By Benjamin Nobel, November 9, 2015
It was recently announced that Erik Larsen is joining Todd McFarlane on Spawn. Given this news, this next rare Savage Dragon comic book is a timely pick (and is a Spawn comic too).
The final issue of Savage Dragon to be distributed on newsstands was issue #30, which featured Spawn on the cover. Interestingly, the newsstand print run for this issue was given a different cover that that of the direct edition — the same artwork was used, but there are a series of key differences between the two covers and it is considered a “one-shot” by CGC (officially Spawn / The Savage Dragon #1):
- An “As Seen on TV” logo was included to further attract the attention of newsstand-goers — this variant is sometimes referred to as “The As Seen On TV Variant”.
- In place of the usual Savage Dragon logo, for the newsstand print run a combination logo with both Spawn and Savage Dragon was used.
- Instead of being numbered as Savage Dragon #30, the newsstand print run was numbered on the cover as #1 (on the CGC census you’ll find the book as “Spawn / The Savage Dragon #1”).
- Bonus DART pin-up was advertised in the bottom right corner.
- The cover price was different.
- As with all other Savage Dragon newsstand editions, this one had a UPC code in the bottom left corner.
Below is a front cover comparison of the two versions of Savage Dragon #30:
The distribution difference at Image Comics between the direct edition and newsstand print runs, as discussed in Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference, was 98-99% of the copies sold being direct edition copies, with the remaining tiny fraction being newsstand copies — in the case of Savage Dragon #30, those distinct newsstand copies being the Spawn / Savage Dragon #1 variant.
So why did Erik Larsen stop selling Savage Dragon comics on newsstands after issue #30? As he discussed in the post pictured below, newsstand sales actually became a money-losing proposition:
To get a sense of how many newsstand copies of Savage Dragon #30 might have been produced and sold on the stands, we can first assess how many copies of Savage Dragon #30 were likely produced in total, and then apply a 1% newsstand assumption to that total. Although Comichron doesn’t have monthly sales data going back quite as far as issue #30, they do have monthly data going back to issue #32 which should be within the same general neighborhood. Here’s how the sales numbers look around issue #30:
Savage Dragon #32: 33,956
Savage Dragon #33: 33,299
Savage Dragon #34: 34,427
Savage Dragon #35: 33,077
So we’re in the neighborhood of 34,000 around these issues. Suppose having Spawn on the cover provided a 15% sales boost for issue #30… that would put us at about 39,000. Let’s round up to an even 40,000 for total assumed sales of Savage Dragon #30. A ratio of 99% direct edition to 1% newsstand would therefore imply on the order of just 400 Newsstand Edition copies of issue #30 (i.e. 400 copies of Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1). Even if we were to generously estimate total sales of Savage Dragon #30 all the way up at 50,000, the 1% newsstand ratio would still imply just 500 copies of Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1!
I find the newsstand edition of Savage Dragon #30 to be highly collectible, for these reasons:
- The exceptionally low distribution, as walked through above, in the likely neighborhood of 400 copies
- Reflecting this low count, the low CGC census count, at just 2 copies ever graded as of this writing
- The fact that it is the last issue of Savage Dragon ever sold on newsstands
- The variant cover, with the “As Seen on TV” logo and the addition of the Spawn logo
- The classification of the comic as “Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1” is a unique phenomenon
Savage Dragon #30 Newsstand Edition (Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1) — Value
As shown in the screenshot below, as of this writing there are a total of three copies of this comic book listed on eBay, asking $99.99, $129.99, and $147.99.
These three sellers clearly know they own a rare comic, based on their asking prices. However, not all of the people who picked this comic book up on the newsstands originally, now know just how rare it is. So despite its rarity, persistence hunting the book down can produce a rewarding outcome. Comic book “Lots” (listings of several comic books instead of just one) can sometimes be a source of finding hidden gems like this issue (my own copy was found this way).
Aside from eBay listings, another place to potentially look for a well-priced copy is Atomic Avenue. As of this writing, they ascribe a guide value of just $2.50 to the newsstand edition variant of issue #30, which means when one of their members is going through a stack of Savage Dragon books and listing them for sale, that member may blindly follow the guide value when listing the newsstand variant of #30 if they own it. Although no copies are currently available there, keeping an eye on Atomic Avenue over time might be a way to land a low priced copy.
One last note: don’t bother waiting for a CGC graded copy, because as of this writing only two exist on the census.
With its estimated 400 copies and just the two CGC census copies out there, the newsstand edition of Savage Dragon #30 (Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1) is a highly interesting and rare Savage Dragon comic to consider for your collection.