Comic Chartbusters Analysis – Top Sales of Past 30 Days

by Douglas Ohlandt

120822E-1024x536 Comic Chartbusters Analysis - Top Sales of Past 30 DaysThere was a huge Heritage auction in November, and sales from that auction now dominate the Chartbusters list from the past 30 days. Let’s dive deep into the Chartbusters to determine what these sales tell us about the market for the comics every collector wishes they could own.

Big Heritage Auction

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Heritage had one of their big auctions on November 22, an event that – as always – took over the Chartbusters list from the past 30 days. In fact, you have to scroll down to number 66 on the list before you’ll see a comic that wasn’t sold in that November 22 auction. So much do Heritage sales dominate the chart, 96 of the top 100 are from that auction.

Golden Age and Silver Age books were the primary sellers, but an early Copper Age comic sold in that auction and cracked the top 10. While many of the sales are important, we’ll go through the most noteworthy to see if we can determine any trends in the high-dollar market.

Spider-Man Reigns Supreme… Or Does He?

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The two big sellers in the November Heritage auction were both Spider-Man key issues, including Amazing Fantasy #15, the wallcrawler’s first appearance, and Amazing Spider-Man #1. They’re numbers 1 and 2 on our Chartbusters list.

An 8.5 graded copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $552,000, a record in that grade, surpassing the previous high of $155,350 from a Heritage auction in 2017. Most of the grades higher than this have only seen one or only a few sales, some a few years ago, so it’s hard to establish any trendlines. However, in grades 8.0 and below, we’ve seen a correction in pricing for most grades, with 6.5 and 6.0 grades being the only exception. In fact, the last sale for each other grade is down on average 46% from its peak price.

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We’re seeing the same trends for Amazing Spider-Man #1. While a 9.6 sold in November’s Heritage auction for $336,000, besting the previous high in that grade set in 2016 by 28%, most grades 9.2 and lower are seeing a correction similar to that which we see for Amazing Fantasy #15. Could this be a case of too much inventory for both issues? It almost seems as if every big auction has a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for sale, and Heritage will sometimes have multiple copies.

CGC census counts are high for both Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 – 3,697 and 4,575 respectively – when compared to 1961 and 1962 Marvel first appearances and first issues. Even Fantastic Four #1 barely comes within a thousand of either issue’s census count with 2,778.

With fewer collectors holding their issues and so many resulting sales, supply just may be surpassing demand.

Marvel Silver Age Trend Continues

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The trends we see for the two Spider-Man keys are also evident in sales of Marvel Silver Age first appearances in the November Heritage auction.

A 9.0 graded copy of Fantastic Four #1 sold for $234,000, down 44% from the peak set in June, and down in most grades 9.0 and below. Fantastic Four #49, the first appearance of Galactus and first Silver Surfer cover: 9.8 sold for $192,000 and set a record, but a copy in this grade hadn’t sold in six years.

All grades 9.0 and below have seen a steep correction. Tales of Suspense #39, the first appearance of Iron Man: 9.2 sold for $168,000 – up in grade 17% but declines in most grades 9.0 and below. X-Men #1, their first appearance: 9.0 sold for $114,000, down 38% from its peak and we’re seeing downward trends in most grades 9.2 and lower.

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It will be very interesting to see if these trends continue when the highest-graded books come up for sale. If it does, we’ll know that we have a full-scale correction on our hands. If it doesn’t, it may challenge a traditional rule of thumb for Marvel Silver Age collectors, that being that you want to be in the top 10% of grades if you want to retain value.

If the trend isn’t showing up in the highest grades, it may be only the top one to two percent of grades that can be counted on to consistently retain value over time. Hopefully, trend lines start going upward again soon. A market where only the highest-end collectors can bank on key books retaining value isn’t a healthy one.

Rare Batman Sale

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For something truly unique, check out #3 in our Chartbusters list. A 9.4 graded copy of Detective Comics #168 sold in November’s Heritage auction for $324,000. The issue features the origin of the Joker and the first appearance of the Red Hood (SPOILER: he’s actually the Joker).

This marks the only sale of this singular highest-graded copy of Detective Comics #168 and only the second time in over a decade that a CGC-graded copy above 7.5 has sold. It’s sales of rare books like this that make the big auctions so exciting.

Golden Age Timely Sales

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A 3.0 graded copy of Marvel Comics #1 sold for $223,200, up from the previous high in this grade of $77,675 in 2016. Sales in all grades are up for the year or were the only sale to ever take place.

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A Conserved 9.2 graded copy of Captain America #1 sold for $276,000. That’s down a bit from previous sales for $306,050 in 2013 and $343,057 in 2011. Of course, the Conserved label has something to do with that.

TMNT Down

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Settling in at number 10 on our Chartbusters list is none other than early Copper Age classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. A 9.8 graded copy sold for $156,000, down from its previous sale in the September Heritage auction by $30K, and down 41% from its peak of $264,00 set in a Goldin auction in February.

In a reversal of the trends we see in Marvel Silver Age comics, this book is down in grades above 6.0 while up in most grades (5.5 being the lone exception) 6.0 and below. Buyers in the more accessible mid-grades and lower appear to be more than willing to keep buying at higher prices. That’s bound to eventually creep back up to the higher grades.

Pre-Code Horror Sales

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While not strictly a horror comic, the cover of Punch Comics #12 is beloved by pre-code horror fans, as shown by the record sale in the 5.5 grade of $90,000. That’s up nearly $20K in just six months. It’s also only the second time in the past five years that a 5.5 or higher graded copy has sold. The 9.2 record-setting sale of Chamber of Chills Magazine #19 for $72,000 marks the highest-graded copy to sell this year. Another record setter, this time in the 8.5 grade, was Crime SuspenStories #22, which sold for $52,800, up nearly $20K in 10 months.

It’s nice to see the attention that pre-code horror has been getting from newer (says the old guy) collectors.

Do you think sales of important comics reflect trends seen throughout the hobby? Do you see these trends continuing?  Let us know below.

000080221A_Posters-Footer Comic Chartbusters Analysis - Top Sales of Past 30 Days*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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