Published: June 30, 2023
DALLAS — History flew off the spinner racks at a dizzying pace over the last few days. And by the time the sun set Sunday night, Heritage Auctions wrapped one of the most thrilling and successful Comics & Comic Art Signature Auctions in the company’s 47-year history on June 22-25. The four-day event — capped by Frank Frazetta’s “Dark Kingdom,” which sold for $6 million to become the world’s most valuable comic or fantasy art — realized $21,056,657, with 5,715 bidders worldwide helping make it a near-complete sellout. The auction was Heritage’s most successful Comics & Comic Art auction since last June’s, which topped $24 million.
Frazetta’s painting, which graced the covers of Karl Edward Wagner’s 1976 novel Dark Crusade and Molly Hatchet’s 1979 Flirtin’ With Disaster, cemented it as one of the late artist’s most treasured works. But numerous other record-breakers joined Frazetta’s wing-capped warrior in this event, including one beloved Poor Little Rich Boy and a 6-year-old adventurer accompanied by his talking (stuffed) tiger.
Indeed, this auction was a watershed moment for Bill Watterson and his beloved creations, Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson’s strips are extraordinary rarities, and Heritage already holds all the records for his hand-painted originals, including a May 1987 Sunday strip that sold last year for $480,000. But this auction saw two of his black and white works achieve Technicolor results. One dates from March 28, 1986, less than a year into the strip’s decade-long run, and features Calvin and Hobbes donning sunglasses to look “cooler than we are.” Watterson gave the strip to a colleague upon whom he imparted his “best wishes.” That extraordinary rarity sold for $174,000, making it the world’s most valuable black and white Calvin and Hobbes daily.
Not far behind was a black and white daily that appeared in newspapers on December 30, 1987, which ranks among the series’ classics — the one in which Calvin and Hobbes build “the strongest snow fort ever made” directly behind the garage, much to Dad’s dismay. This strip, too, was a gift from Watterson, who inscribed the work to someone named Ann: “Best wishes with your ‘little Calvin,’” he wrote beside his familiar all-caps signature. It sold for $156,000.
In an auction dominated by grown-ups in tights, the kids ruled the weekend. A Richie Rich No. 1 graded CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 realized $108,000 to set a new record for this coveted 1960 Harvey title. This is the book in which Richie made his solo-title debut after serving as a backup to Little Dot. There are just four copies bearing this grade, none higher, and collectors responded with a bidding war that would have made Alfred Harvey proud. The final price more than doubled the previous high of $48,995 set at Heritage in May 2016.
“I never cease to be amazed and surprised by our Comics & Comic Art auctions,” says Heritage Auctions’ vice president Barry Sandoval. “We had a feeling the Frazetta would make history; it deserved to. And Bill Watterson’s work has become increasingly valuable as fans and followers flock to the few available works that come to auction. But it’s a delight to see Richie Rich enter the six-figure pantheon in a sale rich with comics history. And we’re also thrilled for our clients, as ten consignors saw their offerings in this sale hit a hammer price of $250,000 or more.”
Prices quoted with buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For additional information, 214-528-3500 or www.ha.com.
September 18, 2023
September 18, 2023
September 18, 2023
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm