The Phantom Stranger

Phantom_Stranger_4It’s been a very long time since I posted here, but tonight I had some time, so I thought I would take a look at this title, one of my favorites from the Bronze Age – Phantom Stranger. In this book, you get a ton of great art from the likes of Kaluta, DeZuniga, Adams and Aparo.  When the comics code was updated in 1971 to allow for more horror related themes, we see the impact of that change in this magazine.

These books have never been highly sought after and this is evidenced in the graph.  There aren’t that many copies graded, because the value just isn’t that high. One anomaly, the number of graded copies of issue 18, suggests that maybe that issue was part of a warehouse find…but its hard to say for sure.  Looking at GPAnalysis data, the last sale of issue 18 in CGC 9.6 was at $52, while issues 17 and 19 go for considerably higher…so, the market is working there.
Phantom_Stranger (1)

One final observation….it’s really clear that perceived value drives CGC submissions.  It’s an obvious observation that is once again driven home here.  It just makes no sense to go through the effort to submit a pre-1974 book if it is only going to fetch $100.

Either way…this would be a great run to put together in high grade.  And there are plenty of CGC graded copies to be had on eBay. They are pretty cheap, and the title likely has staying power for the future.  But be sure to get a reading copy if you decide to put a set together!  Comics are meant to be read!

Until next time…

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Every Once in a While…

Wonder_Woman_41…you come across an artist that, in your opinion, hits it out of the park.  The last time that happened for me it was Tomas Giorello on Conan.  His work on the title is just stunning.  Well…while maybe not quite on the same level, I recently discovered David Finch’s work on Wonder Woman, and I have been super impressed.

Teaming with his wife…he has done great work on the character, and the art is simply beautiful.  With Wonder Woman it is always about restraint.  The fan boys always want more…uhhh…well, more.  You know what I mean.  But, as the late Dave Stevens illustrated in the Rocketeer, more is not better.  And I think, for the most part, Finch has managed that tight rope here on Wonder Woman.

Check out issues 36-41 (the latest issue) of the title.  As this cover of issue 41 illustrates, I do not think you will be disappointed.

Until next time…

P.S.  I don’t know if these issues will ever be considered “collectible”.  I think they may be…and am buying multiple copies of each issue.  If they never are, I will give them away to people to show them what a comic can be!

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Edge of Spider Verse #2 – Total Madness

EDGESV2014002covVAR_100This is insane.  $4500 for a CGC 9.9 book that is basically a manufactured collectible??  Don’t get me wrong…I really like Greg Land and his work.  I was looking at some of his Spider-Woman stuff the other day and thought, “Oh…hey…this guy’s pretty good.”  But for this kind of coin you could probably go out and score a nice piece of his original work.

I wonder if this book was even read.  Did anyone even take the time to crack it open and check it out…or was it straight to the slab and then straight to eBay?

Well…it is what it is.  I won’t begrudge anyone for participating in the madness.  I just think they may be sorry in a year or two.

Until next time.

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The Beginning of the Comic Collecting Hobby

Showcase4It’s a pretty well known fact that comic collecting began sometime in the 1960’s.  Sure…there were people collecting before then, but it really got going in this time frame.  At least, that is what the anecdotes say.  But is there data to support this “fact”?

I got curious about this question and decided to take a look at CGC data for several key books before during and after the mid 1960’s.  The data I chose is for key Silver and Bronze Age books.  As a baseline early Silver book: Showcase #4.  For the mid-Silver age, the quintessential Marvel key: Fantastic Four #1.  For the later Silver Age, there are not a lot of key books on par with FF#1 or Showcase #4 to choose from…but there are books that will work for this experiment, so I picked Fantastic Four #45, the first appearance of the Inhumans.  For the early 1970’s I picked House of Secrets #92.  And finally…the ultimate Bronze key, Incredible Hulk #181.  Let’s take a look and see what the CGC data for these books will tell us about the beginning of the comic collecting hobby.

At only 222 Universally graded copies, Showcase #4 is clearly the rarest book of this bunch.  This fits into our theory, since this book was published in 1956, and very few if any people were bagging and boarding comics from the drug store the moment after they were purchased.  The mean grade for this group is about 4.2.  So…not a lot of copies around, and the ones that are around are not in very high grade.


Next up is FF#1.  The book is from 1961, so 5 years into the Silver Age, but still well before the advent of the hobby proper.  People are, on average, not actively collecting during this period.  And if they are, books are probably stored in conditions that would be considered primitive today.  Many more copies of FF#1 are out there…with 985 graded Universal copies.  The reason for more graded copies could be due to the popularity of FF over the Flash…but in general, it’s probably not too far off base to suggest that more copies of FF1 remain than Showcase 4.  Mean grade for this group is surprisingly a little lower than for Showcase 4, coming in at 3.7.

For the mid Silver Age, we have FF#45.  Fewer copies have been graded of this book (it is, after all, not as “key” as FF1), but look at the mean grade.  A huge jump to a smidgen above 7.0 for all 610 books.  Fewer books graded, but clearly more in higher grade.  Hobbyists seem to be taking better care of their books from the get go by the mid-1960’s…does that trend continue (of course it does…and how!)


By the time 1970 roles around, the comic book publishing industry is suffering a bit, but that is not preventing our intrepid collecting community from stashing away a few books with key first appearances, great stories and fantastic art.  House of Secrets 92 is a little off the beaten trail compared to the other books…but it is a “new” book for a time when the comics code was altered and horror titles came back into print.  But our theory holds!  More books graded, and an average grade of a tiny bit below 7.0.

To cap off our exploration, we go to 1974.  Do I need to comment here?  I don’t think so, the graph speaks for itself.  Tons of books graded and a mean grade of 7.2 for the Incredible Hulk #181.  As Stan the Man would say, “Nuff said!”


So what does all this mean?  Well…I collect comics because they are cool and I like to read them.  But, where I can, I want to buy books that will hold their value.  If I am picking a comic series to collect that I want to hold its value, then I would tend toward a series that is pre 1965, and go for the highest grade books I can afford.  It’s an obvious conclusion…supported by this data.

Until next time…

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Marvel Silver Keys – What’s rarer?


My well loved copy of FF1

First off, let me admit to a Marvel bias in the posts I have put up on the blog so far.  I guess looking at my own collecting habits, I have tended to lean toward Marvel more than any other publisher, but my collection is “equal opportunity”.  I am a huge fan of Nick Cardy Aquaman, and also early Showcase books.  But tonight, again, I am looking at some Marvel data.

The thought occurred to me that it would be interesting to look at data comparing total number of graded copies for a given key, and then compare to other similar keys.  So, that is what I have done here for key Marvel Silver Age books.  A few observations pop out pretty quickly.


Click on the chart for a larger view

First off (believe it or not) the thing that popped out most to me in this data, is the fact that CGC doesn’t seem to like to give out mid grades between 3 and 4, and 4 and 5.  Between 3 and 4, the dip is obvious on every book.  Between 4 and 5 it is less obvious, but still there.  I wonder why that is?  It’s not that they don’t award the grade at all obviously, but it appears that they clearly prefer to give a 3 or a 4 over a 3.5.

Looking further, the fact that ASM #1 and X-Men #1 are the most graded of this lot is not a big surprise.  But the magnitude of the “lead” they have over the other books is a little surprising.  With 1828 total copies graded (Universal only) X-Men #1 has more than double the number of copies of FF #1 that have been graded (FF#1 is at 885 copies graded).  Does this speak to rarity?  Yes, I think it does.  FF#1 came out in November, 1961…X-Men#1 came out in September, 1963.  The Marvel revolution was in full swing at that point and I suspect that more books were published and more were likely to have been preserved.  This is just off the top of my head (and I am sipping a little Tanqueray Malacca Gin at the moment), but the data seems to confirm that FF#1 is rarer than X-Men #1 (something most experienced comic collectors would have guessed anyway).

