Market Report – November 2017 Heritage Signature Auction

Hi everyone, let’s go through some highlights from HA’s Signature Auction on 16-18 November 2017! Results in this auction were solid, with most mainstream superhero OA finishing within their expected range of values. A fair number of high 4-figure to mid 5-figure pieces marginally exceeded FMV, while several blew by all reasonable estimates.

Today I’ll try a slightly different approach, providing my pre-auction estimates and subsequent hammer prices, with a short commentary on each piece. Hopefully, this way a larger number of items can be showcased without boring you readers!

Strange Tales #125, page 7 by Steve Ditko & George Roussos

Pre-auction estimate: $40,000
Sold for: $33,460

I somewhat suspected that $66k sale in August 2017 of the Strange Tales #141 page was an anomaly, being overvalued due to its (then) rarity at auction. My suspicions appear to have been confirmed, with this equally fine ST #125 page fetching a bargain $33k last week.

Watchmen #7, page 21 by Dave Gibbons

Pre-auction estimate: $12,000-15,000
Sold for: $28,680

Wow $29k for a non-Rorschach, non-action panel page dominated by the portly Nite Owl is a real shocker! I have to believe this is an outlier sale, won by an avid strigiformes-lover.

X-Men #1, page 14 by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman

Pre-auction estimate: $35,000
Sold for: $43,020

When it last appeared on HA in February 2009, this page sold for $16,730, during that fabled breakup and sale of X-Men #1 interior pages from 2008-2009. Given its historic nature, $43k seems a strong but fair deal in today’s context.

Amazing Spider-Man #317, page 19 by Todd McFarlane

Pre-auction estimate: $18,000-22,000
Sold for: $46,605

The McFarlane mystique grows. We always knew that Venom pages rendered by his Todd-father were in voracious demand by OA collectors, but no one expected the premium to be this crazy! Alas, my dreams of acquiring a nice McVenom appear to be rapidly evaporating.

As previously discussed, there is widening price separation between average artwork and pieces that possess exceptional differentiating factors (whether in terms of content or quality of art). This demonstrates that the OA hobby is maturing, with increasingly discerning collectors placing greater premiums on top-tier pieces.

Amazing Spider-Man #322, page 1 by Todd McFarlane

Pre-auction estimate: $15,000-18,000
Sold for: $20,315

For a piece as horrifically faded as this, $20k is a large sum for an otherwise desirable McSpidey title-page splash. If not for those fading marker inks, I could easily see it fetching $30k. Once again, stay away from those pre-1990’s marker pens kids!

Daredevil #161, page 5 by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson

Pre-auction estimate: $12,000-15,000
Sold for: $25,095

At $25k for this panel page, we’re nearing prices for Miller DD covers circa 2015! Guess fans still love the ol’ Frank/Klaus combo, and Matt Murdock’s renewed relevance thanks to Netflix’s Marvel shows haven’t hurt either.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2, page 6 by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson

Pre-auction estimate: $45,000
Sold for: $47,800

Although values of DKR artwork have plateaued over the past few years, prime pieces still fetch big bucks, as evidenced here. That large Batman silhouette is pretty memorable, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if this page had cracked $50k.

Marvel Comics Presents #83, page 1 by Barry Windsor-Smith

Pre-auction estimate: $15,000
Sold for: $20,315

BWS MCP prices just can’t be held back! A superior half-page splash from MCP #79 sold for $18.5k in August 2017 on HA; this lesser #83 page fetching $20k is clearly illustrative of Barry’s continued allure, working in tandem with the ’90s Effect.

Fantastic Four #239, page 23 by John Byrne

Pre-auction estimate: $3,000
Sold for: $4,780

Alpha Flight #17, page 2 by John Byrne

Pre-auction estimate: $2,000
Sold for: $4,063

Incredible Hulk #316, page 16 by John Byrne

Pre-auction estimate: $4,500
Sold for: $5,258

Prices for interior artwork from Byrne’s lower-tier mid-’80s Marvel titles moved up strongly this auction, perhaps due to collectors shifting their sights to these runs while coveted X-Men OA remains out of reach. Whether it’s the long-term value norm, or just a temporary blip, remains to be seen.

Batman #496, cover by Kelley Jones

Pre-auction estimate: $16,000
Sold for: $21,510

Given that strong action panel pages from Kelley’s Batman run go for around $2k, $21.5k for a Joker/Bats cover from the nostalgia rich early-’90s “Knightfall” arc seems perfectly acceptable. Personally, I found Batman’s and Joker’s faces here slightly off-putting, but it certainly didn’t matter to the winning bidder.

Youngblood #0, pages 2 & 3 DPS by Rob Liefeld

Pre-auction estimate: $2,500
Sold for: $3,585

$3.6k is a respectable figure for this spirited double-page splash from rad Rob Liefeld, considering it hails from Youngblood rather than his more coveted New Mutants or X-Force runs.

Infinity War #1, page 25 by Ron Lim & Al Milgrom

Pre-auction estimate: $1,200
Sold for: $1,912

Infinity War #1, page 28 by Ron Lim & Al Milgrom

Pre-auction estimate: $1,500
Sold for: $1,553.50

Alarum, the heavens are in disarray! The “Galactus/Cosmic Beings Tax” has surpassed the vaunted “Thanos Tax”! Okay, so maybe I’m overreacting a bit – one sale of a 12-panel, mainly “talking heads” page probably isn’t indicative of the market at large. Nonetheless, values of Lim Infinity War OA are holding strong, as collectors flock to it while prices of Infinity Gauntlet artwork streak on.

