Nintendo Comics for the Retro Game Collector

by James Jou

Nintendo-300x157 Nintendo Comics for the Retro Game CollectorAs a spec, collectibles with cross interest generally pique the interest. Bigger audience, bigger market. The obvious popular trend is comics/movies, but before that, there were comics/video games. In the 90s, Valiant Comics published a series of comics based on Nintendo’s properties. Interestingly, these actually predated Valiant’s own Magnus, Solar, and Rai.

ncs_0-200x300 Nintendo Comics for the Retro Game CollectorNINTENDO AND VALIANT

To kick off the Nintendo comic books, an eight-page sneak preview was released in the form of Nintendo Comics System. The preview itself was unnumbered, but a similarly titled Nintendo Comics System series ran just a year later. With just around 30 total graded slabs in the CGC census across all the grades, the sales volume for graded copies of the book is quite low. The majority of these sales occurred in the last few years; which is a bit on the tail end of the rise in retro video game collecting. A bit late, but just in time for the high flying prices.

Just a few months ago, a CGC 9.8 slab of the Sneak Preview sold for $2,495; the only one so far on record. It wasn’t an auction so it’s a bit up in the air whether that kind of a price level can hold. Either way, it’s worth keeping an eye out for lower quality raw copies as even sales prices between 9.4 and 7.0 seem to consistently sell in the three figures.

Again, try not to confuse the sneak preview book with Nintendo Comics System #1. It has slightly lower sales volume but a substantially lower FMV across the board; 9.8 currently sits at $230. For reference, a 9.0 sold at auction for $10 in Jan 2021. The outlook might be unknown for both books, but the sneak preview is clearly the one the market favors.

The Nintendo Comics System Sneak Preview does often come up in debates about the first comic printed by Valiant. This often comes down to what counts and what doesn’t. The sneak preview is basically an advertisement, has no cover price, and was supposedly bundled with Comic Buyers Guide. The other candidate is Super Mario Bros Special Edition #1, which actually had full stories and a cover price because it was sold in stores.

gm_1-208x300 Nintendo Comics for the Retro Game CollectorTHE VARIOUS NINTENDO SERIES

The other initial Nintendo comic series included: Super Mario Bros., Captain N: The Game Master, Game Boy, and The Legend of Zelda. Yes, a series titled after Game Boy. Keep in mind this was in 1990/91, so the character bench wasn’t nearly as deep as the latest Super Smash Bros.

Back to the comics, it’s not surprising that the most valuable issues in each series are their #1s. On the high end is Super Mario Bros. #1 with a CGC 9.8 FMV of $700. The other #1s sell in the $200-300 range. The difference between Super Mario Bros. #1 and the #1s of the other series wasn’t always so large; it was more of a recent development due to the latest few sales in 2020/21.

loz_1-215x300 Nintendo Comics for the Retro Game CollectorThis does make it worth considering the possibility of the other #1s also making the same upward move, but delayed. Especially The Legend of Zelda #1, in light of the general popularity of the game franchise. A bit more research might be needed, but it might also pre-date any manga as well. And if the unlikely but popular fan wish of a live-action Zelda movie ever comes to be, it should get the usual bump. On the other hand, the counterargument for The Legend of Zelda #1 or any of the other Nintendo series #1s would be the relatively low volume.

“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” – Shigeru Miyamoto

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G Fischer March 18, 2021 - 12:20 pm

Great post! These are ridiculously hard to find in the wild in high grade. Do a follow up post on more issues that fit this niche. Comics that appeal to gamers is a no brainer!

bmffrankiebuckets March 18, 2021 - 2:11 pm

All of the hardcore Valiant collectors have made these books disappear over the years.

Mark Baldari March 18, 2021 - 7:53 pm

Great article, James! Been seeing these books pop up and wasn’t that knowledgeable about them before reading this.


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