On April 2, 2019, Gemstone Publishing announced that their next character-focused price guide will be The Overstreet Price Guide to Batman. Scheduled for release in late 2019, the book will visit the Batcave to explore the thousands of Batman-related collectibles. After the announcement, Scoop talked to co-authors Carrie Wood and Amanda Sheriff on what the book will entail and how it’ll be similar to, and differ from, Gemstone’s other recent books on pop culture collecting.
Scoop: When did you decide to do a book focused on Batman?
Carrie Wood (CW): We brainstormed the idea last year and have been working on I guess what you’d call the “pre-production” process ever since. The Gemstone staff was in our office chatting about the then-fresh-off-the-presses The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Tabletop Games as well as on the progress on The Overstreet Price Guide to Star Wars Collectibles. We had discussed doing character-focused books before, and – me and my big mouth – I just had to mention that 2019 was the 80th anniversary of Batman’s debut. By then it was too late to even think about trying to get the production process done in time to release for the exact date of the 80th anniversary, so we instead decided to formally announce the project on that day instead.
Scoop: Why do a Batman book now?
CW: As mentioned, this is the 80th anniversary year for Batman, so it just makes a lot of sense for us to do our first character-specific book in his honor.
Amanda Sheriff (AS): A few names have come up during our meetings, in regard to character or property-focused books, and Batman is one of the best choices we could make. He has 80 years of comics, and a lengthy list of entries in other entertainment mediums. Those comics and collectibles have accumulated into one of the richest franchises in pop culture. Couple that with his 80th birthday and 2019 makes it the right time for this book.
Scoop: What can readers expect to see in the book?
AS: Lots and lots of cool stuff. Batman is first a comic book character, so the book will be anchored by comic coverage. We’ll provide history on the movies, TV shows, video games, and radio/audio series, then dive into the related collectibles for each, along with other toys, action figures, stamps… As William Dozier would probably say, if it’s Bat-titled, it’s Bat-included.
Scoop: How in-depth will the comic book coverage be? Which titles will be included?
CW: You’re going to get the level of comic book coverage that you expect from an Overstreet title, which is to say… well, it’s pretty damn in-depth. Those already familiar with the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide will be very familiar with what’s going to be seen as far as the comic pricing section. Basically, if it’s a Batman-related title, you’ll find it here.
AS: We’re also going to profile characters and call out their most significant issues and storylines.
Scoop: Will there be image galleries?
CW: Of course! Batman has enjoyed some of the most diverse artwork over the last eight decades, so I think it’s important to highlight how so many artists have given the character their own flair. He’s been over-the-top campy and ridiculous as well as dark, brooding and gritty. So showcasing that incredible range is definitely something we want to do.
Scoop: What is the market like for Batman collectibles today?
AS: The market is great. Batman is a reliably bankable character in all facets of entertainment, which reflects in the collecting market. His first appearance in Very Fine or better condition is worth over $1 million. Original art depicting Batman has seen five-figure prices. Vintage toys and premiums all the way up to newer stuff like the DC Multiverse figures are changing hands every day. What’s great is that anyone on any budget can build a Batman collection. You don’t need to have Bruce Wayne’s bank account to collect Batman. You do need to know what to expect to pay for it, however, and that’s where we come in.
Scoop: Which characters will be featured in the book?
CW: In addition to just Bruce Wayne himself, we’re going to be featuring the extended Bat-family tree, with looks at Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, and many others. And there are no heroes without villains, so we’ll be shining that spotlight on the likes of Joker, Harley, Two-Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and many more baddies.
Scoop: How will this appeal to new and experienced collectors?
CW: I think the current generation of newer Batman fans has really only been exposed to the darker version of the character. So, I hope that they will be able to learn more about the incredible history of the character across the comic book eras, on television, film, and more. I hope that they find his history as “The World’s Greatest Detective” as interesting as his history as “The Dark Knight.” And I hope experienced collectors find something new to collect here – we’re not just looking at comic books, but also at video games, action figures and much more.
