If there is one movie franchise across all genres that is the most widely recognized in the world, chances are high that it is Star Wars. When 20th Century Fox approached Stan Lee in 1977 to produce a comic adaptation of its upcoming epic space-opera, he was understandably hesitant. However, Lee’s decision to create a Star Wars comic book ultimately paid off as the film became an overnight sensation that played for over a year and sales of the comic book series have been credited for saving Marvel.
STARWARS1 is a rare 35-cent variant copy of Star Wars #1 graded VF/NM 9.0 by CGC. Marvel produced only ~1,500 copies of the more expensive 35-cent variant to use in test markets and STARWARS1 is one of the top 50 graded examples in existence.
Collectors Dashboard would point out that Star Wars comic book collectors have more to look forward than the very first issue, but there are some tricks to which “first edition” comics actually have value. Some of the samples are worth a lot, but other variations may never have much more than entertainment value when it comes to evaluating investing versus collecting.
The artists for Star Wars #1 had no finished film to use for reference. This resulted in some uncharacteristic portrayals of an overweight Luke Skywalker and green Darth Vader.
There are many differences among the various Star Wars bubble gum pack cards, and Star Wars comics will be just as nuanced. The history of this comic book genre is paramount to understanding the nuances and traps that exist when it comes to collecting and investing in Star Wars comics.
January 1977 — To promote Star Wars ahead of its release date, Lucasfilms persuades Marvel Comics to do a movie tie-in comic, which Marvel publishes on the condition it will pay no royalties unless sales exceed 100,000 copies.
April 1977 — Marvel decides to test the waters with a 5-cent price increase, publishing ~ 1,500 copies with the 35-cent cover variant in a handful of test market cities. #STARWARS1 is printed as part of this issue.
May 1977 — During the first weekend of its release, Star Wars is shown on only 43 screens due to the initial lack of theater owner interest. Lucas reportedly forgets the premiere until seeing the crowds surrounding Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
December 1977 — As Star Wars mania sweeps the globe, Marvel Comics is reported to be “literally saved…from folding in upon itself” thanks to the popularity of the comic series.
February 2012 — Even before the Star Wars franchise is sold, its economic value crossed over an estimated $30 billion in combined global sales.
October 2012 — Lucas sells the rights to Star Wars for $4.05 billion to Disney, which produces a new trilogy and Disney+ series.
January 2015 — After years of ownership by Dark Horse Comics, Star Wars returns to Marvel Comics with a new series and a million direct sales of its first issue.
August 2018 — A 35-cent price variant copy of Star Wars #1 graded CGC 9.4 sells for $27,111 at ComicConnect.
November 2019 — The total value of the Star Wars franchise is estimated at over $65 billion, making it the fifth most valuable media franchise of all time.
April 2021 — The fractional asset shares app RallyRd trading window valued a CGC 9.0 graded Star Wars #1 comic at $30,000 after having sold shares at a $12,000 market cap in July 2020.
When it boils down to collecting Star Wars comics, and investing in these comics, it’s all about the first issue. There are many near identical variations that are set to trick unknowing buyers now that more than 40 years has past since that first release.
These are the variations to know before buying any “first edition” comic samples.
Star Wars Comics 1977 #1 Regular Newsstand Edition: price at top left, 30c in a square not a diamond, bar code at bottom left, and no word reprint next to Luke Skywalker underneath price. Near mint sells for around $1,000, while a rough copy of this will still be worth $25.
The next version of issue #1 to know is the 1977 35c variant edition. The price at the top left is in a square not a diamond and says 35c; there is a barcode at the bottom left, and no word reprint next to Luke Skywalker underneath price. This variation had a CGC 9.4 record sale of $27,000 and has an average value of $1,000-$1,500.
There is a serious caveat emptor epiphany — Beware of Star Wars #1 issues that are not the two types mentioned here! All other variations are for reading and sharing rather than for collecting and investing.