I want to believe…in secondary market values on comics from the 1990s.

§ February 3rd, 2014 § Filed under market crash, pal plugging, retailing § 3 Comments


So when Topps Comics released The X-Files #1 in the mid-1990s, about a year or so after the TV show’s debut, the demand for the comic caught us a bit by surprise. We ordered what we thought was a good number, considering the industry was well into its market crash at this point, but this was one of those comics that caught folks by surprise by managing to bring non-comic readers into shops. We sold out in short order, and proceeded to field requests the rest of the week from people looking for copies of that first issue, while thinking the whole time “if only we knew” which you can never really know for certain, really.

The upshot of all this is that X-Files became a “hot” item in a business where “hot” items were a pretty significant factor in almost destroying said business just a year or two earlier. And you can see a good example of just how “hot” it was if you cast your peepers back to the scan above and the price sticker visible therein.

That issue was among the many, many comics that came with this collection, and was one of the books that survived the sorting process as I worked through the boxes, throwing some into the bargain boxes and keeping some aside for potential use in the regular stock, or on the eBay. I haven’t dealt much with the old Topps run of X-Files…people poke through its slot in the back issue boxes once in a while, but it’s not like I’ve had a lot of demand of the series lately, even with a new series being released from IDW. At any rate, I’ve not really thought about the prices on this series in some time, and spotting the #1 in this collection, I pulled it aside thinking it was, if no longer at the $55 price it had been marked, surely it was probably still worth something.

Well, nope, not really.

A quick search of the eBay shows lots of the first three, four or five issues (including the first printing of #1, like the one I have from that collection) usually only sell for about five to ten bucks. The #1 by itself sold for as cheaply as $2, and I found one that sold for nearly eight bucks, which is more the exception than the rule, it seems. (A “slabbed” copy of #1, signed the stars of the TV series, sold for about $400, so I guess there’s that.) There are copies currently listed in the $10 – $15 range, but unless someone’s desperate to get a copy, they’re probably not going anywhere fast.

And I didn’t go back to double-check, because I’ve looked at eBay enough today, but my impression was that there were many attempts to sell the serial-numbered second printings as some kind of special big-deal thing, but no one cares too much about those, either.

The “too long, didn’t read” version: some formerly-hot comics don’t sell for what they used to anymore, which I’m sure comes as a surprise to everyone. And yet, even with this knowledge, I still don’t want to just dump this comic in the bargain bin. The days of getting $55 for this comic are long gone, but I might be able to get $5, maybe, if I’m lucky.

• • •

In other news:

  • The other day, when I mentioned how I thought a new Legion of Super-Heroes series would be best served by making the focus one character, with the rest of the cast as occasional supporting characters? Jer asked which one, and Casey in the comments suggested “Brainiac 5,” which actually was my suggestion, too, when I previously brought up the topic.

    Still think that’s a good idea. The team book version of Legion is not one people seem to want anymore, or at least no one’s hit on a version of the Legion that really does anything for anybody. There’s going to be another Legion book sooner or later, and it can’t hurt to try something different…I mean, what, you might end up with another dead Legion book if the idea doesn’t pan out? Or maybe you might have something that has a little staying power? What’s to lose, really? Other than money, creative efforts, market value of a DC property which has been adversely affected by yet another cancellation, so on?

  • Back to that collection: Wayne asks if we have to inventory all the toys that came with this collection. In this case…no, not really. Our perusal of the toys, an informal inventory, revealed a handful of figures sans accessories that we might be able to sell for a couple of bucks each. Haven’t really made the time or space to price these things up and put ‘em out for sale…they’re low cost, low priority items, which we got essentially for free, and we haven’t really dealt with them yet because there are always other things occupying our time at the shop. The investment in this collection, aside from employee costs in processing and space taken up by storing the boxes, is minimal.

    Having looked more closely at the toys, we’ll probably keep a handful of the usable stuff and dump the rest, either in the trash or in an eBay auction titled “BIG BOX OF CRAP – cheap! L@@K H@T” just to get it all out of my hair. Even the box of little accessories probably isn’t worth the trouble or mess, and may go on the eBay too. Someday. When I have the time.

  • Pal Dave is starting a new feature on his site: “I Had That!” Nostalgia ahoy from one of the best comic/pop culture bloggers out there.

3 Responses to “I want to believe…in secondary market values on comics from the 1990s.”

  • Jer says:

    I wondered if maybe you didn’t mean Brainiac 5 when you were posting – but I thought I might be biased because he’s really the only one I can see supporting a series where he’s the headliner. He’d be the easiest to do too – let him take a time machine and a small group of friends with him as they travel up and down the history of the DCU and across parallel Earths, fighting anomalies when they find them but generally just exploring.

    Yes that would be Brainiac 5 by way of Doctor Who. But it allows you to do the all important crossovers with other titles to build up sales while NOT doing the “Legionnaire is stuck in the 20th/21st century for his/her solo series” yet again.

  • Thanks for the mention, Mike. I thought there might not be much to it, the way it was all dumped together. Just remember: if you ever find a Red Bee action figure, I’m the first guy you call.

    Re: the LSH. Using my writerly skills here, what if your (and Jer’s) idea was presented this way…instead of Superboy/man as the inspiration for the LSH forming, why not play it that the original Brainiac was the inspiration? The one thing piece of info that survives in the 31st Century is that Brainiac saved all shrunken cities.

    The TL, DR is that the LSH has a tie to the current DCU that is completely messed up. They continue to do good things, it is just the inspiration that is wrong. Maybe B5 is even aware of this as he pulls in other Lads and Lasses to help him become famous. No worse an idea than giving Grifter his own book. Wait a minute…Grifter and Deathstroke in the 31st Century!!!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “BIG BOX OF CRAP”

    Oh, I don’t need it then- I’ve already bought that!

    “X-Files”

    I imagine the final seasons of the show didn’t help the comics popularity. Agent DOGBERT- ugh!

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