“The year-to-date 2022 average CGC sales prices for the top 100 books with a CPV have reflected multipliers of:
CGC 9.8 - 2.4x
CGC 9.6 - 2.0x
CGC 9.4 - 1.6x
CGC 9.2 - 1.2x
More than 8,300 sales recorded by GPAnalysis.com in 2022 were compiled to produce the multipliers above, with more than 290 CPV sales (3.5%).”
GPA records for CPVs have risen significantly since 2002, but the first time at least 100 CPV sales were recorded in a single year was 2017. The current count for 2021 is at 645 CPV sales through mid-October. More than 80% of all 3,662 recorded CGC CPV sales have occurred since January 2019.
The 3,255 CPV sales since January 1, 2019, represent 3.1% of the 103,959 sales for those issues during the same timeframe. In other words, GPAnalysis records 103,959 sales for issues that (also) have a CPV variant known. Within those 103,959 sales since January 1, 2019, 3,255 are for CPVs. Sales for other comic books which do not have a CPV, such as thousands of sales for Amazing Spider-Man #300, were not included in this analysis. Any comic book which has at least one recorded CPV sale at any time since 2002 was isolated for the sales of CPV or non-CPV which occurred in the 2019-2022 timeframe.
Archie Publications is notable for introducing direct editions in 1988, about ten years later than Marvel and D.C. Comics. The CPV percentage of 7.8% reflects a Canadian population which had only recently been given the option to purchase an issue other than a CPV. Removing the Archie Publications from the totals in the chart above would not change the Total CPV % of 3.1%.
While Marvel and D.C. Comics reflect 3.1% CPV and 3.0% CPV, respectively, in GPA recorded sales from 2019 to present, the CGC Census for those issues are 2.7% CPV for Marvel and 2.9% CPV for D.C. Comics. The increased interest in CPVs combined with higher sales prices for CPVs have them being submitted to CGC and entering the market more often than the overall CGC Census percentages in recent years. As the prices have increased for CPVs, the condition which is “worth submitting” to CGC has decreased. For example, a non-CPV which might sell for only $40 in CGC 9.6 would be difficult to produce a profit after CGC grading, while a CPV of the same issue might sell for $80 in CGC 9.6 and warrant submission to CGC.
As a result, the overall 3.1% CPV percentage should be reviewed with respect to the CPV percentage at CGC 9.8 or higher, with a corresponding CPV percentage for CGC 9.6 and CGC 9.4.
The 2019-2022 table above can be compared to the 2019-2021 table below, reflecting an overall decrease in the percentage of CPV sales since the same data was compiled last year. The total number of sales has increased by 48% from 70,178 sales in 2019-2021 to 103,959 sales in 2019-2022.
When it comes to the estimated “survival rates” for CPVs in high grade, more than 25,000 Marvel and more than 7,500 D.C. sales show a CGC 9.8 CPV rate of 2.1% and 2.0%, respectively. As the example above described, it is possible that lower grades are not profitable enough to be submitted to CGC as often when it is a non-CPV issue, and the percentage of CPVs for CGC 9.6 and CGC 9.4 would increase (due to fewer non-CPVs). The data reflects 3.1% CGC 9.6 and 3.4% CGC 9.4 percentages for CPVs from Marvel and 2.8% CGC 9.6 and 3.8% CGC 9.4 percentages for D.C. Comics.
Alternatively, it is possible that all grades CGC 9.4 and above, are worth submitting to CGC as CPV or non-CPV for a particular issue, and it is the actual survival of high grades which causes these differences. For example, if it is more likely that a CGC 9.8 would be a direct edition due to the protection provided by many direct edition collectors, then the CPV CGC 9.8 percentage would be lower, not because fewer CPVs exist, but because fewer CGC 9.8s exist. The overall 3.0%-3.1% CPV percentages for Marvel and D.C. Comics could be the overall survival rate for CPVs, while the 2.0%-2.1% CPV percentages for CGC 9.8 could reflect the difficulty in obtaining the CGC 9.8 grade specifically. While one-out-of-thirty-two copies CGC graded might actually be a CPV, only one-out-of-fifty CGC 9.8s might be a CPV, due to differences in storage conditions for comics purchased in the 1980s for more than three decades.
