October 2014 Comic Market Report: Let's Talk About Two Things That Didn't Happen

holmes

This month is a little different from previous months as there are no multi-million dollar books to talk about. In fact, this month I'm going to talk about a couple of things that didn't happen.

A Reminder to Do Your Research

It might not look like something that I'd cover here, but the above book sold (briefly) for a crazy record price, so in that way it fits in with my normal theme. I'm not featuring it because of the record though. I'm sharing it because I took part in the auction myself and the result was so weird I just had to share.

Since my Daredevil collection is getting near the finish line and I have fewer books even available to buy on that front, I'm looking more and more at other books from the 1970s and 1980s (mostly) that might be fun to own. In a recent Heritage auction I spotted the above Sherlock Holmes comic and thought that it fit the bill. I love the cover, I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes and it's cheap. The average in GPA was around $30 for a 9.4. I actually bid above GPA, just to get ensure I get the book. Everything was lined up, except… I got blown away.

The book sold for $388.

9.8s of this book sell for 1/3 that. Why would this one sell for so much more? Something crazy had clearly happened. What exactly is an interesting convergence of three different people making errors:

  1. I don't have a screen shot, but Heritage mistakenly listed the Overstreet NM price as $526. It's actually $30.
  2. Bidder A (working off the incorrect Overstreet price?) put in a massive bid.
  3. Bidder B (also working off the incorrect Overstreet price?) pushed the bidding up to $326 ($388 with BP).

The first error is obvious. The Heritage employee put the wrong value into the auction listing. The second and third error are also obvious, but weird since two people had to make the exact same mistake on a relatively obscure book. Both of these bidders looked at the Overstreet value and no other data to decide that they had a potential bargain on their hands. Which is nuts because Heritage provides both previous auction results (none of which showed anything even approaching $50) and a link to GPA (which showed the same) on the page. So, both of these guys saw the one piece of incorrect data and without backing it up with alternative data (on the same page!) decided to dive in and bid the farm on a book. Which, to me, is just plain weird.

Heritage has since listed the book as "not sold" and corrected the listing error with the correct Overstreet value. In the end, then, the only person who was hurt was me, since I don't have the book…

Still it's a lesson to all of us – the more information you have, the safer you'll be with your money. If the error hadn't been spotted and Heritage wasn't forgiving then someone would be sitting on a book they'd have to wait 20 years to recoup their money on. No one wants that.

No, There is no Fantastic Four #1 CGC 9.8 Signature Series (but there are two blue label 9.6s)

A Fantastic Four #1 CGC 9.8 Signature Series just appeared on the census. After some digging it was discovered that it was actually a Golden Record Reprint incorrectly added to the census and not the finest copy of one of the most important comic books of all time.

The discussion on the CGC forum was, as you would imagine, interesting. I personally was a bit freaked out- so freaked out that I decided early on that it couldn't possibly be real. Thankfully I was right on that count. While I acknowledge that people can do what they want with the books that they own, the idea of getting what would be the finest Silver Age book in existence signed makes me a little nauseous.

For starters, I personally believe that vintage high-grade and pedigree examples shouldn't be put through the Signature Series program at all. Again, people can do what they want, but I look at books like that and think they're just fine as-is. Something that's unique doesn't need to be made more unique. If a book made it through 50 years unscathed taking a magic marker to it just seems wrong to me. Some people on the CGC forum took issue with this idea (which isn't just mine, but one that's shared by many other collectors.) As I said on the forum, condition is one of the fundamental factors that drives the hobby. Some combination of story, art, character and history create comics that people want to own and then condition sets the value for individual copies. More than that, most obviously from the discovery of the Edgar Church collection onward and especially in the CGC era, intense interest and large sums of money have been lavished on the "best of the best" condition comics. Pretending that there's no difference between a Fantastic Four #1 CGC 4.5 and what would be the highest graded copy is ignoring long-established market reality. High grade copies are treated differently than lower grade copies. Whether or not that's a "good" thing is what's open for debate. The actual behavior of the market (high grade copies being treated differently with more hype and much larger values) is not. That's just the way it is and there are decades of hobby behavior to back that up.

Secondly, to my mind, getting an FF #1 9.8 signed would kill the value. This ties in neatly with the first point about condition, of course. I'd estimate a true 9.8 to be the most valuable Silver Age book in existence and I'd value it at around $1,250,000 to $1,500,000. I have no clue about a Signature Series copy, but from what I know about the high-grade Silver Age market (including buying books for my own collection) I can't imagine that any of the usual suspects would be as interested in it with a yellow label. In a blue label, Tom Brulato would be knocking on your door the second he heard about the book. Personally, all things being equal, if I had a choice between, say, a CGC 9.4 Daredevil 7 blue label and a Signature Series copy, I'd choose the blue label book.

