Market Report – February 2018 Heritage Signature Auction (Part 1)
Welcome back everybody, today we’ll look at highlights from HA’s Signature Auction on 23-24 February 2018! The superhero comic art market appears extremely healthy – hammer prices of 4-figure items were mainly at or above FMV, with some exploding to new (higher) levels. 5-figure pieces also largely maintained value or exceeded expectations (some spectacularly). And finally, there was some 6-figure artwork; two which breathtakingly over-performed are discussed below. In celebration of this effervescent OA environment, today’s article will focus solely on pieces costing $10,000 or more!
$20.3k for a page from the 1st Appearance issue of Ra’s al Ghul, featuring both Bats and Ra’s, is bang on the money. The arguably stronger page 11 from the same #232, with more shots of a cowled Batman and some action thrown in, fetched exactly the same amount two years ago on HA.
This cover previously sold for $7.8k nine years ago on HA. Given the rampant price inflation of original comic art during that period, a 230% increase is impressive in isolation, but slightly disappointing in the context of our hobby! I expected this piece to fetch at least $20k, making it one of the few underperformers this round.
Here’s another item that had been sold on HA before, going for $11.4k seven years prior. A 90% jump over that time is pretty respectable; and compared to other recent sales, $21.5k is a strong number for a Watchmen panel page – partially explained by the appearance of fan-favourite Rorschach.
As evidence of the ongoing Star Wars mania, this cover to #9 of the 1970’s Marvel main series hauled in a staggering $53k! Granted, it’s an early issue cover showcasing Han in action, by glorious Gil Kane. But compared to the #35 Vader cover’s $24.5k sale a year ago on ComicConnect, by the equally-celebrated Carmine Infantino, the buyer of this #9 cover appears to have paid a hefty premium.
Holy Kirby Krackle! $83.7k for that X-Men #1 page 20 is truly psychedelic! To put things in perspective, it previously sold for $28.7k in May 2009 on HA. However, this meteoric rise does follow precedent set by recent re-sales of other pages from that 2008-2009 breakup of X-Men #1 interior pages, with page 14 fetching $43k in November 2017 on HA. The price of #2 page 8 is more within the expected range of outcomes, falling right in step with the three X-Men #2 pages which sold in May 2017’s HA Signature Auction.
Decent “twice-up” size Kirby/Ayers FF pages continue to hold steady around the $20k range. I personally prefer that #20 page with large, funky demonstrations of Reed’s and Johnny’s powers, but am sure the #14 one’s owner is thrilled with their full-team/Namor/Puppet Master piece!
The seller of this cover made a killing – it last sold for $71.7k in May 2014 on HA, translating to a $90k increase in under four years! $160k+ is a titanic amount for “small art” rather than “twice-up” size artwork, probably justifiable by the robust character-inclusion and vibrancy of this piece. A point to note is that it appears to have been restored, with the removal of a significant amount of yellowed glue stains.
I was a bidder on this cover, and am experiencing mild pangs of regret at not having pursued it further! $14.3k is a fine deal, as I expected it to fetch $15k at the very least. A massive Juggernaut front and centre, plus the fact that covers penciled and inked by Lee are pretty rare, should have resulted in a much larger final hammer. Perhaps the lower-tier title combined with alternate reality characters (Professor X is Juggy here) equal an undesirability that even the popular X-brand can’t salvage?
Yet another alumnus of the esteemed “Heritage Auctions Club”, this page last left HA for $4,481 in August 2010. That’s right, a colossal 450% price increase occurred in under eight years! $20.3k seems slightly high for a piece of this caliber, but is probably simply indicative of Miller’s ongoing allure to fanatical art collectors.
Above is a neat showcase of the evolution of Perez’s style over 20 years (1978/1998). As you can see, George maintained his trademark touch for a long time indeed! Both these covers finished at solid yet reasonable amounts, given the quality (as well as density) of art on display and the continued value appreciation of Perez OA.
The Romita Sr. ASM market romps upwards unabated. That bruising ASM #68 Fisk fight page pulled in yet another impressive figure for JRSR Spidey artwork… and what words can describe the magnitude of that ASM #100 cover’s auction result! Suffice to say, $478k caught many people off guard, whilst confirming that Romita Sr. and Spidey have their fans.
Steranko pieces are the rarest of all Silver Age X-Men artwork (he only drew two issues). Following on from last May's #50 page 13 sale on HA, this #51 action page continues the tradition of strong prices attached to such pieces. It’s a sweet one: kinetic, packed with characters, and that magnetic Iceman/Polaris panel!
Almost all of Watterson’s C&H original artwork is held by Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, with the few pieces coming to market largely having been gifts from Watterson to friends. As such, public availability of daily (and especially Sunday) strips is miniscule, and values correspondingly astronomical! Prices for C&H dailies have been hovering in the $70k-80k band for the past couple years; is this near-$100k mark the new normal?
Values of Wood DD OA are holding steady, with the #9 page finishing at $17.3k entirely expected. If the #6 page featured the real Daredevil in his red & yellow costume (instead of a wax figure), the hammer price could probably have doubled!
Until next time, happy collecting!