There’s Always Money in the Newsstand – Collecting the Boom

by Mr. Long/Short

UXM-266-combo-300x235 There's Always Money in the Newsstand - Collecting the Boom

Newsstand editions from the comic book boom in the 1990s are the most underappreciated and undervalued area within comics at the moment.  There are many undervalued gems out there as the collecting community underestimates the scarcity of these books.


I grew up collecting newsstand edition comics that I would pick up at my local pharmacy.  This wasn’t my choice, just the simple reality of a kid growing up in rural Maine.  I always was a bit self-conscious about my books because they had the barcode instead of the cool picture of Spider-Man or Captain America.  I would buy my comics from the spinner rack and if I was lucky there would be three or four new copies of the latest comics on any given week.

703524_x-men-1-wolverine-and-cyclops-variant-194x300 There's Always Money in the Newsstand - Collecting the BoomIt is estimated that during the 90s, approximately 15% of the comics were newsstand editions.  While this may be true on average, I would say that number is far too high.  When it came to spinner rack books there were three or four issues available at a time.  It didn’t matter how many issues the comic book stores were ordering. The direct market caused the overprinting boom of the 90s. I can assure you that there were not 1.2 million copies sold on newsstands of Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 (8,000,000 x 15% = 1,200,000).

Additionally, finding newsstand editions in high grade can be extremely tricky.  Many of these books were stuffed into dollar bins and not looked after because they were deemed worthless.  Retailers would destroy unsold copies from the spinner racks, further reducing the availability of newsstand editions.  By focusing on newsstand editions collectors can sidestep the entire bubble from the 1990s.

Unrecognized Value

The comic book community only acknowledges a handful of newsstand variants from the 90s (most notably Spawn #1). For the most part, they just 692363_spawn-1-newsstand-edition-199x300 There's Always Money in the Newsstand - Collecting the Boomlump them in with the direct editions.  Check out this post for more on Spawn #1.  CGC does not recognize newsstand editions outside of a handful of books.  This is good news for collectors as they can oftentimes pick up newsstand editions for the same price as direct editions.  This opportunity won’t last for long once the community begins to fully appreciate the scarcity of newsstand editions from the 90s. Many savvy collectors sniffed this out a while ago.

Awareness has slowly started to change over the last six months.  CGC just recently began listing a newsstand version of Uncanny X-Men #266.  More influencers in the hobby have started banging the drum about these variants.  While the opportunity remains open, the window could be closed very quickly.

Real-time test

xforce_2nsnm-195x300 There's Always Money in the Newsstand - Collecting the BoomIf you want to see first hand what I am talking about go take a look at X-Force #2 on eBay.  This book has an estimated print run of 1 million copies.  The huge print has made Deadpool’s second appearance effectively worthless.  If you scroll through listings on eBay you will find less than 5% of the listing are newsstand editions. Some sellers are wise to this and charge more for the newsstand edition but some aren’t.


I know the newsstand market extends beyond just the 90s. Newsstands were fairly plentiful prior to the 90s.  After the 90s they started to get extremely rare (this is another fun area to hunt).  For a collector who grew up during the boom, it is fun to go back and hunt for hot books from my formative years in the hobby.  Looking for these books will add a whole new dynamic to your collecting experience. Stay tuned for a follow-up piece to this article where I discuss the top ten 90s newsstands to be on the lookout for.

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Daniel Genest April 17, 2020 - 5:49 pm

Canadian Newstand Price Variants from the 80’s are harder to find in high grades.And the more into the 80’s you go the hardest they are to find.Think about this:Canada general populace was almost 1/10 of USA.And out of 10 provinces in Canada there was 1 province who didn’t bought as much can.newstand price variants than the rest of Canada-the Province of Quebec where I live,In the 80’s most people weren’t talking english so there wasn’t that many around EXCEPT in comic book stores which were beginning to emerge.In Quebec city the 1st comic book shop opened in 1985.So if you do the math Canadian Newstand Price Variants are 1/10 and probably less than USA Newstand variants.THAT is hard to find!

Mr. Long/Short April 18, 2020 - 6:49 am

They are really hard to find. Thanks for the detail on this. It is something I will dig into.

Daniel Genest April 18, 2020 - 11:08 am

I’m canadian but NOT in the best market for those (I live in Quebec city where most people didn’t talked english that much in the 80’s) but it’s mainly all or nothing here in Canada..Some in other provinces find a lot of those Canadian Newstand Price Variant in comic shop or collections BUT most of these books are not keys and certainly NOT high grades (9.0 and up).

