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Tuesday, October 11, 2022 

Dealers making big speculator sums at NYCC

Another ArtNet article about the sales dealers are making at the New York Comicon on all the usual classics in pamphlets. It also tells of a villain spotlighted at a famous wax museum:
Amid the convention’s over-the-top spectacle—including photo-ops with Madame Tussaud’s new wax figure of Marvel supervillain Loki, and a monumental bowl of some kind of Asian noodles (because why not?)—the comics themselves can seem like almost an afterthought. But as you approach the convention hall’s northeast corner, there they are, dealers with row upon row of long cardboard boxes, each filled with hundreds of comic books.
I'm honestly disappointed that once again, a villain's being lavished with a spotlight, rather than a heroic character like Thor. But this does remind me there's surely a lot more villainous figures at Madame Tussaud's museum than just Loki himself. And if they take up more space than heroic figures, that's utterly troubling. Now, here's where they turn to the stratospherically expensive classics:
These ungraded books can start for as low as $1, and quickly escalate in price based on rarity, condition, and desirability. Hanging on the wall of each booth are the true collectibles: issues officially graded out of 10 and permanently sealed in a tamperproof case by Certified Guaranty Company, with prices that range into the six figures.

It’s those kinds of comics that have recently been selling at unprecedented prices—the 10 most expensive comics at auction have all sold during the past two years, led by the $3.6 million sale of Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (1962), featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man, in September 2021. The super-powered teen, a product of comic’s Silver Age, now ranks above Batman and Superman, whose Golden Age-era first appearances previously dominated the industry’s top sales.

[...] “It’s a speculator’s market—that drives the prices,”
Ruben Miranda, a comic collector and expert who was helping work the booth at Absolute Comics and Statues, told Artnet News. “If there is any speculation that a character will make a film or television appearance, that’s what will shoot up the value of a book. So dealers are out there hunting for general first appearances or obscure first issues.”
Whenever I see a point being made that it's mere speculation of potential movie and TV spotlights for notable characters boosting the prices on the market, I have to shake my head already. Mainly because we're reaching a point when whatever potential the Marvel/DC movies had (which came at the expense of the comics proper) is now beginning to taper off due to wokeness. So what good'll the speculator market be in that case? Interestingly, it's also told that:
But those who did spare a moment to talk were in agreement: The market for comics has had the same boost seen in other collectible categories since the start of lockdown in 2020, such as video games and trading cards. When people were stuck at home, many of them started placing bids in online auctions, leading to skyrocketing prices for collectibles and attracting hoards of new buyers.

“It’s insane,” Mike Carbonaro, a comic book dealer and the founder and organizer of the rival Big Apple Comic Con, which will open in December, told Artnet News. “I always believed in this, and thought it would have risen to where it is now, but incrementally—instead, it took a pandemic!”

Lockdown, of course, was a double-edged sword for the industry, shutting down conventions and causing extreme financial hardships for the artists and dealers who relied on the circuit to earn a living. But for online comic auctions, it was a boon.
Gee, all those folks spent their money on collectibles, not readables, viewables and playables? What's the use? The speculator market's turned everything into a joke. Interestingly though:
“Anything of the early Spider-Mans are a solid investment at any grade. The first 38 [issues] by Steve Ditko, and even up to 100,” Miranda said.

“If you buy an Amazing Fantasy No. 15, will someone buy it in 10 years? Yes,” Storms agreed. But attempting to predict the future demand for modern issues, he warned, is riskier business. “When The Death of Superman came out [in 1992], everyone thought it was going to put their kids through college, but now it’s worth $50.”
Well that should say something, although one can easily argue that, when a story is as cynical as the Death of Superman could be considered, based on the death of Cat Grant's son at the hands of the Toyman, which was more problematic since as a civilian co-star, Adam's still been denied the right to resurrection superheroes aren't always barred from, so why would anybody want to invest in such an otherwise overrated tale? There's far worse comics that came down the road in later years, and 70 years from now likely won't be worth much either if their stories are awful (Identity Crisis, The Truth: Red, White & Black, Avengers: Disassembled, Infinite Crisis, Civil War, among others), and even the most naive speculators could feel embarrassed about buying them if they realize the content beneath the cover is tasteless. On the other hand, it's also told:
On the other hand, comics can make their way from the dollar bin to the display wall overnight. When the live-action series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, which debuted this summer on Disney+, was first announced in August 2019, it was in the middle of a convention.

“Savage She-Hulk No. 1 was a cheap bin book; something you could get for $1, $3, $5—a nothing book,” Miranda recalled. “That day, every dealer was running in to pull it out of the dollar bin. It was selling right away.”
No kidding. To my knowledge, however, the TV show hasn't been so well received, so who knows how long this'll last? And not only would I rather read the original comics anyway, I'd rather buy them in trade format today, and I own at least one Epic Collection currently published, reprinting She-Hulk's 2nd solo, the parody-themed Sensational She-Hulk that was famous for breaking the 4th wall. To think, that Jennifer Walters' stories, instead of being sold for reading, are now being changed into collectibles for the sake of money.
Such interest doesn’t always last.

“It’s great if you own, because now the book is worth ten times what you paid for it, but as a buyer, you have to look at the character and say, ‘Is it worth what you’re spending?’” Storms added, noting that there was a similar surge of interest thanks to Moon Knight, also released on Disney+ this year. But then that comic line “kind of did a swan dive, because the show wasn’t so good.”
Ah, so the Moon Knight series really has failed to impress upon any audience? Well, when it's as pretentiously structured as it is, you can't be surprised it'll plummet sooner or later.

In similar reports, Euronews told about an auction in California that was primarily selling Spider-Man issues:
On 8 October, Van Eaton Galleries and Auction House in Studio City, California, are selling more than 2,000 Spider-Man comics.

And with multiple $3 million (approx. €3.07million) sales for a single edition, the comic book industry is definitely no longer child's play.

[...] Astonishingly, a single page of a Spider-Man comic book, which debuted the now-iconic black costume, fetched a $3.36 million at Heritage Auctions, breaking the record sale for a single page.

The most expensive comic book ever sold in a private sale is an 8.0 rated copy of 'Superman #1', Clark Kent's first self-titled series, for a humongous $5.3 million (approx. €5.4 million), dethroning Heritage Auctions' 2021 Spider-Man sale.
Yes, and some of those classics have already passed on to different owners, as mentioned earlier, for at least a little more money added to the previous sum paid. Seriously, I just don't see the use in selling even a single page at colossal prices, since that too, even if not sold again so quickly, is bound to remain locked in a vault instead of being hung in a museum where everyone can see it. Which, as I've argued before, makes this whole auctioning business such a joke. When will story merit take some precedence again? With the way things are going in the speculator market, probably never.

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