By Benjamin Nobel
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Rust #1 Limited Edition
Spawn #1 Black & White
Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1
Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition
Spawn Batman Newsstand Edition
Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition
May 2016 Update: Spawn Newsstand Values Pulling Away From Direct Edition
Here we are in 2015, a full 23 years after Spawn #1 was published. Todd McFarlane is hard at work on the new Spawn movie, reportedly set to be an R-rated film in the horror/thriller genre. Judging by the millions of views to the recent fan film (“Spawn: The Recall”), an R-rated major motion picture has the potential to be a mega-hit, potentially drawing legions of new fans to this already strongly popular character.
Spawn’s incredibly strong popularity from day one is reflected in the comic book sales numbers. According to Comichron (one of my favorite resources to research comic books):
“Spawn #1 is widely believed to have broken the million-copy mark, overall.”
Looking at Spawn #1 from the point of view of a comic book collector, one would certainly want to own a copy of the comic book featuring Spawn’s first appearance… It is a “key” book, but, the existence of a million copies out there hardly makes Spawn #1 a rarity. Without the scarcity factor, collectible value cannot follow, because supply will always overwhelm collector demand.
Spawn fans, seemingly desperate for something rare with a “Spawn #1” on it, have instead gravitated to the “Black & White Edition” as their Spawn #1 collectible of choice, bidding up the value to astonishing numbers, including a recent sale at $249.99 for a VF/NM copy as screencaptured below from eBay’s completed listings page. At a budget of $250/copy, if one wanted to acquire all 3,100 copies (hypothetically speaking of course), it would require one to spend $775,000. That’s quite a lot of implied value ascribed by collectors to this issue.
When you see a VF/NM copy sell for a penny shy of $250, it begs the question: why are collectors paying such prices? Here is my answer. As discussed on RecalledComics.com (another great collector resource), the “Black & White Edition” of Spawn #1 was a retailer incentive variant — as an incentive to comic shops to order 50 or more copies of Spawn #65, shops were offered a copy of this special variant for every 50 copies of Spawn #65 ordered.
Based on this 1-in-50 rarity, we can extrapolate the likely number of Black & White edition copies in existence, if we know the sales numbers for Spawn #65. And for that information I turn to the Comichron monthly sales data page, where we can see Spawn #65 tops the charts at over 165,000 copies ordered. If every block of 50 out of that 165,000 also came with one Black & White Edition copy, that would imply a total maximum count of 3,300 copies. Because some comic shops may have ordered less than 50 copies, it is reasonable to take that number down some. RecalledComics estimates 3,100 copies, which I think is perfectly reasonable. Another piece of rarity information: as of this writing, there are 449 copies of the Black & White Edition on the CGC census (i.e. that is how many copies collectors have submitted to CGC for grading and encapsulation).
A print run of 3,100 is quite a lot lower than a million, which I argue is part of the explanation for the prices collectors are paying for copies of the Black & White Edition. I suggest that another part of the explanation, is how comic shops marketed their copies to collectors — giving them a complete education on the 1-in-50 rarity. By educating their customers about the rarity, the comic shops could sell them for the most money, right? But what about all the rare Spawn comics out there that the shops didn’t educate their customers about?
That’s where my blog aims to come in.
I say hold onto your $249.99, because there are lots of other highly interesting and rare Spawn comics you can find in VF/NM range condition at much more reasonable prices — even if we take that 249.99 amount and move the decimal place one over to the left as our budget.
That’s right, with this blog my goal is to profile Spawn comics that are not only demonstrably rare, but can be purchased for under $25 in high grade. Rather than being an exhaustive list, it will just be examples of my own choosing, but each one will be rare and interesting in some way. Each blog entry will profile one particular comic.
I’m going to cover a 1-in-100 variant of the original Spawn #1 that you probably didn’t know exists, a rare variant of a classic Frank Miller / Todd McFarlane collaboration, plus, I’m going to cover “a #1” that — based on the sales numbers data — likely sold on the order of ~400 copies (that’s fewer copies than the number of CGC graded copies of the Black & White Edition — and yet I paid $12.65 for my copy of that other rare comic).
Thanks for stopping by, continue reading with my first entry! A preview of this first comic I will profile: did you know that the below Spawn artwork appeared on the inside back cover of a comic book published one month earlier than Spawn #1? That’s right: this comic book was published in April of 1992 (versus Spawn #1 published in May). What’s more: there was a “Limited Edition” variant with an estimated 10,000 copies. And yes, based on recent eBay sales, you can own a VF/NM copy with a budget of $25.
