8/2/18: Reece’s Rare Comics 2018 Overstreet Market Reports

Now that the 48th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide is out, I wanted to share our market reports from this year’s guide!

Alex Reece:

Hello again to everyone! As always, with the close of another year comes a new market report, as hard as it may be to believe that the year is over. 2017 was a record breaking year for Reece’s Rare Comics, as we shattered multiple sales records, doubled our online inventory, and started taking consignments on a large scale. The market is overall very healthy, and I’ll delve into the details in the following paragraphs.
Let’s begin with a rundown of the 2017 conventions. We set up at 12 conventions this year with varying degrees of success. Firstly, Reed POP should be commended for continuing to run A+ top tier comic shows. All three of their shows that we did in 2017 (Emerald City Seattle, C2E2 Chicago, and New York Comic Con) were very tightly run, extremely organized, and highly profitable events. They remain committed to comic books at their shows, and in an era where comic vendors are increasingly marginalized and pushed to the side, this is a welcome reprieve. Marc Nathan also ran a top notch Baltimore Comic Con. Fire alarms aside, this continues to be a great comic book focused show, and in spite of all of the comic book vendors, there still is enough money in the room to make it worthwhile. A new show for us in 2017 was Planet Comicon in Kansas City. We did well there, and it is always great to meet customers at a show you have never been to before. Unfortunately, they moved it from April in 2017 to February in 2018, so we will not be returning due to scheduling conflicts. Another first was setting up at the famed San Diego Comic Con. While we have attended in years past, this was our first time setting up a booth, and it was unfortunately rather lackluster in terms of sales. MegaCon in Orlando was great again even though it was on Memorial Day Weekend, and WonderCon in Anaheim was slightly above average.

I will wrap up talking about our show season with the Wizard World shows from 2017. Outside of the Rosemont show, which is just a great comic town, they were quite a disappointment. Our team noticed markedly decreased sales at their shows when compared to 2016, which in and of itself was a down year for Wizard. To anyone who has been attending their shows over the past few years, this comes as no surprise. They have been intent on becoming more of a Pop Culture experience, being a “Comic” Con in name only. It is a shame, as some Wizard shows used to be among our top earners, and while we will still be attending two of their shows in 2018, they will be reevaluated on a yearly basis.

Sales trends at these shows were more of the same seen in years past. Keys and/or high grade books sold extremely well, and at many shows our wall was decimated by clientele hungry for high end books. We also noticed an increasing demand for third party encapsulated books, more so even than in years past. Of the graded material, we did see stronger prices for CGC books as opposed to CBCS books. The reasons for this are numerous and well documented elsewhere, but hopefully with Beckett newly at the helm, prices will begin to rival those of CGC graded books again. Competition in the graded comic book market is a very good thing, so I hope that CBCS is able to continue to provide it.

I also want to quickly mention raw, non-key issues. Many dealers have bemoaned the dearth of run collectors in recent years, citing evidence that most people at shows are only there to buy keys. I would argue that that is merely how the conventions have changed along with the rising prices of key books; people want to make their big purchases at a show so they can see the books in hand. When spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars, this makes sense. When filling in runs however, collectors are much more content to buy online, and that is a trend that we were party to in 2017. With Austin joining for his first full year in 2017, we were able to upload and list many more common or lower grade issues on our website, and sales of those types of books increased accordingly. In short, while keys and high grade still remain safely at the top of the pedestal, run collectors are not dead; they have simply moved to an easier buying experience, namely, the internet.

Finally, let’s talk about some of the biggest movers I see for 2018. My top pick goes to Fantastic Four #1. For a book from 1961 that establishes Marvel’s first Superhero team, I believe it to be criminally undervalued, even though it had a solid year of gains in 2017. With less than 1300 Universal copies on the CGC census in 17 years of grading, I don’t think there will be enough copies to satisfy demand when the market finally figures out that this book is too cheap, and there are a few reasons for this. Obviously it’s a blue chip key by anybody’s standards. It’s also extremely difficult in grade, with only 7 copies grading CGC 9.2 or better (compare that with ASM #1, which has 25 copies in the same range). Furthermore, with Disney acquiring the movie rights to the franchise from Fox, we could finally see the long awaited Marvel Cinematic Universe tie in. When that inevitably gets announced, the sky is the limit, and you will want to be on the ride. As always in these situations, buy the highest grade you can afford to see the highest returns, but try to at least get into a 2.0/2.5 to see a solid return on your investment.

