One of the highest-graded copies of Amazing Fantasy #15, considered one of the most significant US comic books of all time, could bring $900,000 or more in an auction this March – and there are some gems on offer from Heritage Auctions from British comic artists, too, including an early “Judge Dredd” strip by Mick McMahon.
A copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 is a collector’s prize by any measure, given that it marks the debut of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man, but collectors seem to be web slinging their way to Heritage Auctions in droves (or should that be clutter?) to bid on a one of the highest-graded copies of this Silver Age gem.
Spider-Man remains one of the most popular superheroes of all time and is considered by some as the most significant contribution to the comic world from writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, but when a copy of the 57-year-old issue, which features a cover by Jack Kirby, inked by Ditko, is up for auction in exceptional condition, one of six with a CGC grade of 9.4, it’s no wonder bids are already at $370,000.
There are only four known to carry a higher grade and Heritage Auctions fully expect the copy to sell for much higher, perhaps as much as $900,000, in their Comics Auction taking place 5th – 7th March 2020 in Dallas, Texas.
“Finding this comic book in this condition is extraordinarily rare, which is why this copy holds so much appeal to the most serious of collectors,” commented Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President Ed Jaster. “It’s the kind of book around which an elite collection can be built.”
The issue, which also features the first appearances of Peter Parker’s (Spider-Man’s) Uncle Ben and Aunt May, with a classic cover by Jack Kirby and is the issue in which Steve Ditko began his legendary tenure as Spider-Man’s primary artist.
This rare copy of Amazing Fantasy is offered here on Heritage Auctions, along with 1314 other lots in the auction here, which includes an original Calvin and Hobbes strip by Bill Watterson, an Incredible Hulk pin-up from Fantastic Four Annual #1 by Jack Kirby (and many more Marvel pages by the master), plus art by John Buscema, Frank Brunner, John Byrne, Gene Colan, Jack Davis, Frank Frazetta, “Krazy Kat” strips by George Herriman, a beautiful Solomon Kane artwork by Jeff Jones, Joe Jusko, Joe Kubert, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Alex Raymond, Marshall Rogers, John Romita Snr, “Peanuts” cartoons by Charles Schulz, Dave Sim, Curt Swan, Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson and many more.
Jeff Jones – Solomon Kane Painting Original Art (c. 1975). Robert E. Howard’s puritanical swordsman/adventurer is well captured in this somber piece by Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Early works by this artist are always highly prized by collectors and fans
Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Annual #1 “The Incredible Hulk” Pin-Up Original Art (Marvel, 1963). This absolutely classic pin-up page is the very first Hulk pin-up from Marvel. To make it even cooler, the text mentions the Hulk’s battle with the Fantastic Four’s Thing from the (then) recent FF #12. It is a bold image that has been burned into the minds of generations of comic fans and art collectors as the definitive rendition of one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest superheroes…
Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin Doctor Strange #48 Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1981)
Hero for Hire #1 Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1972) by John Romita Sr. No matter if you know him as Luke Cage, or Power Man… this is where he got his start! It’s the cover of the first issue, and he’s already wearing his most iconic costume… Metal tiara, yellow satin open-front blouse, wrist shackle cuffs, and a huge chain belt! This book was an important title for Marvel, as it was a black man starring in his own self-titled comic. Not the first in comics’ history, but the first black hero in his own comic for Marvel. The cover was rendered in ink with whiteout art corrections and red ink key lines over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of 11.5″ x 15.5″. It’s unclear if this is all-Romita, or if someone helped out (and even if so, in what way). It’s been suggested that either George Tuska or Sal Buscema may have helped with some pencils or inks. One thing is for sure… there are JRSR art corrections on Luke’s face and figure, and the woman on the left. There is a “scratch” technique used on Luke’s left leg whereby the artist scratches abrasions on the page itself
Bill Watterson – Calvin and Hobbes Daily Comic Strip Original Art dated 2-6-87 (United Feature Syndicate, 1987). “For Garry Trudeau, with great admiration” reads Watterson’s inscription. Very few originals of this strip have been available to collectors, and hand-coloured ones even rarer – but the fact that it was a gift to another all-time-great comic strip creator explains why Watterson took the time. This very funny daily was chosen to be reprinted on 1-31-92 while Bill Watterson was on sabbatical
British comic artists work in the auction includes Mick McMahon‘s art in the auction is for the “Judge Dredd” story that appeared in 2000AD Prog 3, a complete four-page story titled “The New You” written by Kelvin Gosnell, published in March 1977. In the story, Joe “Scarface” Levine, a known criminal, is hunted by law. Believing he is safe after a plastic surgery, Judge Dredd catches him on a highway by voice print instead.