List of Profiled Comic Books
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (first print 1984)
The origin and first appearance of the TMNT, Splinter, and Shredder.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 (NYCC variant)
A very cool “accidental” variant limited to just 500 copies where the cover artwork has a discernible coloration difference.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (misprint)
Oops! They used the wrong cover artwork, then recalled and pulped all but 1,000 copies!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (2009 Color Special Error Edition)
The initial print run batch of just 1000 copies shipped with a printing error and was subject to a recall-and-destroy notice.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles v2 #13 (Error Edition)
Oops! There is an error batch where the front cover artwork was used for the back cover and vice versa.
How To Draw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (Manufacturing Error)
Oops! A batch of “White Cover Variant” copies were printed without yellow ink!
Creed / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Blue/Bronze Subscriber Edition
A subscriber-exclusive limited to just 500 copies.
Graphic Fantasy #2
2nd appearance of the “original” incarnation of Savage Dragon
Savage Dragon #30 Newsstand Edition (As Seen on TV Variant)
Newsstand copies were titled and numbered “Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1”, were given a different cover price, and a different logo!
Savage Dragon #10 Newsstand Variant
Newsstand copies were given completely different cover artwork!
Savage Dragon #102 (Invincible First Appearance)
Pre-dates both Invincible #1 and Tech Jacket #1, for the very first Invincible appearance, in a preview!
Savage Dragon #1/2 w/Platinum Stamp
A small batch of platinum-stamped copies were produced exclusively for Wizard subscribers!
Savage Dragon #137 (1st Obama Cover)
A very cool retailer incentive variant with a tiny print run!
Savage Dragon #156 Herb Trimpe Variant
Another stand-out retailer incentive variant!
Savage Dragon Limited Series #1 Newsstand Edition
A CGC-recognized census variant, credited with the 1st appearance of Savage Dragon!
1st Appearance of Krang in comics
Quite the interesting “it’s complicated” story of the first appearance of Krang!
1st Appearance of Savage Dragon
Quite the interesting “it’s complicated” story of the first appearance of Savage Dragon!
Type 1A Price Variants
Cousin to Type 1 variants (e.g. 30¢ and 35¢ variants)
Marvel Graphic Novel #4 — $5.95 Cover Price Variant (1st New Mutants Appearance)
Broken out on census as “$5.95 Cover Price” this variant had limited geographic distribution
Amazing Spider-Man #252 — 75 Cent Cover Price Variant (Canadian Edition)
One of the first Type 1A comics to be “broken out” by CGC, back in 2001, due to its 75¢ variant cover price!
Darker Image #1 — Newsstand $1.95 Cover Price Variant (1st Maxx Appearance)
Now credited by CGC as the 1st appearance of The Maxx!
Variant vs. Variant: Amazing Spider-Man #678 (Mary Jane Venom) vs. #607 (Black Cat $3.99 Cover Price)
A head-to-head look at two visually-awesome variants from two different categories!
New Mutants #98 — $1.50 Cover Price Variant (1st Deadpool Appearance)
The #1 most prized key where a 1990’s Type 1A price variant exists!
7 Variants Destined For Future Classic Cover Status
Passing this “test” could mean a comic book cover is destined for classic cover status down the road!
X-Men Annual #14 (1st Gambit Debate)
Which comic book contains Gambit’s “true first full appearance”? A fascinating debate!
Applause to CBCS Now Recognizing Newsstand Comics!
Woo hoo! Big moment for newsstand-focused collectors! CBCS announced they will broadly recognize the newsstand vs. direct edition difference on their labels!
Daredevil #21, $3.99 Newsstand Edition (Superior Spider-Man Cameo)
Late modern newsstand-exclusive cover price variants exist and this is a great one!
95¢ and $1.00 DC Price Variants: How Do We Know What They Are?
Incredibly, these DC Type 1A variants do not actually “spell out” in the indicia what the variant cover price is for!
66 New Canadian Price Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End, a 16% Increase
Growing submissions to CGC of Canadian Price Variants!
What If Venom Possessed Deadpool? What If There Was A Rare Cover Price Variant?
Both amazing and true: there is actually a cover price variant of this key issue, and it was exclusive to newsstands!
What If Venom Possessed Wolverine? (New Avengers #35, $3.99 Newsstand Edition)
A very neat issue to contrast with Venom/Deadpool: What If #1, because this issue features a stunning cover with a “Venomized” Wolverine!!
