2000AD and Valiant art features in massive Heritage Auctions International Comic Art event

A massive Heritage Auctions International Comic Art event takes place this weekend, 9th – 10th March 2024, offering iconic works from Tintin, Metabarons, Rom, plus art by Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Moebius, Jack Kirby and a host of other comics legends, here’s a look at some of the highlights…

Ron Smith 2000AD Prog #159 Judge Dredd Cover Original Art (Fleetway, 1980). Impressive cover announcing The Judge Child story by the Wagner/Grant duo, and featuring the most famous Judge, Dredd, narrowly saved by his faithful Lawmaster. Smith's Dredd covers are rare. Ink over graphite on thick Bristol board with a large image area of 14.5" x 17.75". Titles and text are paste-ups. Handling. Signed. In Very Good condition.
Ron Smith 2000AD Prog #159 Judge Dredd Cover Original Art (Fleetway, 1980)

Andre Franquin: Great Or…The Greatest?” This was the question posed by The Comics Journal in 2017 when a Paris exhibition feted the Belgian creator’s most famous and beloved character, the shaggy Gaston Lagaffe, a “dedicated idler in jeans and espadrilles” then celebrating his 60th birthday while never looking older than 23. “He is a child in an adult world,” Franquin once said of Gaston, whose last name means “the blunder.”

When Gaston made his bow in 1957 in the pages of the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou, he was introduced and intended as an in-joke: He worked at the magazine but was meant to serve as the readers’ behind-the-scenes surrogate. Over time, he transformed from a punchline to a symbol, from a would-be slacker to “one of the world’s most beloved anarchists, a gentle saboteur of the status quo who is against parking meters, cops, office routine and most other things that pass for the trappings of modern civilization,” The Los Angeles Times noted upon Franquin’s death in 1997.

For the first time in its storied history as the world’s largest comics-art auctioneer, Heritage, presents an original Gaston Lagaffe Gag — No. 839, to be specific, dating to 1978. It’s among the numerous centerpiece offerings in Heritage’s March 9-10 International Original Art Signature® Auction, which brims with more than 630 works from international sensations, British, American and European comic greats – and a few underground heroes (among them Robert CrumbDaniel Clowes and Richard Corben), whose art delights and disturbs in equal measure in any language.

André Franquin Gaston Lagaffe Gag n°839 Complete Story Original Art with Matching Color Guide (Spirou 2092, 1978). By 1978, many were already working to raise awareness regarding the impact of the carbon footprint. The legendary Franquin did just that using his famous character Gaston in this original that denounces the social networks of the time, television, politics, and the infamous oil slick caused by the sinking of the Amoco Cadiz off the coast of Finistère a few months before. Even Gaston's companion, the seagull, is distraught at the consequences of this ecological disaster. A premium original that stands out from the rest of Franquin's production: atmosphere, details, the presence of the main characters, his car, right down to that magical Franquin signature in the shape of a polluting vehicle. The matching color guide, 100% hand-colored by Franquin, is also included. It's all there. Also published in Lagaffe mérite des baffes #13, published by Dupuis in 1979. Ink and graphite on Bristol board composed of two parts, 839A and 839B, joined at the back by original, yellowed adhesive tape. Note a two-box section in panel 839B. Production wear and stamps. Signed twice. Dedicated. A museum piece. In Very Good condition.
Estimate: $90,000-$120,000
André Franquin Gaston Lagaffe Gag n°839 Complete Story Original Art with Matching Color Guide (Spirou 2092, 1978)

There’s plenty of 2000AD art too, and other British comic gems, including art by artists such Jesus Blasco and Don Lawrence for titles such as Valiant, and some, by Mick Austin, commissioned by Marvel UK – more details below.

Rom the Spaceknight also lands in this auction, not long after his return to the Marvel Universe.

Olivier Delflas, Heritage’s Director of International Comic Art and Anime, says, “This Gaston Lagaffe work is among Franquin’s best, most pointed ‘gags,’ as it elicits a few chuckles while covering a serious turning point. It’s also an honor to bring it to auction, as Franquin’s coveted originals are scarce.”