Conclusions which are drawn based upon the GPA sales data are not necessarily correct, since many factors influence the decision to submit a comic book to CGC, or to sell the CGC graded comic in a venue that reports to GPAnalysis. Conditions of comic books may be due to handling by the original vendor, the original collector, or any number of people since that time. Conditions are sometimes due to poor production methods, even when the vendor and collectors did all they could to preserve the comic afterwards.
It is known that comic books which are handled carefully by the vendor and protected very well by the collector will have higher condition grades than comics which are not as carefully handled or as well protected. Direct editions were sold in comic book specialty stores, which were frequented by more “serious” collectors and provided the option for bag and board protection at the time of purchase. Newsstand issues (both U.S. and Canadian Price Variant) were sold more often at non-comic stores such as grocery stores, convenience stations, or magazine and newspaper stands. The handling by the original vendor was generally more damaging to comic books, and the buyer was rarely offered a bag and board for the comic’s protection at the time of the purchase for newsstand issues.
To evaluate whether the higher CPV percentages are due to high grade survival rates or due prices which are unprofitable for CGC submission, individual issues should be evaluated by the same methods as the publishers. Again, the conclusions may be incorrect, but the data reflects thousands of CGC graded comic book sales from many different sellers, which is usually thousands more data points than any collector has for their own CPV experiences.
Because the non-CPV prices for CGC 9.8 averaged $776, it is unlikely that non-CPV copies of this issue were held back from CGC submissions due to low value. Instead, it is more likely that CGC 9.8 is simply a more difficult grade to obtain for CPVs than non-CPVs, probably due to different (average) handling and storage conditions between direct editions and CPVs from 1984 to present. The top 5 most-often sold issues with CPV editions are profiled in the table above.
Of the top 5 books profiled, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 (1984), Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (1984), and Web of Spider-Man #1 (1985) reflect 1.0%, 1.4%, and 1.1% CPV sales, respectively. These numbers are very similar to each other after hundreds of sales during 2022. The other two books, Amazing Spider-Man #252 (1984) and Thor #337 (1983) are more commonly sold as CPV at 3.1% and 6.0%, respectively.
Direct editions which sold out quickly in comic shops could be obtained as newsstand editions after the direct edition supply was exhausted. Comic shop retailers may have also purchased quantities of newsstand editions to replenish their inventory for issues which had sold out too quickly. Many of these immediately popular issues purchased at newsstands were included (and protected) more often in long-term collections of primarily direct edition buyers as a result of increased initial demand for the issue. In the United States, newsstand editions are more commonly found for immediately popular issues such as ASM #252 and Thor #337. In Canada, these immediately popular editions at newsstands were also priced differently, increasing the percentage of CPV editions which survived relative to other CPV issues such as Secret Wars #1, Secret Wars #8, and Web of Spider-Man #1, from the top 5 profiled.
Secret Wars #8 drops from 1.0% CPV overall to 0.3% CPV in CGC 9.8 with 306 sales in 2022. Secret Wars #1 drops from 1.4% CPV overall to 1.0% CPV in CGC 9.8 after 210 sales in 2022. Web of Spider-Man #1 shows only a small increase in CGC 9.8 CPV at 1.7% compared to 1.1% CPV overall in 2022. There is less financial incentive to submit Web of Spider-Man #1 to CGC in a direct edition, even if CGC 9.8 is obtained, compared to recorded CPV sales averages for the same issue. The difference in CPV sales dollars may explain the slight increase in CPV rate for CGC 9.8 for Web of Spider-Man #1.
Contrasting these decreasing CPV CGC 9.8 percentages for Secret Wars #8, Secret Wars #1, and Web of Spider-Man #1 are the CGC 9.8 CPV percentages for immediately popular issues ASM #252 and Thor #337. ASM #252 had 3.1% CPV in 1,144 sales in 2022, but 4.8% of 83 CGC 9.8 sales were CPV. Thor #337 had 6.0% CPV in 672 sales in 2022, but 11.6% of 86 CGC 9.8 sales were CPV. Both issues are worth submitting to CGC in 9.8 grades as direct editions, CPV editions, or U.S. newsstand editions. The increase in CGC 9.8 percentage for CPV is unlikely due to a current financial incentive, and more likely due to the protection of initial supplies of CPV at the time of release nearly forty years ago.
