Whitman DC Variants
The last 2 weeks I focused on Canadian Variant/Edition comics that are must-haves. This week I decided to focus my attention on Whitman DC Variants (yes, these are variants); there is no way to dispute this term. DC Whitmans in the past few years have really become highly sought after by veteran collectors like myself. These books were the opposite 20+ years ago, where they were regarded as 2nd prints and treated as such. Only in the last 10 years or so were collectors realizing that they were released at the same time as the original editions, and some of these books are extremely rare. In fact, some are so rare that less than 10 copies exist for some of these books and are stored away in private collections. I was lucky last year to locate one of these books at my LCS, and was even luckier to pay less than a quarter for it. The reason I found it was I knew what to look for, and education is a big part of collecting. So hopefully this article will give you some pointers on what to keep an eye out for, as you may get lucky like me and find one in a discount bin or yard sale. Let’s face it, there is nothing better than scoring a big book – it’s like finding buried treasure with a metal detector. The metal detector for comics is knowledge, and you can never have enough of that.
Whitman Comics was known as Western Comics, who were more known for Gold Key comics at the time. They would eventually change their format from newsstand to department store availability due to exclusive deals made for distribution. These books would now become available for purchase in major stores across the US and Canada in a new format of 3 books per bag at discounted prices in comparison to buying them individually at the newsstand. Marvel and DC licensed their books through Whitman so that they could have their books sold in department stores in this same format, where Whitman had an exclusive deal. These big chain department stores at the time were in a sense the prototype for Local Comic Shops, as many consumers bought these polybagged books for their children there. Marvel and DC knew that newsstands at convenient stores would only sell so much, and getting these books in department stores was where the profit was. Whitman would place their logo and add a black slash through the UPC on these DC editions in order to identify these copies as 3 pack books. The Marvel copies unfortunately did not have these Whitman logos on the books, and were more identifiable by the Diamond shape box in the top left corner with a blank UPC, or a black line slash through the UPC code. Please see pictures of both DC and Marvel polybagged pictures to get a better understanding of what is meant by this. I will talk more about Marvel Whitmans on another article as these books have more confusion due to not having the Whitman logo on them as proof.
The DC Whitman Variants are numerous and if you’re planning on collecting the lot, you may have a big task ahead of you; however, any copies you find will be valuable, especially in high-grade condition. Thanks to Doug Sulipa who is the leading expert on DC Whitmans, we now know that the books from June 1980 are the rarest DC Whitmans ever made. Doug has done numerous articles on this throughout the years, and I highly recommend you look for them and read about his research as it is very informative. So here are the top 8 books to keep an eye out for, as the value on these books will only increase with each passing year; in fact, they will one day explode. These 8 books are 10 times rarer than the elusive Star Wars #1 (35 Cent Variant), so keep that in mind!
Action Comics #508
Well here is one of the hardest to find Superman books you will ever look for. In fact, it is rarely offered for sale online, but I happened to find a copy that did sell back in November on Ebay for an unbelievable steal. The book sold for $55 US, and the picture listed for this article is that same copy. Lois on the cover is spilling her coffee in shock, in fact she might have spilled it due to the selling price of this monster. I’m now kicking myself for not having seen this listing because this book in that shape at that price is insane. The buyer must have been doing the happy dance to get this at such a bargain. Here is a clear example of being at the right place at the right time. This book is estimated to have less than a 100 copies worldwide, so definitely one to be on the lookout for.
Okay, here is the perfect storm: you have one of the rarest variants of DC’s best-selling character in his own highly collected series. Batman #324 is a ghost, in fact there are likely less than 50 copies out there in existence. The cover is also a high-grade nightmare due to its all white background that will show every noticeable imperfection. It took me nearly ten minutes to locate a picture for this article, and I could not even find a sale anywhere for this book that happened in the past year. If anyone could help with that, please post in the feedback section as I would love to know myself. Either way, if you’re a Batman or variant collector, this book needs to be on your radar as this book will be worth its weight in gold.
DC Comics Presents #22
Here is the rarest DC Whitman Variant period. In fact, for years collectors believed it to be just a rumour until one showed up for sale on Ebay in 2012. The book is recognized by Recalledcomics.com as having less than 10 copies in existence. This book has not been up for sale in over 3 years online, due to the few copies available being locked away in private collections. This comic last sold for over $1,500 US for a CGC graded 8.5 copy, and this same issue would likely fetch over $3,000 in today’s market. DC Comics Presents #22 is the holy grail of these variants, and anyone trying to complete a set will have a hard time doing so with so few copies. I honestly feel this is the book that will be most comparable to the Star Wars #1 35 cent copy and may surpass it in overall value and desire in coming years. The picture provided for this article happens to be the copy I alluded to in the opening paragraph.
No Flash completist will have completed their collection without this book. This book is one of the easier books to acquire of the big 8, but still has less than a 100 copies known to exist. The book has sold a few times in 2016 on Ebay, and one just sold on January 5th of 2017. The book sold for another steal at $63.78 US, for what appears to be a 4.0 to 5.0 raw copy. The previous sale was back in October 30th, 2016 for $85 US for another raw (6.0) that could benefit from a nice press. These 2 deals are incredibly low prices, and another kick-myself-in-the-butt moment for missing out on these steals of a lifetime.
Justice League of America #179
Here is the third hardest to find DC Whitman Variant out there. This book is crazy rare and it is estimated that only around 20-50 copies exist out there. The book was not sold online in 2016, same as Batman #324 & DC Comics Presents #22, and if anyone knows of any please feel free to update me. Another all white background cover that makes high grade copies few and far between to find. This book has Firestorm on the cover, and he first joins the League in this issue. All I can say is if you see one, buy it now!
Legion of Super Heroes #264
I personally don’t collect LSH, never was a fan myself. However, I always keep an eye out for any Whitman Variants for this team, especially this book. This comic has less than a 100 copies out there, and is really difficult to find in high grade. I have only seen pictures of this book, and most of the copies I have seen are pretty beat up. A nice raw (7.0 roughly) sold for $81 US back in October 30th on Ebay, and this was the only copy I could locate. The book looks like a great pressing candidate, so whoever picked up this book scored big time.
New Adventures of Superboy #6
Okay, here is a comic that I had a difficult time finding a picture of for this article. Please excuse the one I posted, as this is the best I could do. What does that mean? Well, it means that this book is number 2 on the list of rarest DC Whitman Variants. The estimated number of copies for Superboy is between 20-30 copies worldwide. There is just no sales data I could give you, similar to DC Comics Presents #22; the book has not sold for a while due to rarity. This book would sell over a $100 raw in good condition easily if listed, and in high grade could be closer to a grand. Definitely one of the better books on this list to keep an eye out for at yard sales and flea markets.
The last book of the big 8 is the big man himself in his own solo title. Superman collectors…good luck because there are very few of these to go around. There are less than a 100 copies of this book, and when they are listed they sell immediately for big coin. There were a few sales in 2016, and the biggest bargain was a good condition raw for $67 US on November 7th (picture provided). Another good candidate for a press, this book could easily climb to a 6.0 once done. I recall trying to pick up a few high grade copies listed last year as buy it nows with best offers, but the sellers were not budging from their asking price. Most copies were listed for $350+, and they all are gone now.
Another year has gone and left us, and 2017 could be the year where collectors are pursuing new options or spending their money on grails such as Whitman Variants. Only time will tell, but if you’re in the habit of seeking out bargain books, having prior knowledge is the key to success. Good luck and God Bless in your treasure hunting.
Until Next Time!