This particular piece was very of the moment upon its publication – and, perhaps, ahead of its time, as it touches upon the explosion of media, elections, climate change, pollution and the overwhelmingness of it all. It began as a headline – the piece was inspired by the March 1978 sinking of the Amoco Cadiz off the coast of Brittany, France, which resulted in a historically devastating oil spill – before Franquin transformed it into a bitter punchline.

Incidentally, The Journal answered its great-or-the-greatest query with a resounding yes, courtesy none other than fellow Belgian comics maker Hergé, who once said that next to Franquin, “I’m only a mediocre pen-pusher.” That was a kind gesture of self-deprecation from a maker of magnificent, meaningful masterworks – Tintin, primarily, who is represented in this event by three exceptional works, among them this 1944 rendering of Tintin and Captain Haddock’s dashing through a Moroccan market.

The image is among the most famous in Tintin’s history, as it appears toward the end of 1941’s The Crab With the Golden Claws, the ninth entry in Georges Prosper Remi’s ongoing series about the globetrotting reporter and his dog, and was among that book’s scant few full-page illustrations. Three years later, Hergé revisited the image for a colouring book, and, as Delflas notes, “He wanted to give it more depth,” which is evident in this delightful work that’s among the most sought-after pieces by Tintin admirers.

Here, too, is a book Delflas describes as “a must-have for any major Hergé collectors”: the cover of and original art from Les Musées Belges de Marine d’Alexandre Berqueman, so named for the land surveyor and maritime enthusiast whom Remi befriended around 1942 in Brussels. Legend has it, Berqueman inspired Hergé to send Tintin to sea – a lot – with Berqueman serving as the creator’s advisor when it came to keeping things shipshape.

A year after they became pals, Hergé offered Berqueman to design the cover of Berqueman’s book dedicated to the Belgian Maritime Museums, from which this original ink cover hails. There were but 600 copies printed of the edition featuring Tintin, Haddock and Snowy at the Musée National de Marine entrance. Says Delflas, this work is “worthy of a museum.”

The same could be said of any work by Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, who is represented in this event by nearly two dozen works, chief among them a striking closeup of his spiked-helmeted cosmic creation, Major Grubert. This piece originally appeared in 1977’s Métal Hurlant No. 15 as part of the story “Le garage hermétique de Jerry Cornélius,” since reprinted dozens of times as Moebius’ reach extended into every comic book and science-fiction film made since. So significant is this single page that a single panel from it was offered as a limited-edition silkscreen in 1989.

Jean Giraud (Moebius) Major Fatal, The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius Story Page 44 Original Art (Métal Hurlant #15, 1977). What more could you ask for on a page of Airtight Garage than one of the most beautiful close-ups and visuals of Major Grubert with his famous helmet topped by a spike directly connected to the Ciguri, his spaceship. Note the presence of Sper Gossi, the master of the first level, in the background of the first panel. Sublime inking technique throughout this Moebius masterpiece. The first panel, and the Major Fatal visual, were also used in 1989 by Stardom/Diagonale 7 for a limited-edition silkscreen called Days in Armjourth. Ink over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of 9.5" x 12.25". Signed. Light handling. Premium. In Excellent condition.
Jean Giraud (Moebius) Major Fatal, The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius Story Page 44 Original Art (Métal Hurlant #15, 1977)
Jean Giraud (Moebius) Various Characters Signed Limited Edition Lithograph #11/15 (Limestone/Del Bello Gallery Toronto, 1989). One day, Jean Giraud found himself stranded in Toronto due to very bad weather conditions. To occupy himself, he found a lithography workshop and proposed a collaboration which led to the fine work proposed here. Now is a great opportunity to own a specimen of this very rare, genuine lithography from Moebius, produced in an ultra-limited edition. Image area of 19" x 25". Numbered 11/15. Signed in the lower left. In Excellent condition.
Jean Giraud (Moebius) Various Characters Signed Limited Edition Lithograph #11/15 (Limestone/Del Bello Gallery Toronto, 1989)

“‘Airtight’ is right,” says Delflas of this work from the tale whose title translates into English as “The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius.” It’s part of Heritage’s most extensive offering of original Moebius art.