I've owned some Signature Series books over the years, so I'm happy with the program in general. I just don't like it on a book like this.

One side effect of this discussion is that I just noticed that there are two Fantastic Four #1 9.6s in the census. It's been that way for a couple of years. One of the 9.4s was upgraded to a 9.6 in the August 20, 2012 census. I'm not sure how I missed it, but miss it I did. I'm adding it to the database today, so… better late than never, I guess.

Kudos to them for turning in the 9.4 label, by the way.


That's it for this month. Next month, I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of stuff from the Heritage Signature auction to talk about so brace yourselves for another round of high dollar discussion

Posted in $100,000 Club News, bronze age, cgc, comics, kirby, silver age, stan-lee | Tagged | Leave a comment

September 2014 Comic Market Report: Meet the New Boss

The big news this month is the fact that there's a Detective Comics #27 CGC 9.2 in the CGC Census.

And… officially, that's all we know about the book.

What a tantalizing single digit- the "1" in the 9.2 column.

cgc-census

Since we don't know anything, it's time to speculate.

After some discussion, I think there are three reasonable possibilities for this book.

  • It's an unknown book, freshly graded.
  • It's the "other high grade copy" resurfacing 20+ years after selling for $101k. This book was listed in Overstreet as a FN68, but people who have seen it think it's much nicer- right around 9.2. I've had it on the World's Most Valuable Comic Books list for ages. If it is that copy, I would move it from #5 to #3 on the list. I think a 9.2 Detective #27 would be the most valuable CGC graded comic book known by a hair over the eBay 9.0 Action #1.
  • It's the "missing" Mastronet copy returned from its vacation and pressed up to a 9.2. Looking at the scan that follows and checking the grading notes it's a possibility. It was graded harshly at the time (just look at it!) and had some pressable defects (non-breaking "finger creases", etc.) As with the FN68 copy, this book would move from off the list (as an 8.0), up to #3.

Detective 27 CGC as Scanned from the Mastro Catalog

I've actually heard about this book from a few people and… I've gotten conflicting stories about the origin of the book. Which is rare. Normally, someone knows something, even if I can't talk about it. This time… no one is sure.

We've been expecting the book to surface for auction but it looks like it's not coming up for air any time soon. It appears this will remain a tantalizing mystery.

As for the question of value… If this book were to come up for auction it would be the new record holder. This is the most valuable CGC graded comic right now.

ComicLink Sells Brave and the Bold 28 for $120,000

RAD974752014815_1075

The ComicLink summer auction closed with a Brave and the Bold 28 CGC 9.2 selling for $120,000, which feels like a pretty fair number for that book. Two 9.2s have sold for more than $100,000 this year.

What are the 9.4s worth now? One of them sold for "over $100,000" privately in 2009. Depending on how far "over" that book has probably doubled in five years. Which is basically what it had done in the previous five years, selling for around $60k in 2004.

Silver Age DCs are crazy books. They're tough as hell and the collector pool isn't what it is for Silver Age Marvels so there's less activity. That makes them hard to value and makes it difficult to predict where they'll end up price-wise when they do surface. See this book on the upside and the disappointing recent history of high grade Showcase #4s for evidence on the downside.

Amazing Spider-Man #300 Cover for Sale at Heritage

The most interesting lot for sale at the upcoming Heritage auction is the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #300. There's not much art on the board, most of it is a stat, but it's an iconic cover to a key issue so it's still a crazy piece which will have a lot of interest when it comes up for auction. On the CGC forum it was reported to have sold for $125,000 to a collector in China 2-3 years ago. It will go for more now, I would think. There are a lot of people who will be interested in this cover up to a point. What that point is ($200k?) and how many people are "in it to win it" will determine if it surprises or underwhelms at auction.

asm-300


That's it for this month. I'll be back the first Wednesday in November with more comics and original art news to BLOW YOUR MIND.

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Indiegogo Campaign to fund a Million Year Picnic Documentary

Check it out: The Million Year Picnic

The story one of the world’s oldest comic book stores and how it continues to be a place where generations of fans gather.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada Film
The project:

Very little is known about the wonderful places we buy comics from and the assortment of characters that run them. In the mid 80s I was the manager of The Million Year Picnic, a staple destination of hardcore fans of the medium for over 40 years. Many amazing artists, writers and film makers have either been inspired by, worked for, shopped in or have been promoted by the store over its history. In 2011, Jerry Weist, the founder of the store, died of cancer and I was faced with the terrible fact that time was running out to talk to those responsible for the store’s story.

