Thursday, January 7, 2016

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #5 and 6 Newsstand Reprints - These aren't the droids you're looking for.

A few years back, I decided I wanted to complete my U.S. Star Wars comic collection, including the direct and newsstand editions of every issue as well as the various reprints for the first six issues.  I knew that the $0.35 test market variants for Star Wars #1 - 4 were too expensive, so I would have to do without those 4 issues.  (Maybe someday I will add them to my collection, but for now, I am content pursuing the foreign books I need.)  I figured it would be easy enough to fill in the holes in my collection since Marvel Star Wars issues are fairly common.  As I purchased nice copies of the missing issues in my collection, I found two comics to be elusive in any condition, the Star Wars #5 and 6 newsstand reprints.

To put this into perspective, if I wanted to spend the money, I could purchase the Star Wars #1 - 4 $0.35 test market variants and it would take me a month or less to find decent copies.  They are consistently listed on eBay.  But what I was discovering with the Star Wars #5 and 6 newsstand reprints is they were not readily available on eBay in any condition.  How could this be?  I remember searching both the My Comic Shop and Mile High Comics websites with no luck.  Desperately, I sent email to every Amazon seller who had a Star Wars #5 or 6 listed and asked if it was a newsstand reprint.  I came up empty handed and I confused more than one seller trying to describe the issue.  I remembered there was a comic dealer in Canada who specialized in rare and unusual comics, Doug Sulipa.  Years ago, I used him to track down some Whitman comics I needed.  His prices are somewhat high, but if anyone had these issues, I knew it would be him!  I search his website with no luck so I decided to send him email asking about these two comics.  He replied he did not have these two issues in stock.  I thanked him and asked him to let me know if he ever received any, noting my eagerness to find copies.  That was about two years ago and I never heard back from him.  Locally, I began to ask around for these comics.  I ran into Tom Kalb at a comic show and asked him about them.  When I was a kid, Tom had boxes and boxes of Star Wars comics in his shop in Mesa, Arizona and he still has tons of Star Wars comics which he now lists on eBay.  He did not have copies.

Star Wars #5c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 1977)
Newsstand reprint
I did eventually find copies of the Star Wars #5 and 6 newsstand reprints for my collection, but not without a long wait.  I decided I wanted to add a few more of these elusive issues to my collection and began searching eBay listings for these two comics about a year ago.  (Interestingly enough, I found copies of the Alemar's Star Wars #1 and 2 on eBay while looking for these two reprints.)  So, for the better part of a year, I watched eBay listings waiting for these two comics to come up for sale.  In that time, I was able to acquire a few copies, but it was about 1 issue every 2 - 3 months.  Every other Star Wars comic, reprint or otherwise, is listed on eBay all the time, usually multiple copies, even the "hard to find" later newsstand issues.  Star Wars #1 - 4 newsstand reprints are common, but #5 and 6 are not.  I suspect this has to do with newsstand sellers knowing by the 5th issue how many Star Wars comics they could sell and ordered the 1st prints accordingly, so the need for reprints of those two issues was greatly diminished.

Star Wars #6c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1977)
Newsstand reprint
I realize these two comics are reprints and will never command the kind of money that a $0.35 test market issue does.  We know those test market issues were limited to 1,500 copies and were only distributed in a few cities across the U.S.  I have my suspicions there are significantly more of these Star Wars #5 and 6 newsstand reprints than these test market comics despite my inability to turn up many copies and the reason the test market issues seem more common has to do with how liquid those variants are.  There is no demand for the Star Wars movie adaption reprint issues, so why list them on eBay when they sell for so little?  To be fair, most of the reprints of Star Wars #1 - 6 are common, probably just as common as the 1st printings.  It may yet turn out that Star Wars #5 and 6 newsstand reprints are common too.  But for now, that has not been my experience.

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