So A.J. …What’s Next? Plus FREE GIVEAWAY!
Here we are, another cool and crisp October night in the city that is Diesel. Recently at a comic con, a person approached me and asked “Hey A.J., what’s the next Walking Dead #1?” A fine question, and one that I wish I had an “expert” answer too. So before I answered I paused for about three seconds, but pondered for what felt like hours.
You see, TWD #1 is an absolute anomaly. I bought a CGC 8.0 in 2007 for $73. I sold it for $450 in 2012, and to this day it’s one of the few books that I regret selling. In its peak an 8.0 would have got me a G-note, but I digress. Everyone knows the story, Image published it in 2003 and 16 years later no “indy” issue in that time period has come even close to its desire and value. In this article we will take a look at some independent published issues that have increased and held value for whatever reason. I won’t be discussing any incentive books or ratio covers, strictly the books that could be purchased by the masses if they had liked. Also, when I discuss my idea of an “indy” it is a comic that wasn’t published by the big two (Marvel/DC), and was published after Cerebus #1, where I credit the genesis of the underground comic movement.
Some articles back, I was talking to my good friend Harry (Owner of Comic Masters) and he said “…we won’t see it coming” in regards to the next massive indy comic hit. The Walking Dead was a perfect storm, which found a niche, and then expanded outside of its niche and appealed to the masses. That is no easy feat, even for the books that still hold value today. The only book comparable and far beyond (from a desire and value standpoint) TWD would be the first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.
TMNT was published by Mirage Publishing in 1984. Obviously the rest is history. Cartoons, feature films, toy merchandise, TMNT caught fire and nobody has been able to put it out. Not to mention the first print was an extremely low print run and on lesser quality paper. That being said, prior to TMNT dropping, Gobbledygook #1 (you all can have that argument) was released and is still as coveted as any underground book around.
So when comparing just those two, it seems the recipe for success is all of the things you would expect; hyper fandom, merchandise, big/little screen adaptations, positive word of mouth, and unique appeal. Yet some books with only one or two of those things still find a way to have great value, just not their value.
Thoughts and Images released Albedo #2 (first appearance of Usagi Yojimbo) in 1984 as well. Yes, he did appear in TMNT cartoons and some comics, but I feel most fair-weather collectors would pass on that book if they saw it in a dollar bin. To be fair, nobody ever should find that book in a dollar box. This book is also a very low print comic, and one that I covet greatly.
Decreasing in value but a coveted book nonetheless is Primer #2 (first appearance of Grendel). Comico published this in 1983, and Grendel is another character that most people aren’t familiar with. Yet once again, this book raw is more expensive than 99% of indy books that have been published after it.
Then we move on to valuable books like Caliber Presents/The Crow (first appearance of the Crow/first issue) and Evil Ernie #1 (first appearance of Evil Ernie and Lady Death). These both cater more to the darker fan and horror genre. The Crow is an absolute cult classic that spawned an amazing film featuring the late Brandon Lee, as well as some ugh…not so amazing films. Evil Ernie on the other hand has none of that, although it does have the sex appeal of featuring Lady Death. All three of the comics mentioned here have low print runs. The Crow was published by Caliber and Evil Ernie by Eternity.
As we move later into the 1990s and the Image boys took over, indy titles were becoming more and more mainstream. Virtually none of the original Image stuff has any real value. Spawn is still doing his thing, and his #1 would be super valuable had millions of copies not been printed. That book still may run you a $15 bill though. Preacher dropped with DC/Vertigo in 1995 and has gone hot and cold and hot and cold over the last 25 years. In ’93 Dark Horse gave us Hellboy, but Next Men #21 isn’t too expensive.
Avatar Press dropped the very low print The Goon #1 in 1999. The Goon was picked up by Albatross Exploding Funny Books in 2002, and then by Dark Horse in 2003. All of these have solid value, but the Avatar is the one to hunt for. Also always keep your eyes open for Dreamwalker #0 (which is another argument you can all enjoy). Some sample footage of an animated Goon film was released years ago, and it looked absolutely stellar. If someone else options this, all of those books will skyrocket.
30 Days of Night was published by IDW in 2002, and it’s extremely difficult to find the first print in the wild, especially in good shape. This book saw a spike when the film came out, but has come back down to Earth and can be bought at a reasonable price online. Y: The Last Man also dropped in 2002 under DC/Vertigo label and has a sound following but has been stuck in development hell.
Then Image gave us great tiles like Invincible, Chew, and Saga and IDW gave us Locke and Key. All of these are exceptional books that kept great value but still don’t hold a candle to The Walking Dead. Image also fooled us with books that people think are hot, like Peter Panzerfaust, Manifest Destiny (awesome story), and Cowboy Ninja Viking, yet they don’t seem to move like people expect they should. I actually won a Peter Panzerfaust #1 on eBay for $18, and the seller refused to ship it to me because he said that it’s worth more. According to the millions and millions of customers on eBay…it isn’t.
Umbrella Academy and The Boys saw sky-rocketing prices thanks to their respective streaming series, but both have since cooled. Seven to Eternity was a $100 book out of the gate, and now you can buy a 9.8 for $100. God Country has been anywhere from a $90 book to $10.
That brings us to today. Something is Killing the Children has an interesting premise and some pretty cool covers. Could that be the next big indy? Maybe The October Faction? Or possibly…
I finally break my three second trance and answer the person’s question. “I couldn’t tell you” I replied with a laugh. I smirked and the person looked disappointed expecting a much more valuable piece of information. But that’s the truth. I can give insight and opinions, but I can’t justify saying any independent book can hit Walking Dead status at this current moment in time, in this current market. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, I believe that it certainly could, I just don’t know when, or what it would be.
As for the free comic giveaway…That same person comes up to you and asks you the question “What is the next Walking Dead?” You give me a book that you feel has the chance to reach and sustain those heights. It could be new or could be old. Have fun and give me a great response. The winner will receive the limited edition and only printed 1.7 million times in America…SPAWN #1!
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