Carl Barks’ Disney Duck paintings claim four of five top lot honors

Fans of the work of “Duck Man” Carl Barks made their presence felt at Heritage Comic Auctions’ February Signature Sale Feb. 24-26, when four of the five highest prices realized were for his original paintings of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge. With more than 2,300 bidders, the auction realized nearly $4.3 million in sales. (All prices include a buyers’ premium.)

Barks’ “Business as Usual” from 1976 topped the sale, selling for $179,250. Part of Barks collector Kerby Confer’s consignment, the painting shows Scrooge and his nephews working deep in his Money Bin.

Placing second-highest in the sale, selling for $167,300, was the Pinnacle Hill Collection copy of Archie Comics #1 (Win 42), CGC-graded 8.5 (Very Fine+) with white pages, the highest-graded copy to date. Only 19 copies have been graded to date, with the next-highest copy graded 7.0 (Fine/Very Fine).

Barks’ paintings rounded out the remaining Top Five sales positions with “Only a Poor Old Duck” selling for $107,550, while “Nobody’s Spending Fool” and “Voodoo Hoodooed” each closed at $101,575. All three were from Confer’s collection.

Looking at more of the results list: The Top 10 continued to be dominated by original art and just one more comic book: a copy of Marvel Comics #1 (Nov 39), CGC-graded 6.0 (Fine) with off-white to white pages, that sold for $71,700.

Of the four art pieces rounding out the Top 10, two more were Barks’ paintings, with “July Fourth in Duckburg” from the Confer collection selling for $65,725 and “The Stone That Turns All Metals Gold,” which wasn’t from Confer’s consignment, selling for $59,750. As reported last issue, “July Fourth in Duckburg” set a sales record 35 years ago, when it sold for $6,400 in 1976.

Tying with “July Fourth in Duckburg” was the original cover art for X-Men (1st series) #116 (Dec 78) by John Byrne and Terry Austin, which closed at $65,725. “Kitchen Kut-Outs,” a two-page piece by Robert Crumb for Zap Comics #1 (Nov 67) rounded out the Top 10, selling for $47,800.

The next-highest comic-book price realized in the Signature Sale tied with that Crumb art, when Fantastic Four #1 (Nov 61), CGC-graded 8.0 with off-white pages, closed at $47,800.
What was believed to be the only known production setup for the 1935 Disney short “Mickey’s Band Concert” sold for $44,812.50.

Only two more comics rounded out Heritage’s Top 20: A copy of Superman #24, CGC-graded 9.4 (Near Mint) with white pages, one of only seven copies graded above Very Fine, sold for $41,825, and a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, signed by Stan Lee, closed at $33,460.

Original art dominated the remainder of the Top 20, with: Robert Crumb’s original cover art for XYZ Comics (Jun 72) selling for $38,837.50; Page 24 from Batman: The Dark Knight #3 by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson selling for the same amount; an original Peanuts Sunday strip featuring Snoopy by Charles Schulz closing at $35,850 (which tied with Barks’ “Christmas Carolers” painting); Crumb’s original illustration of Jack Kerouac from Meet the Beats selling for $33,460; and another Barks painting, “Rumble Seat Roadster,” closing at that same price.

The quartet of Dave Gibbons’ originals from Watchmen commanded good prices, as well, with the following results:

  • Page 24 from #3, featuring Nite Owl and Rorshach: $11,352.50
  • Page 8 from #10, featuring Ozymandias: $9,560
  • Page 5 from #8, featuring Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, with color guide: $8,365
  • Page 2 from #7, featuring Silk Spectre in the Owlship, with color guide: $7,767.50

The Savannah collection, a large run of Silver Age and Modern comics consigned by Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find owner Shelton Drum, was well-represented in the sale with a copy of Showcase #22 (Oct 59), the first appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern, CGC-graded 8.0 (Very Fine) with off-white pages, closing at $23,900.

A Very Fine+ copy of Gobbledygook #1 (1984), one of only 50 printed, sold for $11,352.50. The issue was significant, since it had the first appearance of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (in an ad on the back cover).

For more coverage of comic books, original illustration art and comic-themed movie, strips and convention news, visit Comics Buyers’ Guide online.

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