• DC Rebirth, $3.99 Newsstand Editions
Don’t collect the early DC rebirth before knowing about these cover price variants!
• AUS Price Variants (Australian Newsstand Editions)
Part II of my look at Australian Price Variants
• $2.99 Newsstand Edition CGC Census Variants, and, “Partial Cover Price Variations”
Amazing Spider-Man #529 (1st new costume) has a $2.99 cover price variant exclusive to newsstands!
• 30 More Newsstand Census Variants Confirmed at CGC Since Year-End
A look at new CGC census entries where the newsstand type is “broken out” as a distinct census variant.
• Amazing Spider-Man #400: Understanding The Real Newsstand Edition
A particularly “tricky” issue to discern the “real” newsstand edition.
• Applause To CPG Accepting $3.99 Cover Price Variants Into The Price Guide!
Increased awareness of late-modern cover price variants!
• The Orange Cat Phenomenon (and Canadian Price Variants)
Did you know that only 20% of orange cats are female? More about this neat fact, and, how it relates to Canadian Price Variants.
Hungry for even more? Check out more Rare Comics to Look For and Lists of Key Comic Books by Year (including important comics of the 1970’s, the 1980’s, the 1990’s, and the 2000’s or key comic books by age: key bronze age comics; key copper age comics; key modern age comics). And don’t miss: Newsstand Variants, $3.99 Newsstand Editions, and The Doc Collection — A look at a new “class” of CGC-recognized, newsstand-exclusive, late modern cover price variants that few collectors realize exist!
Also see: the hobby’s very first online comic book price guide for Type 1A 1980’s newsstand cover price variants from Marvel & DC:
• Amazing Spider-Man #238: The Tattooz Situation
Quite the fascinating situation — a discussion about the tattooz.
• “Canadian Edition” vs. “Canadian Cover Price Variant”
The importance of recognizing the difference and why grading companies need to change their labels to “Canadian Price Variant” from “Canadian Edition” for 1980’s CPVs!
• CGC 9.8 Census Comparison: 1970’s Keys vs. 1980’s Keys
• Investing in Canadian Price Variants: 11 Tips
Some great tips for the investor to keep in mind!
• Three Variants That Surprised Me
With comics, and variants, there’s often things that are quite surprising!
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: VideoMedia and Archie
A little-known TMNT comic distributed in Canada with cassette tapes, and Archie CPVs!
• Voltron #1-3, Type 1A $1.00 Cover Price Variants
The first appearance of Voltron in comics!
• Incremental Improvement to CGC’s “Canadian Edition” Labeling
Still not “Canadian Price Variant” yet, but, a small incremental improvement nonetheless.
• The “Cover Swipe Test”: 2 More Price Variant Keys Passing It
Destined for future classic cover status?
• How Many Amazing Spider-Man Stan Lee CGC SS Books Exist?
The CGC census helps us get a handle on how many Stan Lee CGC Signature Series copies are out there, for the Amazing Spider-Man title.
• 6 Epic CGC Labeling Blunders Of Price Variant Comics And What We Can Learn From Them
The introduction of the new online order form may have led to an increase in blunders, including epic ones.
• Applause To CBCS’s New “75¢ Canadian Price Variant” Labeling
CBCS beats CGC to the punch! Type 1A’s now given the price variant labels they deserve! 🙂
• Archie Canadian/Pence Price Variants and the Betty’s Diary #36 Mystery
We’re used to seeing single-priced Type 1A variants; these cool Archie books are dual priced!
• Marvel Annual Newsstand Numbering: Uncanny X-Men
A fascinating phenomenon in the bar codes…
• Gladstone Canadian Price Variants
A look at 1980’s Canadian Price Variants published by Gladstone.
• ThunderCats #1 True Canadian Price Variant vs. 75¢ “Logo” Copies
Must-know information before you collect the ThunderCats #1 75¢ variant.
• Applause to CGC Now Labeling Type 1A’s as “Canadian Price Variant”, “Australian Price Variant”, and “UK Price Variant”
Hooray! CGC has joined “the correct side of comic book history” and now dignifies Type 1A price variants with price variant labels!
• Archie Canadian Price Variants
A look at 1980’s Canadian price variants published by Archie.
• CPV Discussions In Overstreet #49 Market Reports
Excerpts from market reports relevant to CPVs.
• Australian Price Variants (“APVs”)
In Part III of my look at Australian Price Variants: a Top Ten APVs list, new APV research, and new information about print run numbers!