Judging a Comic Book by its Cover! GIVEAWAY WINNERS ANNOUNCED!
Ahh, the age old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover!” Something our childhood librarians echoed often. The difference when it comes to comic books in comparison to novels though is simple; pictures. Whenever it was in the past in which you first became fascinated by funny books, it likely took a beautiful or interesting cover. A cover that was so compelling you had to buy it and read what was inside. And sometimes, you were let down. The story was dull and lacked any real significance in the grand scheme of things. But wait…that cover. Yes. You still were able to gaze at that cover. Whether you tacked it to your wall or displayed it on a shelf, it was never about what was inside that made you buy it. It was about the glorious battle scene or image that you couldn’t look away from. That feeling of pure wonder.
The point is, in this speculation business, it’s not all about significant events, print runs, first appearances, and iconic story arcs. No doubt, the aforementioned mentioned things do contribute to value on the secondary market in most cases, but I digress. Sometimes though, it just takes an instant “classic” cover to make a book stand the test of time.
Sure, sometimes an artist is tied to a cover, but it’s not all about a single artist. Jim Lee has a ton of beautiful covers, and not all are considered sought after or a “key”. It really takes an artist at their absolute A-game to create a cover that is so dynamic and transcendent, in which that, and that alone make the book hold and increase in value. A majority of the pricey books which have no “significant event” are almost always based on the lightning in a bottle that is the cover.
During the rest of this diatribe, I’ll list one book from each decade (1960-present), and highlight the beauty that is the cover, and the lack of “speculative” significance inside. I’m leaving out any ratio variants, as I feel that adds rarity and special interest in a book. I also am by no means saying that the story inside the below listed books are bad, but that the cover outshines them.
-An absolutely breath taking cover by artist Sal Buscema, this cover has it all. A beautiful battle between two of Marvels most powerful heroes, the beautiful Bifrost, and Asgard in the background. CGC doesn’t note this book to have any significant event inside, but it still books at over $1K in NM condition. This is also a book that is on my wants list, and has been for a very long time.
-Ahh, a real strange one we have here. Classic covers get homage paid to them. A homage cover can't possibly be considered a classic, right? A superb Neal Adams cover no doubt, but CGC literally lists this as “classic cover”. Detective Comics #31 is the real classic cover. Yet with a price tag of $335K in NM, I guess we have to consider Batman #227 cheap at booking around $800.
-Yes, one of Todd McFarlanes very best. This has absolutely no significance except for the cover, which is gorgeous. Hulk and Wolverine battle inside…iconic? Maybe the first time, but that’s why Incredible Hulk #181 fetches the scratch it does. That being said, at a book value of $50, this is almost always a wall book at cons and LCS.
-I obviously would never do a list and leave Spider-Man off. This Joe Bennett cover is awesome! But that’s it. I’ve read some mention that this is the first “Cosmic Carnage”. The last time I checked, the Carnage symbiote broke away from Venom, in which case, isn’t Venom from outer space? Wouldn’t that mean that Carnage has always been cosmic? Frankly, I don’t know, but I do love this cover and people seem to as well. This is relatively cheap in comparison to the books above, but still one of the more sought after ASMs in the 1990s. Expect to pay anywhere from $20-$40 for a copy.
-Perhaps someone can help me on this one. Is this a standard B cover, or was this a ratio variant? I can’t recall, so please comment below. If it is a ratio, then it shouldn’t be on this list. Nevertheless, this is of course an Adam Hughes cover. One of his many fantastic ones. This cover may be my personal favorite of his. He didn’t over sexualize it, but she looks absolutely stunning. And good luck finding this in NM shape. That white spine doesn’t take fingerprints and scuffing particularly well. You’ll normally see this ranging anywhere from $20-$50. There are certainly no shortage of Hughes fans. I was fortunate enough to find mine for a $1. Then I saw another copy a week later and bought it for $20. Ughhh addiction.
I guess an iconic Joker cover is all it takes, and this Jock cover sums that up. Booking at $250 unslabbed, and selling for more in some places, this book, as stated before on this site, is as modern day key as it gets. Good luck finding them. I rarely see them in the wild, and when I do, I can’t afford them.
Let me thank everyone who participated in the contest. You all had excellent choices, and it was very hard to choose only three winners. Don’t worry, there are more books out of the Diesel City collection that I’ll be using for more contests to come! If you are one of the winners, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name and address so that I can ship your book to you!
And the winners are…
Goon #1 (Avatar Press)
Black Kiss #1
As a self-proclaimed The Crow guru, you picked my all-time favorite image of the character. O’Barr was so spot on with that rendition. Thanks for the recognition. I think that back cover is something the average person misses. Great work and thank you!
Last but certainly not least, much like I did for my buddy who runs the Key Collector Comic app (who seems to be enjoying a ton of success with a great app). I have to give a shout out to my friends who run Zap-Kapow Comics. They’ve got a new web app up that is a tremendous resource. They have a huge database with more books then I can even comprehend. With up to date pricing as well as an easy way to catalog your personal collection, this is a must for any true collector! I know that I use it whenever I’m at a show or LCS! I hope you check it out!