2007 MARKET REPORT -- YEAR IN REVIEW
Vincent Zurzolo, COO, Metropolis Collectibles
Twelve years ago the 26th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide hit the stores. This was the 1st Guide in which I would be listed as an Overstreet Price Guide Advisor and I was excited to say the least. I had already been in the business for about 9 years and had been collecting practically my whole life (even before I could read- as a wee lad I was literally drooling over copies of Ghost Rider and Marvel Team-up much to the dismay of my older brothers who tried to keep their comics in Mint condition). I remember conversations with Bob Overstreet, who was very kind and spent time talking to me about comics and treated me like I was a senior advisor. I collected sales data as best I could for Bob to utilize in his annual assessment of the market. I didn’t even have a computer let alone a database at the time so I faxed pages upon pages of sales to his office. My “lightning bolt” ad for my old company Vincent’s Collectibles graced the 2nd page of the Guide and my picture was right there with the rest of the advisors on page A-65. Life was good. I was starting to move up the ranks, get my name out there and carry out my goals in the comic book biz.
It is hard to believe a dozen years have gone by. So much has changed in comics. The advent of the internet, ebay and 3rd Party Grading has made an immense impact on the way we view, buy, sell and trade comics. But as much as things have changed there has been one constant for me, and that is my love of comic books. I still get excited walking into a comic store, picking up the latest copy of Superman, Hulk, Batman or Spider-Man and seeing how my favorite good guys are doing in their never-ending battle against the forces of evil. When I buy a Silver Age key, Golden Age collection or a hoard of high grade Bronze Age comics I still get a kick out of it. I never imagined as a kid that I would ever have an Action #1, Batman #1 or Spider-Man #1. I still read, collect and invest in comics and I think I always will. People often tell me I am very fortunate to have been able to turn my passion into a business. I have to agree. I am very fortunate and blessed to be doing something I love and believe in.
On behalf of my partner Stephen Fishler and my entire staff I would like to thank all of the customers, dealers, creators, historians, and fans who have helped us have such an amazing year. Sales for our company are at an all time high due to increased interest at conventions, our gallery, through the mail and of course online. We will continue to strive to bring you the best selection of vintage comics and customer service in the business. Thanks so very much. And now, on to the market report…
Golden Age: Many comic fans collect Silver Age as they can more easily connect to the characters they grew up with or because they are not too familiar with many of the Golden Age heroes/titles. I think this is a mistake and can limit the enjoyment one gets from comic collecting. A great reference tool that every avid comic collector should have is the Gerber Photo Journals. There are four volumes, two Golden Age and two Marvel, the DCs were never completed. In the Golden Age volumes you will find pictures of the covers of almost every Golden Age comics published. Astounding? Yes, it is! If you really want to have fun as a collector you should own these. I can not count how many times I have spoken to collectors who have been looking for something new or different to collect and had no idea about the Gerbers. As soon as they had them it was like a whole new world opened up to them. Titles like Red Dragon, Tip Top, Captain Battle, Mystery Men, Blue Ribbon, The Arrow, Blue Bolt, Master Comics and Keen Detective Funnies become exciting new titles to collect. Ask your local dealer or give me a call if you are interested in picking up a set!
The desire for quality Golden Age comics is very strong. To say it is a robust market would be an understatement. This past year we have moved big keys like Detective #27 F/VF w/light restoration, Batman #1s from Fair to FN+, the highest grade October copy of Marvel Comics #1 CGC 5.0, Human Torch #2 (#1) CGC 9.0, Marvel Mystery #9 VF-, Superman #1 CGC 5.50 w/slight professional restoration, All American #16 CGC 5.0 and Captain America #1 VG. We also sold an outstanding run of All Star Comics that averaged about VF 8.0 with highlights like #1 CGC 9.0, 2 CGC 9.2 Edgar Church Copy, 3 F/VF, 4 CGC 9.0 Edgar Church and #8 VF.
