Last Fall, I started tracking data on Canadian Price Variant comic sales through eBay. The Canadian Price Variant comics price guide is a useful tool but like any price guide, what you see in the guide and what you see in the real world are often quite different. When we think about something like the Overstreet Price Guide, the most long-standing comics price guide on the market, very few people, for example, are willing to pay full guide price when buying a comic in the real-world. It’s no different in any collectibles industry – as a child, I remember buying the Beckett price guides to evaluate the “value” of my huge sports card collection. Two years ago, I wound up recycling 90% of that same collection, which as a child, would have been unfathomable to me.
So while the price guide gives a good sense of relative value between comics, I’ve been looking for a better way to value my inventory and set prices which both reflect the current market as well as my own personal valuation of the comics. If you’ve browsed my site, you’ll notice that I will list some comics at full guide price and many others 1-2 grades below guide price. Factors that go into this include my own personal desire to sell the comic and the time/effort required on my part to acquire the comic.
But I digress…you’re here for the market report! Here are a few notes to keep in mind when interpreting the data:
- I generated this data by performing a search of completed sales on eBay using the keyword “Canadian Price Variant”. That means I’m only capturing sales of comics that are clearly labeled as Canadian price variants. The search also only captures sales of comics that were available to Canadian buyers on eBay (with one mega-sale exception that I’ve included and noted in the report below).
- The report reflects the period from December 8, 2019 to March 7, 2020. As I mentioned, this pretty neatly falls into the three months before COVID started seriously affecting the economy. I’m really interested to see how this will compare to data from March to June due to the economic impacts of COVID.
- Where a comic was sold on a Best Offer, I assumed the sale price to be 70% of the list price. This figure was chosen based on my own personal experience with using the Best Offer feature of eBay and it’s roughly midway point between 50% (which I feel is the lowest most people are likely selling at) and full list price. I know I’m probably overvaluing some of the sales but I figure I’m also undervaluing others and hoping it breaks even on the whole.
- All sales figures are reported in Canadian dollars. Conversion of USD sales on eBay.com was done based on the conversion rate on the day the data was pulled (which was done on several different dates throughout the period.
OK, so let’s begin…
|Time Period||Total Sales|
|Entire Period (Dec-Mar)||776|
|Dec 8/19 – Jan 7/20||334|
|Jan 8/20 – Feb 7/20||274|
|Feb 8/20 – Mar 7/20||168|
First off, we can see that there was definitely a drop-off in sales in February. This isn’t totally unexpected given that after the holidays, people are likely cutting back on their discretionary spending. I think most industries expect a slowdown in sales starting mid-January lasting into the spring.
If we look at sales per day, we can definitely see that there is a slight downwards trend from an average of 10 to an average of 5 sales per day over the three-month period. Notice that there were several significant sales days prior to the Christmas holidays and in the 2 weeks after. From roughly January 12th onwards, there was only one significant sales day in the two months after the holidays, confirming that the January-March period is not a great time for sales.
Next, let’s have a look at sales methods on eBay:
|Sales Method||Total Sales||Average Sale Price|
|Buy It Now||204||$ 44.78|
|Buy It Now – Best Offer||183||$ 34.34|
|Buy It Now – Either Method||387||$ 39.84|
There is a nearly perfect 50/50 split between sales by auction and Buy It Now sales. Within the Buy It Now sales, there is a nearly 50/50 split between those selling at full list price and those selling on a best offer. Auctions have a slightly higher average sale price and this is likely due to several huge sales on graded comics. Speaking of graded comics…
|Comic Type||Total # of Sales||Sales via Auction||Sales via BIN||Sales via BIN-Best Offer||Average Sale Price|
As we expect, you can see that graded comics pull a significant premium over ungraded comics. Nearly all the sales of graded comics were CGC-graded (out of 94, there were 2 from CBCS and 1 from PGX). As with regular comics, the grade is everything. Below a grade of 9.2, it’s questionable whether it’s financially viable to have a Canadian price variant comic graded.
There were some pretty impressive sales in the three-month period from December to March. The top 21 highest sales of Canadian price variant comics were all graded through the CGC, with the top 10 sales all over $500 CAD.
|Comic||Issue #||Grade||Sale Price (CAD)|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (with Tattooz||CGC 9.8||$ 6,200.00|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (with Tattooz)||CGC 9.6||$ 2,177.50|
|Amazing Spider-Man||252||CGC 9.8||$ 1,581.20|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (with Tattooz)||CGC 9.2||$ 1,395.64|
|Secret Wars||8||CGC 9.8||$ 1,125.32|
|Detective Comics||576||CGC 9.8||$ 998.30|
|Swamp Thing||37||CGC 9.6||$ 799.99|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (with Tattooz)||CGC 9.2||$ 617.69|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (with Tattooz)||CGC 9.2||$ 590.00|
|Punisher||1||CGC 9.6||$ 549.99|
We can see that Amazing Spider-Man #238 continues to be THE Canadian Price Variant comic to own in high grade. The 9.8 copy sold on eBay.com and wasn’t even accessible to Canadian buyers (the price is a rough estimate based on a conversion of $4650 USD). It is possible it could have sold for more were it available to Canadians.
If we filter out the graded comics, the top 10 sales show a couple of other high performers.
|Comic||Issue||Sale Price (CAD)|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238 (No Tattooz)||$ 310.67|
|Amazing Spider-Man||238||$ 280.00|
|Secret Wars||8||$ 187.50|
|Detective Comics||524||$ 175.00|
We can see that key issues sell for very respectable amounts even without grading. Over 65% of Canadian Price Variant comic sales are above $5 CAD/issue, with the largest number of sales in the $6-$20 range, which is commensurate with typical prices attributed to non-key CPV comics in the CPV price guide.
The most frequently sold Canadian Price Variant comics were reflections of speculation and upcoming film/TV projects. Thor #337 and #338, the first appearance of Beta Ray Bill and Stormbreaker was the frontrunner, due to the rumoured possible appearance of Beta Ray Bill in an upcoming MCU film. New Mutants #1 was also a big seller, again due to the upcoming New Mutants film from Fox along with Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1, due to the upcoming Wandavision TV show.
|Comic||Issue #||Total Number of Sales|
|Vision and the Scarlet Witch||1 (vol 1)||8|
|Shazam! : The New Beginning||1||5|
Taking a look at which series generated the most sales, we see some similar titles and trends though some of the titles which sold well didn’t actually sell well as a series, which points to people accumulating key issues as opposed to run building. A prime example of this is Vision and the Scarlet Witch – although there are 16 issues across two volumes, there was only one issue sold outside of Vol 1 #1, which was the 5th best selling issue in the quarter. Clearly the Wandavision series has people speculating! On the flipside, New Mutants has proven to be a popular series across the board thanks to a large number of keys spread out through the run and a movie coming out soon.
|Series||Total Number of Sales|
|Alpha Flight / Conan / GI Joe / Spectacular Spider-Man / Superman||15|
|Avengers / DC Comics Presents / Fantastic Four||13|
There is so much analysis I could continue to do with the data, but to conclude, I’ll post one other piece of information I dug up during the process. I was interested in determining what the best day of the week to sell comics was, having read on many a site that eBay auctions work best when the end on Sundays. The data certainly supports that, though it’s hard to know if that’s just because the majority of sellers end their auctions on Sundays. Friday through Monday certainly seems to be the optimal time for an eBay auction. That said, there is no pattern to Buy It Now sales.
I hope this article has been enlightening and I look forward to comparing the data to the March-June period, to see what impact the COVID situation has had on comic sales.