But MOST are like me….they struggle to find some.Quite frankly most of those I have in 9.2 or way up (9.8) have been bought from the racks in the beginning as I was lucky.At the time I was buying from a brand new comic shop and those that were Newstands were probably there because the owner didn’t knew how many of certain books to order as he was beginning so when he needed more copies he probably bought them from a local newstand distributor.Which is probably WHY he (And me) ended up with Newstand copies.As an example yesterday I was looking at some and I had New Mutants 1+3+4+6+8+9 but all other books were regular comic book shop copies.If I ever buy books from people who were buying at that time those would probably be the New Mutants books I would get.Same as mine.

Other Canadian Price Variant copies I have have been bought on Ebay or local mini comic cons.

Pete April 23, 2020 - 10:27 am

I don’t get it. The newstand should be lumped in with the direct edition because it doesn’t matter whether you bought your comics from a comic shop or a newstand. I bought books from both places and there was no difference in the quality of the books. They were probably handled less at the newstand because they carried a lot more magazines and newspapers than comic books. I get cover variants, error variants, I even get the appeal of the price variant. News stand variant shouldn’t be a thing, I don’t care if news stands distributed fewer books. The books are the same.

Mr. Long/Short April 23, 2020 - 11:58 am

There are far few copies printed of newsstand comics. It is fine if you don’t see a difference between the two, collecting newsstand variants aren’t for everyone. That said, the market is clearly beginning to pay for more for these variants.

rmagnum8 May 2, 2020 - 8:48 pm

Pete..Let’s put your opinion to the test..

**Lets imagine Key Collector or Go Collect have not caught a UF #4 Newsstand variant as of today..**

Its #ncbd and its the 1st of the month.. You got the itch to go to your los and grab one of those wall books that is on your 2020 list.. haha! YEP! We are buying a Ultimate Fallout #4 since it is in your or mine price range ($160 or BO for a BIN ) and we need this book…. So you set sail for your Lcs, but nada.. No Dice, Strike 3.. No UF 4..

So, you go online to the Secondary market and hunt. Low and behold!! AH HA!! You come across a decent seller with rave reviews.. You see This seller is selling 2 copies of UF #4 (lets say exact same condition *NM* possible 9.8 worthy after a press and grading) with 2 separate listings..You look at both listings at his Free Bay store and examine closely. You start Salivating and get that butterfly rush feeling we get (when we are about to acquire one of our “Must Have Keys” on our annual list) as you notice both copies are flawless..BUT.. During your examination of the scans, you discover 1 copy is a Newsstand Edition the other a Direct Edition. You can tell this by the UPC/SKU. One copy has 59606 as the first 5 numbers and the other does not..
Now, He or She has 2 separate listings but listed price for the BIN FMV raw price of $159 or BO. You can clearly see from the pics that they are both NM no flaws..
Still both copies are $159 or BO for a BIN…

Now, Pete, you know that in 2011, Modern Age Newsstand Variants (editions) are being printed at an all time low , in which by your research, you guesstimate that the Newsstand copies are ordered/printed at about a 0.625% – 1% clip compared to Direct edition during 2011.. You know that UF 4 has a total estimated print run/(estimated Retailer orders from Diamond) of around 75k (I think its around 73K).. You do the math of how many of those are actual Newsstand copies..You estimate that there are around 500 – 750 copies in circulation..You are not a Newsie collector, but you have done your research, per se..
Now I ask you..
Which one are you going to choose?

Pete, I’m guessing you are a savvy collector and understand that supply & demand is a crucial part of Comic Book investment/value.. Now we/You already know this is book is character driven and Sought out by many collectors and you feel 99.9% confident that this book is a solid investment (either way either edition) and you now decide this book needs to be a apart of your collection..


Pete, I ask again.. Which do you choose? The NM Direct or NM Newsstand? Do you take the copy that has a guesstimated 500 -750 others in circulation just like it or the Direct copy that there are 74K (or 72K and change) just like it?

My point is, Like Mr. Short/Long said(in his own words), we as a community/fellow collector love and respect how many ways a collector chooses to collect.. BUT there comes a time where we have to just be honest with ourselves and look at the bottom line.. Especially when it comes to how much time/effort/money we put in this hobby.. I believe most of us collectors that are also investors as well, understand that, if we had a such like scenario, we would choose the more rare and sought out copy of the 2.. I mean its middle school math, respectively..

Sure, a NM copy of Ultimate Fallout #4 first print is probably the most affordable solid Keys that is the safest bet for our money long term, ceiling and floor , but nothing compares to the fact that a Newsstand copy is MUCH MORE Rare and sought out in which equals the max exposure to ROI future gains…


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