The logo and 2000AD “Thrill 6” lower corner box on Page One are stat paste-ups and there’s original art under the logo paste-up in the top section of Page One. The last panel on Page Two is a printed paste-up over the original art. This was to make that panel slightly smaller and leave room for the word balloon above it.
(“The New You” is only the second Dredd strip to be drawn by McMahon after “Frankenstein 2”, although published first. It was once planned as the debut episode for Prog 2, before Pat Mills rewrote the existing “Judge Whitey” script by Pete Harris and had McMahon draw that updated story instead).
Mike McMahon’s art in the auction is for the “Judge Dredd” story that appeared in 2000AD Prog 3, a complete four-page story titled “The New You”, published in March 1977.
Also offered by British artists is the cover of Rampaging Hulk #2 by Ken Barr; the cover of 2000AD Prog 571 by Steve Dillon featuring Judge Dredd; Deadpool art by Ian Churchill (and Jason Minor); a variant cover to The Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Dave Gibbons; and a Boba Fett painting by Cam Kennedy, for Dark Horse Comics Star Wars range; and artworks by Frank Quitely. European artists represented include Esteben Maroto, Milo Minara, Moebius, Hugo Pratt and Sanjulian.
Ken Barr Rampaging Hulk #2 Cover Painting Original Art (Marvel, 1977). This incredible cover painting is simply smashing! The Hulk battles a giant robot… in Paris!
Steve Dillon 2000AD #571 Cover Judge Dredd Original Art (Fleetway Publications, 1988)
Dave Gibbons The Dark Knight III: The Master Race Retailer Incentive Variant Cover Original Art (DC Comics, 2016). Gibbons gives us a different angle on the leap seen on the classic splash page from Frank Miller’s original Dark Knight Returns #3. Carrie Kelley known for being the first full-time female Robin in the history of the Batman franchise, takes the front stage as she leads her hero and boss into the night
An original Boba Fett painting by Cam Kennedy (Dark Horse, 1998). Cam Kennedy was responsible for Dark Horse’s first Star Wars comic book series, and this illustration was used as an exclusive glow-in-the-dark print for the Brussels comic shop Forbidden Zone. The art is a tribute re-creation of Kennedy’s Star Wars: Boba Fett, Death, Lies & Treachery cover, which was the first graphic novel dedicated to the popular Mandalorian bounty hunter
Esteban Maroto “The Cat with the Golden Mask” Painting Original Art (c. 1990s). A gorgeous oil painting in the Gothic Horror tradition
Moebius (Jean Giraud) Moebius: Made in L.A. Page 77 Arzach Sci-Fi Illustration Original Art (Casterman, 1988). Arzach rides a crazy six-legged camel-like creature… as only Moebius could design…
Also in the auction is a Super Spider-Man #226 Avengers Splash Page for Marvel UK by Michael Golden and Duffy Vohland, and a number of other splash pages and pin-ups for other Marvel UK comics by Dave Hunt and others.
Michael Golden and Duffy Vohland Super Spider-Man #226 Avengers Splash Page Original Art (Marvel UK, 1977). As this British weekly reprinted Marvel books over several issues, when they split up a story, they needed an all new splash page. This splash was created for a reprint of Pages 11-19 of the story from Avengers #115. Michael Golden turned in a bang-up job rendering the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Thor, Swordsman, Mantis, and Captain America! As with all such Marvel UK intro pages, the credits shown refer to the remainder of the story rather than to the splash page itself
Dave Hunt and Frank Giacoia Mighty World of Marvel #207 Cover Hulk Original Art (Marvel UK, 1976). This all-new original art cover was an homage to Herb Trimpe cover used for Incredible Hulk #185 (which this issue of the Marvel UK title reprints). The image here is a “five seconds before” image of the 1975 Trimpe original
Dave Hunt’s Centrespread Pull-Out Pin-Up for Marvel UK’s Titans #30 featuring Captain America Poster Original Art dated 15th May 1976 (Marvel UK, 1976). Since this Marvel UK reprint title was in a horizontal format, it allowed for really big double-page centrespread pull-out posters! Dave Hunt took advantage of that long landscape format for this shield-slinging wonder. It features Captain America and the Red Skull!
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.
• Heritage Auctions for 5th – 7th March 2020 in Dallas are here
With thanks to Ian Hollingsworth for notes on the Judge Dredd strip
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.
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