Monday 24th November 2014,
Comic Booked

Comic Book Price Guides: Which One Do You Use?

Comic Booked Guest Writer 03/07/2011 Reviews 6 Comments

I never understood how one price guide could have one book listed at one price while another guide could have the same book in the same condition at a different price. When I was collecting comic books in my teens Overstreet’s was the guide to use. I was overjoyed when they began to publish a magazine every month.

Wizard Magazine came into the industry like a magazine created by executives who cared nothing about comic books and only wanted a large bottom line. It seems they have succeeded beyond their dreams. Each magazine was filled with news, teasers, ads, interviews, and a price guide. It was so successful that Overstreet’s changed from monthly to quarterly, and now back to their annual book. I collected both religiously. I felt that Overstreet’s had the better price. This was probably because I was young and impressionable and the comic book shop I frequented used it as their bible. Overstreet’s was consistent. Wizard fluctuated greatly. Bottom line was did I want my collection to be worth something, or just pretend it was?
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I know it felt good to have a desired book be worth something. My most desirable key issue was The Incredible Hulk #181, although it wasn’t a high grade, it features the 1st appearance of Wolverine. I always checked this one and one other. I had it graded (a 9.2 White pages) and then regraded with Stan Lee’s signature. It was given a “9.4” Off-White to White pages but how much is it worth? And what guide do I use to find out?

I try to investigate on how much a book is worth before I buy it. I have the Comic Buyer’s Guide that comes out every year. This is update once and I’m wary how reliable it is. I stopped collecting the monthly publication since they put a lot of features I like online instead of in print; they still have the price guide in the back which is a bit more current. I also use Heritage Auctions (HA.com), they seem to have a good data base and I can see what things sold for or what they are selling for. E-bay is another great tool to see how the market fluctuates.

However, the buy it now prices seem to reflect what the seller wants and not what the comic book is worth. There are a lot more places (these are the primary three I use) that help dictate what a book is worth (sells for). Of course it doesn’t matter if a book is marked a couple hundred dollars (or thousands) if a buyer is not willing to buy it. It could be marked too high and sit on the shelf (real or digital) for years.

Last year I received my Amazing Spider-Man #129 signed by Stan Lee. I wanted to know how much it was worth and checked out E-bay to get an idea. I was fortunate because someone else had listed the same exact grade with the same exact page description. Everything was identical, except I liked where their signature was located better than mine. The book was labeled under the “buy it Now” for $2500.00. This is great for insurance documentation but is my book worth this?

How did this…..                                                    Become this????

And then after it sells will these prices guides adjust for this sale. Will CBG make a notation? Will Wizard? Overstreet’s? And if so how will it reflect the market? And why is it worth so much? The grade? The signature? Both? And what happens if these guides get the facts wrong?

I stood at a newsstand rack (and are they even called that anymore) in Center City Philadelphia biding my time until my local comic shop opened at ten. On Rittenhouse Square, the Barnes & Noble was open, warm, and had a coffee shop. As I waited (with coffee in hand) I looked over magazines and comic books. I picked up three; Wizard was one of them. As I made my way through articles, interviews, and ads I reached the price guide. I saw one book at one price and I put the magazine away. It was ludicrous.

The book they mentioned was graded by CGC and part of the Signature Series (although the picture they showed was a universal 9.8). They said it sold for $6,601.00. Currently there are 41 Signature Series in a 9.9 on the census. The thing is with the Signature Series there is no documentation on who signed it, but it would be a safe assumption that at least 25 of these were signed by Rob Liefeld, which Wizard also stated was the signature on this $6,601.00 comic book.

How would you feel if someone told you that you had a comic book worth that much? I know I would be overjoyed if I had a 9.8 New Mutants #98 Signature Series, and if I didn’t I might try to buy one before the market place reflected the guide price. I would probably think I was getting a bargain at $300.00.

