With the recent boom in CGC graded Star Wars comic prices, speculation turns to other sci-fi franchises to see if similar bumps in interest and prices may be on the horizon. I speculated on Predator Dark Horse comic releases in an earlier post. You can read it here. So, will Star Trek comics boldly go where Star Wars has gone before it? Whitman Variants may hold the key to this answer!
Star Trek Whitman Variants Explained
The Whitman Star Trek editions are not reprints. The Gold Key and Whitman editions were released simultaneously but through different distribution channels. Whitman editions were released to retail shops and were typically sold in bagged lots of three comics called three-packs between 1971 and the mid-1980s. The Gold Key/Whitman series is the first ST comic book series. Think of this series as the equivalent of the Marvel Bronze Age Star Wars Series. Why?
Just like the Marvel Bronze Age Series, the Gold Key/Whitman series was the first series in which there followed MANY MANY series and mini-series by different comic companies. Also, the Marvel Bronze Age Star Wars and Gold Key/Whitman variant ST series both had comics that adapted movie/television stories into comic book form. Star Trek #20 is the first known Whitman Variant of the series. There are rumors that issues #12-61 have Gold Key and Whitman variants. The first ST Whitman variant I found in the CGC census is issue #26 with exactly one copy graded. Issues 40-61 is where the most grading action accumulates, but nothing with more than 20 slabs in the census.
Star Trek Whitman Variants Are Rare!
Post #1 on this topic, I found some interesting resources online to help pinpoint how rare the Whitman Variants are. First, there is a website that is both informative and expansive regarding the different Star Trek comics! Called the Star Trek Comics Checklist, the website provides a wealth of information about ST Whitman Variants. Notably, the website mentions that the Whitman Variants have a print run of between 5-10% of the print run of the Gold Key imprint.
Speculate for a moment that production prints 150,000 Gold Key comics. Continue speculating that the Whitman Variant comics are 7.5% of the Gold Key numbers. Therefore, there are approximately 12,000 copies of the Whitman Variant existing at the time of publication. Factor in that Whitman Variants could not be returned and a percentage of these comics were lost or degraded in condition over the last 40 + years, and you could potentially see issues with less than 1,000 copies left in high-grade condition. Information on the different Gold Key ST Variants can be found here
Though rare, it is inconclusive that the ST Whitman Variants can help drive a bump in ST comic book interest. More likely, it will take a combination of a key movie or television release, quality future ST Comic releases, and an expansion of the fanbase to ensure that ST comics see a bump. Speaking of other comics… What about the NGR, Deep Space Nine, and other Star Trek releases? Other ST series merit exploration. “Ahead Warp factor 5!”