Collecting black covers has always been a niche among comic collectors. They are harder to secure in high grades thus increasing the challenge for any collectors.
In this article, I will take a look at which modern black cover are scarce in high grades. I choose moderns as these are less well known than older books which the market has already fully valued them.
Understanding scarcity for 9.8 black cover
Not all black covers are, by default, are tough to find in 9.8. Due to different materials and printing processes, you can find black covers that are extremely easy to get a 9.8 on.
Hence, for true scarcity, there are 2 numbers you need to pay attention to:
- Absolute scarcity: are the census numbers low i.e. 2 digit to low 3 digit numbers
- Tough to grade in 9.8: the percentage of 9.8 to total submission must be low i.e. below 30-40% will be great. In contrast, most modern comics have a 70-90% ratio.
Once you manage to find a book that hits both sets of numbers, then you probably found something that is scare in 9.8
However, if the total submission is less than 50, you cannot draw any conclusion from the census number as the sample size is simply too small.
I have mentioned that the best way to learn about a new comic segment is to do a benchmark analysis in my comic investing tip #8. Below is what I have done for the black cover collecting segment.
I tried picking black covers that contain some significance, like a key story or a first appearance or a cameo. However, some issues have no such significance as I ran out of black cover books that I can think of.
Using the table, we can then see some patterns that can help us in our future investment.
|Issue||9.8 copies||Total||9.8 to Total Ratio||Price|
|Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2, #36||1689||6234||27%||USD 170|
|Solar #10||153||1168||13%||USD 700|
|Ghost Rider Vol 3 #1||288||1057||27%||USD 200|
|Amazing Spider-Man #654 2nd Print||38||200||19%||USD 1000|
|Silver Surfer Black #1||53||142||37%||USD 100|
|Venom Vol 2 #9||23||54||42%||No Information|
|Sentry #1||244||519||47%||USD 350|
|Wonder Woman Vol 2, #188||26||59||44%||USD 150|
Let’s use the table to make some general observations about the black cover market.
1. Low 9.8 ratio is insufficient
I have stressed earlier that both (i) absolute scarcity and (ii) low 9.8 ratio is important. We can see that easily in Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2, #36.
Although this is a tough book in 9.8, the sheer number of copies being submitted still manages to create a supply of 1,689 copies. This explains why the price is so low on this book despite it being (i) popular and (ii) tough to grade in 9.8.
In contrast, if we look at the book with the highest value i.e. Amazing Spider-Man #654 2nd print, it has both a low census number as well as a low 9.8 to total submission ratio.
2. Books that have below 20% 9.8 ratio is rare
After looking through the black cover data analysis, you will see that even among such covers, hitting below 20% 9.8 is ratio is really rare.
In the table, only Solar #10 and Amazing Spider-Man #654 2nd print has achieved that number. The former is already famous for being a tough book in 9.8. Now, we can quantity what that means i.e. below 20% 9.8 to total ratio.
In fact, #654 2nd print might become another famous example of a tough 9.8 in the future if the ratio doesn’t change.
For investment purposes, if you manage to stumble a black cover that has such low ratio, it might be worth while to invest in a few more copies.
3. Black cover alone make bad investments
If you have look at the prices, the higher priced books also have significance within them i.e. a first appearance.
So the key takeaway is that the black cover adds a multiplier to the book’s significance. If it contains a first appearance, and also happens to have a tough black cover, the value of the book will be worth more than otherwise.
However, if it is just a black cover, such as Wonder Woman Vol 2, #188, then the investment potential is limited.
Which black cover comics are undervalued?
The other undervalued book I am excited about is Ghost Rider Vol 3, #1.
Date of Publication: 1991
Sale number: 180,000 – 200,000
Key strengths of this book
1. First appearance of Ghost Rider (Dan Ketch)
2. First appearance of Stacy Dolan
3. First appearance of Deathwatch
However, after looking at its 9.8 census data and 9.8 ratio, it has become an even more attractive investment in 9.8.
Firstly, the 27% ratio is pretty close to the 20% benchmark I mentioned earlier. Secondly, the total number is currently 288, which isn’t too high for a copper book.
Even with more copies coming in for submission, the low 9.8 ratio will prevent the census from inflating to numbers that are common for copper age books.
Finally, if you compared Sentry #1 and Ghost Rider Vol 3, #1, which has pretty close 9.8 numbers, the former is already more expensive than the latter.
Date of Publication: 2019
Sale number: 129,490
Key strengths of this book
1. Cameo appearance of Knull
The other undervalued book is the Silver Surfer Black #1. A good benchmark to use will be Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2, #36.
Both books have high sales numbers so their supply situation is likely to be the same.
However, this book has the added advantage of having a cameo appearance of a current popular character.
The only uncertain factor is the 9.8 to total census ratio. However, the Silver Surfer Black #1 has a higher ratio than Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2, #36, that might be due to the low submission count.
When total submission is low, the percentage tend to be high because early submissions are usually the books with the highest chances of getting 9.8. All the books with less chances will not be submitted since there is very little incentive to do so.
With a price gap of around $70, this book could yield a 70% or higher return in the future.
This is the start of black cover benchmarking study. It is really limited to what I know and I hope that readers can suggest more black cover comics for me to add to my analysis.