Now, how would you feel if I told you Wizard was wrong? It wasn’t a 9.8 Signature Series that sold, it was a 9.9. There are only three of these on the census and only one of those 3 is signed by Rob Liefeld. Of course if this mistake remains uncorrected it could create a desire to own this book in a 9.8 Signature Series and inflate the book greater than it’s worth.

Which one would you chose, I currently have neither….

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I understand a reputable magazine printed the price, but I would figure an editor would tell whoever wrote that a 9.8 Rob Liefeld Signature Series sold for $6,601.00 (I know I mention the price a lot, I still find it astounding) should double check. How do I know about this? The simple reason is I wanted this book. I created a budget which allowed me to bid up to a $1,000. Unfortunately, that was the exact amount of the opening bid.

If the Wizard price guide could make a mistake on this book, how many others do they make errors on? What guide is better? What guide is garbage? Are on-line guides better than paper guides? Is an Annual guide good enough? And then there is the one thing we tend to forget….these are price “guides” not price fact. The bottom line is a book is only worth what you are willing to pay for it.

Soon after I originally wrote this Wizard decided to go to an E-magazine format. It was dismissed as coincidence.

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6 Comments

  1. pete sess 03/07/2011 at 5:19 pm

    What an awesome article! I love how you dissect the collecting side of the industry. That's what it's about, right? I know not everyone is into graded stuff, but the collectible aspect ia always fascinating to explore. Thanks cgc lee!

  2. Skott of Fables 03/07/2011 at 9:02 pm

    It was always my understanding that the prices listed in the guides were an average price. They would have certain stores around the country send in their prices and they would average it out.

    One thing I noticed when I was traveling between Oregon and Michigan a few years ago was how some comics would fetch a nice price in one area but was all but ignored in another. In Portland, for example, Marvel Zombies was a hit, people loved the series. When I came back to Michigan to visit that same year I couldn't find many people who had kind words about it and even fewer who even bought it.

    Popularity and prices of comics are very regional…always interested me.

    Personally, I never really paid much attention to the 'value' of my comics, once in a while I'll look but for the most part they have more personal value than street value.

    But I always like seeing other peoples' opinions on this particular topic. It's never boring the opinions and views people have.

    Another great article!

  3. Jason Edwards 03/08/2011 at 9:44 am

    The shops around here always used Wizard's guide, which sucked because often, I had what Wizard didn't list.

  4. Robb Orr 03/08/2011 at 2:36 pm

    The different books do vary wildly in the price esimates. I try not to pay attention and just collect what I like, but every once in a while I just have to take look. I agree with the "another great article" sentiment expressed earlier. Way to go Mr. Lee.

  5. BC 09/15/2012 at 2:08 pm

    I'm wondering if the author of this article might be able to help me figure out who we're supposed to notify as sellers when we sell a certain book for X value.

    For instance I just sold a Buffy Season 8 Sketch Variant 9.4 CGC for $345.00 on Amazon. The Comic Book Price Guide is showing the identical comic at an average of $80.00. Obviously that is way off the mark considering there are only 26 graded at a 9.4 or higher.

    So who does the average seller inform when they sell a book so that pricing and value can be adequately influenced?

  6. CGC Lee 09/25/2012 at 3:47 am

    Any price guide in print normally has a lag time. Normally most dealers will use an annual guide. This annual guide gets its prices from numerous retailers over the country and are normally for raw books. In my youth I marveled how one retail shop would use one guide to sell their books and another to buy their books. I personally have always loved "Overstreets" but when it comes to CGC graded books I found that GPAnalysis.com is pretty good on reporting what a book has sold for.

    I stated sold for because what a book is worth is only what you're willing to pay for it. GPAnalysis will post CGC graded books that sold on Auction sites, I do not know if they retrieve data for sites such as Amazon. I also do not know the number of the sketch Variant so I couldn't even tell you a price, but I will say the latest copy in a 9.8 only sold for $26 in June of this year.

    Hope this helps

    Thanks for Reading

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