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.
It 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.
The comic book community only acknowledges a handful of newsstand variants from the 90s (most notably Spawn #1). For the most part, they just lump 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.
If 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.