Big Things Come in Low Print Runs

Hey, CHU, it’s DrunkWooky. Wondering if the Paper Girls’ one weakness is a butane lighter.  That’s one way to make a #1 heat up.

If you’re a CHU reader, you probably have heard some contributors talk about low print runs. We care because, obviously, if something heats up and has a print run in the low thousands, that can mean huge value increases. Most of the time this is an advanced prediction. Notwithstanding retailer exclusives where tiny print runs are part of the advertised allure of collectability, we usually don’t know actual numbers until after the fact.

Well, hot from Comichron, here are September’s sales totals for all North American comic shops. Because most publishers print close to direct market orders, Diamond’s sales figures act as a good proxy and barometer for print run figures. Let’s see where your recent purchases stack in the scheme of all of last month’s releases.
Last night I went through the this list and here are some thoughts:

# 1 Shattered Empire #1—208,884, #2 Star Wars #9—135,817, #5 Darth Vader #9—100,235, and #11 Lando #4—61,542: Star Wars mania has hit a fever pitch as we start the countdown to the Force Awakens. Shattered Empire #1 takes the win with 208,884; Star Wars #9 is hot on its heels with 135,817; and Vader and Lando pull up the rear at the top of this list. Now, Shattered Empire has a couple that shares a name with Force Awakens’ Black Leader, Poe Dameron:

Is this an important first appearance? Perhaps. But Sergeant Dameron and Lieutenant Bey need to pull of some pretty awesome moments in order for Poe’s alleged parents to stick as relevant first appearances in their own right. They’re also up against a print run scraping close to a quarter million. Lots going against this first appearance. Great book, though.

Meanwhile, over in Star Wars, #9 has a first appearance of one of the more formidable Hutts we’ve ever met—one sporting a lightsaber necklace. Grakkus the Hutt has a fairly impressive first appearance here, standing leaps and bounds above the supposed criminal warlord, Jabba, and possessing what appear to be defined pectoral muscles and abs. Quite the specimen of Hutt beauty:

Again, we’re up against big print numbers here, but Star Wars is on the National Weather Service’s list of forces of nature. This series has been fertile ground for first appearances (Sana Solo), if you’re not paying attention, it’s time to perk up a bit.

#17 Harley Quinn Road Trip Special—51,135: Harley Quinn sells, as Deadpool sells, as Wolverine sells….and on and on. Specifically, Harley Quinn Road Trip Specials sell 51,135 But does it RE-sell? This is the trick.

It’s hard to say something new and groundbreaking over the course of a one-shot even if it is 48 pages. As we all know, content is what makes a book a true collector’s item, and with established characters, you really have to push the continuity envelope to make an issue stick. Unless you have a 1:25 Blevins cover or an NYCC Variant cover, you’re up against a big print run and not a ton of substance. This isn’t the Harley Spec book you’re looking for this month and maybe the other book mentioned in this article isn’t either (see below).

#33 Tokyo Ghost #1—39,682: Here we go! We’ve got a quality writer, Remender, and an awesome concept. This book sold out in many places but can still be found through major online retailers for cover. There was also a NYCC Variant for this one. In addition, even with Image’s overprinting policy in place, we’re sitting down at the magic Saga #1 print numbers here. In the back of issue #1, Remender promises to keep twists and turns coming with Tokyo Ghost. If that’s true, we might have a good recipe for characters worth following. Consider yourselves on notice for Tokyo Ghost.

#119 S.H.I.E.L.D. #10—18,693: Ok, first of all, this particular issue is amazing and should be picked up based on its sheer entertainment value alone. It’s basically a duck-based spoof on the Spider-Verse storyline with a version of Galactus called “The Liverer”, who is always hungering for……yep, you guessed it: Foie gras made from the many livers of all the multiversal versions of Howard the Duck. You didn’t guess that!? Anyway, this is an awesome appearance of a alternate Galactus for diehard Silver Surfer fans. Galactus has been a bit out of the forefront recently, but he is menacing the front covers of at least the first two Ultimates covers coming out later this year.

This one’s a toss up. Like I’ve said, alternate characters are in major vogue right now. Galactus doesn’t have the type of collector base as some characters, though. Yet this is a great overlooked and under-printed issue. Buy it, read it, and if the price ever skyrockets sell the Liverer to a good home!

#136 Scooby Doo Team Up #12—15,436: These flipped on Ebay the day of release for 3-4 times cover. Is there more room in that bucket? Maybe. Harley completists will want it. Kids will destroy it. I would sell immediately for 3-4 times cover if you can. Those who dare keep it for longer may see big gains, but I don’t see major character moments coming from a kids book so far away on the fringe from the main Harley book. Remember, the contents create the true collectability.

#138 Dying and the Dead #3—15,365: In the back of this issue, Hickman explains the massive delays and states that the series is being cancelled and completely resolicited to correct for that. Hickman plays the long game, so big things in later issues could be hidden throughout issues 1, 2, and 3. With #3’s numbers this low, if anything important later on happened in issue #3 once the public conscience remembers this series after resolicitation, we might have a Nonplayer situation on our hands (issue #2 of Nonplayer came out years after #1 came out and was near impossible to find in first print for a decent price.) If you missed Dying and the Dead, pick up this short run during the lull.

#196 Ninjak #7—9,830: The Shadow Wars is pretty much just a giant villains’ first appearance-fest over at Valiant. In #7, this continues as Ninjak faces off with Sanguine—a demented sort of contortionist vampire. With numbers this low and the bold moves Valiant seems to be making with its shared universe, you’d be silly not to be picking up these Ninjak run-ins.
Many more great books towards the bottom of this list, like Wolf, but I’ve gone on about those in past editions of Big Things Come in Low Print Runs.

Let me know what books seem to be selling low for their potential after market growth in the comments.
As always, thanks CHU!

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