On another note, a trend I do not see continuing is the stratospheric rise that Amazing Fantasy #15 has been on. While it has been amazing to watch, with prices doubling in two years in many cases, I do believe it is in a bit of a bubble. Much of this frenzy was kicked off by a few record shattering auction results, not a foundational shift in supply or demand. After those initial auctions it spiraled out of control into people paying out seemingly crazy amounts of money for fear of the book rising to a price they would never be able to afford. Fear of missing out can be a powerful motivator, and I think that played at least some part in these recent price increases. While the bubble may not burst and cause prices to fall back to pre-2017 levels, I do believe that the growth of this book will slow tremendously in 2018. To that end, if you are holding onto an AF #15 and are unsure of what to do, it might not be a bad time to either sell it or trade it into another high dollar key or keys. I simply cannot see another time in the near future when an AF #15 will have as much buying power as it does now.

Overall I think the market is quite healthy. We bought and sold tons of books throughout the year, and I don’t see any signs of it slowing down. I hope everyone had a great 2017, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of you in 2018 as well. We will be attending 11 trade shows this year, so make sure to stop by and say hello if we’re in your town. As always, you can find our full trade show schedule on our website (www.reececomics.com). Feel free to contact Greg, myself, or Austin with any and all of your collecting needs, and have a great 2018!

Greg Reece:

Hello Everyone,

2017 has come and gone and as we gear up for the 2018 season, it’s time to reflect on the past year. Despite many reports you will read to the contrary, we noticed a resurgence in the run collector, a very positive sign for the hobby. We saw this at shows but particularly noticed on line sales increasing in this area. Many of our customers expressed frustration at wanting an Avengers #12 for example, but they only wanted a VG copy. Those are readily available at shows but if you live hours away from a major trade show you are generally limited to on line venues. All of that said, we also saw tremendous growth in high end/key certified material. CGC continues to be the market leader in this area but it was interesting to note the Beckett purchase of CBCS. On a micro level, I think this is good for CBCS in that they have struggled at times implementing processes. But it’s even better news on a macro level as it shows that a very large company believes in the certification process for the long term.

As we enter our 10th year (my 23rd overall in the comic business), Reece’s Rare Comics is experiencing rapid growth. To that end, by the time you are reading this we will have rolled out reececomics.com version 3.0. This will include a vastly improved, much more user friendly consignment option. We will also have blogs, video from our time on the circuit, and much more.

Disney’s acquisition of Fox was a potentially landscape changing event. I’m sure many of my fellow Overstreet advisors will comment as well but needless to say if you haven’t locked up a Fantastic Four #1 or X-Men #1 my advice would be to do it sooner rather than later. I would also be buying Fantastic Four #4,#5, #48 and many others in the Fantastic Four universe along wth X-Men #12, #14, etc. It really is only a matter of time until these movies are done right and I can envision a multi year film run for both of these franchises. Aside from X-Men #1 and Fantastic Four #1, other top picks for 2018 include: Amazing Spider-Man #1. I’ve been beating the drum on this book for a couple of years and it started breaking out in the 2nd half of 2017. It has plenty of room to run as Amazing Fantasy #15 sails out of sight (although I expect a correction on this book I don’t think it’ll be more than 15% or so. It won’t crash and burn but the price increases are unsustainable). Tales Of Suspense #39 (especially 7.0+ copies) as it’s still an early Marvel key, is not especially easy to find in grade, and is still relatively affordable.

Lastly I’d note something I mentioned 5-6 years ago. The market is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Back then I noted you could purchase books with outstanding eye appeal for the same cost as a dull, mis-wrapped copy. Those days are no more. There are 20-25% premiums regularly paid for great looking, bright, well centered copies as it relates to their pedestrian, poor page quality, mis-wrapped brethren. Since this is now a reality and not just speculation, I’d expect the gap to widen. So all of that said, when buying investment grade books, I believe it will pay off in the long term to be extra picky about the copies you purchase.

As always, thanks for all of your business over the years. I love what I do and who I do it with.