2010 Overstreet Market Report
by Frank Cwiklik, Sales Executive
This year’s market reports may be top-heavy with gloomy assessments of the current world economy. I’m sure anyone who reads these reports also keeps up with current events, whether online or in the papers so I’m not going to bore you with yet another recap. What I do find interesting is the ways in which this economy has affected some sectors of the collectibles business, while others seem virtually untouched, or conversely, stronger.
The strongest part of the market remains the high-end keys and rarities. Looking at the past year’s sales, you wouldn’t think we were necessarily in a downturn, as the results boast an impressive array of keys and high-ticket grail books, with all the usual suspects represented. Amazing Fantasy #15 copies were in demand as always; the Iron Man streak continued with Tales of Suspense #39 selling well, including a beautiful unrestored 9.4 CGC copy; early Batman, especially Detective #27 and Batman #1, remained in high demand and sold almost as quickly as we could obtain them. The announcement of the upcoming Green Hornet and Green Lantern movies caused the key issues for those previously moribund titles to suddenly explode in popularity. In fact, we sold more copies of Showcase #22 at San Diego this year than we did of Amazing Fantasy #15, which took us by surprise.
Collectors who in the past had larger budgets with which to pursue their collecting grails still, for the most part, have the disposable income to spend freely. This accounts for the continued strength, and even growth, of high-grade and high-demand vintage comic books. While they may be a little more hesitant to part with their money, and they may be looking for more discounts than in the past, they are still aggressively and happily buying up better books. Savvy collectors have been doing very well, as we have seen in our dealings this past year. It just takes a little more time, work, and persistence than it may have in recent years.
The mid-priced and low to mid-grade comic books remain surprisingly strong and reliable sellers. Most of the customers we have who buy lower-grade or more obscure reader material tend to be either stable-income collectors who have long since worked out their budget for collectibles or younger clientele who are just starting to come into their own financially and build their collection. These younger collectors are just getting started, and for them a mid-grade Incredible Hulk #181 or Iron Fist #14 is their bragging book, which is very cool. These collectors may only buy a few times a year, but they are serious collectors nonetheless.
Tough times can prove to be a boon for savvy buyers although tough on sellers. Several longtime collectors have either chosen or unfortunately have had to sell their collections. In several cases, this resulted in hard-to-find “black hole” books finally coming back to market and into the hands of grateful buyers.
Obscure Golden Age series, tough keys, unusual and scarce pre-hero Atlas books, genre comics (War, Western, Horror), and other rarities have been made available to us over the past year and have done very well. This has caused a continued trend that I noticed in last year’s report, which is a shift in the buying trends away from constant sales on the same two or three books or genres, and toward a more diversified market. Many days we may not sell any major Marvel or DC key issues at all, but have a healthy slate of invoices chock full of Charlton hero books, mid-grade Disney, Western comics, Funny Animal books or Crime comics. This has been tremendous for selling stock that might have gathered dust just a couple of years ago.
Even at conventions, sales can be erratic, if not downright baffling. While we have enjoyed healthy sales at shows over the past year, there’s no denying that customers are more careful with their purchases. However, the strength of Showcase #22 and Green Lantern #1; the usual Marvel standbys, especially Hulk #181 and Tales of Suspense #39; and the influx of new buying blood from people who are excited by the ongoing Hollywood wave of superhero films have kept our booths busy. The sales results from each show also display a trend toward less homogenized buying patterns, as Fawcett, pre-code horror, and novelty comics like Hansi (look it up, you won’t believe it) capture attention and buyers’ wallets.
As for trends, I notice that high-grade Bronze is still a growing market, and we’re doing quite well moving these relatively inexpensive, but still high demand books, especially Bronze Marvel, Neal Adams covers, and DC Horror titles. The most interesting trend I’ve noticed is toward Wonder Woman. We’ve sold at least one or two keys or high-grade Wonder Woman or Sensation issues at almost every convention this year, and have sold a staggering 8 copies of Wonder Woman #1 alone over the past 12 months. Perhaps it is the rumblings of a Wonder Woman movie being made but whatever the reason, both her solo title and Sensation are selling like crazy again. As a Wonder Woman collector I find this both exciting and frustrating. On the one hand, I’m very glad to see this character finally getting her due, both with the renewed commitment DC has shown to this iconic figure with the terrific new series by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti (which I can’t recommend enough), and from the collecting community itself. Golden Age Wonder Woman and Sensation are some of the toughest, rarest, and most undervalued of all major comic series and it is good that more and more people are starting to realize their value. On the other hand, I’m still trying to finish my runs of these extremely tough books, and now I’m competing with even more buyers than before!
In conclusion, there are great sales and great deals out there for those buyers and sellers willing to do the legwork and put in the hours, but you really have to be more aggressive than in the past. I strongly feel that as the economy continues to come around there will be a new and even more eager collector and investor base ready to enter the market. Collectors and investors who stay on top of the market and are ready to buy and sell over the next few years will be uniquely positioned to take advantage of the market.