Covering the Spread 22: Year in Review

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to another Covering the Spread.  This week I wanted to take a look at something I admittedly don't know much about – being a Wednesday warrior.  At least through the lens of the spread.

New books are interesting to me but if I have the option of buying the new hotness, or another Spider-Man key, you probably already know what I pick.  Sometimes there is crossover and the new hotness is a Spider-Man book but even then I tend to shy away from new books.  It's always been my opinion that new books get hot out of the gate, then cool down as the next new book get hot.  But other than anecdotal evidence I've never really researched that trend.

That's what we're here to do today!  I'll be taking a look back at some books that were hot out of the gate this year, using the Hot 10 as a guide.  My goal is to determine whether or not

A. You should sell these books right away if you have them

B. Grade them before you sell them

C. Buy into the hype and buy them while they're hot

D. Avoid new books altogether (As an investment)

 

Phoenix Resurrection 4 Singh Variant

Remember back in January when this was the 2nd hottest book in the world? Yeah, me neither.  But as Stein said in his article it really is a cool cover.  $50 out of the gate is pretty good for a 1:25 variant.  So where is it today?  Only 2 have sold recently on eBay both for a little over $40 shipped so they have held their value pretty well.  However NO ONE has sold a graded copy.  On eBay at least.  Looking at the copies currently up for sale as an estimate anyone who graded these will most likely be losing money.  Especially the poor soul who graded a 9.2 copy.  Not off to a good start.

 

X-Men Blue 21 Hans Variant

One month later in February this book barely even managed to hit the shelves.  Pre-orders were going for $75-$100 and prices actually went up even higher upon release.  So where does it sit now?

Average Raw Price 105.25
10 Copies 1052.48
Shipping Fees (EST) 100
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Selling Fees 130
Total Costs 1462.48

 

9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price 9.2 Av Price(EST)
224 119 105 75
2 Copies 3 Copies 4 Copies 1 Copy Total Value
448 357 420 75 1300

Unlike the last book this one does have a market for graded copies, and not a bad one at that.  However prices have returned to about $100 for a raw copy.  A 9.8 will cost you just over $200 which is what raw copies were going for at peak hype.

These days if you invest in this book your upfront cost will be $1332.48 and you would lose $162.48.  Not a good investment.  Even if you were one of the people who pre-ordered for $75 you could come out just barely ahead but you would've been much better off selling raw at release.

 

The Spider King 1 Young Variant

In March we saw something very rare when an IDW book made the top 10 list. ( No offense IDW) This book came out the gates getting almost $30 a piece for a 1:10 variant.  But even with me being a big Skottie Young fan I completely forgot this existed by this point in the year.  From the state of the market I'm guessing a lot of people did.

Again there have been no sales for graded copies but raw copies are down to about $14.  One more book that suggests you should sell at release.

 

Action Comics 1000 Lee Tour Variant

In April we saw a much bigger event with a release of Action Comics 1000.  There were dozens of variants for this book but this seemed to be the big winner of the bunch selling for $50-$70 dollars.  My biggest complaint about Superman has always been that he doesn't have good villains so is this new one good spec?

Average Raw Price 58.34
10 Copies 583.38
Shipping Fees (EST) 100
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Selling Fees 116.90
Total Costs 980.28

 

9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price(EST) 9.4 Av Price 9.2 Av Price
177 110 90 125
2 Copies 3 Copies 4 Copies 1 Copy Total Value
354 330 360 125 1169

This is one of the strangest books I have every analyzed.  There have been no 9.6 copies sold (31 on the census) and only one sale for a 9.4/9.2.  That 9.2 copy went for $35 more than the 9.4 and it was an auction!

Raw copies are still selling in the same range as they were at release so if you were to invest today you would have upfront costs of $863.38 and profits of $188.73.  Finally, profits!  That is still pretty meager though and works out to a spread of +18.87.

Takeaways

I think there is a lot more to look at with this book than the others.  This is also a case where being first market was huge.  The first 9.8 sold for $900! Another 9.8 sold for $500 the next day, but by the next month prices had plummeted.  I obviously can't go back to look at what other listings were available at the time, but there were no other sales for over a month after these two.  I think that played a big role in why they were able to sell so high.  The other factor is ambition.  If you're the first to market don't be afraid to list for a high price.  That $900 dollar book sat for 6 days on eBay before someone bought it.  After that copy sold another was listed for $899 OBO and settled on that $500.  Obviously $500 is much more than the rest have been going for, but this was one day after the $900 sale and the $500 offer was accepted the same day it was listed.  If you are one of these early sellers be patient and stick to your guns, I think that book could've went for $600 just as easily.

