Collecting 101: Don’t Ignore Second Prints

by Matt Tuck

Venom-3-second-print-195x300 Collecting 101: Don't Ignore Second PrintsFirst prints may get all the fanfare, but those subsequent printings can be highly collectible…and valuable. Here is why you shouldn’t ignore a second print comic.


For those new to the game, here’s how it works. A comic publisher prints a comic and sends it to stores for resale. Based on popularity, that same comic may get a second print run. In fact, for those comics that have captured the fan’s attention like few others, there may be third, fourth, or even fifth printings.

To differentiate between printings, publishers will change the covers. In the old days, these changes would be simple, with a different background color or logo. Modern publishing typically changes the cover altogether – oftentimes, they go with a piece of interior art from that same comic – and there’s normally an indicator that clearly labels the printing.

Dark-Nights-2-Mattina-189x300 Collecting 101: Don't Ignore Second PrintsIS IT THE SAME AS A VARIANT?

Although similar, variants and subsequent printings are different beasts. The variants tend to be planned beforehand and are printed alongside the original. The subsequent printings are generally not planned unless a publisher is thinking ahead for what is a sure-fire hit.

There are times when variants are labeled second or third printings, like the Francesco Mattina variant for Dark Nights Metal #2, which has an indicia that reads “third printing.” Some printings, such as the fifth print of Thanos #13, have standard and variant covers of their own.



TMNT-1-second-print-205x300 Collecting 101: Don't Ignore Second PrintsWHAT MAKES THEM VALUABLE?

The more rare a comic, the more valuable it is.

Collectors prize subsequent printings based on availability. For each printing, the number of copies produced normally decreases. Again, there are exceptions to this, particularly for independent publishers. If a comic, like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, is an unexpected hit, then the next print run will naturally be larger to keep up with demand.

Speaking of TMNT #1, that 1984 original went to six printings, and the covers are so subtly different that collectors need a keen eye to tell which print they have. For more on that, check out “The Six Printings of TMNT #1.”


There are far too many second and third prints to detail in one post, so I picked out a couple to give you an idea of value. While I was researching, I came across an interesting read on the topic from Zap-Kapow Comics.

Venom-3-fourth-print-198x300 Collecting 101: Don't Ignore Second PrintsVENOM #3

If you read “The Rising FMV of Knull,” then you know the third print is the Knull key to have. This issue went to four printings including a slew of variant covers. The second and fourth prints aren’t as valuable as the first, but they hold their own.

A 9.8 trade dress second print is an $80 comic, while the “virgin” second print sells for over $100. The fourth print has been selling in the $70 range, but the last sale on June 7 was for $132.




Thanos-13-Second-Print-193x300 Collecting 101: Don't Ignore Second PrintsTHANOS #13

Donny Cates’ arrival to the major leagues of comics heralded the introduction of Cosmic Ghost Rider. His first appearance in Thanos #13 sold-out nationwide, and it went to an impressive five printings.

At a 9.8, all four subsequent prints carry decent values. The second print has a 12-month fair market value of $49. The third print, however, has a 90-day FMV of $78. Although it hasn’t sold since last year, the fourth print brought $75 in September.

Finally, there’s the fifth printing. The trade dress carries a $45 FMV while the “virgin” edition recently sold for $70.


There are so many reprints worthy of a blog spotlight that I will put together a follow up to today’s post. You might say it is going to a second print.


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JKat June 24, 2020 - 12:00 am

What?? no mention of Batman 608!!!

Matt Tuck June 24, 2020 - 9:13 am

Patience, JKat. There’s a follow up already scheduled.


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