Hey, you remember how last week the American Family Association, via its OneMillionMoms.com website, called for a boycott of Toys 'R' Us because the chain had the temerity to display, in full public view, a comic that it was offering for sale? The comic in question, of course, was Life With Archie #16, whose cover bears an image of two men getting married, which could cause all sorts of discomfort for people who might be forced to explain to their children that sometimes two men love one another, just like mommy and daddy.
Anyway, the boycott didn't work. The Moms were sharply rebuked on Twitter, the Archie brass called for tolerance and love for all, and the issue sold out. At retail, that is. Now, that could mean that the production manager at Archie HQ figured out the press runs just right, or it could mean that the comic outsold all expectations. To find which answer is correct, let's turn to eBay, where, as Rich Johnston observed on Bleeding Cool, the Buy It Now price for a copy of LWA #16 is now $50.
Of course, you can ask whatever you want for a comic; the question is whether people are willing to pay it. I was curious about this, so I ran a search of completed listings in which the comic had actually sold and then made a little graph based on the sale prices; if more than one comic sold on a given day, I averaged the prices. The results were impressive; the price of the comic shot up on March 3. Not only that, every single copy offered for sale since Feb. 17 has sold, which is unusual for eBay.
Do we have the Million Moms to thank for that? Probably not. You see that dip on March 1? That's the comic being sold close to the cover price of $3.99. Before its official release date, it was going for between $7.99 and $10 on eBay. The Moms made their complaint on Feb. 29, and the price dipped just after that; my guess is that it shot up because Archie announced that the issue had sold out on March 1 (assuming there's a bit of a time lag between the announcement and its effect on buyers).
Just to be thorough, I checked some earlier issues on eBay and didn't see this pattern at all, either with the pre-release issues selling over the cover price or the price jumping after release. Obviously Life With Archie #16 is a historic comic, but will people be paying $50 or more for it a year from now? Only Dilton Doiley knows for sure...