The Usual Suspects #11

Welcome, welcome, welcome. This week I thought we’d take a look at a book that has been selling consistently regardless of it being one of the top selling comics of all time. So let’s take a gander at any one of the 1.7 million copies of Spawn #1.

 

 

Here we are 26 years and 289 issues later and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is still rolling on. Who would’ve guessed Spawn would be nearing 300 issues with a new movie on the way starring an Oscar winner? “An Oscar winner Jerry!”

 

 

As each little tidbit of news dribbles out, it seems to trigger spikes in sales. And I’m looking forward to seeing this flick. It could be great having the creator at the helm, even if he has very limited experience. A comic creator directing a film, what could go wrong? Sure there’s a chance we get a pile of hot garbage like Frank Miller’s The Spirit, but I’m gonna be optimistic as McFarlane is putting together some talent on his film.

 

 

Seriously this is not a hard book to find, but it sells crazy volume. Some high dollar sales, but for the most part this is a very affordable book in most grades. So whether it’s movie news pushing this book, or if it’s just an iconic book that every collector new and old needs in their collection; this book sells.

Now will you get rich off this book? No, probably not. There are 1.7 million of them after all. But Super-high grade, error edition, newsstand, and reissues can fetch you some decent coin. Granted the regular edition 9.8 can fetch you a quick return if you luck into a high grade copy on the cheap. Check out this week’s Covering the Spread to see what you can do with this book.

But the bulk of these out there are most likely banged up being stored for years unbagged and unboarded in a long box buried in back stock of some rando shop or forgotten and stashed in a storage unit somewhere. But don’t lose hope, there are always gems to be found out there.

But keep it in perspective. I can’t stress enough how many of these suckers are out there. There are nearly 10,000 graded copies in the CGC Census. That’s more than most current Image titles monthly print runs. Seriously though, there are about as many graded copies as there are copies of the last issue of Injustice 2, and that’s a book more people should probably be picking up. It’s just fun. Like Donnie Cates books are fun. Love him or hate him for how he’s played the spec market, the guy writes fun comics. And shouldn’t we have more fun in our comics?

There I go wandering off topic again like a confused old man lost in the mall. So, without further ado…let’s get into it.

 

Spawn #1

(May 1992)

 

There it is, the answer to what would Spider-man look like with Doctor Strange’s cape, mixed with a little Ghost Rider, a touch of Batman, and a dash of unmasked Doctor Doom underneath and we have Spawn. Seriously lay off the Donnie Cates mash-ups, he isn’t the only one to do it.

I mean it’s not like he just ripped off Deathstroke, gave him Spidey’s personality, and only changed his first name from Slade to Wade. That’s completely new and different right? Thanks Rob Liefeld. But we’re talking Spawn and Image Comics from the 90’s. Early 90’s Image comics and both Mark Silvestri’s and Jim Lee’s X-men knockoffs. But one group is cyborgs and the other group is full of aliens. But they’re not X-men and they each don’t have a “Wolverine.” How novel. I kid, I kid.

 

 

All joking aside, I still loved the crap out of those books and still have them all tucked away in my PC. Sure, they weren’t the most cleverly written books. These guys were artists after all. They came up with their hook for a book and were off and running. I find it really impressive that both Spawn and Savage Dragon are still rolling along after all these years.

Have I kept up with Spawn since 1992? Nope. Do I wish that I had? Yup.

Some of those low print runs in the 100’s and those homage covers in the 200’s would be good books to have these days. But that’s a tale for another day. So I’m gonna grab another Fat Tire (great summer beer BTW), and get to the book that we are supposed to be looking at.

 

Active Listings:  So many options available on eBay. Just type in Spawn #1 and you get over 3,000 results. Granted they aren’t all Spawn #1 from 1992, but I don’t have the time or the patience to whittle that down to the actual number. You get the idea, there are a lot. Most grades and conditions are on the market for you to sift through. Whether you want a graded copy or just a raw to take a chance on, it’s all there.

Top dog is a $5k CGC Signature Series 9.9. Yes you read that right, a 9.9. And that’s not the only 9.9 available right now. You just want a blue label 9.9, it can be yours for $2,500 or less if you make a solid offer. Yes there are two 9.9’s on the market currently. I should be more shocked, but there are still 70 more out there maybe there should be more on the market.

 

Market Analysis:  As I said, there are two 9.9’s up for purchase right now. And both are priced well over the most recent 9.9 sale in May for $1800. And even that was a little down from the $1,900 average sale for the last year. But that doesn’t mean a new high won’t be hit.

Feels weird writing about 9.9’s like most book’s 9.8’s. But when you have over a million copies out there, there’s bound to be more than most. Surprised I can’t find one of the six 10.0’s out on the market.

But with this number of sales, there are outliers all over the place. The below chart is really only good for the averages. Last sale is nearly meaningless as there will be at least 2 dozen more sales that occur by the time this is published to the site. If you look at the last 9.8 sale of $134.50 on 9/1/18, which was one of 3 sales of 9.8’s that day. Had the $115 sale done earlier in the day been the last, the chart would reflect a last sale vs average loss as opposed to a small gain. Looking at the 383 sales over the last year you can see that’s more than a sale a day for a 9.8. That’s crazy volume. No room to breathe between sales. No rhyme nor reason to why on the same day a 9.8 can sell for $82 or $150 back on 7/31.

