DALLAS – Led by the $657,250 “Aloha” copy of a 1939 Detective Comics #27, the legendary first appearance of “The Batman,” and the $862,513 debut of The Kerby Confer Collection of Disneyana – anchored by Carl Barks’ original oil painting, An Embarrassment of Riches, which brought $161,325 – the $4.33 million Heritage Auctions Aug. 5-6 comics and comic art auction propelled the Heritage comics category past a lifetime total of more than $150 million. All prices include 19 1/2 percent buyer’s premium.
“Since the inception of the Comics category at Heritage in November of 2001, it’s been nothing less than a juggernaut,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage.
The rise of the “Super Comic” continued with the auctioning for $657,250 for the “Aloha” copy of Detective #27, a rare 7.5 graded, CGC certified copy of this second-most famous of all comic books – Heritage also sold an 8.0 certified copy for $1,075,00 in February of this year – which sold to an anonymous collector outside the United States to realize the second highest price ever paid for a comic book offered at public auction.
The comic was bought in 1974 in Honolulu for $1,200. At that time, spending that much on a comic book brought astonishment from the various people in the consignor’s life.
“It’s safe to say that the astonishment those people felt at the first price the consignor paid for has now been replaced by the astonishment at what a smart investment it was for him,” said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations of the Comics division of Heritage. “There are very few of this particular comic around, possibly less than 100, and very few others that can even approach the condition of this one.”
In the same auction, a few minutes before, a CGC graded 5.5 copy of Batman #1, from 1940, owned by collector Mike Wheat of Fairbanks, Alaska, brought $55,269, from a different anonymous collector, in an auction lot that garnered worldwide attention due to the pristine white pages of the copy, so-well preserved from having spent so many decades in the dry, cold atmosphere 150 miles below the Arctic Circle.
The sale of the rare copy of Batman #1 is the culmination of a story that begins in 1974 when a private individual bought an antique dresser and decided to refurbish it for his own use. He found the glide bar for the bottom drawer had been replaced with a sheet of plywood and, under that plywood, he found three comic books, apparently meant to be spacers. Wheat purchased the book for $300 and has held onto it for more than 35 years before now realizing a massive return on his initial investment.
The debut of the very important Kerby Confer Collection, one of the finest collections of Disneyana extant – including, in this auction, 10 original Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge paintings – realized an impressive total of $862,513 in this first part of the collection to be offered – most importantly, without reserves. The lead lot of Confer’s collection was Barks’ An Embarrassment of Riches oil painting (1983), which realized $161,325. Of the top 10 lots in the auction, six of them were original Barks paintings from Confer.
“The ‘money bin’ paintings are the most desirable Carl Barks originals,” said Lon Allen, Managing Director of the Comics Department at Heritage, “and this sensational showpiece is the second largest one Barks ever produced, at 25 inches by 20 inches.”
Prices for original art work from fantasy artist Frank Frazetta have long brought premium prices at auction, but never more so in the few months that have passed since the master’s passing earlier in 2010. The trend of premium prices on Frazetta continued when his Pony Tail (The Tritonian Ring Paperback Cover) original art (Paperback Library, 1967) realized $83,650 amidst spirited bidding.
“Frazetta redefined the field of fantasy art with his electrifying paperback covers of the 1960s,” said Jaster. “He set a new standard of excellence for all others to aspire to. Since the day they first saw print, his visceral visions of heroic conflict, terrifying creatures of the night, and tantalizing women have inspired and entertained scores of creative talents and readers alike.”
One of the auction’s most highly anticipated, and hotly contested, lots was Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s original artwork for Page 8 of Journey Into Mystery #83, the watermark first appearance of Thor and his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir (Marvel, 1962), which raced to $65,725 and further cemented this most important of comic book moments.
For the third time in 15 months Heritage broke the existing public auction price record for an Underground Comic, as the granddaddy of all Underground books, a 9.4 CGC-graded copy of Zap Comix #1 Plymell First Printing (Apex Novelties, 1967) realized $28,680 to raise the bar even higher for this sought-after first printing.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939) CGC VG 4.0: Marvel #1 is the third most-valuable comic book according to Overstreet, and it’s the first Timely comic book, the issue that started the Marvel Universe. Realized $38,838.
George Herriman last-ever Krazy Kat Sunday Comic Strip original art dated 6-25-44 (King Features Syndicate, 1944): In the sparse landscape of Coconino County, Offisa Pup dives into action to rescue Krazy in this final Krazy Kat Sunday by George Herriman. A fitting finale to a legendary strip, this is Herriman’s final visit with the denizens of Coconino, and it contains images of Ignatz, Krazy and Offisa Pup. Realized $31,070.
Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Daredevil #175 Elektra page 14 Original Art (Marvel, 1981): Fans of Elektra would be hard-pressed to top this deadly page where the femme fatale takes out five members of the Hand in these unforgettable scenes from her fourth appearance in the Daredevil yarn "Gantlet." Realized $19,120.
John Buscema Conan the Barbarian #124 Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1981): This scintillating cover illustration of the Cimmerian by John Buscema includes the original logo and masthead paste-up type. Realized $14,340.
For more information on Heritage Auction Galleries and their sales, visit www.HA.com.
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