Published: May 12, 2020
DALLAS – The Frank Frazetta original cover art for Jane Gaskell’s The Serpent (Paperback Library, 1967) and Bernie Wrightson original front endpapers art for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein (late 1970s) sparked furious bidding to lead Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comics Art Auction to $9,099,710 in total sales April 30-May 3.
The auction finished well above its estimate of $7.3 million and boasted sell-through rates of 100 percent by lots and value.
Frazetta’s art for The Serpent drew bids from 32 collectors before it sold for $300,000. Normally, a standing semi-nude human figure would be the dominant element of any image, but in this case, the woman’s skin almost blends into the color around her, while the black and green serpent creates the strongest visual contrast. The image was used on the 1967 paperback edition for Jane Gaskell’s The Serpent, which was the first in the “Atlan Saga” series.
“Frank Frazetta’s artwork has been extremely popular among collectors in recent years, so it is no surprise that the interest in The Serpent was so high” Heritage Auctions co-chairman Jim Halperin said. “In addition, the auction included several new artist’s records, and the Variety Store collection of fresh-to-market comics produced outstanding results.”
Bernie Wrightson’s front endpapers illustration art for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, circa late 1970s, drew 44 bids before finishing at $240,000. Wrightson’s original art for the title is exceedingly rare. Starting in 1975, Wrightson spent six years creating images, only three of which are landscape format pieces (the wraparound cover and the back endpapers are the others). Wrightson is so revered for his work on the project that even the images he created that did not end up getting used in the book are in high demand among serious collectors. Among all of his illustrations, this is one of the few that gives a clear portrait of the tortured soul known as “the Monster of Frankenstein.”
That Amazing Fantasy #15 is the most coveted Silver Age comic of all time is no secret, especially in a high grade. So it was no surprise when Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962) CGC VF 8.0 drew bids from 67 collectors before closing at $180,000. The most valuable book from the Silver Age includes the origin and first appearance of Spider-Man, as well as Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
Nearly four dozen collectors went after John Romita Sr and Mike Esposito (as M. Demeo) Amazing Spider-Man #41 splash page 1 original art (Marvel, 1966) until it also brought $180,000, tripling its estimate. The “giant web” splash page presents the first image of the Rhino in what was just Romita’s third issue of his long run on the title.
Donald Duck’s 60th anniversary was celebrated in Carl Barks’ original art for Surprise Party at Memory Pond (1994), which changed hands for $156,000. Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Uncle Scrooge, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Grandma, Gyro Gearloose, Gladstone Gander and Gus Goose are among those in attendance at the celebration in the painting that includes elements from Donald’s first screen appearance in the Silly Symphony, “The Little Wise Hen.”
Superman #1 (DC, 1939) CGC apparent FN 6.0, found a new owner at $144,000. After Action Comics #1, it is considered the ultimate prize for any serious Superman collector.
The sale included 50 lots from the fresh-to-market “Variety Store Collection,” a single-owner trove of incredibly high-grade Marvel titles from the 1960s and 1970s, many of which carry grades of 9.6 and 9.8. The collection has been stored by a Midwest convenience store owner for years, and will have additional lots featured in future Heritage comics auctions, including Sunday-Monday Night Weekly Online sales. Among the top lots from the Variety Store Collection were: The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (Marvel, 1967) CGC NM/MT 9.8, which took $55,200 – nearly double the previous record for the issue; and The Amazing Spider-Man #39 (Marvel, 1966) CGC NM/MT 9.8, which sold at $31,200 – more than double the previous record.
Heritage is making a concerted effort in the video game collecting category. This auction marked the first time Wata-certified Atari games have ever been offered at public auction, setting a number of auction records for sealed Atari games. Atari was created in 1972 in Sunnyvale, Calif., and was a pioneer in arcade games, video game consoles and systems and home computers.
Super Mario Bros. [Hangtab, 3 Code, Mid-Production] Wata 8.0 A sealed NES Nintendo 1985 USA prompted bids from 29 collectors before selling for $40,200. Although Heritage has offered complete in-box and sealed copies of this title before, this was the first copy offered of the cardboard hangtab variant. Sealed hangtab copies of other black box titles offered previously by Heritage Auctions often have sparked competitive bidding, and this game was no exception. This Nintendo Entertainment System launch title is also the highest selling title on the console. Not only is it the first video game in the Super Mario Bros. series, it also marks the first appearance of the biggest threat to the Mushroom Kingdom: Bowser.
Other video game highlights in the sale included a Zelda II: The Adventure of Link [Rev-A, Round SOQ, early production] Wata 9.6 A+ sealed, NES Nintendo, 1989, USA, $38,400; The Legend of Zelda [Oval SOQ TM, later production] Wata 9.4 A sealed, 1987 USA, $33,600; Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, [Oval SOQ TM, later production] Wata 9.2 A sealed, 1987, USA, $33,600; Chrono Trigger, Wata 9.8 A++ sealed, SNES SquareSoft, 1995, USA, $28,800; Spider-Man, Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed Atari 2600, Parker Brothers, 1982, USA, $9,000; Mario Bros., [1988, Silver box] Wata 9.2 A+ Sealed, Atari 2600, Atari, 1983, USA, $9,000; Frogger, Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed, Atari 2600, Parker Brothers, 1982, USA, $5,040.
Drawing a $28,000 return was a Nintendo-Mego Game & Watch Sales Demo cabinet, a Game & Watch demo cabinet made close to 40 years ago by an emerging Nintendo but marketed by a company that sold Star Trek action figures, a game known by two inviting titles: Exterminator or Vermin.
“We expected this to be quite popular because it’s an early piece of Nintendo history – it even predates the Nintendo Entertainment System by about five years,” Heritage Auctions video games consignment director Valarie McLeckie said. “But since it’s one of two Game & Watch demo cabinets known and the only one of this title, we left it up to the market to decide its value. Needless to say, this was a pleasing auction result!”
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