After dominating the fractional space and headlines for much of the summer, comic books have sauntered quietly through the fall, ruffling few leaves and delivering little in the way of price movement. The June heyday feels like a distant memory.
Sometimes, though, all it takes is one grail in beautiful condition to shift the tide. As it happens, ComicConnect is offering just such a grail at their auction closing next week.
For just the third time since 1939, the copy of Superman #1 at ComicConnect will change owners. The first time? Off the newsstand in 1939. The second time? Bought by the current owner in 1979; he assured the seller that this would be a long term part of his collection rather than a quick flip. Promise kept, as the third change in ownership will come forty two years later when this book closes at auction next Thursday night.
The consignor literally met his wife at a Metropolis Collectibles booth at NYC ComicCon, so one might say his choice of arena for the sale is the least he could do! In case the story wasn’t fun enough already, his Mrs, an avid comic book collector herself, was not aware that he owned the Superman #1 until just months ago. Surprise! So…we might have a few extra bucks to spend in a few weeks. Like a few million extra.
The book, which remained raw until recently, was graded a 7.0 by CGC. That makes it the second highest graded Superman #1 in existence, sharing that distinction with one other book, and trailing two that share an 8.0 grade. The total Universal population is just 70, putting this copy in rare air. In fact, the high sale for a Superman #1 copy is for a lower graded 5.5, which sold for $507,500 back in 2017, which underscores how rarely high graded copies come up for sale.
Contrast that with what was previously the recordholder for the most expensive book ever sold, Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman. That book, in 8.5 condition, was also sold by ComicConnect in April of this year for $3.25mm. While the total Universal population is lower at just 43, there are two 9.0s, two 8.5s, an 8.0 and a 7.5. Six books above a 7.0, in comparison to just two for Superman #1.
At the time of writing, the Superman #1 at ComicConnect sits at a bid of $1,775,000 with over a week to go. With a 15% buyer’s premium, that would be a sale price in excess of $2 million already. Is the $3.6 million record set by Amazing Fantasy #15 at Heritage in September under threat? It may be a long shot, but with 18 bids thus far, prospective buyers are queueing up.
That will not be the only nine figure sale at this auction. Also on offer is a CGC 3.0 graded Action Comics #1. One stop shopping for those seeking Superman’s first appearance and his first standalone book. At the moment, bidding sits at $1.1mm, or over $1.265mm with buyer’s premium. It was only three years ago that a 5.0 couldn’t break $1mm, selling for $815k at ComicConnect in 2018. Now, a 3.0 has broken into the nine figure realm with ease, illustrating the trajectory of the market for the most significant grails in the space. With a week still left before close, this 3.0 sale will have been bested previously only by three 8.5 sales and two 9.0 sales.
Alas, while those two gems are likely beyond the reach of any fractional platform at the moment, there are a number of sales that fractional investors should track in this auction, including some stinging reminders of the comic book buyout frenzy of the summer.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (CGC 9.8)
Fractional investors bid adieu to this book not once, but twice, accepting buyout offers for the 9.8 graded books on both Rally and Otis. The Rally copy fetched a mere $92k back in early June, an offer which 86%(!) of shareholders happily accepted. Just a month and a half later, Otis shareholders accepted a $180,000 offer with 89% approval, doubling up the previous month’s buyout in short order. Alas, with bidding here already at $176k (clearing $200k with BP), it will serve as yet another reminder of money left on the table.
Amazing Fantasy #15 (CGC 7.0)
Rally shareholders kicked off the comic book buyout frenzy when they agreed to sell a CGC 8.0 copy of Spider-Man’s first appearance for $230k. The 7.0 at ComicConnect currently has a high bid of $150,000, or $172.5k with buyer’s premium. It won’t come as a massive surprise should the 7.0 surpass the 8.0’s buyout level.
X-Men #1 (CGC 9.0)
Another issue that fractional shareholders have parted with twice – a 9.4 on Rally was sold for $303k in June, while a 9.4 on Otis was sold just weeks later for $225k. The Rally sale was by one of the narrowest margins we’ve seen, garnering just 53% approval, while the Otis decision was nearly unanimous at 92%. Bidding on the lower graded 9.0 currently sits at $145k, or $167k with BP. There’s still some ground to cover, but the likelihood is the result will not offer much consolation for the sale decisions.
Incredible Hulk #1 (CGC 8.0)
This was one of the bigger head-scratching decisions made by shareholders, as a $111k offer was accepted at a time when the most recent sale– also at ComicConnect – was for $150k. Freaking ouch. That being said, the current bid here is $85k and there is no buyer’s premium at play with this lot. There may not be as much to feel bad about here, and it seems likely that the result will be below those June highs. Still, expect the bidding to heat up, as a 7.0 copy sold for $84k two weeks ago.
X-Men #94 (CGC 9.8)
Okay, enough salt in the wounds. Let’s move on to those issues still available fractionally, starting with X-Men #94. The book was launched on Rally back in August at a $65k valuation and has since risen to $68k. The CGC census shows a total of 35 books graded a 9.8, and recent sales are limited, so the result here bears watching. The bidding currently stands just under $49k.
The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (CGC 7.0)
Rally’s book is graded a 6.5 and currently has a $52k value, having gained 54% in its September trading window. Following that large gain, fractional investors should turn their attention to this sale of a 7.0. It currently sits at $29k, and even with significant activity into close, the result may raise concerns around the 6.5 valuation. 7.0 graded copies are in the top 10% of the population, while 6.5s are just in the top 14%.
Giant Size X-Men #1 (CGC 9.8)
Investors on both Otis and Rally should be closely watching this result. The copy on Otis dropped back in April of 2020 at a valuation of $12,500. Since, it’s up nearly 300% to $47,500. Rally’s copy was a more recent fractional debutant, launching back in late August at a valuation of $64,000. Back in June, ComicConnect had two sales in the $60k region. More recently, though, sales have been in the high $30 and low $40 thousands. It’s possible this sale could conclude at a similar level, though the current bid is just above $16k.
Bonus Fractional Wish List
Also selling at this event is a 1988 WristMac. What's a WristMac? A WristMac is a watch created by Seiko and Ex Machina that could connect with Macintosh computers. While Apple did not play a role in developing the watch, the WristMac still stands as a vestige of the early days of wearable computing technology, which is all the more relevant today as true Apple Watches adorn the wrists of millions worldwide. Interestingly, Astronauts aboard the Atlantis Space Shuttle wore and used the WristMac to connect with Macintosh Portable and the Apple Link software aboard the ship, and the device played a role in sending the first e-mail from outside earth in 1991. If those specific WristMacs can't be located, this unopened example may be an interesting addition to the Apple-related memorabilia trove available fractionally. The watch is expected to draw between $25-50k, though bidding is just under $5k at present. If bidding were to stay subdued, the proposition for fractional shareholders may become compelling.
Comics with Catalysts
We wanted to highlight a few more attainable books that might catch eyes given the anticipated return of certain villains in the upcoming Spiderman: No Way Home release. Below are the first appearances of Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, and Sandman, all at lower grades or qualified grades that bring them to a more accessible level.
Amazing Spider-Man #14 (CGC 2.5)
Current Bid: $1,001
Amazing Spider-Man #3 (CGC 4.0 Qualified - Pg 12 Missing)
Current Bid: $340
Amazing Spider-Man #4 (CGC 3.0)
Current Bid: $310
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