Jiminy Christmas! | $448K Comic Page

On May 5th 2011 Heritage Auctions sold the original art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns issue three page ten for $448125.  That’s right, just shy of half a million dollars for a piece of comic book art.

Recorded as the highest price ever paid for original comic art, including Frazetta covers.  This has caused a huge amount of buzz in the collecting community; I can’t imagine what the Dark Knight covers would go for.

There’s no question it has a lot going for it: the seminal comic series of the 1980s that began the dark turn of comic books, penciled by Frank Miller, one page of art that sums up the series in a classic splash page.

I’ve been collecting comic art since 2002 and have seen a dramatic, possibly ridiculous, increase in the price of not only published work but sketches and commissions as well.  While we live in a system of supply and demand hype and nostalgia play a large role.

We’ve seen some crazy prices lately for comic books and now comic art is seeing a big jump.  This is an excellent page but there are so many iconic covers and images out there this may only be the beginning.  Overpriced?  Yes.  Would I like to own it for its place in comics history and as am amazing piece of comic art: absolutely.

As a complete aside Heritage does a great job of posting large scans of their auctions including comic art; go have a browse.

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

Articles: 1231


  1. If by “go have a browse” you mean download their super large scan, pull back the yellow in photoshop, printed it out on tabloid sized extra heavy paper so that it feels similar to the original art board, from your typical office colour printer which has a resolution of 150 dpi, resulting in an image that is sharp enough to be framed and enjoyed… well… after the enlightening copyright discussion previously posted… I admit to nothing.
    The expected sale for this piece was $100k which in itself was high for a relatively modern example so a near $500k is pretty incredible. Heritage takes a cut from both buyer and seller (I think around 25% in total which is huge as opposed to the standard 10% from other auction houses) but many collectors feel the premiums are worth it since Heritage has a reach that the others don’t. So you pay more but you still end up getting more. And, considering that traditional galleries get anywhere from 40-60% it’s not too bad… but of course those galleries also act as artists agents or reps.
    This is a fine example of pop culture, from a pivotal time, from a pivotal book, from a creator destined to be recognized in the history books. As a kid, I had several opportunities to buy Byrne’s X-Men pages at the back then standard price of $100. Today, those same pages are trading around $10k on eBay, assuming they even get listed. But to a kid in 6th grade, a $100 feels as $10k does to me today… so I guess it’s all relative.
    Art is personal so buy what you like but from an investment point of view, good quality stuff will always be valued. The trick is to recognize and weed through the junk… like X-Force #2!


  2. I bought George Tuska’s original art pages for Hero For Hire #1 back in mid 1980s. No cover and non splash but pages 2-23 were there. I paid $170 for the whole thing. About 5 years ago I sold the set for $5000. Last year a guy from the US that knew I had the art emailed me asking if I’d sell. I told him that I’d already sold and for how much. He said he would have paid me $30,000. I hope he was just trying to make me feel bad!

  3. Good news, I just picked up a collection and there were 3 copies of X-Force #2 (while there were 20+ copies of #1, do you not see the scarcity), sadly no original art from the book was present.

  4. Wow, I can’t believe you had a near complete comic and let it go… Considering that the pages are distributed amongst the production crew… that is a very rare thing to have! Last year some guy had a complete FF book (I think #171 or around there) listed on eBay for $35k… but I can’t remember if it sold or not.
    While we’re on the topic of the ones that got away… Just over a year ago some guy from NY listed his run of FF’s from #1-50 asking $8k. #1-5 were graded 5.0-6.0 by a company called ACE and he said the rest were of similar condition. At the time, I was getting back into comics and was just learning about CGC and PGX but I had never heard of ACE. On a whim I contacted him and offered $6k. Surprisingly he accepted but I had to wait about 10 days for PayPal to clear my funds… But also it was an expensive purchase so I was hesitant and didn’t know if ACE was some sort of sham. It took a few days for me to do a bit of research and convince myself that it was a “fair” deal… but by then the seller called me back and called the deal off. Some time after that I realized that it was actually the deal of a lifetime! #1 alone would have paid for the whole collection.
    In hindsight, as soon as the deal was made I should have taken the day off and drove down to NY. I conservatively estimate the collection was actually worth at least $30+k. The topper is that FF is one of the runs I’m trying to complete. I pretty much have every issue except for… wait for it… #1-45!!
    Have you read this?

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