CGC Now Recognizes Newsstand Editions and Multi-Packs on CGC Label

Posted on 9/26/2022

Because of increasing demand, CGC will recognize newsstands and multipacks beginning September 26, 2022.

Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) is proud to announce the identification of newsstand editions and multi-packs, beginning Monday, September 26, 2022. Because of their rarity, newsstand editions and multi-packs have been increasingly sought out by comic collectors in recent years, making the recognition of this attribute an important component of certification.

Click images to enlarge.

What are newsstand editions?

Newsstand editions are comic books that were distributed to the public through traditional channels like newsstands, grocery stores and drug stores. This was the only way comics were distributed during the first 45 years of the industry. Once comic collecting took hold and comic book shops began springing up across the country, direct distribution was established in the late 1970s to cater directly to those shops. Unlike newsstand editions, direct editions could not be returned for credit, but comic shops were able to get their new comics sooner than newsstands, and at a deeper discount, a fair trade-off.

As the 1980s progressed, more and more collectors purchased their new comics from local comic shops, while newsstand sales diminished. In the face of shrinking demand, publishers ultimately discontinued newsstand sales altogether by the 2010s.

What is the difference between a newsstand and a direct edition?

To enforce their no return policy for direct editions, comic publishers made subtle alterations to comic covers to differentiate newsstand editions from those directly distributed to comic book shops. Newsstand versions exhibited a UPC code on the cover, whereas most direct editions did not. From the beginning of direct distribution in 1979 until the mid 1990s, most direct editions displayed different attributes in place of the UPC code, including a blank box, a box with art or text, or a UPC code with a line through it.

UPC Code (Newsstand) Strikethrough (Direct)

UPC Code (Newsstand) Art Box (Direct)

By the mid 1990s both versions were printed with a UPC code on the cover, but direct editions contained the words “direct edition” next to the UPC code to distinguish them from newsstand editions.

UPC Code (Newsstand 1994) UPC Code (Direct 1994)

UPC Code (Newsstand 2006) UPC Code (Direct 2006)

Why are newsstand editions desirable?

As newsstand editions diminished throughout the 1980s, their survival rate diminished as well. This was exacerbated by the fact that most newsstand buyers were casual readers who did not preserve their comics, and in most cases threw them away after they were read. By the 2000s, the number of newsstand editions within a print run was miniscule, making them true rarities compared to their direct edition counterparts.

When does CGC identify a newsstand edition?

Even though almost every comic book sold prior to 1979 was technically a newsstand edition, CGC will only identify a newsstand copy if a direct market edition also exists. Several publishers began to distribute both newsstand and direct editions throughout the 1980s, starting with Marvel in 1979, DC in 1980, Harvey in 1986 and Archie in 1988. Others began in the 1990s, including Dark Horse, Ultraverse, Valiant and Topps. These publishers ceased newsstand distribution at various time as well, starting in the 1990s. Marvel ended newsstand versions in 2013, and DC followed suit in 2017.

A few titles break the rules, containing some issues that were distributed through direct market only, and yet exhibit a UPC code with no “direct edition” comment. Because of this, the presence of a UPC code is not a definitive indicator that an issue is a newsstand edition. CGC has extensively researched titles and issues from every company to accurately determine which issues contain both newsstand editions and direct market editions within their print run.

Marvel multi-pack editions

Between 1977 and 1979, just prior to Marvel’s move to direct distribution, numerous issues from several Marvel titles were printed with altered covers and distributed in pre-sealed multi-packs. The main alteration consisted of placing the price and issue number within a diamond, rather than the traditional square box. These variants have sometimes been referred to as “Whitman variants” in the community, but some multi-packs were released by other distributors as well.

Marvel Regular Edition (1978) Marvel Multi-Pack Edition (1978)

DC multi-pack editions

DC also released their version of multi-packs in the 1990s, specifically containing issues of Zero Hour and DC Universe (DCU). Zero Hour issues are identified by the Zero Hour symbol placed inside the UPC/art box, and DCU issues by the DCU title placed inside the UPC/art box. In addition to acknowledging newsstand editions, CGC will also identify both Marvel and DC multi-pack copies with a notation of “Multi-Pack Edition” on the label.

DC Direct (1993) DC Multi-Pack (1993)

DC Newsstand (1993)

Zero Hour Direct (1994) Zero Hour Multi-Pack (1994)

How do I get my comic reholdered for a newsstand/multi-pack notation?

There are newsstand and multi-pack editions that have been CGC certified without identification over the last 23 years. To ease the process of reholdering these certified copies to obtain the “newsstand” and “multi-pack edition” attribute on the label, a newsstand button has been added to the “Reholder” option on CGC’s online form. Choosing this option will ensure your comic(s) will be evaluated and confirmed as a newsstand or multi-pack edition, and the notation added to the CGC label prior to reholdering. It is important to choose the newsstand option on the online form; otherwise your comic(s) will not be evaluated for newsstand or multi-pack recognition before reholdering.

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