What are Canadian Price Variants?

Canadian Price Variants are comics that were published in the 1980’s for the Canadian newsstand market. Because of differences between the Canadian and American dollar at the time, Marvel and DC charged a higher price to Canadians to compensate. In the early-to-mid 80’s, 60-cent comics were priced at 75 cents in Canada and later on, 75-cent comics were priced at 95 cents or one dollar. Some annual or larger issues also have variances. For example, the images below show the first Canadian Price Variant comic I ever sold and its American equivalents (newsstand and direct sales editions). Notice the difference in the upper right-hand corner. The Canadian Price Variant shows 95 cents, the US Newsstand Edition shows 75 cents and the Direct Sales Edition shows both prices.

If there are three editions, why then is the Canadian Price Variant worth more than the other two?

It’s a question of numbers. The majority of comics published were of the Direct Sales Edition variety – those are the ones that were sold on subscriptions or in comic book stores. They do not have a barcode. According to Rare Comics, it’s estimated that about 80% of surviving copies from the 1980’s are Direct Sales Editions. The other 20% of issues printed were printed for casual readers buying their comics off newsstands. These have a barcode. That said, the population difference between Canada and the United States is enormous. The state of California alone has a higher population than the entire country of Canada. So naturally, the proportion of newsstand issues that have a US price would have been significantly higher than issues with a Canadian price.

The Rare Comics blog estimates than only 2% of surviving issues printed during this period are Canadian Price Variants, sometimes known as Type 1A variants. That is, for every 100 issues of a comic printed, only 2 have the Canadian price.

Source: Rare Comics Blog, https://rarecomics.wordpress.com/

Anyone who’s taken high school economics understands that supply and demand are inversely related. If you are purchasing a comic for your collection or as an investment, which would you rather have? The one that 98 other people have or the one that 2 other people have? To me, the answer is simple!

OK…so how much more are Canadian Price Variant comics worth?

That’s a tough question to answer! Any comic is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. And that ultimately comes down to a variety of factors including the comic’s grade, whether or not its a key issue, how lately that character has been in a movie or TV show, etc.

The Rare Comics blog offers an annual price guide for Canadian Price Variant comics which I often use as a basis for pricing on this site (but because we charge in Canadian Dollars, we are almost always cheaper than the price guide!). But I also look at my own past sales and historical eBay sales to get a sense of worth. After I sell comics, I calculate what I call the “CPV Factor” – basically, a comparison of the average sale price for the non-variant issue to the sale price of the Canadian Price Variant. In my personal experience, the CPV Factor tends be around 2-3 for most comics. That is, Canadian Price Variants are worth 2-3 times more than non-price variants of the same issue. For some key issues of major characters, this CPV Factor can be significantly higher.

Let’s look again at the example above of Green Lantern 201:

A scan of sale prices on eBay over a three month period shows that the Direct Sales Edition sells for an average price of $17 CDN. I sold the Canadian Price Variant of this comic for $40 on eBay to a very happy buyer, resulting in a CPV Factor of 2.23.

And so, I hope I can help you make a wise investment for your collection or hobby. I live in Toronto, which is the largest, most populous, city in Canada – as a result, I have access to what may be the best place to find Canadian Price Variant comics in the world. Have a look at the shop to see what’s available today! If I don’t have a CPV on my site, let me know what you’re looking for and I’ll do my best to find it for you!