When a comic was immediately popular among direct edition buyers, if the direct editions sold out at comic shops, the newsstand and CPV supply was scooped up by buyers (and retailers) who treated them like direct editions. When a comic had plenty of direct edition supply during the time the newsstands and CPVs were for sale, the newsstand and CPV comics were purchased by newsstand buyers almost exclusively, and unsold copies were returned. For the top 100 comic books with the most CGC recorded sales in 2022 for which there is a CPV edition, 19,718 sales occurred and only 398 were CPV editions (2.0%). Simply removing two immediately popular issues, Amazing Spider-Man #252 and Thor #337, from the top 100 drops the number of recorded CGC sales in 2022 to 17,902 and the CPV percentage for the other 98 books drops to 1.8%.
The most important question about the survival of newsstands and CPVs may actually be, “did direct edition buyers choose to purchase this issue at the time of its release more often than average?” Direct edition buyers, most often by ignoring them, may have been the primary factor in determining the survival rates for newsstands and CPVs.
Note that just one more 2022 sale of a single CPV could double the CPV percentages reported, even in the top 5. For example, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 has 306 sales of CGC 9.8 recorded in 2022, with 0.3% as CPV. That’s one CPV 9.8 sale. Just one additional CPV 9.8 sale in 2022 would increase the 0.3% CPV percentage to 0.6%. These percentages are not an unchanging statistic for all the existing copies worldwide, but they are a sample of recorded sales in a particular period of time. Continually seeing the same percentages year after year would make a much stronger case that the percentages are representative of more than just a small sample.
Continuing the analysis of CPV editions in CGC grades below 9.8, the top 5 books previously reported have these details for 2022 sales recorded by GPAnalysis.
In cases where there are 2022 sales for both a CPV and direct edition of the same comic book in the same grade, the prices can be compared to determine whether CPV books carry a premium value (above the direct edition), and if so, how much of a premium?
For the top 100 most often sold CGC graded books with a CPV possible, there are 38 books with 2022 sales in both CGC 9.8 direct edition and CGC 9.8 CPV. The average sale price for CGC 9.8 CPV is 2.2 times the CGC 9.8 direct edition sale price. A weighted average using the number of sales results in a CPV average which is 2.4 times the CGC 9.8 direct edition average sale price.
For the top 100 most often sold CGC graded books with a CPV possible, there are 48 books with 2022 sales in both CGC 9.6 direct edition and CGC 9.6 CPV. The average sale price for CGC 9.6 CPV is 1.9 times the CGC 9.6 direct edition sale price. A weighted average using the number of sales results in a CPV average which is 2.0 times the CGC 9.6 direct edition average sale price.
For the top 100 most often sold CGC graded books with a CPV possible, there are 39 books with 2022 sales in both CGC 9.4 direct edition and CGC 9.4 CPV. The average sale price for CGC 9.4 CPV is 1.7 times the CGC 9.4 direct edition sale price. A weighted average using the number of sales results in a CPV average which is 1.5 times the CGC 9.4 direct edition average sale price.
For the top 100 most often sold CGC graded books with a CPV possible, there are 32 books with 2022 sales in both CGC 9.2 direct edition and CGC 9.2 CPV. The average sale price for CGC 9.2 CPV is 1.3 times the CGC 9.2 direct edition sale price. A weighted average using the number of sales results in a CPV average which is 1.2 times the CGC 9.2 direct edition average sale price.
In summary, 2022 average CGC sales prices for the top 100 books with CPV have reflected multipliers of:
More than 8,300 sales recorded by GPAnalysis.com in 2022 were compiled to produce the multipliers above, with more than 290 CPV sales (3.5%).
Future analysis will provide additional information regarding these multipliers, whether they are stable or fluctuating, whether CPV percentages increase or decrease, and the recent announcement of newsstand identification by CGC will allow for comparison of CPV to direct edition to U.S. newsstand editions.
— Greg Holland
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About the AuthorGreg Holland has collected comic books for over 30 years and has been the administrator of the CGC Census Analysis website CGCdata.com since 2003. Dr. Holland holds a Ph.D. in information quality from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has held data science positions as research director, analyst, and administrator for government, corporations, and university. He is the 1999 founder of the ValiantComics.com website and the 2004 ValiantFans.com message board. Active on the CGC Forums as ‘valiantman’ since 2002, he is also a 15+ year advisor to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and contributor to later editions of the Standard Catalog of Comic Books. Greg resides in Arkansas, USA, with his wife and their daughter.