Amazing Spider-Man #299 Newsstand 9.8 Variants
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- 2nd cameo appearance of Venom
- Despite massive print runs, anything prior to the birth of the Marvel Universe (1960s) is generally pretty scarce. Preservation and collecting had not yet entered the hobby. The organized comic book burnings that went on during the Seduction of the Innocent days decimated the supply of the most popular titles and the sheer amount of time that has passed withered away everything else. Generally, the further back you go, the less copies exist. Even some of the most sought after and therefore searched out comics of all time only count a handful of known copies
- The CGC census reports just 41 copies of Action Comics #1, 32 of Detective Comics #27 and 30 of Marvel Comics #1.
- Many books from the 60's and 70's are valuable and some can reach the dizzying heights of the prior era if they are in the right grades but generally they aren't rare. For comparison, here are CGC census numbers for 3 major keys from this era. Amazing Fantasy #15 reports 2,130 copies, X-Men #1 3,552 copies and Incredible Hulk #181 10,695 copies. A major difference in this era that has helped supply, beyond the shorter amount of time in which copies may have become lost or destroyed, was the birth of collecting as we know it today.
- As the 80's arrived, collecting became a national pastime and the birth of the direct market comic book specialty store helped drive readership and therefore print runs up.
- The 90's took collecting into overdrive expanding into territory we today call speculation. The Death of Superman created a generation of readers who watched comics become cultural touchstones, sell out immediately and then rapidly appreciate in "value". Many fans reacted by buying multiple copies. Behold comic book FOMO in its infancy. Publishers were all too happy to feed this desire and reacted by churning out FOMO inducing gimmicks and popularized the variant cover. Print runs skyrocketed.
- Major books from this period are recognizable and sought after by a huge group as awareness was higher here than arguably any other period in comics.
- Moreover, today's collectors are the perfect age to be at the peak of their nostalgia for this era.
- Let's round out this tangent with the current era which has seen print runs fall to their smallest numbers ever and seen variants become ubiquitous.
- Books like Amazing Spider-Man #300, 361 & 365, Incredible Hulk #340, New Mutants #98, Uncanny X-Men #221 & 266, Batman Beyond #1, Batman Adventures #12, even Darkhawk #1 are much beloved by collectors but the large print runs and care with which they were treated from release has meant they are not uncommon in high grades.
- Even a book like ASM #300 which has one of the best covers in history, is the creative high-water mark for an artistic giant of comics, features a massive first appearance and is arguably the seminal book of the era has still historically underperformed compared to the seminal books of other eras at this point in their timeline.
- Recently though, collectors began to look at the rarity of these same books at the 9.8 grade with a Newsstand UPC. While Newsstand UPCs are not uncommon in this era in other grades at the 9.8 grade they are incredibly rare and in some cases, virtually ghosts.
- Newsstand copies in this era were not ordered at the same levels as direct market (comic shop) copies
- The print run for Amazing Spider-Man #365 was approx. 900,000 copies and the Newsstand percentage during that period was approx. 25%.
- Newsstand experts put the figure in the same ballpark between 20% and 30% during this period.
- However, Newsstand orders are different than direct orders. Direct copies are ordered by stores based on confirmed sales and customer interest. These copies are not returnable meaning the stores are stuck with them. Any unsold copies go into back issue bins. This is why comic stores today tend to order fewer copies than they actually think they can sell.
- Newsstand copies are ordered by the publisher. They chose how many copies to send the newsstands. Those copies are fully returnable. Meaning newsstands are only obligated to put them on their racks for the month of sale and then can rip off the covers and send just those back to avoid being charged for copies not actually sold. This is why so many silver age coverless copies exist. These are remainder copies that had the covers stripped and sent back to avoid being charged for the books but then were sold (at a steep discount) or given away regardless. The percentage of copies remaindered can be anywhere from 50-80%. This give us as little as 45,000 newsstand copies that were sold vs. 675,000 direct market copies. Moreover, distribution, display and browsing practices are very different from direct market systems and most times issues were carelessly handled or read significantly. Ergo the 9.8 copies that exist do so despite the system.
- As another data point, Heritage Auctions shows zero 9.8 Newsstand copies ever being offered for sale despite records that go back to 2007.
- All this is educated guesswork though as CGC does not currently break out Newsstand editions making it difficult to accurately pin down numbers.
- Expect to see 9.8 Newsstands of books from the 80's to the present continue to separate in this way across the board.
- Be warned that for books from the 80s & 90s, the Newsstand premium is limited to just 9.8 graded copies. We're seeing even 9.6 graded copies show no premium.
- However, there is an even more pronounced premium and a premium in all grades for books from the modern era where Newsstand print runs were minuscule as most newsstand vendors were no longer stocking comics or out of business completely.
- Current data places Newsstand print runs at approximately 1-3% of direct market orders for the modern era.