Newsstand Edition

Spawn Newsstand Values Pulling Away From Direct Edition

By Benjamin Nobel, May 12, 2016

Collectors have started to notice the 1:100 rarity of Spawn newsstand comics (the ones with UPC codes on their covers), as reflected in the recent prices of newsstand copies pulling away from their prevalent direct edition counterparts.  Below are screenshots of the most recent eBay sales (as of this writing in May, 2016) of CGC 9.8 newsstand copies of each:

spawn-newsstand-prices

Newsstand copies (UPC code on cover) in CGC 9.8 grade, of Spawn #1 and #9, each recently sold for about $275.

With these UPC coded newsstand copies representing only 1-2% of Image’s distribution, a market premium over their direct edition counterparts certainly makes sense.  Comics research resource Comichron pegs total sales for Spawn #1 as very likely having broken a million copies and total sales for Spawn #9 at around 700,000.  If we use these numbers (a million for Spawn #1 and 700K for Spawn #9), then the 1% newsstand ratio extrapolates to 10,000 newsstand copies of Spawn #1 and 7,000 newsstand copies of Spawn #9.  With this kind of rarity difference compared to direct edition copies, it is no wonder we are seeing prices pull apart.  Below for comparison are screenshots of two recent eBay sales (recent as of this writing in May, 2016) of CGC 9.8 direct edition copies of each:

spawn-direct-edition-prices

Big difference… direct edition copies are selling for a whole lot less… around $70 each.

I credit Angela and the associated surge of collector interest in Spawn #9 for bringing more attention to newsstand copies of Spawn #1.  Why?  Because CGC elected to treat newsstand copies of Spawn #9 as a unique variant on the census, on account of certain manufacturing differences (read more about those differences in my separate post: Spawn #9 Newsstand Edition).  With census data actually broken out, the extreme rarity comes through loud and clear.  Here is the census data for Spawn #9 at the time of this writing in May, 2016:

spawn-9-census-may-2016

Spawn #9 regular and newsstand edition census data as of May 2016.

With only 7 copies as of this writing in 9.8 for the newsstand edition, versus eight hundred and sixty six for the direct edition version, it is pretty clear why collectors would be willing to pay a premium for the more rare variant…  Putting this another way: there exist a grand total of 873 CGC 9.8 copies of Spawn #9 out there and only eight tenths of one percent of those are the rare newsstand version.  What about the Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition census numbers?  For that issue, CGC lumps both versions together as if they are one and the same (obviously they are not, but what can you do, that’s what CGC decided!).  This is why I said before that I think collector interest in Angela and therefore interest in Spawn #9 has helped drive awareness of the newsstand rarity… because with Spawn #1 anyone looking at the census data has no way of knowing there’s actually a distinct version of the issue that can be told apart, and that is drastically more rare.  But now that we have Spawn #9 data broken out, we can extrapolate using that data.  Lets round that eight tenths of one percent 9.8 rarity up to a full 1% for easy math, and then apply that to the count of 9.8’s on census for Spawn #1… doing that exercise extrapolates out to a probable ~28 newsstand copies of Spawn #1 in 9.8.  Here is the Spawn #1 census data at the time of this writing in May of 2016:

Spawn #1 census data as of May, 2016.

Spawn #1 census data as of May, 2016.

So there you have it: the reason why newsstand copies of Spawn #1 and #9 are starting to “pull apart” from direct edition prices of the same issue.  So if anyone out there has wondered just why certain copies are getting bid to much higher prices, now that you’ve read this post you can go back to those higher priced copies and check the bottom left corner of the front cover… chances are you’ll find a UPC code there!

8/31/2016 update:

Two CGC SS 9.8 newsstand copies of Spawn #1 have recently sold, one as a buy-it-now, and the other at no-reserve-auction.  Here are the sales prices:

Two recent eBay sales for CGC SS 9.8 Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition copies, one a buy-it-now at $525 and the other an auctioned copy which went for $381.

