Comic Character Collectibles: December 2017
By J.C. Vaughn
Comic Book Certification Service, LLC (CBCS), the company headed by President and Primary Grader Steve Borock, has been acquired by Beckett Media. Long established in the world of certified sports cards and collecting guides, Beckett moves into comic book certification with the acquisition.
Prior to founding CBCS, Borock had been the original primary grader for industry pioneer CGC. He left that company and then spent five years with Heritage Auctions, where he specialized in comic books and original comic art.
Since the advent of third party, independent certification in the comic book market, both liquidity and prices have been perceived largely as increasing.
“This is an exciting move for CBCS, as well as for comic collectors and dealers,” Borock said. “Beckett’s technology, their time-tested brand, and their goals for us in marketing and global expansion indicate just how much potential they see in our field. It’s going to be an exciting time for collecting comic books!”
Borock, CEO Michael Bornstein, and other key staff members will continue to operate from CBCS’ offices in St. Petersburg, FL.
“We are thrilled to welcome Steve Borock and the CBCS team to the Beckett collectibles family,” said Sandeep Dua, chief executive of Beckett and its portfolio company, Entrust Global Group. “Our global team is fully invested in serving the comics community with the trust, integrity and fairness that Beckett has delivered to collectors for nearly 40 years.”
Beckett Grading Services (BGS) is a leader in sports card grading, and Beckett Authentication Services (BAS) has become a key player in the autograph authentication market just 11 months after its launch in 2016.
“The entire CBCS/Beckett team is committed to growing the hobby, both in North America and internationally,” Jeremy Murray, Beckett’s vice president for grading and authentication, said. “We can’t wait to begin connecting with comics collectors and retailers at shows, conferences and hobby shops world-wide.”
“I’m looking forward to building on the successes we have already enjoyed and to continuing to foster the great relationship we have with our community,” Borock said.
In The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #47, price guide founder, author and publisher Robert M. Overstreet tackled a question that has lurked around the backwaters of industry discussions for several years.
Was there more than one printing of Superman #1?
The verdict, he wrote, was clearly “Yes.” What it means, though, is still up in the air.
First things first. For those new to comics or who haven’t been into the details, Superman #1 is not the first appearance of Superman. The Man of Steel first showed up in Action Comics #1, cover dated June 1938. That rare issue has been the highest priced comic book ever sold publicly several times over, with the current top price ever paid sitting at $3.2 million for a CGC-certified 9.0 copy.
Superman #1, cover dated Summer 1939, re-printed the Superman stories from Action Comics #1-4 with additional pages and an original two-page origin story. While its record prices might not match those of Action Comics #1, it has set its own high benchmarks.
“Any news about those issues is precisely that: news,” Overstreet wrote.
So, it made for compelling reading earlier this year when longtime Overstreet Advisor, comic book historian, and veteran dealer Robert Beerbohm posted a discussion topic on Facebook about the first issue of Superman’s self-titled series.
“Superman #1 (1939) had three distinct print runs of 1) 500,000, 2) 250,000, and 3) 150,000, virtually selling out 900,000 in a bit over a month. The print runs were pretty much right on top of each other,” Beerbohm wrote.
Previously no one had figured out how to distinguish between the printings of these critical key issues, or at the very least no one had communicated such a method to tell them apart to The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.
That changed based on empirical evidence.
Overstreet said that Beerbohm had made a posting online about Golden Age comic book writer Fred Guardineer’s appearance at Wondercon 1999. That in turn led to an exchange which saw Matthew DiMasi post a Superman #1 interior page advertisement for Action Comics #14.
DiMasi posted “… you can tell by this ad if the Superman #1 is a first print or second print. First says ‘On Sale June 2’ and second print says ‘On Sale Now!’”
A distinct attribute that would now clearly set the first and second printings apart! News, indeed.
Comic book scribe, Batman film producer, and historian Michael Uslan posted a very understandable follow-up: “… Incredible sleuthing! Now … is there any slight difference between the second printing and the third printing?”
Overstreet Advisor and longtime dealer Rick Whitelock pointed out that this topic had been discussed previously on the CGC chat boards but had perhaps remained largely unknown since it never got traction beyond that arena.
How will the market react to this news? It may be that some buyers in the short term find that they have overpaid for a second or third printing copy. However, as long as the issue stays as scarce as it is now, it’s hard to believe that demand for them would suffer in any meaningful, long-term fashion.
Some dealers who have sold copies of Superman #1 for high prices might wish the discussion would go away, but others are very intrigued by it.
For the Guide’s part, Overstreet said he’s watching the market as an interested observer, but not taking sides in the matter.
“As it always has, the position of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide remains that the marketplace will ascribe any differences in demand, prices realized or esteem attached to any of the three printings of Superman #1,” Overstreet said. He added that he had openly requested any additional information on these issues from the Overstreet Advisors and any other readers.