The other thing to note here is that while current prices of a little over $50 were the same as at release this book was selling for close to $200 raw at one point, so I still think unless you can be first (or second) to market selling these early is still the way to go.  But if you had bought them week 1 for $50 and sold a week later around $190 you would be very happy, so I'm not prepared to say buying these books at release is never a good idea.

Batgirl 23 Middleton Variant

This is a book that I've wanted to cover for a long time.  In fact for a minute I thought that I had.  None the less, there wasn't much to cover from the month of May but in June we had a few hot books, with the hottest being this one.  Before release this book was selling for $20-$30 dollars and it pretty much just kept going from there.  Here's where we sit today:

Average Raw Price 61.36
10 Copies 613.61
Shipping Fees (EST) 100
Grading Fees (EST) 180
Selling Fees 85.30
Total Costs 978.91

 

9.8 Av Price 9.6 Av Price 9.4 Av Price 9.2 Av Price(EST)
123 79 75 70
2 Copies 3 Copies 4 Copies 1 Copy Total Value
246 237 300 70 853

Raw copies are currently selling for $61.36 which is way above where they were at release.  If you bought in today you would have an upfront cost of $893.61 and you would lose $125.91.  That's obviously not great.  However if you had preordered 10 copies at $30 you would have made $187 by grading them.  Neither of those scenarios are as profitable as just selling them raw though as you could've easily made $300 just selling those same copies raw.

Wrap Up

Looking back at the first six months of the year gives us plenty of good data to use.  Out of these five hot books two could've made you a profit if you purchased them at release for market price.  Some have never sold graded but I'm confident in saying that unless you can be first to market it is not worth grading one of these hot books.  To answer my questions from earlier:

A. 60% of the time it is better to sell your copies of hot new releases ASAP.  That's not a huge margin but enough that I would call it a trend.

B. Never grade hot new releases before you sell them.  You can pay extra for fast track and try to be first to market but that only made a big difference for one of these books

C. It's only worth buying into the hype of a hot new book 40% of the time.  I don't expect us to see another Batgirl 23 anytime soon so I would recommend not buying a new book the week of release on the aftermarket.

D. I won't say to avoid new releases as an investment, but I will say you should avoid them on eBay.  If you can find them at your LCS for a good deal, buy them and sell them quick. Otherwise there are always better investments out there.

 

Finally I want to be clear that this article is only written about investing in new comics.  I would never discourage anyone from buying new books to read.  In fact I wish more people would.  Reading TPBs and binging shows are both great, but not as great as the anticipation of waiting for that new episode/issue to be released.  Please go support your LCS and your favorite comic creators, or one day they may not be there.

Thanks as always to the Comic Collateral App for our pricing data, and thank you all for reading!  Thank you to Ben S for your excellent Top 10 article every week.  It's fun to look back and see things like Shatterstar making the list.  See you next week!

 

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9 comments

  • Ben C

    Awesome installment brother, really dig this column, thanks!!

  • Wow lots to unpack on this article. Really great. Thanks!

  • I’m puzzled — the Tour Variants were supposedly limited to 3000 copies, so in your opinion wouldn’t there be greater intrinsic value in those? Perhaps more so than the other variants you mentioned? Not trying to be argumentative (I only paid $25 each for two of them and plan to keep them for my PC), but in the long term might not these be seen as more valuable? I did read that there were problems with flawed spines on many of them. I do understand that you based your calculations on the current going rate. Thanks!

    • Yeah this is based off current market. Not based on where I think the book is headed. That said, the number of new books that hold that type of value are few and far between. There are plenty of store variants that are just as limited but no one wants

  • panelpunx

    I appreciate the honesty of this. It’s a sobering reality for a lot of us optimists. I often find myself thinking that whatever beautiful new Artgerm variant is going to be the next Batgirl #12 (Stephanie Brown), but blissfully ignoring the factors that went into the popularity and scarcity of that book.

  • Excellent.

  • For what it’s worth, I actually sold a 9.6 of the Phoenix Variant in January for $73.00 – paid $15 at LCS plus grading fees. Not much return…

    Nice job as always.

  • Love that Phoenix variant, for me that one was a buy and long term hold or just for PC maybe. I’ve been meaning to grade my copy but if I do i’ll likely sell it.

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