Saturday, August 2, 2014

Market Spotlight:  Pedigree & Prototypes

David Lyon posted this on the wall, and he makes some important, salient points about my last Market Report on Big Hero 6 strategy, so I thought I'd share it here and respond:

"I agree for the most part on Big Hero Six (sell soon, etc etc). However, I AM a bit cautious about saying that the early issues won't raise in value because of lack of ties and emotional connection to the film. Why? Because the precedent has been set with the GotG movie. Marvel Super Heroes 18 abso-freaking-lutely SKYROCKETED in value, even though Yondu was the only movie attachment to the original team, and that status was pretty well known for a while. Case in point, about 5-6 months ago, I sold a NM unslabbed copy for $550(!!). Probably would've gotten more if I graded it."

This is good to talk about, because David is 100% correct about the Guardians situation:

1) Marvel Superheroes # 18 has seen significant increases since the movie announcement
2) Those characters have almost nothing at all to do with the movie itself

Yondu is in there, sure, but other than the blue skin bears almost zero resemblance to the source.  The mohawk is all wrong, and the attitude is completely backwards.  I won't ruin too much for you, but they got Michael Rooker to play Yondu, and he approached the character as a Space Hick.  The comic book Yondu is kind of a quiet, dour, altogether too serious dude.  Movie Yondu is searching the galaxy for Ned Beatty so he can plunder his ample backside again.  

So...if the Guardians have shown us that a movie can spur value increases even if the movie attached is similar in name only, why am I worried about connections with Big Hero 6?

The answer is pedigree, and the prototype phenomenon.  The Guardians of the Galaxy have always been B-Listers on their best day, but they do have a history.  They've been around the block a few times, they've hooked up with the Avengers a few times, and they were an integral part of the Korvac Saga.  The Korvac Saga is legendary. 

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The Valentino series ran 62 issues, which is a pretty good sized run.  A grand epic by today's standars, actually.  And Valentino is a founding Image guy.  The Guardians don't have the resume of a Batman, that's for sure.  Ask 100 people on the street what they can tell you about Charlie 27, and you'll get 100 blank looks.  The team does have some meat behind it, and some historical weight.  There was (some) ambient interest in that property, though, and then a movie launch stacked more interest onto it.

When we're talking about  Big Hero 6, we're talking about a single appearance nobody cares about in an Alpha Flight book nobody cares about, eight issues of worth of mini-series, and a one-shot reprinting five of those eight issues.  Your Big Hero 6 "omnibus" contains nine obscure comics.  They've never carried their own ongoing title.  Not only do
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civilians not know or care about Big Hero 6, most ardent comics fans couldn't name a single team member outside of Sunfire or Silver Samurai.  

Apart from this movie...there is nothing there for Big Hero 6.  That's why I think the visual/emotional connection matters more for that property.  There's nothing else in the culture letting us know these characters even exist.  Since the movie is largely defining the property, I think it matters more that the perceived source comics line up properly.

My other concern is the "protoype" phenomenon.  All things being equal, first appearances rule the day.  But collectors are a fickle lot, and sometimes they organically decide that certain appearances are "true", and others aren't.  And by the way, these definitions can change relatively quickly.

My go-to examples on this is Sgt Rock.  Our Army at War # 81 features a prototype "Sgt Rocky" character, and that book does pretty well on the secondary market.  Overstreet lists a NM value of $8,500 on that comic.  There was a long time when most considered that his first appearance.  

Over time, though, the War Book folks determined that the real foundations of the character weren't established until Our Army at War # 83, "The Rock and the Wall".  So now that comic leap-frogged # 81 and now commands $15,000 in 9.2 condition according to Overstreet.  In reality, if you actually had a 9.2 I bet you could get $20K for that, easy.  The point is that it's definitely possible to back the "wrong horse" in situations like this, and it can cost you money.  Big Hero 6 isn't going to cost you Sgt Rock money, but still.

Now, nobody can perfectly predict how the collecting community is going to feel about anything.  Maybe they take to the original Sunfire & Big Hero 6 without a hitch and it works like a standard first appearance. I could be wrong about all of this.  The other thing to clarify again is that prototypes aren't worthless - they just pale compared to whatever the community designates as the "true" first appearance.

What I have discovered in my old age is that most humans make their decisions entirely on emotion.  I worry about those obscure comics holding value when the characters on the page look almost nothing like what appears on the screen.  I think the resonance might fail, and it's disconcerting enough that my cautious nature is shouting at me to pull the plug on the earliest of the Big Hero 6 material.

Thanks for chiming in, Mr. David Lyon!  We got a little deeper into the weeds on some relevant market stuff, so I thank you for prompting that. 

1 comment:

Dave "Detroit Dave" Lyon said...

You make some very valid points on BH6, especially when comparing them to GotG, popularity and relevancy-wise. Just wanted to chime in and say thanks for the follow up, thanks for the rejuvenation in the blog and podcast activity. And I am now officially a rock star for having been mentioned in the comic blog my momma warned me about. Keep 'em coming, gents!