Market Report – June 2018 Heritage European Signature Auction
Hi everyone, today we’ll go through highlights from HA’s European Signature Auction on 2nd June 2018! The misleadingly-named “European” auction actually contained a mix of American and European original comic art; the live auction was held in the USA with a simulcast auction in the Netherlands. Interestingly, HA provided pre-auction price estimates for each item, which it doesn’t do for American OA-only auctions. Why the discrimination I wonder? Anyway, let’s dive into some cross-continental artistic goodness!
“Big” John Buscema is a giant of the comics industry, and collectors increasingly value his prime-period superhero artwork. Case in point: this large-paneled late-’70s page stuffed with six Norse gods, including the one of thunder, hit a hefty $3.5k final hammer. That's way above HA’s $1.9k high-estimate and is pricey for a page without action scenes, but does reflect Buscema’s growing cache.
Mid-$2k is cheap for a Frank Cho cover, though that’s easily explained by the male lead standing front and centre, whilst the sultry female is pushed to the background. Prices for Cho covers which prominently feature the voluptuous vixens that he’s known for start at least a grand or two above this Loki one – underscoring the importance of pairing artists with subject matter most closely associated to them.
A handful of twice-up size The Spirit pages by comics godfather Will Eisner were offered in this auction, with these two being the best (and most expensive) ones. They were good deals however: that $4.4k panel page was way below HA’s $6k low-estimate, and the $16.3k title-page splash was right in the middle of their $15k-18k prediction. Even though Eisner’s (and the Spirit’s) contributions to the genre are invaluable, the passage of time has lessened their recognition somewhat, as current American OA collectors mainly focus on superheroes from the Big Two publishers.
European collectors value comic art much more highly than Americans, as it’s an integral and ongoing part of several of their national cultures (Franco-Belgian especially). Hergé (Georges Rémi) is the most revered European comics artist of all, with his original Tintin artwork often selling for 7-figure amounts. Perhaps because of its American-centric sales venue, many Euro collectors were unaware of the above sale, and this delightful panel page containing Tintin, Captain Haddock and that poor shark ended up selling for the bargain-basement price of $425,000 – nearly $300k under HA’s $720k low-estimate!
‘70s Kirby Marvel OA pounces upwards, led by the white-hot Black Panther. $12.5k for a severely truncated title-page splash showing just three-quarters of T’Challa’s unmasked face (with some trademark Kirby ‘technoid' imagery flanking it) is a blockbuster price – almost double my most optimistic estimates!
Deadly Little Miho has always been my favourite character in Sin City, so $10k for that menacing full-faced, shuriken-filled splash page seems a very fair price. Of note, the original artwork from earlier series like Big Fat Kill are done on larger art boards (11”x17” image area), versus the standard-sized boards (10”x15” image area) used for later stories such as Family Values. Speaking of which, $4.8k for that panel page of Dwight causing some grievous hurt (again) is a strong sum for that Family Values page, and makes the Miho splash look like an even better buy!
Manara’s most renown for his gorgeous, and oftentimes compromising (some may say pornographic), renditions of stunningly beautiful women. Sex sells though, and much of his female-related artwork does fetch a pretty penny. Milo has also gained recognition amongst American comics readers for his work in those circles (including the infamous Spider-Woman cover which Frank Cho referenced), but his most graphic stuff is usually reserved for European audiences.
Moebius (Jean Giraud) is a legendary French comics artist, and probably one of the best known to American readers, from his work on Heavy Metal and some Marvel superheroes. $21.3k is about spot-on for the above page, which showcases some of Moebius’ slightly whimsical, delicately-detailed sci-fi art, complete with his trademark hatching and stippling.
$3.8k is a big bounty for this page – containing just a couple of Batman silhouettes and a small headshot – especially since it hails from the less-heralded Dark Victory rather than the seminal Long Halloween. I’d previously observed that Sale’s OA from Dark Victory was undervalued, and it looks like the market has finally recognized that!
On a final note, I’ll offer this moneymaking tip to my loyal readers: go purchase unpublished 11”x14” pencil & ink Thanos illustrations (full figure; no backgrounds) by his creator Jim Starlin. They should cost around $1k-$1.5k each in today’s blazing hot Marvel Cosmic market. Then commission an inker who’s previously worked with Starlin on cosmic-related stories, such as Joe Rubinstein or Al Milgrom, to ink a cosmic background around Thanos (this should cost a couple hundred dollars at most). Put the resulting pieces up for auction, and watch your booty flow in!
Until next time, happy collecting!