The Chicken Or The Egg
The market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one – Henry Ford
Chicken or the egg?!
Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. Summer is in full swing here already. Amazing how quickly time goes. We are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur # 19 (MG & DD) conundrum.
I will start with this, my goal is to report the facts on a topic. It is then up to you to form an educated opinion based on the data. There is no doubt this is a polarizing topic, and it is one that must be looked at as it speaks to an the comic community as a whole, both from a seller and consumer perspective.
Let’s start at the beginning. MG & DD up to this issue 18 had seen a handful of ratio variants, six total issues out of the first eighteen in fact. What the market started to show in early 2017 is these variants had some play in the market financially. Why? Glad you asked, let’s break it down.
If you look at the first 18 issues as a whole, the average print run in totality is 13.7K. In looking deeper, if you take that 13.7K and if you take the highest ratio variant produced which is 1:25, the average number of copies is 548. How about 1:10s? Only 1370. Remember, this was for a new Marvel character. There is no
100K run…Hell, not even 50K run for these first issues folks. This clear up potentially why some of these issues have commanded the money they have up to this point? If not, see Mel V!
Here are the numbers at a granular level. Yes, I have omitted a few 1:10s as there were 1:25s for that particular week as well, etc.
Issue 1 38.1K print run – 1:25 Variant Approx. 1524 total
Issue 2 21.7K print run – 1:25 Variant Approx. 868 total
Issue 3 18.4K print run – 1:25 Variant Approx. 736 total
Issue 4 14.9K print run
Issue 5 14.7K print run
Issue 6 12.2K print run
Issue 7 12.8K print run – 1:15 Variant Approx. 853 total
Issue 8 12.7K print run
Issue 9 10.3K print run
Issue 10 11.8k print run
Issue 11 9.7K print run
Issue 12 9.5K print run
Issue 13 11K print run – 2 1:25s Variant Approx. 440 total
Issue 14 9.3K print run – 1:10 Variant Approx 930 total
Issue 15 10.9K print run
Issue 16 8.4K print run
Issue 17 8.2K print run
Issue 18 7.9K print run
Okay so you can add digits, so what? Well, here are the numbers for the infamous issue # 19 – 14.2K. Wait, so the print run basically doubled from issue #18 give a take a thousand? Also, there had only been five issues that surpassed that total number, these being the first five issues of the series. What gives? Ahhh, much had to do with this cover below, which really is a amazing piece in its own right:
The release of this picture sent a frenzy into the marketplace – Issue 19 1:25? Why with historical data the print run will be under 300. How? Remember, issue #18 only had 7.9K print run. Those totals would have only drawn a total of 316 copies. This next issue 19 would be a sellers dream. The perfect storm per se that comes around a few times a year…maybe.
Now, here comes the part of the story that gets a little sticky. When you think of comic speculation, a great deal of it revolves around the almighty dollar – How can I maximize my profit? Let’s face it, we all wish for this in our selling endeavors. In all seriousness, smart business people look for advantages.
A way to have the upper hand and more control of that respective market. Well, that’s exactly how this played out. A store variant was born for this issue. Furthermore, a variant with very little change in appearance, or new art. Okay, go on…Well this caused a ripple effect creating three issues.
One, it bloated the print run artificially due to the increase in covers printed. Two, with this more of the original 1:25s were printed lowering the value of those as well. Three, copycats and a ton of them. If they did it as a store, why can’t we?
Again, as I stated in the beginning, I am only here to lay out the information. Many would argue this was as an educated shrewd play. The other side is people believed this was manipulation of the market, and is uncalled for in our hobby. Who is right? That’s for you to decide.
Finally, let’s look at one more piece, the aftermath of this creation. Store variants exploded onto the scene. This includes some of the very best artists working today that are getting paid to create covers specifically for certain stores. This was taken a step further, with guarantee of a 9.8 slab if your heart desired.
How can you guarantee a specific amount of 9.8s if there is a set print run for these store variants? Then what happens to the non NM+ covers? Are those then filtered to people buying the raw copies? These are many questions that have been brought up with this new world we live in now.
Playing Devil's advocate, when a lot of these new store variants launched, they were eaten up like candy. Minuscule print runs, amazing covers from artists, and the latest and greatest all helped feed this monster. Many of you, myself included profited big time from these issues – raw or slabbed, colored or sketched, Virgin or dressing. Hell even a red dress or yellow one all fed the beast making many fat and happy with money in their pockets.
Today’s world, Red Goblin fatigue and anyone? Ugh, you mean how many Spider-Man 800 covers do we need to see? God, another 12 set color collage by a famous artist? Jesus, can’t we just go back to the way it was? Or the infamous “Buy it if you like it for PC” motto.
These thoughts have been shouted from the rooftops several times over. Yet, in some way, we all had a part in this – good or bad. Even those who keep these in their collections bought them for the cover art, then someone profited from that transaction.
In closing, here is some food for thought…
- Was this MG & DD #19 the Genesis of the times we live in now? If not this variant, wouldn’t another one come along at some point?
- Is this a trend/short term fad? Or is this how things will be done going forward?
- The artists themselves are selling exclusive covers directly from their own websites – will this trend continue to grow?
- Is this really any different than what the publishers themselves are doing? They can play God with numbers. How many ratio variants do we see each week? And of those, how many end up on the most wanted lists? The answer is a lot!
- Is a store exclusive any different than a high ratio variant?
- What is the resolution in your opinion? Simple Cover A & B like DC is doing with Rebirth? If so how does this affect the money that can be made if that’s your play?
As always, responses and your thoughts are welcome.