Published: March 13, 2017
Review by Anne Kugielsky, Photos Courtesy Heritage Auctions
DALLAS, TEXAS — “The auction exceeded our estimates by more than $1.2 million,” Barry Sandoval, director of comics operations at Heritage Auctions, said. “The market is red hot, especially for fresh material that hasn’t seen the light of day in years, or decades in some cases.”
Heritage Auctions’ February 23–25 comics and comic art auction was a continuation of an ever-improving cycle: iconic and rare comic books and original art sold for $6,332,633, with the first appearance of Spider-Man, art by Frank Frazetta and Robert Crumb selling for $155,350 each. Key books and original art shot past six figures as more than 1,000 lots changed hands online, in the company’s 3500 Maple Street 17th floor galleries and via phone and absentee bidding.
The three exciting but very different lots that sold for $155,350 each included a high-grade copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962), which sold during the first day of the sale. An unrestored high-grade copy of Spider-Man’s very first appearance and origin was predicted to do well as there are very few high-grade copies in existence.
Spider-Man was followed by Frank Frazetta’s 1968 oil on canvas board painting, “Thor’s Flight,” which was published on the cover of the paperback edition of Thongor in the City of Magicians by Lin Carter. The third in the top trio was, Hup #4 — the complete four-page story original art (Last Gasp, 1992), by Underground Comix master Robert Crumb.
Batman fans had much to choose from as a first edition of Batman sold for $143,400 (despite the 3.5 grade, which Sandoval said had more to do with technical issues than the book’s eye appeal) and a copy of Detective Comics #35, which went to $119,500.
A small selection from the collection of the family of American cartoonist Richard Felton Outcault (1863–1928) — considered by historians as the father of the American comic strip — realized more than $100,000. Consigned from the Outcault Family Collection and filled with works that epitomize Sandoval’s comment on fresh material, many of the pieces had not been seen since the early 1900s when they were first created.
The collection was led by a Buster Brown Sunday comic strip original art dated October 29, 1916 (Philadelphia Record, 1916), which sold for $35,850.
A “Yellow Kid” lot, only the second piece of original Yellow Kid art by R.F. Outcault that Heritage has offered, was a calendar postcard original art, circa 1912, which sold for $16,730.
Several important collections also performed well: the Ethan Roberts estate collection of comics and comic art sold for a combined $1.2 million, as artist Alex Raymond’s original art for a Flash Gordon comic strip dated October 27, 1935, sold for $131,450. The collection featured two important examples of original cover art by genre master Bernie Wrightson, as his cover art for Swamp Thing #6 sold for $58,555 and the original cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #259 sold for $33,460.
Other top lots from the Roberts collection included a full Sunday page with original Alex Raymond artwork of “Flash Gordon” with a “Jungle Jim” topper, dated November 12, 1939, which sold at $95,600. The two strips are produced in ink over graphite with red ink key lines on Bristol board with an image area of 24 by 19½ inches (Flash) and 24 by 11 inches (Jim).
Original art for Captain America comics #68 (Timely, 1948), attributed to Ken Bald, sold at $77,675; a Bill Watterson Calvin and Hobbes daily comic strip original art dated April, 28, 1986 (Universal Press Syndicate, 1986) realized $71,700; and Hit Comics #5, Mile High Pedigree (Quality, 1940), was a home run at $59,750.
In what Sandoval described as a “minor surprise,” two lots of John Pound’s Garbage Pail Kids cards, Series 1 card #41A/B “Mean Gene and Joltin’ Joe” and Series 1 card #20A/B “Swell Mel/Dressy Jesse” (Topps, 1985) illustration original art sold for $20,315 and $15,535, respectively. “We expect these 1980s cards to go for $4,000 or $5,000, not three or four times that,” Sandoval said.
Heritage’s next comics and comic art auction will be in New York City in May when, according to Sandoval, there will be more of the fresh material as well as cover art of “Laura” from the Marvel Comics X-Men newest movie Logan. “Good timing on the part of the consignor,” Sandoval said, as the movie was just released in early March.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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