And you can continue with the comparisons.  Hulk #1 is the scarcest book here with only 670 graded copies.  That’s only a third, approximately, of the total X-Men #1 books.  Could it be character popularity, demand, scarcity?  Of course…all of these will play in the number of graded books.  As a buyer though…I would want to take this information, check the latest GP Analysis data, and go from there.

Finally, while there is a lot you could potentially glean from this chart, the other thing that really sticks out here is that the mean, or average, grade for all the books is roughly the same.  That is, the bump in the curve for all the books is in about the same place.  When I started to make this chart, I was actually looking at data from Bronze age Marvel books.  I will share this data in a later post (or you can look it up yourself) but the “bump in the curve” for the Bronze age books is shifted to the right significantly.  Clearly, they were better preserved by adults who collected the books since the comic book collecting hobby was in full swing in the 1970’s.

Anyway…that’s what I came up with looking at this data.  What do you think?  Don’t hesitate to comment or to contact me.

Until next time…

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Atlas-Seaboard #1 Issues

News flash!  Someone over on the Collector’s Society boards has indicated that there was a warehouse find of these books back in ~2000.  In his words:

There was a warehouse find of these books for sale on eBay back around 2000 or so. I didn’t keep the data but off the top of my head I believe there were 10-15 thousand books. Over 100+ copies of most issues (Vicki being less). There are a lot of these books out there.

If true…then my statements below of a small number of these in the “wild” would not be true (assuming the books have been cared for since found).  Take from this what you will.  In any case, these books are not heavily collected, and not that valuable in grade.


Brute 1Recently someone over at Lyria Comic Exchange requested that I take a look at something obscure, like Atlas-Seaboard comics from 1974-1975.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect here.  When I first started collecting comics in 1985, these books had already been relegated to the quarter bins and only occasionally did I even notice them.  I do have a few copies of Atlas-Seaboard comics in my collection, most notably the Ditko/Wood Destructor.  But that’s about it.

So what does the data say?  Well, it’s fairly predictable, but not entirely.  Remember that Atlas was a ground breaking company in that it gave the artists more control over their work.  They got the rights to characters that were created, and all art work was returned to the artists and considered their property.  This was a totally new concept in the world of comic production.  As a result, a lot of the industries heavy hitters came to work for the company.  Adams, Heath, Ditko, Wood…etc.

Ultimately though, the characters were not well received.  The books, and the company, failed.  Relegated to the quarter bins, the books produced by Atlas-Seaboard languished.  So what does the CGC data have for us then, given this unique history?  I decided to take a look at the #1 issues for each title to get an answer to this question.  Looking at this data does not give a complete picture…but it’s close enough.  (Note…there were a few straggler issues graded below CGC 8.0 for these titles…but only ~5-10 total for the whole set of books.  They are not represented on the graph)


As we might expect, there is a peak with The Destructor title (Wood/Ditko).  The peaks at the Barbarians and Phoenix titles are not readily explainable.  Howard Chaykin worked on The Scorpion, but no noticeable spike is present there.   We need to bear in mind that these books do not guide in NM- 9.2 for more than ~$20 nominally…some a little more, some a little less (with the exception of Vicki…which guides for $65 in 9.2).  So…they aren’t really worth sending in for a grade unless you are an Atlas fan.

The clear message here is, if you are not an Atlas fan, but are thinking of becoming one and putting a high-grade run together, it’s going to be a tough road.  I suspect there are raw ones out there that are in good shape…but perhaps not (see above statement on possible warehouse find).  For books not highly sought after, which are over 30 years old, we must always remember the ravages of the quarter bin! (Dollar bin these days)

So, that is about all I have for the Atlas-Seaboard books.  In my next post, I think I will return to something a little more mainstream!

