With 2020 behind us and 2021 just beginning, Scoop talked to Gemstone Publishing’s Vice-President of Publishing, J.C. Vaughn to get his take on how the collectibles market did last year and what he expects to see in ’21.

Scoop: Considering how tumultuous this year has been, what’s your take on the comic book market since the COVID-19 pandemic?
J.C. Vaughn (JCV): The standout item for the back issue market is very simply that no one was prepared for the incredible demand that was put on the back issue market. Things are booming in many niches. This is not to say there aren’t hardships, some of them horrible, but rather that the demand for back issues has been incredible. We saw this play out with The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #50, as well. We just weren’t prepared for how fast it sold out. Thankfully, we were able to get the second printing into stores very quickly and it is still moving briskly.

Scoop: What are the noticeable trends or buying habits among collectors?
There’s not one answer to that. It’s not all incredible high-grade issues selling for record-setting prices. It’s also not all bargain basement items either. Instead, our Overstreet Advisors are reporting robust interest in many categories. The market reports for next year’s Guide have just come in, and it’s going to be some very interesting reading without a doubt.

Scoop: You mentioned that sales have been strong for Guide #50. How much of that is because it’s the anniversary edition and how much is COVID-19? Are there other factors?
In a normal year, we would have expected a bump in sales because it was our Golden Anniversary, and likewise we would have expected one to go with Todd McFarlane’s incredible Spawn/Spider-Man cover. But delaying the release date six weeks due to the pandemic, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of demand. I don’t think you can say it’s only one factor, but rather that everything worked together to create an incredible demand for this edition.

Scoop: Marketing reports for the Guide #51 are already arriving, what kind of responses are you seeing?
Nice try! We never show our hand about the contents of the market reports, but I will go as far as saying the market reports in #51 are going to be “must read” material. Just about everyone has something interesting to say. Many “a-ha!” moments.

Scoop: What is Gemstone working on for 2021?
In February, we’ll deliver a beautiful facsimile edition for the 1971 blue cover version of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #1. There are soft cover, hardcover, and deluxe signed & numbered hardcover editions. This year will be the 50th anniversary of that second printing of #1, the time when it really became clear that the Guide had arrived.

April will see the release of The Overstreet Guide To Grading Comics – Sixth Edition. This is the first edition of this popular book to feature an art cover (Miss Fury by Billy Tucci and colorist Wes Hartman) and to be offered in a hardcover version. It’s revised and expanded from our previous edition.

July will see the arrival of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #51, so we’re officially into our fifth decade. We’ve been working on this one since before #50 went to press.

August should see our latest Free Comic Book Day offering, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Comics, which will be a fun comic book offering collecting insights for newcomers and seasoned fans alike. We have to wait for that to be formally approved, though, but it’s a great continuation of what we’ve been doing the last few years.

We have a new book coming in the fourth quarter, and we’re almost ready to announce that as well.

Scoop: What do you anticipate happening to the collecting market in 2021?
Since we’re in the Guide business, we don’t do predictions very often, but I do think it’s safe to say that whatever happens will be interesting, to say the least.