I decided to start selling comics for a living because I saw new recent books selling for 1000’s of dollars and thought, that just came out! There has got to be a way to figure out the pattern and trends to get ahead of it and pre-order those books for below cover price. Let’s take a look at six recent comic books that are demanding huge prices to see if we can determine any trends so we can predict the next hot new comic, so you can pre-order it for less than the cover price, and turn a nice profit. Let’s jump into the analysis:
I’m excited to share what I’ve found and to see if we can start getting better at predicting the next hot comic. I looked at six recent books demanding huge premiums, and here are the criteria I used:
- It has to sell out the day it was released. Meaning you can’t find it for cover anywhere online and have to turn to the secondary market like eBay.
- It has to demand at least 4x cover price.
- It has to maintain that value for at least 30 days post-release.
- It has to be a regular distribution book that you can pre-order, no store exclusives.
The Amazing Spider-Man #55 (Vol. 5) — that classic webhead Patrick Gleason cover will go down in history as a classic spidey cover. It sold for $15 coming out of the gate, sold out instantly, got a bunch of store exclusive versions, 2nd print, 2nd print 1:50, 3rd print, and a ton of copy cats. The price has only gone up, holding steady now at around $40. So what was it about this book that made it explode? I narrowed it down to three things:
It Flew Under the Radar as a Pre-Order, so 1st Print Copies Were Limited.
In other words, the market isn’t saturated with copies. This was a mid-run issue, issue #55 of the current ASM run. Nothing huge happened in the case, nothing huge was promoted as happening in the issue, just the normal solicitation. Now that turns out to be important in this analysis, what was the solicitation for this book from the distributor? Let’s read it:
LAST REMAINS CONCLUDES!’ LAST REMAINS’ ends and will make you look at Spider-Man differently. It’ll make Peter look at himself differently. If you thought the buildup TO Kindred was intense, the fallout FROM Kindred is even more devastating.
As a retailer, when I read that I think, this is not a significant issue, the diehard fans and pull list subscribers will grab it, but people aren’t going to be lining up in the store to buy this. It’s just a typical issue, and it turns out that it was a minor issue, and in the end, retailers did not order more copies of this than they usually would, resulting in a small supply relative to the actual demand. That’s what this is all about, supply and demand, and that’s how you have to be thinking about pre-orders, is okay “what is the demand for this book going to be like, what is the supply going to be like based off how the book was solicited, and what reasons do retailers order a lot of copies?”
The Number One Thing, the Only Thing That Makes This Book Successful, Is the Cover.
It’s a jaw-dropping, novel, incredible piece of art. But let’s see if we can dig a little deeper into the “cool cover” thing because so many comics are coming out each week have cool covers, but very few brand new comics demand $40 for a first print cover.
So to be more specific about the “cool cover” aspect, I’d expand on it like this: it’s a stunning cover of an incredibly successful character (Spider-man) in a novel or new technique. The web design that utilizes a negative space style is jaw-dropping because it’s new! We’ve never seen it before, and that was the key. Now we see it all the time, on characters that aren’t even associated with spiders — and it doesn’t work. Why would there be a webhead version of Donald Trump? Or Venom? Or Man-Thing? Those characters have nothing to do with spiders! It isn’t novel anymore, and the trick has lost its luster, but the original ASM 55 will hold value for all time because it was the first, and it works for that application.
So for ASM 55, two things contributed to its success that you could have predicted (I ordered 20 copies myself because of these two things, but I didn’t order 100). There were limited prints because there wasn’t a lot of incentive for retailers to order and it featured a stunning cover with a new technique on a classic tried and true character.
High Republic #1 — this book is the complete opposite of ASM 55. It’s all about the significance of the events and story and not about the covers. Don’t get me wrong, the covers are cool, but I don’t think the art alone would have this book demanding anything more than the cover price.
Out the gate, this book sold out, instantly demanding 15-20 in the aftermarket, and now it’s holding steady between 20-25. Cover C is doing the best around 30-40, but I think Cover A might make a comeback and take the lead over Cover C because it’s the first cover appearance of Keeve Trennis. So, it’s all about the story.
Let’s see the solicitation for this book:
BEFORE THE SKYWALKER SAGA! THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE JEDI! A new era of STAR WARS storytelling begins. It is centuries before the SKYWALKER SAGA. The JEDI are at their height, protecting the galaxy as REPUBLIC pioneers push out into new territories. As the Frontier prepares for the dedication of majestic STARLIGHT BEACON, PADAWAN KEEVE TENNIS faces the ultimate choice - will she complete her Jedi Trials or rescue the innocent from disaster? New Jedi! New ships!
There we have it — right there was all our cue’s that this book would pop (mind you I did not pre-order this. I don’t know what I was thinking, I saw it and read about it and still didn’t order, I’m not making that mistake again!) This book came out right amid the ‘Star Wars fever’ because The Mandalorian was still super fresh on Disney+. Right there in the solicitation, we see that the story could have potential impacts on the rest of the Star Wars saga, that it’s something completely new, and that it’s the first appearance of Keeve Trennis.
