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Overstreet’s Price Update 16

Overstreet's Price Update issue 16, from February 1991. Marvel's Deathlok was featured on the cover.

Overstreet's Price Update issue 16, from February 1991. Marvel's Deathlok was featured on the cover.

From 1982 to 1993, Overstreet — who publish THE annual price guide of the industry — also published their Overstreet Price Update (aka, the OPU), as a supplement.

Initially, the OPU came out once or twice a year, but then was published more frequently; by 1989 it was coming out five times a year, in February, June, August, October, and December. Color covers, with newsprint black and white interiors.

If you were a collector during the Copper Age (like I was), the OPU was almost essential to pick-up; revised back issue pricing, “What’s Hot & What’s Not” reports, etc.

And if you were a retailer and / or sold comics at local conventions (as I did as well), of huge interest were the detailed regional market reports, as contributed by retailers around the country, and then a handful in Canada and the UK.

Still have some issues of the OPU, and I often refer back to them when writing this blog. I’m in the process of buying back issues of it as well, to have even more reference on hand.

I do have the issue pictured, published in February 1991…however, the actual market reports within it were written in early January 1991, coming right off of the 1990 holiday shopping season. Thought it’d be interesting to post some select short excerpts (by far not complete) from some of those early ’91 market reports, to show some parallels of what is currently going on in the world…

From THE FUNNY PAPERS, in San Francisco, CA:

“This past winter was a good one for us, helped a great deal by DC’s strong marketing of Robin and the Superman titles. Everyone seemed to forget the R-word long enough to make this a prosperous holiday season, BUT – the spring is uncertain and we are approaching it cautiously and conservatively. Epiphany has yet to arrive and the economic mood is uncertain, at best. We are optimistic, however, that the industry is strong enough to withstand whatever is coming. Good luck, happy 1991, and see you next time.”

From ALL ABOUT BOOKS & COMICS, in Phoenix, AZ:

“1991! It’s almost a frightening thought that we’ve been in the retail end of the comic business for ten years now. It’s had its ups and downs; mostly ups. But unfortunately, 1990 was definitely on the downside for disposable income.

We don’t want to expound on too much doom and gloom, for the Christmas season, albeit late, did kick in full force about December 20th. And what a rush it was!

John Q. Public was a much more cautious buyer last year, avoiding high ticket items and instead investing his hard earned dollars on new comics and select (read: items under $100) back issues.”

From CRYSTAL TALISMAN COMICS, LTD., in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

“In the next ten year period, the truly good investments will be the books that everybody missed, not the books that everybody bought.”

From ELECTRIC CITY COMICS, in Schenectady, NY:

“In my last market report, I stated that the ‘sluggish economy’ hadn’t affected comics sales in Schenectady. In fact, sales on new and back issues were up about 25% over last year. Well, much to my relief I can still report that this is still the case, even though we are now officially in a ‘recession.’ I had my best November and December ever, and sales were, again, about 25% over last year. However, the economy is having an effect on the comics market, and there are a few disturbing signs.

New issue sales, generally, are staying at the level they were at last report, but back issue sales are definitely up. However, buyers are very price conscious: what sells is what’s cheap.”

From TROPIC COMICS, in Plantation, Florida:

“Greetings from chilly seventy five degree Florida! Before we get into this past selling season, we feel the need to talk briefly about the near future. As this is being written it is now three days before the deadline for Iraq to get out of Kuwait. If we should go to war, how will this affect our business/hobby? Good question. Wartime has always been good for new comic book sales because entertainment is one industry that thrives during those times. People need something to take their minds off all the depressing things going on around them. So, if anything, our already strong new comic market should become stronger. Back issue and investment sales may be another story.”


“Whether or not there is war in the Gulf will affect the comic book market. So we’ll have to wait and see what the next two months bring. Let’s pray for peace…soon!”

From FUNNY BUSINESS, in New York, NY:

“It might be appropriate to start with the effect that the economy has had on comic sales. While it has long been said that our profession is depression-proof, that doesn’t mean that the current ‘recession-slowdown’ doesn’t cause a shift in purchasing habits; it does. What I’ve noticed is an interesting phenomenon, which I call ‘psychological hesitancy.’ Total spending for the last quarter of 1990 in the store has remained constant, and it’s even up a bit (normal for the holiday season), but there has been a shift away from more expensive single-book purchases ($25+), and a concomitant shift toward purchasing less expensive books, both in current and back issue material. In other words, there seems to be more satisfaction in spending $50 on 10-20 books, rather than walking out with one book.”


“Ironic as it seems, the deadline for this market report is January 15, so by the time you read this we may well be in the middle of a war: I for one certainly hope not, but if we are, I hope our thoughts and prayers are with our servicemen in the Middle East – and wish for their safe and speedy return home.

On the homefront, even in the face of world events and our own economic slowdown, comic sales remain good if not steady.”

From STATESIDE COMICS Plc, in London, England:

“Even though, like you, this country is in the midst of a recession, we are planning to open a number of new stores during 1991. I wonder if American dealers are experiencing what we are, that is, when the chips and economy are down, people read comics! It seems that more and more people — I mean adult people as well as kids — are getting into, or back into, comics. Our sales of new comics are continuing to increase, which in turn eventually increases the sales in back issues. It has been said that during times of recession the leisure industry does well — let’s call comic books a leisure industry and hope that they’re right!”

From THE COMIC BOOK SHOP, in Spokane, WA:

“Overall the market has remained solid, which is evidenced by strong Christmas sales during a recession. The future looks bright due to a strong, well-planned year of mutants courtesy of Marvel.”

From KEITH CONTARINO, in Powder Springs, GA:

“As I write this, we are 2 days from possible war in the mid-east. We can all hope for a peaceful outcome. How events there will affect our economy in general and our hobby in particular one can only guess.”

2 comments to Overstreet’s Price Update 16

  • Google just sent me one of their daily phrase alerts on my store which led me to your page. It was a nice surprise to see an edit from one of my column-ettes from that long ago – I keep thinking I am going to dig out all my columns and articles and interviews from 20 years ago and archive them but it will probably never happen. I am glad to see someone getting some use out of some of them.

    It would be interesting to see blurbs over the couple of years after that which is about the time of the market implosion. I dont know if anyone has ever nailed down a date or point in time where the tide changed. Turok 1?

    It would also be interesting if you are going to excerpt columns from Overstreet to note which stores are still around. It looks like about 1/2 of these ones are still kicking. Anyway it was a nice blast from the past.


    Craig Barnett
    The Comic Book Shop, Spokane Wa

  • admin

    My pleasure Craig, and thanks for commenting…will def be pulling from Overstreet Price Updates in future blogs!

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