But compared to most books I have covered, this is pretty small potatoes. I mean $82 for a 9.8 isn’t gonna break the bank. Grading will cost most people close to $30 when you factor everything in with fees and shipping. And with Raws averaging under $20, you are looking at a $50 buy in to maybe make $32 before you have to pay your own seller fees. Or you could make $100 with a comparative sale that same day. It’s the Wild West.

Seriously, look at the numbers and a 9.6 is nominally the same cost as a 9.0. And don’t let all the red fool you. The prices aren’t declining. Nor are they really rising. It’s just a see saw roller coaster ride where people want what they want and will pay what they want. Same day, one guy sells for $82 and the next gets $150. It’s a crapshoot.

There are so many sales, you can make the numbers be whatever you want. Massage them to look like they are on the rise, or on the decline if you look at them in a slightly different light. What I can see is there are a lot of sales and they are all over the place. Either way, this book is moving.

For Raws I typically cover 3 months of sales data, but after I hit 165 sales the last 30 days I threw in the towel. Seriously, a legit 165 individual sales in the last month. This doesn’t include any graded copies, reprints, copies in lots, or newsstands (which we will get to in a moment). I can’t stress it enough, it’s Thunderdome, and there are no rules. Raw copy sales the last 30 days ran the gamut from $4-$71.

But I can say with a degree of certainty is that the Newsstand edition has shown a significant rise in price. So let’s take a bit of a deeper dive and look at the numbers for that as well…

 

Spawn #1 Newsstand

(May 1992)

 

So some people value the Newsstand Edition more than the Direct Edition. In some cases it’s due to rarity or it could be difficulty in finding in high grade. Whatever the case, the price differential for Spawn #1 Newsstand vs. regular is real. And you can see the prices rising.

You can see over the last year, sales of newsstand 9.8’s have averaged triple the direct edition at $364. And the most recent sale hit $460 just last week. That’s a serious jump. And it’s not much of an outlier when you consider 2 more of the last 5 sales also hit $400. And 39 sales of 9.8’s over the last year is a decent sample size.

It is impossible to know a print run of the Newsstand edition. All we can say is that it appears to be much less than the Direct Edition, and if you find one in the wild, just grab it. Unlike the randomness of a raw direct edition which may be a $4 book or a $71 book depending on the day and buyer, a newsstand is a consistent $80 find raw. Something to think about.

 

 

And the Newsstand isn’t the only other edition of this book. Over the last 26 years, we’ve seen reprints, fan editions, etc. Or maybe we call them “variants”? In any event, let’s take a quick look at these other editions of this book. Please note, I am not looking at foreign editions since that’s just not my thing and this article is getting long enough.

 

Spawn #1 Error

(May 1992)

 

This is a weird one. This is an error edition that had little or no black ink in the printing process. This bad boy sells for quite a few schmeckles. Apparently when you print over a million copies, someone might forget to change the toner in the printer. And you know what that means, cha-ching. Also if you get this graded, it looks like CGC slaps a Green Label on it.

 

Spawn #1 Fan Edition

(Aug 1996)

 

So from what I can gather, this came with an Overstreet fan magazine. It had these 2 covers and a gold foil version of the second cover with the Viking Spawn. Plenty of copies available and seems to sell at or below the direct edition.

 

Spawn #1 3-D Edition

(Feb 2006)

 

There was a 3D version created for the 2006 Todd McFarlane retrospective at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York. This is a tougher find and it sells closer to Newsstand prices.

 

Spawn #1 25th Anniversary Edition

(May/June 2017)

 

So last year we also got 3 covers of this 25 Anniversary Director’s Cut Edition. And then an encore follow up the next month with a gold foil cover. This is mostly a cover price book with both of the McFarlane Ultimate Spidey homages being the most desired. And the Gold foil was a quick flip for a while and still commands a touch more than the other editions.

 

Spawn #1 Image First Edition

(Various)

 

This seems readily available for a buck. I think there are various printings. Maybe 1st print of a reprint means something to you, but with over a million copies of the original and all of the other editions I listed, that would be a foolish investment in my opinion. But to each their own.

 

Spawn #1 Black & White Edition

(Sep 1997)

 

Now I held this edition for last as it is probably the toughest to find and the most expensive edition of this book. (I’m not counting the Error edition as that is more specialized and draws a specific type of collector)

This was a reprint issued 5 years after the original and was offered as a 1:50 Incentive Variant for Spawn #65. Print run estimates would put this at somewhere in the 800-1,000 copy range, but that’s pure speculation. Who knows for certain?

 

Active Listings:  Only about 5 listings of this edition active right now. Only one of which is graded, and that’s a 9.4 for $500, which is at a premium to the average for the year.

As far as Raws go, there are a few copies ranging from $500-$725. Not an easy book to find and it isn’t cheap.

 

Market Analysis:  Looking at the chart below, sales have been rising over the last 12 months. All grades and Raws are trending up. Even though it was released 5 years after the original, and is a variant incentive for another issue in the series, this seems to be a book that is highly coveted. Perhaps in part due to the enormous print run of the original, it seems that any variant is desired simply because it would be categorically rarer that the 1.7 million copy edition.

But 9.8’s are running you a grand. And with Raw prices where they are, I would think we will see all grades continue to rise if those are moved close to the asking price. If you got it hold it for the time being.

 

 

Well that’s it for this week. I don’t know if many comics have this many editions/variants/reprints released over the years. Even though this was all about Spawn #1, I feel like I just looked at 10 different books with all of these Variant editions. I’ve had enough Spawn for a while. No more Spawn now, I mean it…

“Anybody want a peanut?” – Fezzik

 

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