Carlos Ezquerra 2000AD Prog #799 Judge Dredd, Final Judgement Cover Original Art (Fleetway Editions Ltd, 1992). Judgement Day, an important cover in the long Judge Dredd run, since it was the first time that John Wagner and Alan Grant tackled the theme of zombies, from another dimension, attacking Mega City. Dredd, Johnny Alpha, aka Strontium Dog and a team of judges from around the world will face off against Sabbat the Necromage, to avert the apocalypse. Ink, acrylic on Bristol board with an edge-to-edge image area of 13.5" x 18". Stamps on the back. Note three original reinforcements on the back, as well as various small creases more visible on the back than on the front cover. In Very Good condition.
Carlos Ezquerra 2000AD 799 Judge Dredd, Final Judgement Cover Original Art (Fleetway Editions Ltd, 1992)

Art from 2000AD on offer includes the Judge Dredd cover of Prog 159 by Ron Smith; the final page of “Judge Dredd” from Prog 86, drawn by Brian Bolland, published in 1978, a page that sees Mega-City One’s toughest lawman sentenced to serve 20 years on Titan for a murder he didn’t commit; the Judge Dredd cover of 2000AD Prog 799 by Carlos Ezquerra; plus various pages by the Spanish master for “Judge Dredd”, “The Stainless Steel Rat”, and “Strontium Dog”; and a page from the story “Return to Armageddon” a science fiction horror story, by Nestor Redondo.

Look out, too for a page from a “The Steel Claw” story, art by Jesus Blasco, featured in an issue of Valiant published in 1967; a page from “Karl The Viking” for Lion, by Don Lawrence, and a marvellous page from the Trigan Empire story, “The Puppet Emperor, for Look and Learn, too; and a page of “Kelly’s Eye” for Lion, by Francisco Solano Lopez, too.

Jesus Blasco The Steel Claw Story Page 2 Original Art (Valiant, 1967). The Steel Claw was a top hero in the British weekly adventure comics scene throughout the '60s and '70s. On this panel page from the celebrated series, Jesus Blasco expertly played with light and shadow, delivering very nice chiaroscuro effects. Created in ink and white paint over graphite on two sheets of conjoined Bristol board with a combined image area of 15.5" x 19.5". Light handling wear and toning. Corner creasing. In Very Good condition.
Jesus Blasco The Steel Claw Story Page 2 Original Art (Valiant, 1967)
Don Lawrence Lion, Karl The Viking Story Page 10 Original Art (IPC/Fleetway Publications, 1964). A stunning naval battle that does not turn out to Karl and his crew's advantage. Karl's stories were serialized in Lion and were recently collected in two volumes published in 2022 and 2023 by Rebellion. Ink over graphite on two pieces of rigid Dorchester illustration boards assembled on the back. Image area of 15.25" x 20". There is glue residue staining around the joint in the lower tier. The texts are paste-ups. Minor handling. Corner and edge wear. In Very Good condition.
A page of Lion’s “Karl The Viking” by Don Lawrence (IPC/Fleetway Publications, 1964)
Don Lawrence The Trigan Empire, The Puppet Emperor Story Page 98 Original Art (Look and Learn/Fleetway, 1970). Giant machines, intrigue, and conspiracy galore abound behind the scenes of power for this story which was republished in 2021 by Rebellion in The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, Volume III. The art is beautifully rendered with ink and gouache on two sections of Dorchester art board with an image area of 13.25" x 17". Some text paste-ups are missing, leaving some glue residue staining. Minor handling. Matted. In Very Good condition.
The Trigan Empire -The Puppet Emperor, art by Don Lawrence (Look and Learn/Fleetway, 1970)
Francisco Solano Lopez Valiant and TV21 Kelly's Eye Story Page Original Art (IPC Magazines Ltd., 1966). Wearing the gem called the Eye of Zoltec, adventurer Tim Kelly becomes indestructible. His adventures were serialized in various publications in the UK from 1962 through 1993. This page was published in an issue release on 7-9-66. Ink over graphite on Bristol board with a large image area of 15.25" x 19". Minor handling wear. Mild toning. In Very Good condition.
A page of “Kelly’s Eye” for Valiant, art by Francisco Solano Lopez

There’s other art by Carlos Ezquerra up for sale, too, such as his Lobo cover for Bob, The Galactic Bum Vol 1 #2 of 4 and a page from Boba Fett 1/2: Salvage.