Thousands of copies of low and moderately priced comics have also been scooped up by avid collectors including titles like Action, Adventure, Batman, All Top, All Winners, Archie Comics, Captain Marvel Adventures, Catman, Classics Illustrated, Crime Does Not Pay, Detective, Famous Funnies, Fantastic , Fight, Flash Comics, Four Color Disneys, Human Torch, Little Lulu, March of Comics, Marvel Mystery, Modern, More Fun, New Adventure, Phantom Lady, Planet, Plastic Man, Police, Popeye, Popular, Red Dragon, Sensation, Seven Seas, Shadow, Spirit Sections, Stamp, Star Spangled Comics, Superman, Tarzan, Terry & The Pirates, Tip Top, True Crime, Uncle Scrooge, Walt Disney Comics & Stories, Western, Whiz, Wings, Wonder Woman, World’s Finest, Wow, Zip and Zoot.
Of particular note is the returning strength of Pre-code horror and the ever-present popularity of ECs. Pre-code horror was very cheap and popular about 10-15 years ago but then jumped. Now with the appreciation of other genres in recent years Pre-code horror is beginning to look somewhat affordable again. ECs sell because people love quality art and story-telling. Creators like Wood, Craig, Kamen, Davis, Feldstein, Ingles and Frazetta will always be valued by comic fans. Speaking of Frazetta, sci-fi, adventure, western and horror comics featuring art and covers by the legend have also been increasing in collectability over the last year. Issues #209-216 of Famous Funnies feature fantastic covers by Frazetta and are popular. Even though they are all listed at the same price in the Guide an educated comic collector knows that there are common issues (209-212) and tougher issues (213-216) and the books are priced accordingly in the market.
Silver Age: The ruler of the roost is once again Marvel. I realize this is no big surprise. As I mentioned last year look out for Iron Man as he is coming on strong due to the anticipation of the movie. The trailer was received with a very positive reaction at the SD Comic Con last summer and prices have been skyrocketing on Tales of Suspense #39 and Iron Man #1 ever since. This has been the trend over the years with many of the comic to movie Silver Age Marvel characters. I know we are all purist collectors but for those entrepreneurs out there the key to making money on these comics is to buy early (when you first here the project has been green lit and there is a good name attached to the lead and supporting characters) and then sell at the peak which is about 2-3 months before the movie debuts. However, there is also plenty of excitement after the movie hits screens across the country… if it’s a hit!
Spider-Man is still by far the best selling Silver Age title, no, make that best selling title-period. No other title comes close. We sold over 30 copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 and at the time of this writing it is only September ’07. The 1960s keys from Marvel and the mid 1950s and early 60s DC keys are prime movers. While a major focus is usually placed on Marvel here are some recent sales on DCs from this past year: Action #242 VF- sold for $2400, Green Lantern #76 CGC 9.0 $1150, Aquaman #1 CGC 9.2 $2700, Batman #181 CGC 9.6 $3600 and Showcase #30 CGC 9.0 $1500. Gold Key titles like Magnus, Turok and Dr. Solar have also been selling well, especially the File copy collection we have.
Bronze Age: Conan, Daredevil, Defenders, Batman, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Incredible Hulk, Inhumans, Iron Fist, The Joker, Justice League of America, Mr. Miracle and Swamp-Thing have all been steady sellers. Though it was a little slow for some time, Incredible Hulk #181 has been coming back strong. Keep investing in Bronze Age as it is still cheap and it has a lot of room to appreciate.
The Future: For the last four years I have been hosting the Comic Zone Radio Show. You can listen to over 150 interviews for free at www.comiczoneradio.com. This has been a great joy for me. Being able to interview legends like Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane has been a blast. Being able to spread the word about comics, a true American art form, has been tremendously rewarding. As a fan, collector, creator, dealer, promoter or whatever you can help too. Turning the next generation of potential fans on to the modern-day mythology and folklore known as comics is our job. Give a comic to a son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin, parent, grand parent or heck even a complete stranger. In closing I wish you all the best in your collecting endeavors!
--- Vincent Zurzolo, COO, Metropolis Collectibles