Dark Horse Conan – What to do?

conan4I am a Conan the Barbarian fan. There is something so black and white about the character. If you are on his side…he will be loyal, defend you to the death, and even buy you a pint of grog at the local roadside inn.  If you are not on his side however, you will be met with his indignation…and his sword.

The Dark Horse Conan series that started out in late 2003 with a 25¢ promotional issue #0, and followed with issue #1 early in 2004, was fantastic for a lot of reasons.  The original Robert E. Howard stories were adapted beautifully by Kurt Busiek.  The art work by Cary Nord was top notch.  And Dave Stewart’s coloring was perfect.  (The cover at right is from the Dark Horse Frazetta cover series…eight issues total if I recall.  This is Conan holding a “meeting”)

All of these books are cheap in the Overstreet guide…about $3 in NM-.  What is more interesting about this book (other than the primary fact that it is a great comic, IMHO), are the sales and CGC data.  Looking at Diamond estimated sales for the book next to CGC 9.8 data makes for a pretty interesting study.  Actually…I think this is the type of data you might see for many modern comic books.  So…let’s take a look, shall we?


Dark Horse Conan Issues1-25: Click on the graph to see a larger view

What’s the first thing we notice?  Clearly, the first issue was the most popular issue.  You would expect that.  The estimated sales value in the chart, about 90,000 copies, represents first and second printings ordered over a period of three to four months.  And, as you would expect, the most popular graded issue is also #1 at 127 CGC 9.8 copies.  Not surprising.

Let’s assume for a moment that a rabid Conan fan wants the ultimate CGC 9.8 run of these books.  How easy is that going to be?  Bottom line…it will not be easy.  We have already spoken to issue #1.  Issue #2…OK.  Issue 3 and up start to get challenging.  Why?  This is where CGC’s statement on how to use their data should be applied.  These books are obviously not rare, they just aren’t very valuable.  No one has taken it upon themselves to go out and get that graded run because it would be a a lot of work, not to mention a rather expensive effort.

So what does it all mean?

I think we can take a couple key points away from this data.

1.  Putting a high grade (CGC 9.8) run of a nominally popular title together is not an easy thing to do without resources and patience.  In this Conan example, note that no copies of issue 25 (and most issues from 26-50) have EVER been submitted for a grade to CGC.  So, our intrepid collector will have to take that task upon themselves.

2.  Modern comics are printed in rather small runs compared to issues from the Gold, Silver or Bronze ages.  50,000 copies a month is not a lot.  The people who have taken the time to get these books graded may find, in 10-15 years time, that they hold the only viable CGC 9.8 issues in existence.  Think about those tough to find, high-grade Bronze age comics that languished in quarter bins for a couple of decades.  That’s a hard place for a book to live if it’s going to come out in 9.2 or 9.4, let alone 9.6 or 9.8.  If you really like a modern run, and you really want it in high grade, then you had best get busy putting it together now.  It will only get harder as time goes on.

This was a really fun chart and post to put together.  I hope to come at you with more very soon!

Until next time…

P.S. Looking for Conan CGC Comics?

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