The Comic De-SPEC-tive Issue 1
I remember growing up as a kid who traveled a lot that my connection to the world at home (besides an occasional McDonald’s stop) would always be picking up a USA Today. I would scan the sports section, check out what the weather was like back home and invariably read Larry King’s stream of consciousness columns, mishmashes of random musings on everything from the virtues of instant oatmeal to conspiracy theories on the moon landing.
Much parodied but nonetheless effective in its delivery, I thought this format would be ideal in attempting to dish out weekly (weakly?) a clearinghouse column of comic news, social media, and spec advice. The column will highlight one featured topic followed up with quick bulleted takes. Nothing fancy and allowing me to do what I do best…ramble on about minutia. With that said…
We continue to get hit by a crush of newly-optioned comic properties with everyone scrambling to grab the next hot spec. While this is great if you are adept at listing quick flips, there are definitely indicators to look for before going in whole-hog- for example, being able to evaluate the long-term staying power of characters.
Beyond first appearances, you also do not want to be left holding the bag on a stack of variant covers of a character who barely logged any screen time or who won’t be around for the sequel. You need only look through the stacks of cheap flips clogging up your long boxes on those books that you did not cash in on quickly enough as proof.
So, an obvious property that should be on your radar right now is all of your ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ books. They should be sitting in ‘sell now’ boxes (more on setting up your boxes such work space in a future column) and you should be listing anything Thanos- and Black Order-related; alternately Iron Spider, Ronin and perhaps Super Skrull should be on hand as any of those concepts/characters could be featured and are still under most of the general public’s radar. (Was anyone stockpiling White Wolf before they saw Black Panther?) So you have to be a sort of comic precog in some ways…
Also be reminded that rumors are just that. The ‘Deadpool 2’ trailer had many hustling through boxes looking for any Bedlam 1st appearances (Factor X 1 or X-Force 82 depending who you ask) which made sense as Terry Crews’ character was confirmed. But it also had Surge and Kid Apocalypse books selling at absurd prices on eBay without any official word coming that either would be in the movie.
It seems obvious but always look though your boxes as well; that book you just dropped $8 on as a bargain may have been just sitting there-a long forgotten purchase ready to pay dividends.
Remember also that many eyeballs are on the same sites whether it be Newsarama, CBR, Bleeding Cool or that unreliable CBSI G+ page (LOL). These sites are all basically funneling material from social media and or general entertainment news sites.
Chances are if you are reading it off of one of those pages it is already too late and eBay has been cleaned out. Coordinating your feed to filter whatever sites you get your news and social media updates from can give you valuable hours, minutes, and sometimes even seconds to grab those last near-mint + copies at a profitable margin.
And remember once the listing has information that it is a movie or TV option property it is already too late.
Check Yo’ Shelf
Every few weeks, as the hype train builds steadily toward Wednesday’s ‘big’ books, there are titles that slip under the radar. These books tend to be low ordered, on the fringe but with a built-in niche audience and most importantly available for cover or under ratio cost for variants. I will try to highlight a book that is a week out that I think could be a sleeper pick.
April 11th Pick
Exiles 1- Rodriguez Design variant. The first solo appearance/cover of the Thor: Ragnarok Tessa Thompson- influenced Valkyrie, this 1:10 variant has the advantage of a built-in existing audience from the movie and will most likely be the most sought-after of the variants down the line. Issue 2 features a Mike McKone headshot variant.
Bonus info: I had previously reported about the appearance of Captain Carter in Exiles issue 3. There will be a game variant cover based on her only previous appearance in ‘Marvel’s Puzzle Quest’ game.
- The Netflix ‘Lost in Space’ reboot reviews are starting to come in and they’re reminding me a lot of what we started to hear when the Battlestar Galactica Syfy series came out. The 1991 Innovation series would be the route to go here, as copies of the first issue are still available for 5 bucks or less.
- For those still officially on the Popeye variant hype train, that engine has left the station.
- Ben Oliver will be the next variant cover superstar mentioned in the same breath as Mattina and Dell’Otto by year’s end.
- I don’t know if there has ever been a concept I’m less interested in than the Red Goblin. Whether it turns out to be Norman, JJJ or MJ, I am all out. I have listed all of my pre-800 issues in bundled lots. The fact that Marvel is officially playing into this says a lot for the future of modern comic speculation. Store variants will officially be the death knell of the game unless people stop buying into them. Remember that this book will be part of Marvel’s entire line reboot so who’s to say where the character will end up. #Factspec?
- On the other hand, the Venom backlash based on a teaser trailer makes this a good time to start finding cheaper lesser-known copies of related property titles. ASM 300 will always be the gold standard but I would not sleep on any of the higher ratio variants that can be found on the cheap. Based on Donny Cates’ track record and the fact that this is essentially the book he was born to write, we may finally get a book that lives up to the character. I have no doubt Stegman will be stepping up his already elevated game as well.
- Depending how your local comic shop is set up, the kids books may sometimes be in a different area. As we have seen with those DuckTales 1:10 Blueprint variants however, there is adult money to be made in books marketed to the kids. While it did not contribute significantly to my retirement fund, even a lower profile book like Cosmo was flippable for double what I paid. It could be worth your while to pick up the new Sonic the Hedgehog books this week as there are always fans of the games thus expanding your buying audience.
- Dynamite and Titan books almost never retain any value but are great for the personal collection. One recent exception was the Titan Bloodborne books (see the video game rule above!) Even as all 4 covers were blowing up on eBay, cover price issues were easily available online. (De-spec-tive Rule 1: People are inherently lazy. If you can make life easy by becoming a one-stop shop- multiple listings, combined shipping- they will continue to utilize your service.)
- Three books that I am currently buying up everywhere are Sabrina, Charmed and The Kitchen. All have moved deep into the casting process and all three of these titles are female-centric; again any crossover appeal only expands and opens up the market. The one I am currently highest on is Sabrina. The SDCC Demonicon Afterlife with Archie 666 is the modern Sabrina book to own. If this property ends up being successful, I have no doubt Afterlife with Archie and a Vampironica series could be on the horizon especially with Disney on the verge of taking back the Marvel titles and leaving a void at Netflix.
Remember, like any other speculative market, there are no absolutes or guarantees. Nobody owes you anything if a spec doesn’t come through and there are a whole lot of easier ways to turn a buck. Collect what you like first and get a feel for what seems to be popular and this will help you to detect trends.
Stay connected to the hobby news to make sure that you are staying ahead of the curve and not racing to throw money at yesterday’s news. Every speculator is sitting on a box of dollar books that they thought had some value sometime in the not so distant past. The trick is to turn those long boxes into short boxes.
Remember the key is to speculate, not specu-wait!
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