Heritage just wrapped up their 2012 July 26-28 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction- Beverly Hills #7063, resulting in the first comics auction over ten million. Yes, that’s crazy but the volume was incredibly high. We’ll be looking at the original art component of the auction.
The big items were the 38 pieces from the Shamus family, publishers of Wizard Magazine. Marty Shamus said he traded Todd McFarlane baseball and hockey cards for the original art in the auction; talk about being at the right place at the right time. Looking at the results of this auction is seems the bidders were all fans of 90s comics with pieces from that era commanding the top spots. Every major news outlet has covered the McFarlane Amazing Spider-Man issue 328 cover that went for $657,250 so let’s look at some surprises. Because of the sheer volume of this auction the normal five spots isn’t enough so we’ll bump this Auction Highlights up to ten items. All amounts are in U.S. dollars.
McLeod Bill Editorial cartoon by Windsor McCay, 1934, sold for $2,868. McCay is best known for creating Little Nemo In Slumberland but had an extensive career in editorial cartooning. This one is a real gem featuring Uncle Sam. This is a long term purchase from an historical cartoonist. Source.
Batman Vengeance Of Bane Special #1 cover by Glenn Fabry, 1993, sold for $33,460. Cover to the first appearance of Bane and riding the popularity of The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a great cover by a great artist but without the movie this wouldn’t be anywhere near that price level. I doubt we’ll see the Bane character in another movie anytime soon. Source.
Daredevil issue 181 splash by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, 1982, sold for $38,837.50. This is an amazing splash from Miller’s run on Daredevil and is almost four times the amount another Daredevil splash sold for two months ago. It’s dramatic and hits the right check marks but that’s a gigantic increase. Source.
Fantastic Four issue 267 complete 22 page story by John Byrne, 1984, sold for $21,510. While Byrne Uncanny X-Men pages bring in a lot his longest Marvel run was for Fantastic Four and it’s rare to see a complete story from that period. For under $1000 a page that’s quite a haul. Source.
Tarzan With The Golden Lion by Jeff Jones, 2001, sold for $3,585. Jeff Jones is a tough sell to comic fans since his work was brief and over 30 years ago. A gifted illustrator and painter this piece exemplifies his style. It’s worth noting this painting is quite large at 50″ x 74 “. Had this been in an illustration auction it would have fetched a higher price. Source.
Dick Tracy issue 69 cover by Joe Simon, 1953, sold for $717. This just seems wrong all around: Dick Tracy, Joe Simon, classic action cover, selling for a pittance. Unfortunately unless it’s featuring Captain America Joe Simon artwork is going for very little, and it’s unlikely Dick Tracy is going to make a comeback anytime soon. Is the bad guy bleeding from his ear? Source.
Batman Triumphant by Alan Davis and Paul Neary, sold for $1,434. This piece is undated but judging by the style it looks to be from their run on Detective Comics. It’s a great work and hits about the average price. Batman is always a popular character and looks great. Source.
Tales Of Suspense issue 97 splash by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, 1968, sold for $68,712.50. Wow, this is an awesome Captain America image from Kirby’s golden period. That’s a very high price but this is a combination of character and action pose bringing a premium. This feels like auction fever. Source.
Durango Kid issue 14 by Frank Frazetta, 1951, sold for $4,182.50. A classic White Indian page that shows off Frazetta’s clean comic style. Unfortunately Frazetta’s paintings overshadow his comic work and this material is not well known. Source.
Spider-Man issue 1 cover by Todd McFarlane, 1990, sold for $358,500. This was the big item of the auction, or at least was supposed to be, even featured on the cover of the auction catalogue. A truly iconic image for those who collected comics in the 1990s and a sign of the downfall of comic speculation. This piece sums up the auction for me: fourty somethings who collected as teenagers now able to afford this kind of investment. I can’t see how this cover can command anywhere near the price it achieved. Source.
Heritage has the best scans. I would think that being able to see the line work up close and the subtle densities of black would be invaluable to up and coming illustrators…
DD#181 – Definitely advantage seller. But what I think this has going for it is that it’s a “poster” shot of DD. Like Walt said previously, he wouldn’t buy a Buscema page without Conan… From an investment stand point, he’s correct but it says little about the actual art itself. As well, #181 is a key book.
The FM page(s) that I covet most is his work from DD#191 and Ronin. DD#191 in particular was very unique with an unusual, sudden change in style. I assume it was a test flight to where he would eventually land in Ronin.
FF#267 – Agreed. I’ve seen lesser complete stories sell for $30k. The FF#267 is not key and is relatively new… but it is complete and it’s John Byrne. It’s not uncommon to see Byrnes pre 80’s work sell for $8k and above… per page! I suspect this buyer will eventually be able to recoup his cost… with gravy.
Jeff Jones – Note the ochre under painting… a very traditional technique. Only $3600… I’ll take two!
Spidey#1 – Advantage seller…? I’m not so sure about this one. $360k is a lot money but McFarlane is a big part of comic history. And aside from ASM#300, I can’t think of a more quintessential McFarlane cover that is symbolic… as you say of the 90’s… but also, a new approach comics. This is a modern version of IM#1 or Cap#100 that often get referenced in write ups. A classic poster image that embodies the spirit of the character, the era and the artist. Too bad the comic itself is a dud stuck in the dollar bins.
Of note, McFarlane repeated this cover on #13 (with black costume) and on Spawn#8. I wonder how these covers would fair on the open market. As well a slew of “homages” (which reads better than “copied”):
I think for the Dick Tracy art you meant to say “Advantage Buyer”. The content of your write-up certainly suggests so…when something sells “for a pittance” the buyer isn’t the one who’d walk away happy.
^ whoops. Now I messed up: “The buyer IS the one who’d walk away happy.”
No, I meant advantage seller on the Simon Dick Tracy cover. All the factors I listed in my mind would make for a valuable piece of art but the market continues to show no interest in those factors and the seller was lucky to get what he could. Dick Tracy isn’t going to get popular again and Simon’s name unfortunately doesn’t carry the same weight as his frequent partner Kirby.
The Jones and Frazetta pieces were bargains.
On the Byrne complete story, I think I’ve told this story before but about 6 or 7 years ago I owned the original art pages 3-23 (or #22 I forget) of Tuska’s Luke Cage #1. The only pages I was missing was the cover and splash and page 2.
An art dealer offered me $3K and I negotiated up to $5K. Kind of wish it’d kept them now!
The 3 Herbie pages Scott alerted me to each sold for over $600! I bought similar pages on ebay for $100 a piece last year. Heritage is the place to go if you want to consign. I’m not so sure it’s a great place to find the best price as a buyer. Kudos to them for creating a buying experience that is a cut above the competition. It’s obviously paying off. Especially when you compare to a site like comiclink which I think I could have built in HTML in 1998, Heritage really classes it up.