Market Report – May 2018 Heritage Signature Auction (Part 1)

 

Hi all, let’s go through highlights from HA’s Signature Auction on 10-12 May 2018! The higher-end superhero comic art market remains strong: most such items in this auction sold at or above FMV, with some spectacular over-performers. In contrast to last week’s sub-$100 article, today we’ll only discuss pieces which fetched above $50,000!

 

Amazing Spider-Man #61 (1968), cover by John Romita Sr. – $167,300

$167k for this “twice-up” size piece, featuring the first cover appearance of Gwen Stacy, is in line with February 2016’s $179k sale of the similarly-sized ASM #62 cover. Although, they’re both still far cheaper than the $478k ASM #100 cover which sold in February 2018, due to the iconic nature of that image. It’s clear that content is key… and size isn’t everything!

 

X-Men #102 (1976), cover by Dave Cockrum – $131,450

Speaking as an avid Juggernaut fan, and cognizant of its hobby-wide recognition, $131k seems an eminently reasonable sum to pay for the X-Men #102 cover. It previously sold for $66k in February 2009 on HA, roughly doubling in price over a decade – which is a rather pedestrian financial performance in today’s OA bull market. Even the less recognizable X-Men #95 cover fetched $155k two years ago, when Cockrum’s X-Men art market was really starting to take off. Taking all that into account, the winner of this auction looks to have snagged a colossal deal!

 

Fantastic Four #25 (1964), page 1 by Jack Kirby & George Roussos – $113,525

Thor #126 (1966), page 9 by Jack Kirby & Vince Colletta – $77,675

Going by the results in this HA auction, Kirby OA values continue their upward march, with these two twice-up splash pages leading the way. To my eyes, $114k seems a fantastical amount to pay for that goofy, awkwardly-inked FF #25 title-splash. $78k for Thor #126’s titanic shot of the two brawling gods is more understandable – Kirby knocked it out of the park, using the panel borders to truncate these figures and give the impression that they’re about to burst out of the box! Of note, this page previously sold for $39k in February 2014 on HA, posting a very respectable growth rate of 100% in 4 years.

 

X-Men #1 (1963), page 3 by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman – $89,625

X-Men #1 OA values vault skywards yet again! This page 3 boasts a roughly 500% ROI over 10 years, previously selling for $17k in February 2009 on HA. Its $90k hammer price also eclipses the existing high for an X-Men #1 interior piece: page 20’s $84k sale in February 2018. For some reason, the minimalist backgrounds seem to serve these pages well, focusing the viewer’s eye on each beloved X-Man’s elaborate training routine.

 

Marvel Comics Presents #85 (1991), cover by Sam Kieth – $77,675

It’s possible that the widely-admired Kieth’s most coveted works are of Wolverine from his first stint on MCP (#85-92). #85 is Sam’s first Wolvie cover, and his bestial interpretation of the character remains a defining achievement to this day. Peak-period Kieth Marvel superhero OA seldom surfaces; collector demand is intense and most of it’s tightly held in private collections. I’ve been eager to find out what a prime Wolverine piece from first-run Kieth MCP fetches on the open market, and the answer is mindblowing!

 

Fantastic Four #58 (1967), page 17 by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott – $65,725

Fantastic Four #58 (1967), page 20 by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott – $56,165

Kirby/Sinnott is probably the most revered artistic team in superhero comics, and many consider this portion of their FF run (including the key #48 and #52) to be the pinnacle of their collaboration. Quality Doctor Doom pieces command a premium – and they don’t get much better than these. That Power Cosmic-fuelled Doom vs Torch page 17 half-splash is brimming with Kirby Krackle and Johnny’s flames; and the full team is present in the finale page 20, where Doom flies off on the Silver Surfer’s board!

 

Calvin and Hobbes daily strip dated 1-21-86 by Bill Watterson – $65,725

Prices for C&H dailies look to have returned to the circa-$70k level. Maybe the reason it’s $30k cheaper than the strip discussed in my February 2018 Market Report is because this one only contains a lone Hobbes headshot, rather than four full-body images?

 

Uncanny X-Men #248 (1989), cover by Jim Lee & Dan Green – $65,725

Fantastic Four #4 (1997), cover by Jim Lee & Scott Williams – $57,360

Judging from sales in this auction, the value of Lee OA is rising, particularly his X-Men artwork (which until now I’d considered undervalued). The above two results are slightly head-scratching, however. UXM #248 is the first time Jim worked on the title which made him a superstar, and the comic book is considered a minor key, with legions of fans able to instantly recall this cover. I thought it had a chance at cracking 6-figures; it instead ended up selling for only $9k more than the unremarkable “Heroes Reborn” FF #4 cover, which I’d expected to end at half or less of its final $57k hammer. Is the post-movie Black Panther bump really that powerful?

 

Adventure Comics #440 (1975), cover by Jim Aparo – $52,580

Aparo’s Adventure Comics run is one of his most in-demand works amongst OA collectors, and quality pieces featuring the Spectre are top of the heap. This haunting cover from Jim’s peak is evidence of that, summoning a very respectable price amid an auction filled with plenty of other Aparo OA. [A couple of large Aparo OA collections are being released into the market concurrently, resulting in a deluge of pieces offered for sale over a period of months.]

 

New Mutants #98 (1991), page 15 by Rob Liefeld – $51,385

NM #98 is a major Copper Age key comic, and page 15 is the second interior page on which Deadpool appears, with maybe the best set of images in the book: two full-body panels, a close-up bust and a torso shot. $51k may appear to be a ridiculously high price, but taking into account Deadpool’s massive cultural popularity, and with Liefeld New Mutants and X-Force OA prices on a tear, that number no longer seems so absurd.

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

 

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