The clock is ticking down to the October 20th premiere of the HBO Watchmen series directed and written by Damon Lindelof. With the pedigree acting talents of Academy Award winners Regina King and Jeremy Irons in the lead roles, Watchmen promises to do for the values of your old comics what Zack Snyder couldn’t. Send them to Mars.
But are rising values on Watchmen #1 really dependent on the reception received by the HBO series?
Let’s rewind here.
The original and best series of Watchmen comics date back to the mid-1980s. Scripted with erudition and aplomb by the British comic writer Alan Moore, and animated by the angst inspiring art of David Gibbons, the Watchmen was an instant critical success.
Of course, this was a creative high point for American comics, so at the time, Watchmen was praised but not really honored by any significant jump in prices.
There were too many other critically acclaimed stories already out there. Plus, Watchmen was too singular in its deconstruction of the superhero genre to gain a popular boost like key Spider-man, Deadpool or Wolverine/X-Men comics of the time.
Even Alan Moore himself later said that Watchmen was basically inspired by…a bad mood.
Moore, of course, never wanted the story to either continue or be adapted to any other medium. In a sense, Moore was completely correct. The genius of Watchmen is how it exploits the comic book medium to tell a story about the fantasy world of superheroes in relation to the cold and unromantic world we live in.
For a long time, Watchmen was a unique phenomenon in the pop culture landscape. Then Hollywood stepped in.
The Watchmen movie that had been discussed since the 1980s was finally greenlit by 20th Century Fox. After an October 2005 announcement that Zack Snyder would direct, Watchmen the motion picture (with a supposedly unfilmable story) was released as a sprawling epic film in March 2009.
In February 2012, DC published a series of prequel stories. These were the culmination of an idea Moore himself had. In 1985, Moore actually considered writing a 12-issue prequel series called Minutemen that would focus on the 1940s superhero group from the original Watchmen backstory. Moore decided against it, but DC knew they could sell it and keep their ownership of the Watchmen copyright alive in the process.
Perhaps it was the cynical money grab and exploitation of the Watchmen brand that has kept these books down, but for whatever reason, these are dollar bin books today. Still, they did manage to tell some excellent stories. The Darwyn Cooke scripted and drawn tale about the Minutemen, in particular, was very well done and has actually sold for as high as $39.99 in certified 9.8 grade on eBay (on 09/03/2019).
Fast-forward to June 20, 2017. That’s the day reports leaked about Damon Lindelof being in early talks to develop the potential television series adaptation for HBO. At around the same time, (May of 2017), DC announced a sequel to the classic story. The Doomsday Clock would not only continue the story of Adrian Viedt and Doctor Manhattan, but would actually integrate the Watchmen universe into the larger DC superhero world. Never mind that Crisis was supposed to have destroyed all multiverses and parallel Earths in 1985- there had been many Crises after that and a rebirth as well. The verdict on the Doomsday Clock is still not in, but the constant delays in release of the issues and the ambitious nature of the story have not been enough to see sales break the $100.00 barrier yet.
And so, we arrive back where it all started. At this point, and after many follow up prequels and sequels – as well as a pop culture presence on the big and now small screen- what is happening to the prices on this 1980s classic? Could it be that the original series is finally breaking through to the status of collectible investment?
Yes, dear reader, the signs are certainly pointing in that direction. And let’s be clear about this: there was no one-to-one event that spurned the sudden jump in prices.
This has been a long time coming. Trying to find a catalyst in any of the earlier Watchmen projects is an exercise in futility. The data for Watchmen #1 in 9.8 shows that, although minor price spikes followed several of the Watchmen related projects, there was no single ‘Watchmen’-connected event that made the prices on this comic surge.
After the 2009 Watchmen movie was announced the first slabbed copies of Watchmen in 9.8 did see a rise, a 9.8 copy sold for $478.00 on 01/25/2009, only to drop immediately after the lackluster performance of the film – to the point where sales were trending at the $100.00 range by December of 2010 (a Heritage Auction ended at $101.58 on 12/12/2010).
Between the announcement of the movie and the launch of the prequel comic the original Watchmen comic was not doing well at all. Selling for a mere $84.00 (eBay sale on 05/01/2011), only the announcement of the Before Watchmen, stories helped boost that price. By May of 2014, sales were back at the $200.00 range. A 03/28/2014 eBay sale for $224.99 was typical at this time.
Lately, we’ve had the double whammy of a sequel comic and a well-produced (judging from the trailers) live-action show.
Time will tell if any of the former two projects leave a lasting impression but the higher prices on Watchmen #1 seem here to stay. Although 3 month averages are currently down by negative -6.8%, the FMV on Watchmen #1 in 9.8 today stands at $629.99. The last three eBay sales went for: $500.00 (08/05/2019); $600.00 (08/07/2019) and $629.99 (08/13/2019). On Sept. 5, 2019, a yellow 9.8 CGC Signature Series signed by Dave Gibbons sold for $675.99 on eBay auction.
No one can say that it was a sudden or easy journey, but given the time it took to reach those highs, it does seem that 9.8 copies of Watchmen #1 for under $100.00 are a thing of the past.
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