The finest known copy of Marvel Comics #1 sold for $1,260,000 (£95,7530) on 21st November in Dallas, Texas to lead Heritage Auctions’ record-setting Comics & Comic Art auction to a staggering $14,936,295 (£11,350,762).
A Brian Bolland page from Killing Joke sold for $102,000; and the complete first five-page Judge Dredd story published, drawn by Mick McMahon, which we reported on earlier in the year, sold for $90,000.
The second-largest comic auction of all time, trailing only the $15,121,405 realised in Heritage Auctions’ Chicago Comics & Comic Art Auction in May 2019, this sale included 15 lots that sold for at least $100,000.
The top lot set a world record for the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction, and also set a new standard for the most ever paid for a comic book at Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest comic book and comic art auctioneer. The auction boasted sell-through rates of 97.7% by value and 99.8% by lots sold.
“This is a historic copy of a historic comic book,” Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President Ed Jaster said. “Without question, this is the granddaddy of all Marvel Comics, without which we would not have the characters and stories we enjoy in today’s comics and feature films.”
The issue, with famous cover art by Frank R. Paul and interior art by a group of illustrators that included Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Paul Gustavson, was purchased by a Pennsylvania postal carrier who bought every No. 1 issue he could of both comic books and magazines, beginning in the 1940s. It’s grade of 9.4 on a scale of 1-10 makes it the best copy of the issue ever found, according to Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).
There were other gems fro collectors with deep pockets, too. More than two dozen collectors made bids for Robert Crumb Your Hytone Comix #nn “Stoned Agin!” Inside Back Cover Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1971) before it closed at $690,000, breaking the record for the most ever paid for an interior piece of comic art.
Created at the height of the artist’s popularity, the image is instantly recognisable, even by many who don’t know the work of Crumb, who is revered for his contribution to the underground comics movement in the 1960s. This iconic image was reproduced countless times, including on a blacklight poster, on pinback buttons, postcards and t-shirts.
Neal Adams’ Batman #251 Cover The Joker Original Art (DC, 1973) sold for $600,000, the most ever paid through Heritage Auctions for a piece of DC art. The spectacular image of one of the most famous Joker covers of all time debuted a new version of the villain, trumpeting the return of the Joker after a four-year hiatus from Batman comics.
The popularity of video games among collectors continued to soar, with Mega Man [“Dr. Wright” First Release] – Carolina Collection Wata 9.4 A+ Sealed NES Capcom 1987 USA breaking the record for the most ever paid at auction for a video game. The first appearance of Mega Man, it is the first game in the series. The copy sold is from the first production run of the title, and is believed to be the highest-graded sealed copy of the variant known to exist, a group that is believed to number in single digits.
Three dozen collectors made bids for the Jack Kirby and Chic Stone FantasticFour Annual #2 Splash Page 1 Doctor Doom Original Art (Marvel, 1964), driving the final price to $288,000. One of the best known 1960s major character splash panels, this page was the powerful opening for “The Fantastic Origin of Doctor Doom!”
Created by the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the tale of Marvel’s most popular villain opened with this spectacular page created in twice-up scale.
Drawing the same $288,000 return was Jack Kirby and Syd Shores’ Captain America #103 Cover Red Skull Original Art (Marvel, 1968), which inspired bids from 43 collectors. One of the Red Skull’s most iconic cover images, and one of the finest twice-up Silver Age Marvel covers of all time, this image is so dramatic that the Red Skull’s maniacal facial expression was toned down on the printed cover by slightly changing his eyes and mouth. Created by Kirby, the image also features Sharon Carter, also known as “Agent 13.”
Other top lots included, but were not limited to: Jack Kirby and Chic Stone Fantastic Four Annual #2 Story Page 11 of Doctor Doom’s Origin Original Art (Marvel, 1964), which sold for $180,000; Whiz Comics #2 (#1) (Fawcett Publications, 1940), sold for $150,666; a copy of Superman #1 (DC, 1939), which sold for $150,000; Batman #1 (DC, 1940), sold for $150,000; Captain America Comics #1 (Timely, 1941), sold for $132,000; and Sensation Comics #1 (DC, 1942), sold for $132,000.
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
The Internet’s most popular auction-house website, HA.com, has over 1,250,000 registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of five million past auction records with prices realised, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.