Once in a while, it’s a good idea to take stock of the nature of the hobby we all love. That hobby is comic collecting and affiliated activity. Luckily, some interesting events happening in the pop culture world can, I think, shed light on the current state of comic collecting.
As has been the case for over a decade, and for better or worse, the hobby is strongly influenced by live action depictions of comic characters and teams.
It has also long been apparent (at least to this humble blogger) that among live-action adaptations there’s a definite hierarchy of importance and influence attached to different forms of pop-culture representation.
From my experience the hierarchy, from least to most influence, goes something like this.
An animated series or one-shot animated movie special (direct to DVD) has the lowest influence on prices of related books. In second place come streamed shows, the Netflix/Hulu/DC Universe produced series/movies, which usually have a slightly more discernible effect on prices. Third, a network sponsored series and regular show; which are usually more influential still on prices. Lastly, and strongest in terms of effect on prices, we can list major studio backed motion pictures.
Saying that all comics are affected by pop culture representation outside of the comic book medium is in no way the same as saying that *only* movies and TV shows influence the value of comics. However, the number of collectors who actually appreciate the stories and read the comics they buy with a sense of historical significance is definitely less than the total number of collectors out there.
That said here’s an observation about two very recent live action streaming adaptations and the fallout on related comics.
These adaptations are the Umbrella Academy by Dark Horse, and DC’s Doom Patrol.
What is becoming apparent, if it wasn’t already, is that there seems to be a hierarchy at play even within the existing tiers of pop culture representation platforms. With movies, of course, this was long apparent. Disney backed Marvel films sent prices of related comics much higher than their Warner/DC counterparts. That may change in the future. As proof let’s look at the performance of the streaming platforms. For a long time the rank of ‘movers and shakers’ seems to have played out as follows: first, Netflix, followed by Hulu, then Amazon and finally DC Universe. The last probably has been the least influential due to the ‘new kid on the block’ status. Looking at the performance of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s Umbrella Academy #1, promoted by a positively received Netflix show, it seems this trend might be changing.
First, if we look at Umbrella Academy#1 the roi over the last few weeks has jumped significantly and almost all due to the new show. Since 2007, the roi on 9.8 copies has a positive improvement of +45.4% with a current FMV of $130.00 after 25 sales since 2017. 9.6 certified copies are showing positive 30.2% roi, after 11 sales over the last two years and 9.4 copies are up +9.2% after four sales since 2017.
The 100 Special Wraparound variant of this comic is even more impressive. With a current FMV of $375.00, it shows a positive roi of +37.8% since February of 2017.
Turning to the Doom Patrol, we see different numbers and better than would be expected. Let me immediately qualify that MGA #80, the first appearance of the DP is a classic DC title. This is a Silver Age book, so values are obviously going to be much higher by a larger magnitude than what UA commands. Especially considering that the Doom Patrol has effectively been time-tested and its characters used in multiple series. The ‘Doom Patrol’ DC streaming show, which aired recently was, it can be noted, also well-received. The relative data however shows that the DC show may have given a big boost to recent sales of this comic.
Keep in mind that, currently, for $130.00 you’d be able to pick up the first Doom Patrol only in only 1.5 grade. However, for $375.00 (the price of the UA variant), you can get MGA #80 in 4.0 very good condition.
That said, since 2017 the roi on MGA #80 has itself been very good:
In 9.0 the roi is positive +62%, after two sales FMV = $5,750.00.
In 8.5 roi is positive +79.3%, after 4 sales with FMV = $3,700.00.
And in 8.0 there’s been a positive +7.6% increase in value after seven sales, with a current FMV = $1,750.00.
In more affordable, lower, grades the performance is also impressive. In 4.0 grade roi has been positive +20.8% after 10 sales since Feb, 2017 and in 3.5 the roi, after 10 sales, is positive +60.3%. Again the iconic status of Silver Age DP plays a strong role here. The new series however, is largely inspired by Grant Morrison’s 1990s Doom Patrol run which first started in the late 1980s.
If we look at the data on this comic, in certified 9.8 condition, the first Grant Morrison issue of DP shows a positive return on investment of +56.2%. This is after 4 sales since 2017. The last recorded sale was for $124.95 on eBay on December 29, 2018.
If streaming services are starting to gain clout then maybe we need to start sifting through our old comics and taking stock of this trend. Something to consider…