Avengers #7, pages 2 & 3 DPS by George Perez & Al Vey

Pre-auction estimate: $1,600
Sold for: $4,302

Perez prices power upwards, and not just for his vintage pieces. $4.3k for this DPS from 1998 is a prodigious amount; strong character-filled panel pages currently fetch about $700. Moreover, I wouldn’t consider this a particularly great piece – there’s high character-inclusion, but no action/dynamic scenes and too much blank space. At least two bidders thought differently though!

Star Wars #50, page 12 by Al Williamson & Tom Palmer

Pre-auction estimate: $8,000-10,000
Sold for: $11,950

Illustration legend Williamson’s Marvel main series Star Wars OA doesn’t often appear at auction, so when it does, intergalactic fights break out amongst collectors for them. To boot, this is a stunning, large (image size 12”x18”) half-page splash featuring the lovable Han/Chewie buddy team, Millennium Falcon, and TWO Star Destroyers (these iconic vessels usually command an imperious premium)!

Bloodshot #1, cover by Barry Windsor-Smith

Pre-auction estimate: $18,000-20,000
Sold for: $22,705

Not much to say here: iconic 1st issue chromium cover, BWS art, dawn of the revolutionary Valiant universe, ’90s Effect, multimedia resurgence. Hmm a fair bit said actually!

Captain America #116, page 3 by Gene Colan & Joe Sinnott

Pre-auction estimate: $2,000-2,500
Sold for: $5,019

Captain America #116, page 4 by Gene Colan & Joe Sinnott

Pre-auction estimate: $2,000-2,500
Sold for: $4,063

Going by recent sales of similar pages, these should have fetched in the region of $2k+ each, which I felt was fantastic value for money. They come from a momentous story arc, drawn by the epic Colan/Sinnott combo, contain both Cap and Red Skull, and feature the Cosmic Cube! My desire to snag these (previously) undervalued gems was high… but savvy buyers took notice too, and spirited them away.

Until next time, happy collecting!

 

Here’s Part 1 & Part 2 of the guide to collecting original comic art; and my CAF gallery.

Original Art Aficionado archive

 

13 comments

  • Always love this weekly article. Great job as always.
    I enjoyed this format – estimate, sold price and commentary! Keep up the great work!

  • Awesome stuff. So many great pieces!

  • A few thoughts:

    -That Watchmen page is phenomenal, even for a non-action/non-Rorschach. Just the display potential alone, I think, would have propelled it high (still exceeded my estimate which was low 20s).

    -Totally agree – ss I always expected, Byrne lower tier work is now beginning to climb significantly. The recent prices of his Superman work have been astounding. And for some reason, his Alpha Flight work specifically has climbed in the last few years at an astonishing rate. Covers that were going for 2k-6k just a few years ago are now 15k minimum, with some reaching 25k-30k!

    -I don’t think Miller DD covers have been at 25k for many years now, certainly not as recently as 2015 (I could be corrected here). I think they were closer to 40k by 2015 (the 186 cover sold a few years ago – in 13? – for around 33 or 34k on Heritage, and the 190 cover sold for a solid 40k right after, on Comiclink).

    • Edit: to correct a statement, the author did say that, at 25k, Miller pages are currently *nearing* 2015 cover prices, and I was being more literal in my suggestion 2015 cover prices were *at/around* 25k – which they weren’t. So my bad – but I still think 25k was low for 2015…

      • Dick O.

        Thanks for your input, always enjoy hearing others’ opinions and discussing OA!

        When making that comparison I was thinking of the #177 cover which sold for $31k in early 2016. Any way you cut it, $25k is a staggering price for that panel page 😮

  • Khoi Cakes

    As these were your estimated fetching prices, how close were you to HA’s/other estimates? In a previous article, I think you stated that overall condition of the OA is a factor but not a huge factor? Given the fading ink on the ASM 322 and the possibility of it reaching $30K had it been less faded, it would seem that ink fading can substantially affect a piece’s price. That piece was fantastic though with not just Spidey but Silver Sable as well and plenty of action/movement.

    • Dick O.

      Hi Khoi, enjoy listening to you on the podcasts!

      Does HA still provide estimates? Don’t see them online.

      When I spoke about condition previously, it was in regards to external stimuli damaging non-art portions of a piece. When materials used in the production process end up damaging the art itself to this extent, condition definitely affects the price.

      • Khoi Cakes

        Thanks for listening to the UD. I wasn’t sure if there were other estimates out there – just curious how close you were to the other experts (which I consider you as one of). Thanks for clarifying the condition issue. Keep up the great work – your articles are some of the best out there.

  • First time actually reading this column. Obviously the Bloodshot caught my eye. It’s always been one of my favorite comic covers of all time, and BWS is someone I think many of us wish would come back. I know Dinesh has said he’s tried, but the guy is retired.

    McFarlane’s Spidey run has always been my favorite. Blows my mind what that Venom page went for compared to its estimate.

    Good stuff.

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