Companies come and go, many file bankruptcy as a last resort to keep the lights on. Marvel has participated occasionally in this debilitating business phenomena, several times over the years. That was especially true in the 70s with newsstand distribution being supplanted by direct market distribution to specialty comic book stores; causing Marvel to flounder.
According to reports from Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter, “it was the strong sales of Star Wars comics saved Marvel financially in 1977 and 1978. In fact, Marvel’s Star Wars series was one of the industry’s top-selling titles in 1979 and 1980” (Source: Wiki). This is not surprising as everything was about Star Wars back in the late 70s. It took the country by storm; almost reorienting pop culture around sci-fi’s ongoing saga’s. In comics, Star Wars #1 and its ongoing comic book series helped save Marvel Comics financially. This boom from Star Wars giving it room to grow and expand making it into the 80s when artists like Chris Claremont and Frank Miller came to the forefront. Can this old movie-based comic book make for good speculation play today?
Star Wars has two books that are prized and have value. First, is the standard edition Star Wars #1, a popular issue heavily produced but still holding its value today. The other is the much-hyped Star Wars #1 ($.35 Cent Price Variant) Some copies of “issues #1-4 were printed with ‘$.35-cent’ variant covers, as well. Marvel typically tested price increases on a limited basis before rolling out the increase over all their comic titles. In an attempt to conduct market research on the pricing elastically of the market. Marvel printed an estimated 1,500 copies and reputedly sold these in only four states, none of which were major markets” (Source: Wiki). These rare, low print run comics are highly sought after and valuable.
Which of these two mega-comics has a stronger long-term return? Further, if the variant dominates the return space can you still make money with the standard comic?
Star Wars #1 Long-Term:
- Grade 9.8 $1050 FMV returns negative -17.7%
- Grade 9.6 $350 FMV returns negative -24.9%
- Grade 9.2 $190 FMV returns negative -5.4%
- Grade 8.0 $120 FMV returns negative -3.3%
- Grade 6.5 $75 FMV returns negative -3.5%
Star Wars #1 ($.35 Cent Price Variant) Long-Term:
- Grade 9.4 $23,000 FMV returns positive +51.2%
- Grade 9.2 $13,500 FMV returns positive +14%
- Grade 9.0 $9,250 FMV returns negative -9.2%
- Grade 8.0 $6,000 FMV returns positive +0.9%
- Grade 6.5 $4200 FMV returns positive +71.7%
The “Force is strong with” the price variant obviously. What we are observing with Star Wars #1 ($.35 Cent Price Variant) is the power of low print runs. Low print runs are your friend, young Jedi. Bottom line: if something is overproduced, it is worth much less. Both of these books were probably sporting better returns prior to the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you liked the movie or hated it, the result of these books was very positive, but of course, fleeting. Put simply, the returns dwindled after the movie premiered. The poor returns with Star Wars #1 should not cause great concern if you owned these over many years, as there is always another movie to sell against. However, speculators need to time this resale within a “par-sec” to stay in the money and profitable. When the timing is right, leap like a Sand Person onto a Bantha and hold on tight.
There are so many of these books that I still find great deals on the #1-10 of Star Wars in raw copy at retail outlets. A good price on a raw copy of Star Wars #1 is around $15. If it CGC’s with a high-grade you could definitely make some credits and yet again this book will have saved another desperate investor. “May the Force be with you.”
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