By Benjamin Nobel, December 13, 2015
In the process of collecting the first appearance of Angela, perhaps you have come across a CGC graded copy of Spawn #9 (like the one pictured below) and noticed “Newsstand Edition” on the label. You might have wondered, why are newsstand copies considered a variant by CGC? What’s the difference? In this post, I aim to answer these questions!
Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition vs. Direct Edition — What Are The Differences?
As discussed in Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference, the vast majority — 98-99% — of comic books sold by Image Comics were direct edition copies sold to comic shops on a non-returnable basis. The remaining small fraction were newsstand sales, where unsold copies could be returned for a refund. Two distinct print runs were published, one for each distribution channel. The newsstand print run was always published with a UPC code somewhere on the front or back cover. For issue #9, the UPC code was on the bottom left corner of the front cover.
Looking at the two covers, we can see that the cover artwork is identical. However, there are two differences. The first is the inclusion of the month, March (Mar), on Direct Edition copies.
The second difference between Direct Edition and Newsstand Edition copies is the UPC code: only Newsstand Edition copies have a UPC code in the bottom left corner of the front cover.
For the vast majority of newsstand edition copies, generally speaking, this is where the differences end to their direct edition counterparts, i.e. the front covers may have differences (such as the UPC code), but the manufacturing of the rest of the comic book is identical. And for this vast majority, CGC does not distinguish the two print runs [8/31/2016 update: I’m now aware of two other “special situations” where CGC distinguishes US newsstand copies from their direct edition counterparts — read Newsstand Variants, $3.99 Newsstand Editions, and The Doc Collection for more information].
For Spawn, the earliest issues are this way — up to somewhere around issue #8. At that point, possibly as a cost-cutting measure, Image began to manufacture Spawn newsstand copies with cheap newsprint paper instead of glossy paper. So for Spawn #9, the differences between Direct Edition and Newsstand Edition continue…
A further difference was that Direct Edition copies were manufactured with an Angela poster (by Jim Lee) in the centerfold. Newsstand Edition copies — again possibly as a cost-saving measure — did not include the Angela poster. [3/12/2018 Update: A reader shared their discovery of the existence of newsstand copies with the poster!]
Here is another look at the paper difference, with a Direct Edition copy at left featuring glossy interior paper, the same page from a Newsstand Edition copy at right, made from newsprint.
The newsprint paper was lighter and thinner.
Newsprint paper is much lighter. Note the weight difference between a direct edition copy (left) and a newsstand edition copy (right). The heavy glossy paper results in a total weight about 50% greater than the newsstand edition copy.
Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition vs. Direct Edition — The Rarity Difference
Now that we’ve covered the manufacturing differences between direct edition and newsstand edition copies of Spawn #9, let’s take a look at the rarity difference. Because of the manufacturing difference, CGC treats newsstand edition copies as a unique variant — that means we can study the CGC census data, something that is not possible with the earlier issues of Spawn where CGC makes no distinction. As mentioned earlier, we learned from an industry insider that Image’s distribution was 98-99% direct edition copies and only 1-2% newsstand edition copies. Does this rarity also show up on the census? Let’s take a look. First, below is the census data for direct edition copies of Spawn #9:
As of this writing in December of 2015, the CGC census shows 1,358 Direct Edition copies of Spawn #9 have been graded. Now let’s take a look at the data for Newsstand Edition copies of Spawn #9:
As of this writing in December of 2015, the CGC census shows 29 Newsstand Edition copies of Spawn #9 have been graded. Adding together the two editions, 1,358 Direct Edition copies + 29 Newsstand Edition copies = a total of 1,387 CGC graded copies of Spawn #9.
As a percentage, that is 2% newsstand edition to 98% direct edition!
Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition Variant — Collecting This Comic
On top of the distribution rarity, collectors should also consider the rarity in high grade. Cheap newsprint does not hold up well to the test of time, and newsstand readers in general actually read the copies they purchased. Furthermore, the staff of newsstands were not trained to handle comics with care, and newsstand comic books were likely to sustain damage the moment they hit the wire rack. Newsstand comic books in VF/NM and higher grade are therefore a difficult find, and the top grades of 9.6 and 9.8 are extraordinarily difficult.
Holding true to the theme of this blog, Newsstand Edition copies of Spawn #9 can be found in high grade with a budget of just $25. This is actually rather remarkable given the extreme rarity of newsstand copies combined with the key first appearance of Angela in this issue, but even a recent CGC graded copy in high grade (the one pictured in the beginning), sold for $19.99 at auction on eBay:
The extremely low distribution rarity, extremely low CGC census count, and availability on eBay and elsewhere at prices under $25 make Newsstand Edition copies of Spawn #9 an excellent value.
11 thoughts on “Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition”
I want to thank you for educating me on Image newsstand variants. In the last week I’ve picked up high grade newsstand variants (Supreme #1, ShadowHawk #2-#3, Violator #1-#3, and others) just by knowing what to look for.
