BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
When was the last time you actually read a comic? If you haven’t been opening your copies of Ice Cream Man, you are missing out on something special. While the fair market values for the first issue (and the promise of a streaming series) make it easy to chalk this up as strictly an investment, do yourself a favor and give it a read.
Before I talk to you about the current market for Ice Cream Man, I urge you to read this series. In the modern age of collecting, it’s common for buyers to add issues to their long boxes without ever cracking the covers. For the sake of preservation, I understand the mindset, but that’s why you get a less-expensive copy or perhaps go the digital route. It’s easy to get caught up in the FOMO effect (“fear of missing out” for the uninitiated) and rush to the auction sites to grab the latest hot comic. In the world of independent comics, this typically amounts to the first issue and maybe a cool variant here and there if it has investment potential.
I understand. I am as guilty as anyone else of buying the next big investment just to have it sit in its mylar bag and board inside a box. I’m also guilty of having stacks of comics scattered about my house with the intention of reading or at least organizing them. My point is, I’m not here to judge you for buying comics that you have little or no interest in reading.
This is different. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo’s Ice Cream Man is one of the most unique and entertaining comics that has been published in years. While there is some semblance of a plot thread between comics, each issue is its own self-contained story. Sometimes the Ice Cream Man is the central figure, other times he’s the narrator, and there are issues when he is hardly mentioned. Frankly, it’s those issues when he is relegated to a name drop that builds his mystique better than actually seeing him.
It’s one of the best anthology series I have read. Each issue is a short story depicting the many ways that the Ice Cream Man plagues our world. Little by little, his character is being fleshed out. But here we are four years in, and not much is known about him. Where Prince shows his talent is the ability to shift from full-fledged horror with a twisted fairy tale edge to borderline comical just to change gears and offer an introspective character study. Many issues have a distinct children’s book appeal, and the artwork is reminiscent of the old “Fun with Dick and Jane” book series. One of my personal favorites was issue #20 that was a hilarious and unsettling spoof of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”
COLLECTING THE KEYS
With that out of the way, I make the contradictory shift to the collecting side of Ice Cream Man. One thing that makes buying issues of a great series better is buying issues of a great series that gain value.
Like many independent titles, most of the secondary prices spike for the first issue. After that, the fair market value usually takes a significant dip save for variant covers with low print runs. What could change that is the potential for a live-action (or possibly animated) show when other characters appear from the issues. Last year, Quibi announced that it had optioned Ice Cream Man for a streaming series, though nothing has been said about it since. Whether Ice Cream Man will become the next big sensation or if it will sit on the shelf of ideas and collect dust is anyone’s guess at this point.
To date, the main collecting target remains Ice Cream Man #1. With the streaming potential for the series, the first issue won’t come cheap. On the plus side, values have dropped as of late. Last year, the graded 9.8 for the standard cover averaged over $500. Over the past 90 days, that fair market value has slowed to $390, and the most recent sale was for $375 on February 22. That would make this an opportune time to invest.
You can also opt for the variant cover, which will save you money. After averaging $319 last year, the 9.8 has been selling for under $300 since September. The only copy to trade hands this year brought $275 on February 12.
There’s also a second print floating around the auction sites, but don’t think that one will be a bargain. The last time a 9.8 sold online, it brought $220 in September.
The good part about all the attention being placed on Ice Cream Man #1 is that it leaves the other back issues relatively cheap. Many of these you can find for cover price or close to it.
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL
Again, I understand the temptation to invest in these issues, let them sit on the shelf, and wait for those comics to become super expensive. Luckily, there are trade paperback collections and digital copies available, so you can read it without soiling that illustrious near-mint collectible. Whatever avenue best suits you, read Ice Cream Man. Enjoy what Prince and Morazzo have created. You can thank me later.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.