Let’s tackle a couple more of your questions, shall we?
BRR chills me with
“I’ve seen some recent distinctions between newsstand and direct market editions of some back issues in a couple online marketplaces. Do you have back issue customers seeking one or the other?”
By and large, no, not really, unless there’s something else different about the comic beyond whether it has a UPC code instead of Spider-Man’s head in the little box on the cover there. Like, for example, that one Amazing Spider-Man annual where Peter and Mary Jane were finally married, for ever and all time, never to be undone. The direct market comic shop edition had Peter ‘n’ MJ in a tux and wedding dress, respectively, whereas the newsstand edition had Peter in the red and blue longjohns. Usually there’s a preference either/or when someone’s looking for that comic. And then there’s the early Image Comics releases, like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s, that had newsstand editions with different cover stock and (in the case of WildC.A.T.s #2) a non-enhanced cover to contrast with the foil-y shiny cover that went to comic book stores. Or there were those covers DC test-marketed to newsstands (on the far right here).
I seem to recall very early on, a few decades back when I was but a young comic shop employee and not the stogie-wielding/martini lunch-having comics retail mogul I am now, that there would be some resistance from certain back issue customers against buying one version of the cover or the other, when the only difference was whether or not it had a UPC code. I tried to reassure some folks, when they questioned the difference, that there really wasn’t any, but some people just preferred one over the other for aesthetic reasons.
Now I just did a quick eBay search on the word “newsstand” in the comics section, and I see a lot of entries where people are emphasizing “NEWSSTAND VARIANT” or words to that effect on items where it probably doesn’t make any real difference (like an issue of Harley Quinn, where the only change is that the one that went to comic book stores had “DIRECT EDITION” with the UPC code on the cover). And I see one of those aforementioned Spawns that went to newsstands with an adventurous $50 price tag. But for the most part it looks like “newsstand” is being thrown around as yet another descriptor to make one’s listing stand out.
I mean, yes, for the sake of informing the customer, letting them know this was the version of the comic distributed on newsstands versus comic shops is yet another detail to more finely describe the item for sale, but I haven’t looked into it enough to know if “newsstand variant” (in which the only difference is UPC code vs. Direct Market UPC code vs. picture of Spider-Man’s head) is enough to create a significant jump in demand/pricing. Online sales, particularly eBay sales, can be a whole different animal than in-store sales, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some subset of collectors are seeking out newsstand editions only. I’ll have to look into it a little more.
The Mutt mixes up a couple of breeds with
“The Fat Fury v Swamp Thing. Who wins?”
Well, I love ’em both, as some of you readers out there already know. The personal bias is for Swamp Thing, of course, but realistically Swamp Thing would likely find himself outmaneuvered and stymied at every turn by Herbie “The Fat Fury” Popnecker’s nigh-magical influence over man, nature, basically all of creation itself.
Now, Herbie versus Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil…that’s a fight!