Two recent eBay sales for CGC SS 9.8 Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition copies, one a buy-it-now at $525 and the other an auctioned copy which went for $381.

For comparison, here are two recent buy-it-now and auction sales of CGC SS 9.8 direct edition copies of Spawn #1:

By contrast, recent direct edition CGC SS 9.8 sales of Spawn #1 show a buy-it-now at $225 and an auctioned copy at $152.50.

By contrast, recent direct edition CGC SS 9.8 sales of Spawn #1 show a buy-it-now at $225 and an auctioned copy at $152.50.

 

Happy Collecting! 🙂

p.s. As I update this post on 8/31/2016 to include the above recent sales of CGC SS copies, I’d like to link readers to a new post I just published covering several of the other “special situations” where CGC has elected to “break out” newsstand comics as variants, where the copy count is separately tracked (similar to how it is done for Spawn #9 but for different reasons): Newsstand Variants, $3.99 Newsstand Editions, and The Doc Collection

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2 thoughts on “Spawn Newsstand Values Pulling Away From Direct Edition

  1. jonathan p forsythe says:

    Hello, I love your articles. They have helped me immensely. I just purchased 2 copies of Spawn #109 newsstand that have ” $4.00 CANADA barcode” stickers placed over the upc barcode. I am aware of and own issues 101 – 105 that have a upc sticker affixed over the original barcode but I have never seen a sticker on #109 and I also have never seen a sticker on any Spawn that has Canada on it. Would these be considered ” Canadian” editions?

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    • Hi Jonathan, that’s an interesting find, and reminds me immediately of the Spawn Batman situation where certain copies distributed in book stores have a white bar code sticker slapped onto them.

      The way I think about any kind of stickers affixed to comics in general, in terms of big-picture thinking, is that anybody can always stick a sticker onto a comic at a later date for some retailing-related purpose. [Here’s another sticker situation example, having to do with certain bus-stop-related retailing.]

      But in each of these cases of retailing-related stickers, the sticker in question is not part of the printed comic itself, and so the edition of the comic is still just the same batch that the physical comic itself was part of — thus I think about the Spawn/Batman books with stickers on them as being Direct Editions with stickers on them, and in your case with #109 if you can see the original bar code peeking through from behind the sticker to confirm they are from the newsstand batch, then I’d think about your copies as being Newsstand Editions with stickers on them.

      So are stickers “good”/”bad” or what?

      On the negative side, certain collectors are bound to view stickers as “damage” — especially seeing as how CGC reinforces that view with their Qualified green labels (like they do for Spawn/Batman copies with the bookstore stickers, counting them as Direct Editions on census and giving them Green labels with a note like “Sticker attached to back cover”). And this treatment by CGC makes sense because their job is about certifying just the comic itself as it was originally published and so from that perspective a sticker is a “foreign object” introduced onto the printed comic at a later date by someone other than the publisher.

      On the positive side, I could certainly see how some collectors might enjoy an extra bit of history attached to their book and could view certain stickers as being a unique part of a given comic book’s history. I have plenty of comics with newsstand markings on them which I view as additive to each book’s “personal history”, which is a little bit similar in a sense [but those newsstand markings still result in a blue label from CGC (with “grease pencil top left of front cover” or similar in the grader notes) while stickers result in the Qualified label].

      At the end of the day I think collecting is as individual as people are, and every comic collector should follow their own interests, with everybody able to have their own personal opinion when it comes to whether such books with stickers are appealing to them as collectibles. But as relates to your specific question of whether a sticker placed onto a book at a later date should change the way collectors view the edition/variant cataloging of that book, I’d say no, because the sticker it is not part of the printed comic itself as originally published. Think about it this way: if placing a sticker could cause a book to be considered as a unique edition or variant, then that would enable unlimited “home made” variants (any retailer — or even just a collector — could create a bunch of stickers, slap them on, and then claim their particular copies to be a different variant from the rest).

      That’s how I see things, I hope this reply was helpful! 🙂

      Best,
      – Ben

      Like

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