I have been working on MillionYear Picnic for over 4 years now, buying equipment with my own resources, finding contacts and setting up interviews but I am at the point I need more than my own meagre savings account to make this documentary happen in a way that will touch and inform people. I need you.

Why now?

I hate to think one day the MYP might close and even the memory of the store will be lost forever. I really want – not just to document the store’s history – but remind people how important these sort of small independent places are to our lives.

Where the project is at:

1: I’ve already done 6 of roughly 12 interviews but I need:

2: Travel to get to the rest (Michigan, Minneapolis, Boston, and more).

3: Collect photos and documents from near and far.

4: Get original music and clear rights to some materials.

5: Post production and storage disks for the film.

6: Get the film to the public!

What you can do to help me get this film done:

Give money, of course. I am about as small and independent as you can get so every cent counts and makes the film better.

If you have information, photos anything… pass them along and I’ll make sure you get credit for it in the film.

If you have talent with music, post production, publicity skills or ideas – feel free to offer them!

If you are in the comics or genre field and have an MYP connection…I need to talk to you!

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August 2014 Comic Market Report: Action #1 is still the King (and so is Metropolis?)

hulk1-northland

There's no better time to launch a new feature here on the blog than in the heady afterglow of a new world record price for a comic book. As you probably know if you're reading this blog, Pristine Comics auctioned off a CGC 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1 on August 24, 2014. It sold for a staggering $3,207,852.00.

Of the many interesting threads surrounding the book, the one that has dominated discussion in comic book circles is the fact that Metropolis Comics was the winner of the auction. We were able to spot their entry into bidding on the final day by matching their feedback score (2501 at the time) to the feedback score of the "anonymous" bidder listed on eBay. The discussion of what it meant for Metro to got after the book started almost immediately.

Since they're the biggest comic dealers on the planet and the biggest comic auction house that has a true public face, Metropolis can be polarizing. Don't get me wrong, Heritage can be polarizing too, it's just people don't seem to take the things they do personally. Whether it's giving or not giving a discount, pricing books too high or winning the most expensive comic book ever sold it's sometimes tough to separate the real discussion from the stuff fueled by the fact that it's Metro.

Cutting through the undercurrent of "Stephen drank my milkshake" (at one point they got compared to the Yankees) and getting to the heart of people's reactions, folks seemed divided into two camps: those that saw it as a natural action of a market-maker and/or a shrewd marketing/business decision; and those that worried that the perception of the sale was lessened because the book went to a dealer and not a "real" collector.

Personally, I fall into the former camp. I thought it was a brilliant move on Metropolis' part and am looking forward to the inevitable circus they will generate when they sell the book at one of their Comic Connect auctions. To be able to seize the conversation like that was almost worth the price of the book alone. The conversation immediately turned from the book and Pristine Comics back to the guys whose record Pristine Comics was breaking. The story-line, in a nutshell, is now that it's just a matter of time until the Metro guys get the record back and, Pristine Comics gets turned into a footnote in the Metro/Comic Connect story.

Which is pretty crazy.

As for the final price, I thought it was a great result. Lots of people were fantasizing about oligarchs and software tycoons coming out of the woodwork to buy this book for $5,000,000. That would have been nice, but I saw $3,000,000 as the real target and the fact that it broke that barrier was all I needed to see to consider the auction a runaway success.

Hulk #1 CGC 9.2 Northland

Speaking of Metro/Comic Connect… They just sold another Hulk #1 in 9.2 for over $320k. $326,000 to be exact.

This sale and a parallel discussion of Tom Brulato's world-beating Silver Age Marvel collection got me thinking… is his Hulk #1 in 9.4 a seven figure book? If it is, is it the single most valuable Silver Age Marvel right now? It's crowded at the top of the census for Amazing Fantasy 15 with three copies now tied at 9.6, so it's open for discussion as far as I'm concerned.

The more I think about it, the more I think that at least one, if not both of those facts might be true.

Why? There are plenty of reasons. For one, Hulk is super popular. He's second or third in popularity to Spider-Man in the Marvel canon (he's a movie Avenger, after all) and Iron Man doesn't have the decades long track record of crossover popularity that the Hulk does.

Additionally, and this is the important note, Hulk #1 is a super tough book (for a Silver Age Marvel.) Brulato's #1 is the top census copy at 9.4, with three copies tied for 2nd at 9.2. Two of those at 9.2 are pedigree copies with the rest of the pedigree copies ending up in the 8.0 range- so there are no known hidden gems out there. Compare that to the relatively crowded Amazing Fantasy 15 census with three copies at 9.6 and another four at 9.4. You can theoretically replace an Amazing Fantasy #15 in 9.6. Hulk #1 in 9.4? Not so much. It's a beast of a book. To paraphrase one of my favorite cynical sports quotes, Larry Bird is not walking through that door holding a stack of Hulk #1s in 9.4.

