Everyone knows DC and Marvel, and for some people Image or perhaps IDW comics might complete their set of ‘comics worth buying’. When you think of older companies, however, maybe you think of Charlton or Goldkey – both now defunct- but there were many other comic companies out there. Although they may no longer publish comics under the ‘Comico logo’, the historically important original Comico Company released some highly collectible comics.
In this post I want to focus on that now defunct independent company. Comico is a brand that might not immediately come to mind when thinking about collectible comics, but it should.
The Comico Company was founded in the early 1980s and for over a decade (until 1997), published both artistically engaging as well as commercially viable comics. Starting out small, the company eventually attracted some leading talents of the comic world. The origins of the company go back to three former art school students and friends (Gerry Govinco, Bill Cucinotta and Phil LaSorda). The three had already worked together on smaller publishing ventures in the Norristown, PA area.
In the early eighties they set their aim on releasing black and white comics that would allow them to explore their artistic interests as well as appeal to readers. Once they were joined by Matt Wagner, in 1982, they established Comico and collected their earlier efforts into a retrospective series called Primer.
From seemingly out of nowhere Comico managed to establish itself in a marketplace dominated by the two huge corporate giants of the comic publishing world: DC and Marvel. Already by the early 1980s they had introduced some important titles. By 1985, with the addition of Administrative Supervisor Bob Schreck and Editor in Chief Diana Schutz, Comico was a force to be reckoned with. Then it all went wrong. Financial troubles, starting in 1989 and related to distribution problems, were the beginning of the end for Comico. By the mid-nineties the company was a pale shadow of its former glories, but let’s face it, the nineties was a bad time for all comics!
In its heyday Comico would publish everything from Christmas Specials to Gumby comics, to hiring a young Mike Barr and Adam Hughes. I was especially fond of their adaptation of the Japanese/American anime series Macross/Robotech. Some of Comico’s titles are still valuable and highly sought out by collectors today. In the rest of this post, I’ll list, from least to most valuable, the top four most collectible comics released by Comico between 1982 and 1988:
This mystery series features some of the first Adam Hughes artwork for comics and excellent scripts from Mike Barr. Although it was a celebrated book, nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best New Series when it came out, Comico’s financial problems meant that it had to move companies (Innovation Comics published it from 1989-1991) before it ceased publication for six years between the first and second series and it was picked up by Caliber Comics in 1997. Today you can read the entire series in graphic novel form or, since they’re not that expensive, pick up the floppies. Maze Agency #1 currently has a FMV of $24.00 in certified 9.8 grade after one sale in September of 2018.
With his scientist father and Saturday Morning cartoon featuring ‘Indiana Jones’ style adventures, Jonny Quest was originally published in comic book form by Gold Key. This Comico comic has a FMV of $85.00 in 9.8 certified grade. The stats are mixed, but recently- over the last three months- only 1 copy sold (a 9.8) on eBay, but for $49.00. The buyer got a good deal. Long term data shows that, since 2005, 9.8 are up +40.3% with lower grades (9.6 and 9.0) down -1.7% and 11.5% respectively.
This series is still going strong in comic book form (currently published by Titan Comics) and has been a great read since it was first adapted by Comico in 1984. Robotech was based on a combination of various Japanese anime series including one called ‘The Super-Dimension Fortress Macross’. With its sleek-transforming vehicles and inter-galactic soap-opera like plot Macross was like Star Wars meets Transformers. For a lot of kids in the 1980s it was simply addictive. It must be the loyal fans who originally followed the series on Saturday morning TV that are pushing up the prices on this Comico comic. Constant rumors of a movie deal (as I outlined here) also haven’t hurt. Macross #1 currently has a FMV in certified 9.8 grade of $625.00. Last June, a copy in 9.8 sold on eBay for a cool $1000.00. An outlier? Perhaps, or maybe that movie will get made, and the declining value on lower grade copies will see a sharp spike upwards.
The Primer comics were some of the earliest published by Comico and of them none is more sought out than Primer #2. The main reason for this is that it features the first appearance of Matt Wagner’s Grendel and Grendel has many devoted fans. Grendel is the secret identity of Hunter Rose, a successful author. When he takes on a life of crime working as an assassin he adopts the code-name Grendel. Like Robotech, this comic would survive the Comico implosion and later be picked up by Dark Horse Comics. With a FMV in 9.8 certified grade of $2,400.00, this is without a doubt the single most sought after Comico book. As of 2018, news is that there is a film adaptation in the works. That hasn’t hurt sales of this book in the least. Over the last year, returns are up 21.5% on certified 9.6 copies and 69.5% on 9.2s.