John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space Covers

by James Jou

780764_wolverine-1-christopher-variant-198x300 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversTraditionally, negative space is the areas around the subjects/focal points of an image. Beyond that, it can be used creatively as part of the main subject, and engage the viewers’ imagination to fill in the blank. This technique is most prevalent the work of illustrator Coles Phillips during the early 1900s, and now most recently in the popular comic book covers of artist John Tyler Christopher.

Like the covers or not; at least they help save on printing costs.  Below, we take a closer look at the market of some of these Christopher variants.




jtc_01a-300x181 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversWithin just a few weeks, the sales prices of the books, graded CGC 9.8, jumped up to around the $400 level. This would mark a price level that would represent the higher end of the sales price range since the book’s release. Important things to keep in mind is this timeframe is only about four months, and that there has indeed been the rare exceptionally high priced sale. The main attribute in common in the high priced outliers appears to be a lower single-digit number in the print run.

Back to the overall trend, the $400 level is at the moment holding on to the higher end of the sales price range, but at the lower end, the sales price keeps getting lower. This can be concerning, so for more insight, we explore the market of similar John Tyler Christopher books.


779906_thunderbolts-22-var-198x300 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversTHUNDERBOLTS #22 (CHRISTOPHER VARIANT)

Another Christopher cover that has sold for high prices on the market is Thunderbolts #22. The problem here is that despite the higher market value, the sales volume is very, very low. Only a single CGC 9.8 sold at a high price; this took place in June 2020 for $420. Looking down at sales of CGC; here too only a single high price sale took place. A 9.6 sold in early 2020 for $300. One might try to argue that the book does deserve the high market value and that the low volume of sales is due to rarity. To that, the Christopher variant was a 1:50 incentive, so up to you where the rarity meets value.



709840_black-panther-1-negative-space-variant-225x300 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversBLACK PANTHER #1 (CHRISTOPHER VARIANT)

jtc_02b-300x181 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversCompared with Thunderbolts #22, Black Panther #1 has a relatively larger volume of sales which helps lend a little more weight to its market price action. The most notable event to occur is a large spike in sales prices for CGC 9.8 copies of the book around early 2018; this was likely tied to the movie release. Unfortunately, sales prices have slowly faded, and even more interestingly, sales volume has substantially decreased. Perhaps a stalemate between sellers unwilling to realize the slowly declining prices and fleeting buyer demand.



702024_d6aec6596e5be88dda85b6d10759aaf0ad1ef179-225x300 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversCIVIL WAR II #1 (CHRISTOPHER VARIANT)

jtc_03c-300x181 John Tyler Christopher and Negative Space CoversThe cover for this book is simply awesome. Unfortunately, the market for it has been extremely lackluster; low sales prices compared to the previous books above and flat sales prices since 2016 with the exception of a $172.5 copy in mid-2020.




Currently, Wolverine #1 is the clear belle of the John Tyler Christopher variant ball; but looking at comparable books, it is important to keep in mind that the party could end at any second. Is there a reason why the market for Wolverine #1 might go up from here? Can Wolverine #1 do what the other Christopher variants haven’t? With the market showing that the $400 level has some resistance, it might be a good idea to take some money off the table.




“I felt the comics grew because they became the common man’s literature, the common man’s art, the common man’s publishing.” – Jack Kirby




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1 comment

Johnny RichJohn July 2, 2020 - 9:38 am

What about Spider-Geddon #0, Uncanny X-Men #21 (SDCC 2019), and Strikeforce #1 (NYCC 2019)? All excellent negative-space covers by JTC. I feel like I saw an Emma Frost negative space variant somewhere, too. But I don’t remember what issue it was.


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