Until next time…

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Early Disney Four Color Comics

FC_4It’s been a little while since I have had a chance to post on the blog here.  Tonight I wanted to remedy that with a quick look at some early Disney Four Color comics.

As you probably know, Four Color Comics were initially issued in a “series 1” which ran from 1939 to 1942, and then a “series 2” which ran from 1942 through 1962.  It’s not clear to me why George Delacorte (the publisher of Dell comics) did this, but so it is.  The series 1 books are hard to find and it contains some rather iconic books.  Issue #4 has Donald Duck by Al Taliaferro, Issue #16 has Mickey Mouse by Gottfredson, and Issue #17 is the first Dumbo comic.  Series 2 has Issue 9, the classic Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold story by Carl Barks and Jack Hannah.  Four_Color_DisneyIssue 29 has Donald Duck at the Mummy’s Ring by Barks.  The table here shows the featured subject for all the titles in the graph below.

If we take a look at the CGC data on these books, it comes up pretty much as we would expect.  There is one datapoint though that is worth taking note of if you are looking to add these books to your collection.


Looking at the data, we instantly notice the spikes in CGC submission where the books contain more popular characters.  This is a no brainer…we expect this.  Let’s face it, Donald Duck is a more popular character than Dumbo.  And it is Donald Duck in Four Color series 1 #4 that yields the most interesting datapoint here.  This is the highest priced book in this group, but it only has a total CGC submission of 22 copies.  That is low.  Bottom line…I suspect there aren’t that many raw copies of this book out there, so this book is truly rare.  As an aside, Gerber list the rarity of this book at Gerber 7…so take that for what you like.  The issue in the picture above sold at Heritage in 2009 for just under $20K.  It is one of two books graded at 8.0.  There are none in a higher grade.

Anyway…I will be looking at Walt Disney Comics and Stories in the near future as well.  The earlier issues of that run are also difficult to come by, but you do see them every now and then.  It will be interesting to see what the data has to say!

Until next time…

P.S. Check out these Four Color Disney Comics on eBay!

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Amazing Spider-Man 35-50

Hi folks!  I am headed out on vacation tomorrow, but wanted to put up a post before I left with the remainder of the Amazing Spider-Man data that I put together the other day.  This set of data is for issues 35-50, and there are a few interesting things that I think can be drawn from the data, one of which was a little surprising to me.

ASM_35-50Issues 35 throough 44 are sort of what we would expect.  A small bump is seen for higher grade copies for issue 40 (Green Goblin cover story).  This isn’t surprising given that there are a total of 1204 Universal copies graded which is quite a bit higher than the surrounding issues.  So, proportionally, this issue has been submitted more often, and you would expect more copies in higher grade.

ASM_50Copies of issue 41 (first Rhino) in high grade are a little low, but not a lot of these have been submitted with a total of only 687 Universal copies graded (compared to the 1204 cited above).  For completeness here, note that there are 981 copies of issue 39 in Universal grade.  Make of that what you will.

Issue 45 and 47 have the classic feel of warehouse books, but not overly so (small warehouse? Smile).  Issues 43-49 all have the same guide price, so the spikes on 45 and 47 indicate that there seem to be more of them out there that did not get molested in quarter bins.  But, for some reason, issue 46 did not share the same fate.  Total universal graded copies for issues 45, 46 and 47 are 783, 555, and 714 respectively.

The most interesting thing is issue 50.  First King Pin in this issue, so it has a much higher guide value in 9.2.  But despite 1457 Universal graded copies, the number of high grade (≥ CGC 9.0) issues is small in comparison.  This could  be the result of the dark red cover I suppose – that certainly seems to have played a roll in the scarcity of issue 28 in high grade, which we discussed last time.

So…some common themes are emerging in all of these silver age books.  Some big and medium sized warehouse spikes, dark covers (or ??) causing scarcity of issues in higher grade, and some issues that just randomly seem to be scarcer than other books.  This is by no means scientific…but staring at the data does make one wonder!

I’ll be back in a week or so to look at something from the Golden age…time to go back in time a bit!