The prices for second best copies are competitive. With these two sales at around $320,000 the two Hulks #1s in 9.2 compare favorably to the last 9.4 Amazing Fantasy 15 sale at $325,000 in 2011. Extrapolating those results and adding a little bit of juice for the Hulk #1 being one of one in the census and I could convince myself that on a good day it's a seven figure book. Conversely, the fact that Amazing Fantasy 15 in CGC 9.6 is now three of three makes me wonder if it would still sell for seven figures.

Would this last if there was another one of one at the top of the Amazing Fantasy 15 census? No, but the combination of scarcity and the Hulk's own popularity make this a two horse race right now where one wouldn't be expected.


That's it for now, I'll be back next month to recap whatever awesome things happen in the comic book hobby in September. I know I'll have as much info as I can muster on the new Detective #27 CGC 9.2, but we'll have to see what else shakes out. See you on the first Wednesday in October!

Posted in $100,000 Club News, cgc, comics, dc, ebay, golden age, hulk, kirby, Market Reports, metropolis, silver age | Tagged | 1 Comment

There is a Detective Comics 27 CGC 9.2 in the CGC Census

I was alerted to this change in the Census today by an eagle eyed board member.

The comic world shakes.

Is this the "other" high grade Detective 27 pulled out of the woodwork (the 5th most valuable comic book in the world) by the white page Action #1? Is it a new copy and therefore a new 4th or 5th most valuable comic? Who will be selling it? Did it get graded in Chicago? Who's seen it?

Can I get a scan, pretty please?

For me, a Batman fan and partisan for Detective 27, this is just about as exciting as it gets in the comic book realm.

I hope this will be brought to auction in short order so that we have another book to talk about for months…

[edited to add] There is some speculation that the book might be the missing Detective 27 sold at Mastro in the early years of CGC

This is that apparently undergraded book:

Detective 27 CGC as Scanned from the Mastro Catalog

Posted in $100,000 Club News, batman, cgc, golden age | Tagged | 2 Comments

Action #1 CGC 9.0 Sells for 3,207,852.00, a New Record for a Comic Book

action-1-cgc-9

The closely watched auction ended tonight, topping out at $3,207,852.00, a new world record for a comic book.

In an interesting turn of events the book was bought by Metropolis Comics, the world's largest comic dealer and, through their Comic Connect brand the previous record holder for a comic book sale.

I'll obviously have more on this as the dust settles.

Here's the finale as it happened

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The Action #1 CGC 9.0 Auction Starts Tonight

Here are a few final updates before the auction kicks off.

  • The liquidity requirements have been dropped by $1,000,000. Whether this is strategic or is down to lack of interest at the perceived $3,000,000 price tag is unknown.
  • Mark Seifert posted details on the actual timeline of this book in the Census. It appears that it was in the census as an 8.0 for two and a half years and then, in the next update, showed up as a 9.0. If this is true then the book was in the census all along and CGC only held up the grade bump until July. This is still damn confusing.
  • Vincent Zurzolo from Metropolis/ComicConnect was talking down the chances of this book on CNBC. While I've been skeptical of the higher end of people's predictions (anything over $3,000,000 would surprise me) the numbers he's throwing around seem low. Unless people are bluffing there's a legit bidder floor for this book right around the previous record and I can't imagine the reserve isn't at that level as well. Assuming the book was shopped around at over $1,000,000 after the Kansas City sale )As an 8.0) selling it for $1,500,000 now makes no sense.

Anyway, get your popcorn ready. Once this book sells, I'm going to bite the bullet and revamp my list of the world's most valuable comic books with new estimates. Should be fun.

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Updates on the eBay Action #1

action-1-cgc-9

I've learned a couple of things since my last post and I thought I'd share an update.

  • The book was in the census for two and a half years. It was only held back from the census after the upgrade in order to coincide with San Diego, the Overstreet Price Guide and the launch of eBay's page on the auction.
  • Accoring to Gator on the CGC forums the book will be starting at .99 with a reserve well below the $3,000,000 minimum bid/reserve we were speculating on earlier. This is a good move as far as I'm concerned.
  • The book sold in 2010, after the Kansas City copy for over a million dollars. We still don't have a confirmed price, but it must have been competitive to the other books that were selling at the time.

And… it starts in 5 days!

Posted in $100,000 Club News, auctions, cgc, comics, dc, ebay, golden age | Tagged | Leave a comment