As I indicated to you elsewhere, my biggest finds were two Spawn #9 newsstand variants, with both copies containing the Jim Lee poster! Books that should no exist, but do! The mystery is clearly afoot!
Hi Chris, thanks so much for sharing your discovery! And thanks for sending me pictures — here they are below for other readers to see:
Between Grand Comics Database, CGC, and CBCS, it had appeared there was consensus that the whole newsstand edition print run was simply produced without the poster inserted, so to discover the poster inside a newsstand copy in the wild like you did is really quite unexpected!
Here’s Grand Comics Database, specifically noting that the poster is supposed to be missing:
Similar from CBCS — on their Spawn #9 labels they note “Direct Editions include Angela poster by Jim Lee“:
But when it comes to CGC, I notice that their label has actually changed sometime in the past few years… The Spawn #9 newsstand label used to carry a key comments note as follows, specifically stating “without Angela poster“:
That above example was graded by CGC in 2015. Searching eBay today, however, I noticed that the key comments note on newer CGC-graded copies is different. Sure enough, when I pulled up a certification lookup on the above copy, the note now omits all mention of the poster and simply mentions the newsprint paper used for the interior pages…
Could this change to the key comments note text mean that CGC has since graded a copy with a poster? I do not know the answer but perhaps that would explain the key comments note change?
A fascinating discovery Chris, thanks again for sharing it!! 🙂
Hi Chris, I noticed the below copy of Spawn #9 on eBay and thought you’d be interested to see it —
Interesting, right!? The label note reads “Manufactured with glossy interior & Angela poster included” and atop the slab it reads “MANUFACTURING ERROR/Newsstand Edition”. It sold for $604.66:
Separately, I was over on ComicsPriceGuide the other day and happened to notice that they now “break out” newsstand copies of Spawn #9 with their own entry and their own value, at a 2.5x multiple to the corresponding direct edition value and they denote it as “Rare Newsstand Variant”:
Hi what would this be worth signature edition 9.4 grading with Todd McFarlane, Neil Gaiman and Jim Lee signed?
Hi Bryan, that’s an awesome signature combination!
One way I think about CGC SS values is the cost to recreate a given book. In your case, let’s start with a newsstand copy — looks like this recent one in CGC 9.4 went for $125, so let’s use that as a starting point:
If, hypothetically, I acquired the above, from there both Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee signatures are relatively straightforward to price given that signing opportunities are regular; looking at NYComics and Celestial Comics for pricing inputs, I see that the current going rate is $40 for Jim Lee’s signature, and for Todd McFarlane is $115 (for the 1st book; $95 for addl books; those prices include the CGC SS service and the signature). So I’d figure the cost to replicate — so far — at about $280 before factoring in Neil Gaiman.
Signature Series facilitators could probably give better input on how difficult/costly his signature would be, but one thing I observe from searching eBay is that there are very few results on a search for “Neil Gaiman CGC SS” and they seem to fetch quite a lot… One listing I did find as a fairly close comp, is the below direct edition Spawn #9, in 9.8, which the seller priced at $250:
We could compare that against the ~$60-80 range recent CGC 9.8 direct editions have sold for and conclude that Neil Gaiman’s signature adds a lot of value!
I have the spawn 9 Comic but the cover shows issue 7.. I don’t know whether this comic is legit or not as there’s no information on the comic on the internet..
Hi JLC, does your comic look like the below example? [Either way I’d love to see a photo of what you have (and an indicia picture if possible too) and I just reached out to you by email so please expect an email from me.]
If your book does indeed look like the above, then it was a 1995 reprint published in Australia by Trielle — here are a couple of links with further information:
→ https://ausreprints.net/publisher/575/3/10 (they only appear to cover/list #1-5 but yours would be from that series)
Also, if the above is indeed your book, then someone you may want to connect with as well to share information/pictures about it is Tim Bildhauser (CBCS International Comic Specialist, Overstreet Advisor, and Associate Editor of Foreign Comic Collector Magazine). Tim is a specialist in the foreign comics area and has written some great stuff — including penning the following article for our 2019 CPV price guide which talks about the growing collecting style of assembling a “set” that includes foreign editions: https://rarecomics.wordpress.com/price-variants-and-the-international-collector/ (in the article you’ll find links to his site & magazine).
Thanks so much for emailing me the pictures! 🙂 In case other readers are curious to see, here they are:
The below 2/4/2020 auction sale on eBay may be a new record high sale price for a Spawn #9 newsstand copy — I for one have not observed a higher sale than this — where the auctioned copy was one of just four 9.8 Signature Series copies of the book on census to date… that low availability count may have driven the bidding to the $1360.75 price where the auction ended:
Here’s a census snapshot as of today:
That is amazing!
I have both the Australian and South African issues. I’ve got issues 1-6 and 8-10 in the Battleaxe Press copy’s. I was lucky about 15 or so years ago to find them in my local collectable shop and scored them for I think $60 aud. 8-10 were the only ones I had opened. They are in fantastic condition and possibly better than the one I saw on Ebay for almost $2000.