It will have first appearances if it’s a new story and new book and 1st appearances aren’t always significant, but it’s the totality of this solicitation that makes it a great pick. So here are the reasons this book exploded:
- Already huge hype about the Star Wars Franchise
- A new take on the already successful series
- First appearances that were solicited in the preview
Eniac #1 - is one of the first series from the new publisher called “Bad Idea.” Bad Idea is changing everything about how they distribute their comics, and if you haven’t noticed, new and novel things are a recurring theme in what makes comics explode in value.
Bad Idea decided not to use the industry’s leading distribution company Diamond to distribute their books, and they distribute directly to comic book shops. So far there are 200 registered, and those shops have to follow a specific set of rules like displaying the books in a prominent spot in the store, only selling them for cover price for the first 30 days, amongst other things. Break these rules, and you’re banned for life. At least one shop has already been banned for selling the comic above cover price online.
These things have resulted in an extremely limited supply of the 1st print for Eniac. They do subsequent prints because they have the first print — there is no 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., it’s just the first print. If there is more demand, they will print more “not first prints.”
Some people think this means that you should never pay more for a not first print than cover price, but I’m not sure how this will pan out in the market. We will see. Eniac #1 is a cool read about an alternate reality where the first AI supercomputer alters history with its decision-making. This story can make a great screenplay, and the limited number of copies is driving the price through the roof. 1st prints sell out the gate for between 150-200 and hold steady now around $160. So, what made this comic explode?
- Limited availability, which we now know will be the case for all Bad Idea first print comics.
- I recommend getting on a pull list at your LCS for any Bad Idea title; there are five slated for 2021. This is a slam dunk. Get the first prints for everything that comes out of Bad Idea for the foreseeable future, Tankers, Slay Bells, The Lot, Whalesville.
Spider-Woman #9 (Vol. 7) 1:25 - NM raw copies are consistently selling for over $200. This is one of the early covers done by Rose Besch. Rose Besch is a Korean American 2d artist who makes crystalline illustrations that look like this. Truly stunning artwork. So why did this comic explode so much?
- Limited availability. Issue 9 in a series is naturally a lull in readership, so comic shops order fewer quantities. Two examples of this are SIKTC, issues 7-9 demand a high premium because there were lower print runs, Invincible Iron Man 7 and 9, 1st cameo and full of Riri Williams also experienced the same thing. So, distributors and writers sometimes try to introduce new characters or do something stunning to keep readers interested. Couple that with a hot cover, and you have a truly special comic.
- Stunning, novel, new artwork from a new artist to the marvel scene. We see that theme a lot.
One Final List of What To Look For in a Pre-Order Spec Book:
- Things that are novel and new. We saw this in every single example. It can be a new artist, a new art style, or a new distribution model for the comics themselves. Notice, I’m not saying a new story because new stories come out every week, and the vast majority are flops. If it’s a new art style, it has to have the WOW factor. Not the wow factor, but the WOOOOOW factor. Something that stops you in your tracks to say I need that!
- Low print run relative to the demand. Supply and demand have to be considered together. Something can have a print run of 3,000 and be worthless (titles come out every week like this). At the same time, a print run of 90,000 can sell for over 3k, as in UF4. So you have to look at them together. This is where the issue # of the series comes into play, like with invincible iron man 7, 9, SIKTC 7,8,9, and Spider-Woman 9. Remember that issues 7-9 are where readership struggles and copies ordered will be fewer. So pay close attention to the solicitation and covers for those issues.
- 1st appearances in highly successful franchises like Miles Morales, Star Wars, Iron man, etc. Remember that not all first appearances are important, especially villains, because they are introduced and defeated all the time. Look for important characters that will stick around for the longevity of the storyline, like a sibling to a superhero, or a new take on an already popular superhero.
- Something being repeated of prior success. Bad idea comics are an excellent example of this. The same phenomenon will happen with all of their titles, limited first prints, and I’m sure at least one title will get picked up for a movie. I highly recommend getting every issue they put out from your LCS and getting on a pull list. After all, it’s just a cover price!
Two Pre-Orders You Can Still Get Now That I Think Will Hit:
Silk #2 (Vol. 3) 1:25 —It’s another Rose Besch cover, same stunning style. I’m getting 4 for myself, and I have them up on my eBay as a pre-sale. Take 15% off the eBay price if you hit me up over on IG.
Something is Killing the Children #16 — this will be the origin of Erica Slaughter and the start of a new story arc. It’s checking all the boxes that we just mentioned, guys. I’m ordering a boatload for myself, and we have pre-sales up on eBay. I’m hoping that SIKTC will become the next TWD. Imagine if you could have picked up the origin of Rick Grimes for cover price? This might be that chance.
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