't actually hit the "real" US Post Office until arriving in the States. Until that time, there's every opportunity for the comic to "disappear" without anyone knowing what exactly happened to it. When that happens, and it does more frequently than the military would like to admit, there's nothing I can do. The package is gone and essentially I'm out a comic, and I'd have to give you a refund. When I sold on eBay before coming to Germany I prided myself on my customer service and never, that I know of, had an unhappy buyer. I'd rather keep to that mantra and not have to worry with an issue that's out of my control. Of course, I could use the German post office or register the package but that entails additional costs from the buyer. But I'd rather not have the hassle of explaining why this is required over and over again. It'd be inconvenient for both you and me......
The Forum - The Forum doesn't get used much or at all. Thanks to all those that have signed up. My focus on the Forum is more long-term and not something I'm actively working on at the moment. I'm much more focused near-term on setting up this site with as much varied content as possible so someone that visits can look around awhile. There will come a time when the Forum will become a priority but right now isn't the time. With that said, there's nothing stopping you all out there from posting or signing up. Have at it as much as you like as bandwidth isn't a problem for me. You may even get me to post something.....
Finally some thanks are in order. The traffic to this site has increased three fold each month it's been active so I'm thinking that you all like, or tolerate, what's being posted here. So far this month looks to surpass even that. With that said, I encourage all feedback both good and bad on how I can improve. Even the "It sucks" crowd will get my attention if they tell me why this site is one step below an annoying pop-up screen in their eyes. All it takes is a quick e-mail or post to the Forum. I probably don't know unless someone tells me......
3/7/04 - Attended the Mannheim Comic Show yesterday but before I go into a rant about the show itself let me divert a bit and give you a little background about my collecting experience in Europe.
Click for Larger View
This is my third assignment to Europe. Twice in Germany and once in Holland. In all the places I've been stationed, comic stores that sold US back issue comics were rare and comic shows even rarer, at least those I was aware of. Back in 1991, I saw an ad in the Stars and Stripes for an upcoming comic show to be held in Ludwigshafen, Germany. I figured out where the town was and realized it would be a pretty fair trip from where I was located but not far enough for me not to go. So the morning of the show, I loaded up the fiancée and away we went. Three hours later, we arrived at a church just off the autobahn, which I thought strange, but sure enough the show was being held in an annex in the back. And boy, what a show it was! There were multiple dealers with US back issues. And not just recent back issues but Silver and Bronze Age material, in bulk, including an American gentleman with multiples of most all Silver/Bronze keys and an Fantastic Four #1 to boot. All priced 30-50% below Overstreet Price Guide. Needless to say, I left with a pile of comics and a smile. It was probably the most pleasant collecting experience I've had in all my assignments to Europe.
Cut to this past Saturday. I was scheduled to set-up at the Mannheim Comic Show. Set-up was to start at 0800 with the show starting at 0900. I got up early, woke the wife and kid, loaded the comic boxes into the truck, and away we drove with an hour trip ahead of us. Except we couldn't drive very fast. The weather was atrocious. During the night a winter storm had moved into the region. It was a rain/snow mix when we left which turned to snow along the way. So the hour drive turned into an hour and a half due to the slick roads. The show had already started so I hustled to get my boxes unloaded and was taking them in to the building when it dawned on me. This was the same place that held the Ludwigshafen show in 1991! The towns of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen are pretty much right next to each other. The place had had a new paint job but it was the same church nonetheless. I quickly set-up and looked around. There were approximately 25-30 dealers at the show. At least 4 dealers (not including me) with older US back issues in the room. Few toys or figurines were present. This was essentially a comics only show. One of the dealers had an extensive array of US comics that would rival some show dealers in the US. On his rear display was a Strange Tales #101 in FN, a beautiful NM Silver Surfer #4, a very nice Hulk #181, EC comics and other nice keys. His boxes were deep with near complete Marvel and DC runs from 1966 onwards. The American I remembered from the 1991 show, who I found out was named Clarence and apparently a regular at shows in the area, moved back to the States with his collection 10 years ago and no one has heard from him since. No matter though, the dealers there more than made up for his absence.
I did extremely well at the show and tripled the sales of my previous three shows combined! What sold? All my war comics sold out again. I also completely sold out my Werewolf by Nights to include Giant Sized, X-Men reprint run, all limited run 70s titles (Black Goliath, Black Panther, Jungle Action, The Cat) and anything DC not containing Superman or Batman. Bronze Hulk, Daredevil, and Captain America also sold well. I was able to sell some higher ticket items as well. Amazing Spider-Man #122, Daredevil #131, and Marvel Feature #1 are all in German hands now. One thing I've noticed, Germans are not as condition conscious as some American collectors. There were a couple of collectors that were just looking for cheap comics to read no matter the condition. This was somewhat refreshing to see.
What did I buy? Well I bought a bunch but the highlight was a slew of 20 cent Marvel reprint titles, Lois Lanes, and Flash all in VF or better which I found out after getting home all had the Mark Jewelers insert. I also was able to get a VF Weird War Tales #4 and VF+ X-Men #101 for 7 and 25 Euros respectively.
Overall, it was an absolutely great show both as a seller and buyer. It's really nice to know the show hasn't changed much in all this time. The picture I've linked really doesn't do the show justice and only shows one side of one of two dealer rooms. The other pictures didn't come out well due to the glare from the huge windows. I had to essentially crank up the brightness and contrast levels just to get the one picture to display. They're going to hold the next show in September. And you bet I made damn sure before I left that I was on the list to attend. I don't care whether it's rain, snow or sunshine. No amount of weather is going to keep me from coming back......
3/7/04 - You'll notice a slightly different look to the website today. Based on numerous feedback I've received, changes have been made (don't say I don't listen....). One of the major issues was too many graphics on the main page. I have a DSL hook-up so any download issues weren't obvious to me. To rectify my shortcomings, I've moved various articles to their own pages and the only articles available on the main page will be the newest. As these are replaced, they will be moved to their rightful areas. No worries, all the previous content is still available from the links at left. Just won' t read like a stream of consciousness journal. Which based on other feedback I've received is probably a good thing.....
And yeah, I'm still working on a report from the Mannheim Comic Show with pics. Should be up sometime tonight. Let's just say now that it was great.....