AS: It’ll present solid starting points on different types of collectibles for anyone interested in expanding their collections. In addition to finding new stuff to collect, experienced collectors can get an updated understanding of what their collections are worth.
Scoop: You both have done several individual book projects over the last several years, but this is the first time that you will be co-authoring a Gemstone/Overstreet product. Are you changing your approach at all accordingly?
CW: Truthfully it felt like such a relief to say that we’re doing this as co-authors, rather than simply contributing a couple of pieces to each other’s projects as we have done so far in our time working here. Putting together a book is a ton of work, and Gemstone’s a small company! So it’s nice to actually formally pool our resources for a bigger project like this in order to lighten the load across the board. Hopefully we both still like Batman – and each other – by the time the book is on shelves.
AS: It’s all about communication. Carrie and I have different strengths, as writers and in our fields of collecting expertise, so we’ve already realistically divvied up who should handle certain topics. We’ve been able to pragmatically discuss what should and shouldn’t be covered in a productive way and I’m sure that’ll be the case when any future challenges come up. The adjustment for this project is just going to be agreeing on how to handle things as a team, which isn’t really different from how Gemstone already functions.
Scoop: Outside of you two and Robert Overstreet, does the book feature other contributors?
CW: We have an incredible network of freelancers and contributors here, so I think it’s safe to expect some other voices being heard here.
Scoop: What about the book are you most excited to work on?
CW: I love talking about weird video games and Batman has appeared in several – some of those being totally illegal unlicensed appearances! Batman’s video game history at large is super interesting and I can’t wait to really delve into that.
AS: I’m excited to get into Batman movies and movie posters, all the cool Batman toys from the ’60s, and to write villain profiles. He has the best villains.
Scoop: The Overstreet Price Guide to Star Wars Collectibles presented the values of collectibles in a variety of ways. Will this book take a similar approach?
CW: I’d say that’s the plan. The Star Wars book that Amanda put together is essentially a formula that we’re going to tweak a bit in our approach to this new project. Certain things will have to change – such as the comic section being obviously significantly bigger – but overall, I love how she approached that book and I think we’re going to try to replicate the overall feel.
AS: What I found while working on the Star Wars price guide is that there can be lots of material with little price variation. For example, there are hundreds of Star Wars novels, and some are really good, but realistically, most are only worth a few bucks. We didn’t need to devote page after page on $3 paperbacks, and it’s the same for this book. So, some material will have extensive value levels, and some will come with low to high ranges.
Scoop: This is a Price Guide rather than a “How To” book. What makes this different than Gemstone’s Guide to Collecting line?
CW: I’d qualify a book like this as sort of a halfway point between a book like The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and one like The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Movie Posters or any of our other Collecting books. The Comic Book Price Guide is all pricing info with very good, but very little overall editorial content. Meanwhile the various Guide to Collecting titles are all editorial content with pricing highlights, and are more focused on providing the historical context as to why things are valued as collectibles, and how people take different approaches to collecting things, various means of preservation and storage, and so on. With the Price Guide to Star Wars Collectibles, and now with The Overstreet Price Guide to Batman, it’s more of an even split. You’re getting all of these good, deeply researched pieces of historical context for comics, film memorabilia, action figures, toys, video games, et cetera, plus many pages that just feature pricing lists on a lot of those items that we can aggregate those sort of price lists for. It’s really the best of both worlds.
Scoop: Will you be making any convention appearances promoting this project?
CW: I’ll be at TooManyGames this June, which is several months before the book hits shelves, so I’m mostly there to promote the likes of my recent video game and tabletop game books. But hopefully by then I’ll have some finished spreads to preview the Price Guide to Batman with!
AS: Right now, my convention schedule is mostly in a press capacity, but we’ll definitely be out and about talking to people about this book.
Scoop: When can we expect to see this book hit shelves?
CW: Look for it in comic shops this holiday season!