Other art by British artists includes the double splash page from The Walking Dead #60 by Charlie Adlard; Mick Austin’s poster art for Fantastic Four #1 published by Marvel UK in 1982, and his cover for the Gremlins The Official Comic Strip Adaptation published in 1984; art by Simon Bisley, including two Lobo illustrations; a Joker pin-up for Batman 3-D by Dave Gibbons; Clandestine art by Bryan Hitch and Andy Lanning; Warhammer art by Tony Hough; the cover of John Wayne Adventure Comics #40 by Walt Howarth; JLA art by Barry Kitson; a V for Vendetta sketch by David Lloyd; Greg Staples cover for Judge Dredd Megazine Volume 3 59; a page from Pathways To Fantasy by Barry Windsor-Smith, published by Pacific Comics in 1984.

Mick Austin Fantastic Four #1 Poster Original Art (Marvel UK, 1982). The beloved superhero team stars on a wide visual produced in mixed media on thick Oram & Robinson board with an image area of 22" x 16". Slight handling. Signed and dated. In Excellent condition.
Mick Austin Fantastic Four #1 Poster Original Art (Marvel UK, 1982)
Dave Gibbons Batman 3-D Page 57 Joker Pin-Up Illustration Original Art (DC, 1990). The Joker leaps in, armed with his dangerous toys... From Page 57 of the 1990 3D Batman book whose main story was written and illustrated by John Byrne. Ink and Zipatone on Bristol board with an image area of 11" x 14.5". Minor marginal production spot staining. Light handling wear. Signed. In Excellent condition.
Dave Gibbons Batman 3-D Page 57 Joker Pin-Up Illustration Original Art (DC, 1990)
Tony Hough Warhammer 40,000 Orks Illustration Original Art (Games Workshop, 1989). In an intricately inked illustration reminiscent of engravings, a bizarre and surreal scene unfolds... Monstrous Orcs, clad in animal-hide jackets, gather amid a fantastical atmosphere, indulging in weapons and strong beverages. A rare and beautiful illustration from Warhammer 40,000 pioneering artist Tony Hough! Ink and graphite on illustration paper with an image area of 10" x 7.5". In Excellent condition.
Tony Hough Warhammer 40,000 Orks Illustration Original Art (Games Workshop, 1989)

Remember the eye catching Marvel superhero posters of Rafael Lopez Espi, offered in various Marvel UK titles back in the 1970s (featured here downthetubes)? Well, good news, there are some of his other artworks in a similar vein on offer, here, too – Iron Man, Thor and Tim Kelly, of “Kelly’s Eye”. Espi was renowned for many of the Marvel and DC superheroes that Vertex editorial published in Spain in the 1960s and 70s.

No International Original Art auction would be complete without revered Argentine comic book writer and artist Juan Giménez and his Metabarons, which sprang from an idea first concocted in 1989 by filmmaker and artist Alejandro Jodorowsky and the man called Moebius. So impactful was this title about a fierce, celestial clan of warriors, which launched in 1992, that Simon & Schuster would later publish Deconstructing the Metabarons, which described the work as “the seminal science-fiction graphic novel [that] has become the cornerstone of the Jodoverse.”

There are 18 Metabarons lots, including “five of the best pages from Issue No. 1,” says Delflas, “and two amazing covers.” Giménez’s work looks like comic-book art and more like detailed, almost three-dimensional storyboards for a stunning film set in a cold, mechanised future. In these works, you can see what Warren Ellis meant when he said, “What keeps me going back to The Metabarons is the immense volume and speed of its innovation. There is literally a new and mad idea on every page.”

