NostoNews, January 1, 2024
by Tommy Jasmin
1st Quarter 2024 Market Comments
This quarter let's start off with an uber-key. And please note all sales in this market report were tapped from our longtime friends and collaborators at Heritage Auctions. This clean CGC GD/VG 3.0 copy of Superman #1 sold for $300,000.00. That's impressive, to be sure. But look to the previous Heritage sale of the same book, in the same grade, to make a point. In June 2023, a Universal GD/VG 3.0 sold for $360,000.00. Even top keys are not immune to the market correction. A $60,000.00 drop, on a low-grade Superman #1, I don't think that's ever happened. Yes, I understand one sale is not a trend, but look to our Comic Book Stock Index and you'll see that including keys, the market correction continues.
Let's now swing to the other end of the price spectrum, with a CGC VF+ 8.5 copy of Shazam! #28. Normally, I'd say someone overpaid for this book, which sold Dec 12, 2023 for $99.00, but this is actually a big correction. The previous three CGC VF+ 8.5 sales at Heritage were, from oldest to newest, $161.33, $191.20, and $456.00. The sharp increase was due to this book being the second DC appearance of Black Adam, and the hype from Dwayne Johnson playing him in the recent DC movie. We are learning now though, the bump from movie hype can be fairly short-lived. The movie has to live up to that hype, and that seems to be happening less and less.
Enough with the bad news. Let's talk about those areas that are not only still trending positive,
but crazy strong positive.
Positive Trend #1: Hot Artists. This area is tougher to predict for currently working artists. Take creators like Gabriele Dell'Otto, Adam Hughes, Francesco Mattina, Peach Momoko. Modern Age stars, with sale prices for their covers I never thought I'd see for Modern Age books. Artists no longer with us though - seeing their work continue to far exceed demand can be both perplexing and invigorating. Frazetta originals selling for millions of dollars. Comic book artists finally gaining the respect they always deserved. And what is going on with Matt Baker? When are his covers going to plateau? For this particular sale, we can throw in two more factors - it's tied for finest known copy, and it's a fairly scarce book (CGC Census 22).
Positive Trend #2: True Scarcity. I have seen fans on chat boards scoff at census data. When viewed through the proper lens, census data can be incredibly valuable information. Sure, for probably the majority of comic books in existence, census data is meaningless. The fact that a hypothetical Dud Comics #whatever would probably have a CGC Census of zero only means that nobody cares. But when cool, scarce books from any era (but especially Golden Age) have very low census numbers, people should take note. This example - Weird Comics #16, is clearly truly scarce. Eleven clean CGC copies, total. One might want to attribute the high sale price to being at or near finest known. For some scarce books, 6.5 might not be far off. But Weird Comics #16 has three better copies, including a 9.6 (probably the Mile High). This sale price, IMO, is driven by scarcity. And, of course, being a super cool early Fox book!
Positive Trend #3: Finest Knowns. First, be clear, of us could send in a comic right now and get a CGC "Finest Known" copy. The air-quotes here are meant to convey we can find a comic that nobody has bothered to send to CGC to date. I could send in a copy of The Group LaRue #2, one of Mike Baron's self-admitted worst comics, to CGC and get a Finest Known, because the census is currently zero. Sorry Mike! The point here is simple - it's easy to get Finest Known status for something nobody cares about. On the other end of the spectrum, I've been waiting for ages for this CGC MT- 9.9 Zip Comics #7 to go up for sale (check out the early CGC holder). Not only is this book very scarce, this is the closest to perfect Golden Age comic ever bought off the stands and sent in to CGC. I'm guessing it was Borock who had the final say on grade, and I bet it was pretty exciting making that call. To be honest, I expected this to go closer to $100 grand. Still, the sale was over 3X Nostomania value at time of sale.
Positive Trend #4: Great Covers. Broadly and subjectively speaking - great covers for any reason. Sometimes it's great art, sometimes it's an eclectic niche. With slabbing now so dominant, great covers are more important than ever - it's the only part of the comic you see! Several times have I brought to your attention how stupendous "flamethrower" covers are. Go back through the market report archives, and you'll see the examples. It can be almost anything, but if a cover stands out as... not ordinary, and better yet exceptional, collectors will always throw money at it. For my example, consider Silver Streak Comics #14, which Overstreet has at $258.00 in GD. This Restored GD 2.0 went for $4,560.00. The driver should be obvious - Nazi Skull Men! How cool is that? This exact same copy sold two years ago for $1,440.00. Additionally, the restoration is not minor, including "pieces added" and the spine being rebuilt!
Positive Trend #5: Eclectic Genres. Christmas covers, Golf covers, etc., historically there have always been collectors who specialize or at least keep an eye out for niche books. There are also cross-genre titles like space-westerns and war-horror. More recently, an emerging niche market has been for African American character appearances in Bronze Age or earlier comics. This one-issue Dell title was released 3 years before Pam Grier starred in the Friday Foster movie, along with Carl Weathers, Yaphet Kotto, Eartha Kitt, and Scatman Crothers. Based on our charts, it looks like this book started to take off in 2019.
Positive Trend #6: Unusual Promos. I've seen odd promotional comics go for remarkable sale prices in recent years. Often these sales just spill on the floor, because many of the comics do not exist in most online databases, nor in Overstreet. This particular comic is present in both Overstreet and on Nostomania, so it's not the best example, but it's still an impressive sale. The lesson is, don't overlook a comic just because it was given out free and did not have a glossy cover. This piece of the market has been steadily trending up, while most superheroes muddle through a correction.
Last, I wanted to call out a magazine that came from out of nowhere to land not only on our Top 100 list, but will likely end up in the Top 10. Clearly the demand we have always seen for World War II and related topics in comic books applies to scarce magazines as well. Featuring a red, white, and black cover with very grim reminders of the past.
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