Satire made Mad Magazine a success

On the heels of an auction of Mad Magazine art that brought almost $750,000, Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries is offering the first page of the Mad story that arguably made the magazine the phenomenon it is today: Superduperman from Mad #4 (1953).

As the book Completely MAD notes, sales of issue #1 were “abysmal” and it was #4 that finally turned the corner to profitability.

“Most experts credit the turnaround directly to Superduperman,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Heritage. “MAD cast Superman as a narcissistic stuffed shirt, and Clark Kent as a pathetic creep. It was the first truly hilarious MAD story, and it‘s been reprinted many times over the years. Harvey Kurtzman’s subversive deconstruction of popular culture—which is introduced right on this page – is a blueprint for MAD’s entire achievement. This approach was hugely influential to the subsequent underground cartoonists, not to mention the entire history of American comedy from the 1950s on. The splash shows the great Wally Wood at his comedic best, it’s beautifully rendered and filled with hilarious detail. You couldn’t find a better marriage of form, content, and historical importance. This is a truly iconic piece of original comic artwork.”

While these days MAD is published by DC Comics, back then there was no such connection, and Superman’s publisher was not amused, threatening a lawsuit. EC chose to ignore the threat and continue churning out parodies, and the rest is history.

The original splash page, written by Harvey Kurtzman with art by Wally Wood, has a pre-sale estimate of $20,000.

Also of importance in the February sale to comic book devotees will be an almost complete run of the original X-Men, one of the most important and profitable modern super hero team franchises. The run of X-Men in this auction hails from the famous “White Mountain” collection and includes issues #1-6, 8-10 and most of the rest of the run through issue #40.

“The entire run was sold as one lot by a major auction house in 1991, and a very savvy collector snapped it up,” said Lon Allen, Director of Sales for the Comics division of Heritage. “Not only have Silver Age prices gone way up in the meantime, the advent of CGC certification leads to more bidder confidence now than collectors had back then.”

With issues #1-6, 8-10, and most of the others through #40 included in the auction, it’s a rare chance to see, and acquire, most of this entire important run together at one time.

A few of the books are still being certified, but thus far each one has received the “white pages” certification from CGC, meaning that the condition and quality of these books is as close to perfect as the public is ever likely to see, with many being certified 9.4 and a few 9.6. If you’re not familiar with comics grading, numbers that high essentially mean the issues are dusted with gold.

“The 9.2 copy of issue #4 is beautiful, and the 9.4 copies of #9, #10, and #15 are among the nicest existing copies of those issues,” Allen said. “Seen all at once, it’s an impressive run to say the least.”

As an added bonus, Heritage will also be offering the second part of the Capital City Collection of CGC-certified Silver Age Comic Books, the first parts of which have already realized more than $200,000 in previous Heritage Signature Comics and Comic Art Auctions and weekly Internet auctions.

Early highlights include: The Avengers #2 (Marvel, 1963) CGC NM 9.4; Green Lantern #40 (DC, 1965) CGC NM+ 9.6; Strange Tales #135 (Marvel, 1965) CGC NM 9.4; and Tales of Suspense #53 (Marvel, 1964) CGC NM 9.4.

Heritage’s next Signature Comics and Comic Art auction will be held Feb. 26 and 27, 2009, in Dallas, Texas. For more information, visit

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