Speaking of mad, some industry veterans thought it crazy in the late 1970s when Marvel turned a toy into a superhero. Yet the result led to one of the most significant works in the event — and one of the most widely viewed.

Jean Frisano Strange #134 Cover Rom the Spaceknight Original Art (Lug, 1981). 1981 marked the debut of Rom the Spaceknight on European shores. This cover from the same year, which has since become legendary in the world of collecting, features the second adventure of Rom the Galadorean ruthlessly pursuing the Wraiths across the galaxy. Note that this cover was one of the centerpieces of the exhibition at the 47th Angoulême Festival, in 2020, Jean Frisano: From Tarzan to Marvel, America Fantasized. A museum piece. Mixed media on Bristol board with an image area of 8.5" x 12.25", taped at all four corners to a thicker original production board, with sketch and production notes on the back. Production wear. Tear at bottom left margin, outside image area. In Very Good condition.
Jean Frisano Strange #134 Cover Rom the Spaceknight Original Art (Lug, 1981)

Jean Frisano’s cover for 1981’s Strange No. 134 – featuring Marvel’s beloved Rom the Spaceknight – was among the centrepieces on display during 2020’s “Jean Frisano: From Tarzan to Marvel, Fantasized America” exhibition at the 47th Angoulême International Comics Festival. The Parisian artist’s mixed-media piece is as significant as it is striking, as it marked Rom’s European debut two years after the Parkers Brothers toy landed in the comic book that ran until 1986 and reappeared on bookshelves last month as Rom: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus.

Jack Kirby and George Roussos (as Geo. Bell) Fantastic Four #27 Story Page 3 Original Art (Marvel, 1964). As Reed (Mr. Fantastic) plans on buying a ring for Sue, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, makes his own plans for the Invisible Girl. Twice-up scale in ink over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of 12.5" x 18.5", matted and glass-front framed to 16.5" x 24". Slight toning, marginal notes, whiteout corrections, with light smudging/handling wear. Light frame scuffing/wear. Overall in Very Good condition.
Jack Kirby and George Roussos (as Geo. Bell) Fantastic Four #27 Story Page 3 Original Art (Marvel, 1964)

This event features another Marvel-ous work by comicdom’s most influential creator: Page 3 from 1967’s Fantastic Four No. 27, by – who else? – Jack Kirby with an assist from George Roussos. Pages from this issue have long been coveted by collectors for whom the story “The Search For the Sub-Mariner” is something of a touchstone, given its guest stars (Namor and Dr. Strange) and its story, which involves the Sub-Mariner kidnapping Sue Storm to make her his underwater bride. This page is particularly significant, as Reed Richards intends to propose to the Invisible Girl who feels particularly unnoticed.

Alex Ross Paradise X #1 Cover Guardians of the Galaxy Original Art (Marvel, 2002). Sublime cover by the talented Alex Ross, which launched the mythology of the Paradise X series. The meticulous attention to detail, the quality of the painting, the soft color and near photo-realistic quality he imbues into his work is quite simply astounding. This cover features Captain America and the original Guardians of the Galaxy: Yondu, Martinex T'Naga, Vance Astro aka Major Victory, Charlie-27 and Starhawk. Acrylic on illustration board with an image area of 10" x 15". In Excellent condition.
Alex Ross Paradise X #1 Cover Guardians of the Galaxy Original Art (Marvel, 2002)

Modern master Alex Ross, the man who makes superheroes look like they might walk and fly among us, soars in this event with the cover of Marvel’s Paradise X No. 1 — the beginning of the end of his Earth X trilogy with Jim Krueger, which examined the roles of superheroes as nothing more than “biological antibodies” meant to “protect a growing embryo within the Earth.” The book gets deep at times, but Ross shines by making pretty surfaces, too, among them this sumptuous rendering of the original Guardians of the Galaxy alongside Ross’ iconic rendering of the resurrected Captain America, an international icon no matter the venue.

Check out the full catalogue for Heritage Auctions 2024 March 9 – 10 International Original Art Signature® Auction #7360 here

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