There are some amazing items of original comic art and illustration in the next Heritage Auctions Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction taking place in Chicago (16th – 18th May), including work by Carl Barks, Brian Bolland, Alan Davis and Paul Neary, Steve Dillon, Hal Foster, Dave Gibbons, Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Moebius, Alex Raymond, Marshall Rogers, Alex Ross, Peanuts cartoons from Charles Schultz, Jim Starlin – and many more.
Along with gems like the unpublished Alex Toth-created “Nightmare” strip we highlighted earlier in the week, interest is again bound to be high in work by Frank Frazetta on offer, such as his much-admired work “Egyptian Queen“, painted in 1969. The work first appeared in print as the cover for Eerie magazine #23 in mid-1969, and as multiple prints and posters over subsequent decades.
Having taken the comic book and newspaper strip worlds by storm in the 1950s and early 1960s, Frazetta had already had a more successful career than most artists could even dream of before turning his otherworldly talents to book and comic cover fantasy artwork in the mid-1960s. In short order, he reinvented and massively expanded the entire field of fantasy illustration, single-handedly selling hundreds of thousands of books and scores of wildly popular posters along the way.
The artist would produce some of his most incredible work during this period with each piece helping to hone his craft, leading up to this spectacular painting in 1969, the peak of the artist’s creative powers. While Frazetta would continue to produce paintings for another 30 years, “Egyptian Queen” is an unforgettable image captured the hearts of legions and remains burned into the minds of generations.
Another Frazetta work, “Jaguar God“, created in 1995, is in the the same auction and a number of black and white illustrations and some of his much-sought after comic strip work.
Other highlights include this “Camelot 3000” Double-Page Spread by Brian Bolland, for Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #4 (DC, 1985).
Arthur, the Once-and-Future King, lives up to his hype in this stand-alone 12-part maxi-series. Formatted in such a way that it could easily have been used as a wraparound cover, the right-hand side features a resurrected King Arthur with the looming image of the near-immortal Merlin, along with denizens of the year 3000 Lady Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Kay. The left-hand side features the villains Morgan Lefay, Modred, along with Knights of the Round Table… Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad, Sir Percival, Sir Tristan, and young Tom Prentice.
There’s also this page by Dave Gibbons from Watchmen #2 featuring Rorschach offering a look at the seedy world he lives in. This is one of the very few pages where he broke the nine-panel grid to give us a large Panel 1 on the page. The effect is the same as a pan-shot in a movie.
Another Watchmen page, from #7, is also on offer – a page offering a bit of levity in the last panel, as Laurie realises that she could have accidentally fired off air-to-air missiles on a previous page; and a page from #8 featuring Silk Spectre and Nite-Owl.
Plus, there’s a “Tales of the Black Freighter” Prop Comic Cover, also by Dave, a screen-used prop comic and posters for the movie Watchmen. Tales of the Black Freighter is an imaginary comic book, woven into the narrative of Gibbons and Alan Moore’s allegorical superhero novel, Watchmen. This cover-design piece depicts the story, “Marooned,” which is presented as a sub-plot in the fifth issue of Watchmen. The objective was to create a facsimile of what an EC Comics title of this nature might have resembled. Mission accomplished! In the movie, the final printed version was seen in the hands of the boy at the newsstand, and also this cover was used to produce a large “New Issue” poster on the side of the street corner newsstand. The pseudonymous signature at lower left suggests Al Feldstein, an EC mainstay.
This Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-39 “Secret Origins Super-Villains” Centrespread by Dick Giordano is a two-page Pin-Up, published by DC Comics in 1975. Titled “Rogue’s Gallery of Super-Villains”, this two-page pull-out poster features 32 of DC’s most dastardly bad guys (O.K., granted, Terra-Man and Aunt Minerva are in there, but the rest of them are really bad). This is a classic image in many ways. One of the most interesting is that master-artist Dick Giordano mimicked the styles of several artists on specific characters. You can see the Carmine Infantino influence easily on Captain Boomerang and Gorilla Grodd. The Joker’s image is a loving tribute to the Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson poster from 1966. Poison Ivy is a tribute to her first appearance on the cover of Batman #181. How many tributes can you find?
Here’s the smashing cover for Master of Kung Fu #36 (Marvel, 1976) by Gil Kane and Mike Esposito. It’s martial arts magic to assault your senses as the hands (and feet) of Shang-Chi battle against the Night of the Ninjas!
Among the items by Jack Kirby on offer is this terrific cover for Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #13 (Pacific, 1984), created with Mike Thibodeaux. Sadly, it was also the last issue of this 1980 Kirby coolness, and it’s signed by Kirby in the lower margin.
This splash page from Star Spangled War Stories #58 by Joe Kubert (DC, 1957) offers a reverse angle image of the cover makes for one stunning Joe Kubert splash page. Long touted as the greatest war comic artist ever, this early-Silver Age splash page certainly shows why. Kubert effortlessly combines great looking military hardware (from the planes to the .50-cal machine gun) with a totally believable human element.
One European comic artist turns his talents to the character of another, as Régis Loisel renders a tribute to Hergé’s Tintin.
This Mike Mignola “Hellboy” Movie Promotional Illustration Original Art (Dark Horse, 2017) is the original art used for a Comic-Con International 2017 exclusive promo poster for the Hellboy movie. Nimue the Blood Queen, the main villain of the film, is featured prominently alongside Hellboy. The artwork was also used as the frontispiece for the recently published Hellboy: The Art of the Motion Picture.
An over-sized, unpublished illustration by Frank Miller – inspired by Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – is commanding a lot of interest, with bids currently at over $5000. A powerful piece, featuring Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelley).
Talking of Batman, one delight among many in this auction is a Marshall Rogers-created Batman Daily Comic Strip – original art dated 13th December 1989. Batman and Catwoman are featured in this cool two panel strip from one of my favourite artists on the Caped Crussder many years ago.
Also offered is page from Kingdom Come #2 by Alex Ross, a sadly all-too timely page from one of the most influential comic books of the 1990s. Alex Ross’ photo-realistic artwork is, as always, breathtaking. . Also included is an acetate overlay with the hand-lettered word balloons.