Until next time…

P.S. Check out these silver age Amazing Spider-Man comics on eBay!

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Amazing Spider-Man Issues 20-34

One of the things that I have learned in writing this blog is that there is an enormous amount of data out there to draw from.  I have only touched on a few titles so far, and there are many, many more to explore.  Today though, I am going to stay in “Marvel country” and take a look at some more Silver Age goodness from the Amazing Spider-Man!

I presently have a graph in from of me that runs from issue 20 through issue 60.  But I am going to present it installments so as not to get lost in a veritable sea of information!   Issues 20-34 yield a few interesting observations that are worth discussion…so without further delay, let’s take a look!


First off, as with a lot of the other data we have looked at for Fantastic Four and Thor, there is a clear anomaly with the data on issue 33.  It has all the hallmarks of a book that was subject to a warehouse find – a far greater number of 9.8 issues than neighboring numbers, and a lot more books in higher grade overall.  The case is strengthened by noting that nothing really important happened in this issue and that the Guide 9.2 price is fairly low compared to surrounding books.

ASM_28Another thing I see here concerns the more sought after issues 23 and 28.  Issue 23 was the third Green Goblin, and he is on the cover.  Issue 28 is the origin and first appearance of Molten Man.  Each book is collectible for those reasons alone, so one would expect a bump in CGC submissions for grade and a corresponding bump in higher grade copies.  But, we don’t see that here.  The take-away?  These books are popular AND not very common in high grade…two things that will make these books fairly pricey to get in high grade.  Interestingly, if you look at the number of books graded CGC 6.0 or higher for issues 23 and 28, each issue has more graded copies than issues 24-27.  So…a lot of books have been submitted, but not a lot of high grades awarded.  For issue 28 this is likely explained by the black cover.  As to issue 23, I am not sure why there are relatively few high grade copies out there.

There is more to take away here, but these are the two main points.  If you have a GP Analysis subscription, it’s worth comparing this data to current 12 month average prices realized.  The GP data correlates rather well to the conclusions drawn here.

Until nest time…

P.S.  Looking for Silver Age Amazing-Spider Man in CGC 9.0 or better?

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Fantastic Four Issues 20-29

This is the third in a series of posts on Fantastic Four CGC data.  I wanted to continue this exercise for the sake of completeness.  I am not really sure what to expect out of this run of books, so let’s take a look, shall we!

The data on issues 30-60 yielded a few observations on rarity and this lot of issues is no different.  At first glance, it really doesn’t look like there is much we can take away from this data.  But a closer observation yields at least one thing that is worth pointing out.


First of all, let’s briefly review what the highlights are in this set of books.  Clearly, the most important and popular books are issues 25 and 26 where the Thing and the Hulk do battle.  But there are multiple early crossovers in this group as well, including Sergeant Fury in issue 21, Doctor Strange in issue 27, and the X-Men in issue 28.  Values in the Overstreet guide reflect these events, as can be seen on the chart.

FF25So what can we take away here?

The first (and primary) thing I notice is that issue 26 (85 copies in CGC 9.0 or better) is significantly more common than issue 25 in high grade (64 copies in CGC 9.0 or better).  Given that the two books both list at $1650 in guide 9.2, and the fact that they were published only a month apart, you would expect them to be equally rare and equally submitted to CGC for grade.  Could it be that the dark blue cover of issue 25 keeps it out of high grade more often than issue 26 (a white covered book)?  Just a guess on my part.  At the end of the day, I would expect issue 25 to command a premium over issue 26 in the same grade.

Any other observations here are difficult.  There are no 9.8 copies of issue 29.  And issue 23 only has 44 copies in CGC 9.0 or higher.  But this issue is not that valuable in the guide, so that would suggest a lower number of copies submitted for grade.

As always, I hope this data is interesting and/or useful!

Until next time…

P.S. Looking for Silver Age Fantastic Four comics graded CGC 9.0 or higher?

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