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In my previous article on copper age investing, I highlighted certain challenges. These are:
- Most comics from the Big 2 has huge print runs, thus limiting the price potential of most books
- Indie comics have much lower print runs but I worry about their longevity and appeal, especially given the lack of continuous publishing.
Since that article, I have explored copper age comics in much greater depth and have found a good solution.
The trick is to invest in rare editions of commonly available copper key comics.
Here is a listing of possible different editions for copper age comics:
- Canadian Price variants (UK and Australian are getting attention as well)
- 2nd and later Print
- Newsstands of 2nd print (rare)
Not so long ago, editions such as newsstand and 2nd prints were not getting any attention. This seems to be changing as the premium for these tougher to find editions is getting significant.
However, not all comics will have all the different editions. This is what makes copper age investing interesting. You have to investigate issue by issue to know what is really available.
The general rule is this: The more popular books will tend to have more editions. These books tend to have 2nd printings, newsstands of these 2nd printings etc.
Below is an example of an extremely popular issue: Superman #75, the death of Superman. It has 4 later printings and all 4 have newsstands. On top of these, there are also editions with stickers on them vs the regular newsstands. (Mind boggled!)
Besides this issue, there are other examples of different editions such as Batman 457, which also has the 2nd printing of newsstands.
Are 2nd print comics really worth money?
Among all these editions, the most controversial is the 2nd and later printings. During the 80s and 90s, nobody cared about these later printings. They were often regardless as worthless and meant for reading rather than collecting.
However, this started to change in the 2000s. Before today’s craze for books like Amazing Spiderman #361 and #101 silver, there were already examples of later printings becoming desirable as a collectible and not just for a quick flip.
Below is the famous Hulk #377
Here is their current Ebay sales data
|Hulk #377 1st Printing Direct||$5-10|
|Hulk #377 1st Printing Newsstand||$10-20|
|Hulk #377 2nd Printing||$15-20|
|Hulk #377 3rd Printing||$200|
It is interesting to note that for Hulk #377, it is the later printings that is pulling out in front of every other book, including first direct newsstands. However, one reason for this case is that there were a lot of market chats on the CGC forum for this book. Since the 3rd printing has limited supply, it doesn’t take much to set it on fire.
Another commonly known example is Spiderman #1. Below is sampling of all the different editions, including bagged and un-bagged.
|Spiderman#1 1st Print Green||$3|
|Spiderman#1 1st Print Green Newsstand||$10|
|Spiderman#1 1st Print Silver||$10|
|Spiderman#1 1st Print Gold||$15-20|
|Spiderman#1 2nd Print Gold Newsstand||$800-1k|
Similarly to Hulk #377, the highest priced edition is not the first but the 2nd printing that was distributed only via Walmart. That price difference is quite significant!
The final example is Man of Steel #18. Below is all the different 5 editions.
|Man of Steel #18 1st Print||$5|
|Man of Steel #18 1st Print Newsstand||$10|
|Man of Steel #18 2nd Print||$8|
|Man of Steel #18 3rd Print||$10-20|
|Man of Steel #18 4th Print||$15-30|
|Man of Steel #18 5th Print||$30-50|
While Man of Steel #18 doesn’t have as big a price premium as Hulk #377 and Spiderman #1, it is still there. The 5th print is commanding 6-10 times more than the 1st print and 2-3 times more than the 4th print.
Although these results not typical, I feel the future trend will be in this direction, especially if the later printings has a more unique color scheme, cover art or any kind touch up that makes it more desirable.
Trend: When a key copper issue has a massive print run, there is a chance that other editions might supersede it in terms of prices
As a speculator or investor, it is time to dig into these copper and even early 90s modern books to uncover more gems. This is what makes copper comic investing interesting for me again.
Rare 2nd print Copper age comics
These are some of the 2nd print books that are turning out to be hard to find. I will adding to this list over time so book mark this page for any new updates.
Note: I will not include 2nd prints that are already expensive like the Uncanny X-Men #302 black UPC, or the Uncanny X-Men #297 (gold).
Date of Publication: 1984
Sale number: 300,000* (there was no statement of ownership data so figure is estimated as this was the best selling title in 1984)
Key strengths of this book
1. Start of the Secret Wars event
2. Might be adopted for MCU
The first book that caught my attention is Marvel Super Heroes Vol 1, #1. I mentioned this book 4 years ago in my article on Marvel Phase 4 speculation. The recent rumors on Secret Wars happening in the MCU has strengthen the demand for this book.
Below are the 4 different editions that I know of:
- Regular version (White Spiderman)
- 2nd printing (Black Spiderman)
- Canadian Price Variant Newsstand
- US Newsstand
I used to think the Canadian Price variant was the hardest to find. However, after looking at this comic for a couple of years, the 2nd print is the least common.
Interesting tidbit: The black Spiderman logo was used as the regular upc after issue one. This happens for other Marvel titles as well. So do not assume all black Spiderman logo are 2nd printings.
If this book gets hot because of MCU, it might lead to an appreciation of the 2nd print, like what we have seen for Hulk #377 and Man of Steel #18.
Even if it doesn’t, it is still cool to have a rare Copper age comic in your collection.
Date of Publication: 1985
Sale number: NA
Key strengths of this book
1. First comic appearance of Thundercats
2. In line with the rising trend of 80s cartoon characters
Another book that I was keeping my eye on was the Thundercats. Given all the recent interest in the 80s cartoons, Thunderbolts might be the next hot property after Transformers, GI JOE and He-Man.
Below is all the different editions of Thundercats #1.
- Regular edition
- US newsstand
- Canadian Price Variant newsstand
- 2nd Printing
- 3rd Printing
The 3rd printing is again the toughest book to find after tracking this book for some time, although not as uncommon as Secret Wars #1 2nd printing.
The good thing is that this is an affordable book. If you are into Thundercats, try to get the 3rd printing. You never know if it might blow up if there was a Thundercats movie.