And don’t get me started on that whole “Gold Lantern” nonsense.

§ August 5th, 2020 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So theoretically on sale today at a comic shop near you:

Thor #3 3rd printing, already listed on eBay for anywhere from $8 to $13, though some deals are still to be had

Thor #4 2nd printing, selling for between $10 and $20 on eBay, with a “virgin variant” listed for $50

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #1, also on the eBays for between $10 and $20

I was getting calls for all of these starting, of course, a day or two before release, too late for me to adjust orders for demand. And look, I’ve said it before…it’s not how I collected comics, but if you’re into it for speculation, well, it’s your money, you know? However you want to enjoy the hobby, fine.

But I wonder if this isn’t sabotaging some of these series. Like, if you want to read the new Thor title but came to it late, unless you’re specifically asking the shop to hold those issues for you, you’re not gonna get your mitts on the reprints of whatever you’re missing if you just take your chances wandering into the shop. That’s bad for the store, because if potential readers can’t catch up on a title they’re interested in, they’re not going to continue reading it. And the folks buying those reprints just to flip them online aren’t going to continue buy the series, so it’s not like they’re going to make up for lost readership.

(I know the solution for consumers is to buy digital — fat lot of good that does me — or waiting for the trade, which isn’t as popular a solution for folks wanting to buy the periodicals as you might want, or hope, to think.)

The answer would seem to be “order lots more of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th printings” but that’s a good way to waste money on dead stock if the whims of the marketplace don’t dub said reprint a “collectible.” And honestly, it seems almost random. A look at eBay listings for Star Wars: Darth Vader #2 2nd printing, also out this week, are mostly at cover price or less (though at least one outlier is going for $7).

I mean, I suppose it’s not entirely random…that Bounty Hunters comics has a cool Boba Fett cover, pictured above, and Mandalorians are all the rage right now. And those Thor #4s are being pushed as “1st Black Winter,” so I guess it’s mildly important, or something? But it’s hard to tell what’s going to get pointed at with the magical investment finger, turning something from “should sell okay, for a reprint” to “comic-shaped cloud of dust left on the rack where those comics used to be.”

And yes, I know there are sites and apps that do this sort of thing, which is what’s encouraging this kind of comic shopping. But even if I kept tabs on those, it still wouldn’t help because any increased demand those may inspire doesn’t materialize until, as I noted above, a day or two before the comic is actually due out. It would still be a crapshoot of “should I order more of this? Or more of that?” and hope I pick the right ones.

In conclusion, that sounds like a lot of griping, but mostly I just wanted to describe some of the thoughts I have to have when ordering comics. It’s a lot of juggling of numbers and potential scenarios and basically a lot more effort than a reprint of a two-month-old comic would really warrant, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks, I suppose. And if you’re wondering…yes, I ordered just a few extra of those Thors, as I’d been noticing that demand for them. Now did I get enough to satisfy the investors and have enough left over for the readers? I don’t know…we’ll just have to see.

8 Responses to “And don’t get me started on that whole “Gold Lantern” nonsense.”

  • @misterjayem says:

    “I just wanted to describe some of the thoughts I have to have when ordering comics.”

    I find these peeks behind the curtain fascinating — and terrifying.

    Reminds me A LOT of the life of a farmer, i.e. trying to forecast what to invest in based on projections of a future loosely founded on today. Plus and some wacky unforeseeable variables!

    All the reasons I left the farm for the Big City, btw. (Well, that plus all the hard work. Yuck!)

    Anyhoo… your insights into comics farming are always appreciated.

    — MrJM

  • As someone who has never sold comics but who started reading them from “Hey, Kids! Comics!” spinners and who used to take a bus to Passaic NJ to buy stacks of back issues, I feel your pain.

  • Steven R says:

    So how long does the average “hot” 2 or 3rd printing hold that value? Or I guess I should just ask which later printings have?

  • cainmark says:

    Now I want to see Gold of the Metal Men become a Green Lantern.

  • c says:

    As a Legion fan, I don’t get the excitement over Gold Lantern. Yes, a Lantern in the Legion is cool, but what’s the huge deal? Is there something special GL related I’m missing?

  • Andrew L says:

    Value to me does still seem more random and speculation is still risky (to me). Certain new writers tend to get noticed nowadays. You start buying and reading the new Cates run of Venom, not finding Knull that interesting in the long run, and all of a sudden his first appearance is going for a decent amount of money. Buy/read what you like is still true, because you never know

  • Robcat says:

    As a longtime Legion fan (think Grell and Jim Shooter) I like the ties to current DC continuity. Now mind you, I did think it ridiculous whenever Batman (or whoever) would team up with the Legion, cuz 1,000 years kinda gets in the way, but I did like Mon-El, Thunder (with those Shazam ties) and Gold Lantern… I dunno. That just works for me,

    On another note, when ordering stuff like that, do you use a Dart Board or a Ouija Board? And how many sides on the die helps when ordering? Is 6 enough?

  • THIS crap is why I stopped collecting individual comics. I was working in a store in the early 1990s and there were variant covers, #0s and the like. Bleech.

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