Thursday, October 1, 2015

Speculation Spotlight: Mile High Star Wars Comic Exclusives

Yesterday the latest Mile High Comics newsletter came out with this information:

As an aside, publishing our Marvel exclusives has been the single most successful endeavor for us during all of 2015.  We had a very successful show in Salt Lake City last weekend, at least in part because we sold $4,000 in STAR WARS (2015) variant editions in just 3 days!  Some of that revenue came from later printings variants, but the vast majority derived from fans purchasing our Mile High Comics STAR WARS and PRINCESS LEIA exclusives.

In case you are wondering, the reason we sold so many of our variant editions is that more and more fans are catching on to the fact that we are seeking to continue publishing a Mile High Comics variant edition to each new edition of the primary monthly STAR WARS (2015) title, for as long as Marvel will allow.  We are currently contracted through issue STAR WARS (2015) #12, and hope to be able to sign a contract soon for issues #13-#18.  As far as we know, this is the first time in history that any comics retailer has published variants an entire comics series from Marvel.  Making that commitment has already cost us more than $100,000.00 in upfront investments, but that risk has been more than justified by the incredible response we have been receiving from STAR WARS fans.

Mile High Comics is planning on continuing to contract for exclusive editions for the Star Wars title for the foreseeable future.  It makes sense because the exclusives are making money for them and the fans keep buying them.  Mile High charges $19.95 for an exclusive issue until it is released and then increases the price to $24.95.  For Star Wars comic fans who are buying these, this means they will be spending $240 a year (not counting the shipping costs) on these exclusives assuming the comic ships monthly and possibly more if Marvel decides to double ship for some of those months.  Mile High is betting there are enough fans that are willing to spend that amount of money so they are willing to take the risk.  When you consider most comic shop exclusives cost $10 - 15, Mile High is asking for a $5 - 10 premium over the typical asking price for an exclusive.  In a past newsletter, they mentioned they were keeping the prices high to protect these exclusive comic's value for the buyer.

How is that high price protection working though?  Sales on eBay shows that there are bargains to be found for those willing to wait and take a chance on an auction that sells them in lots.  For example, a complete set of Star Wars #1 - 6 Mile High exclusives sold for around $68 in July.  Compare that to Mile High's asking price of $120 for the set.  Complete sets of Princess Leia #1 - 5 have sold for between $40 - 55 compared to $100 direct from Mile High Comics.  But, those sales are not the norm.  In fact, very few Mile High exclusives have sold on eBay with only 14 completed sales in the month of September.  What this suggests is most people buying the Mile High Comics exclusives are collectors and I suspect very few sellers on eBay are willing to risk buying these comics for resale.

What does all this mean for the value of these Mile High Comic exclusives long term?  Most variants and exclusives have a tendency to drop in price over time.  Mile High Comics is trying to mitigate that by starting with an initial higher price and increasing that price over time.  Unfortunately, without publishing numbers, it is hard to guess at the trajectory for these comics, but if the 3,000 copies limit used for Star Wars #1 exclusives is true for these exclusives, I suspect most of these exclusives will not maintain their initial value.  In effect, what Mile High Comics is doing is cutting out the middle man (the speculator) and selling these comics for a price where they are maximizing the dollars they see from these issues without leaving any meat on the bone for anyone else.

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