Previews vs 1st Appearances
When is a preview considered a 1st appearance? This question has been debated to no end throughout the comic book collecting community. There have been several instances where a beloved character has appeared first in a comic book as a preview or in an ad before the debut of the character in an ongoing issue as canon.
As a speculator, the fact that a preview does not hold value as a first appearance can be rather frustrating. What is the true definition of a first appearance anyway? Is it the first time a character has dialogue? The first time they appear on a cover? The first time their name is mentioned and we see a panel with their hand in it? I’ve come to the realization that the 1st true appearance of a character should be an appearance in more than one panel with dialogue in an ongoing series. Everything else should just be considered a preview or a cameo, but with that being said, I think that preview books are some of the most undervalued books on the market right now.
The reason some of these books may be so undervalued is not from the content within, but because the fact that many are not known to hold these special nuggets of goodness within their pages. Many previews offer a complete story of multiple pages that contain several characters. Some notable occurrences that are largely considered previews are in books like Absolute Vertigo #1, DC Comics Presents #26, DC Spotlight #1, Techjacket #1, Noble Causes: Family Secrets #3B, and The Walking Dead #61 and #127. Some of these sell very well while others fall by the wayside due to the public being unaware they exist.
Upon further research, the largest discrepancy I’ve found between the value of the preview and the value of the first issue has got to do with one of the hottest TV shows on the planet right now. This show is consistently on the top of the ratings pile. The rarity of the first issue and popularity of the show have made The Walking Dead #1 one of the most desired comics of all time, and some would argue THE most desired Modern Age key. What some people may not know, is that this book was preceded by two other books that Image put out a month earlier that contain a five page preview featuring the 1st appearance of Rick Grimes and Shane Walsh.
The two books in question are Capes #1 and The Agents #6. Both issues contain the same preview of when Rick wakes up from his coma to find the world in a much different state from when he was shot in front of his best friend Shane. Both of these books have a publishing date of September 2003, and both have lower print run than The Walking Dead #1. The approximate print run of Capes #1 is 6,200 and The Agents #6 comes in at a miniscule 3,400 copies, while The Walking Dead #1 has an estimated print run of 7,200 (these numbers were found using the comichron.com data base).
After looking at graded 9.8 sales and comparing the three books I overwhelmingly believe that Capes #1 and The Agents #6 are two of the most undervalued modern age comics available. To compare the cost to own one of these books, I also checked the prices for some of the other well-known TWD keys graded in a 9.8, including issues: #2, #19, #53, and #92, all of which sell higher than the two preview books in the same grade. The difference in price is staggering, with the average price of the 1st issue of The Walking Dead selling for $2300+ while Capes #1 is selling for $175 and The Agents #6 is selling for $70 (all figures are for sold listings for 9.8 grades with the info found using comics.gocollect.com).
Previews are a great way to enjoy early stories of your favorite character without actually paying the price of what is largely known as the 1st appearance. Whether it is the New Teen Titans, Preacher, Invincible, or The Walking Dead the books mentioned in this article should be grabbed up by any serious collector looking to complete their run of their favorite title.