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The original artwork for the final two pages of the 1939 Tintin comic King Ottokar’s Sceptre sold at auction Saturday in Paris for €1.05 million, or about $1.2 million.
Another two-page spread from the same book sold at auction last fall for $1.7 million. While that’s a hefty sum, it’s not a record price for Tintin art: That belongs to a 1939 illustration signed by creator Hergé, which fetched $2.9 million in 2014.
Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]
Auctions | Hold on to your wallet, there’s another comics auction in the offing. This one, at the French auction house Artcurial, will feature a number of pieces by Tintin creator Hergé, including the final spread from King Ottokar’s Sceptre, a sketch for The Castafiore Emerald, and a full page from Quick et Flupke, one of his less famous comics. [Business Insider]
Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]
Legal | Political cartoonist Ted Rall has sued the Los Angeles Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him and unfairly fired him from his position as a freelance cartoonist. In May 2015, Rall wrote a blog post for new newspaper’s website about being mistreated, handcuffed and “roughed up” by Los Angeles police when he was stopped in 2001 for jaywalking. Two months later, the L.A. Times published a column that cast doubt on Rall’s account, and announced it would no longer carry his work. Rall protested and later claimed that an audiotape of the incident supported his side of the story, although the paper found otherwise. In the lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rall claims the Times defamed him by questioning his veracity. The paper’s response: “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims.” [Los Angeles Times]
A rare near-mint copy of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring the 1962 debut of Spider-Man, sold at auction Thursday for $454,100.
Heritage Auctions said that’s the most ever paid at public auction for a Spider-Man comic (as The Associated Press notes, a near-mint copy of the same comic reportedly fetched $1.1 million in a private sale in 2011).
Auctions | A near-mint copy of Marvel Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring the 1962 first appearance of Spider-Man, is expected to sell for more than $400,000 at auction later this month. “We think this comic has the potential to realize the highest price ever paid at public auction for a Spider-Man comic book,” said Lon Allen, managing director of the comics department at Heritage Auctions. “It could soar well past our estimate.” [Fine Books & Collections]
Auctions | A rare drawing of Tintin by Hergé from the 1936 book The Blue Lotus was sold at auction Monday in Hong Kong for $1.2 million. The black-and-white illustration, which depicts Tintin and Snowy being pulled in a rickshaw through the streets of Shanghai, is the only original piece from the book that remains in private hands. [BBC News]
Comics | Issue 3800 of the British comic The Beano hit newsstands last week, making it officially, according to Guinness World Records, the longest-running weekly comic. Artist David Sutherland, who has been drawing the Bash Street Kids since 1961, unveiled the official plaque at Beano headquarters. [Down the Tubes]
Auctions | A copy of Suspense Comics #3, published in 1944, sold for $173,275 at auction last month, setting a new record for a non-superhero comic. The high price was probably due to the cover, by Alex Schomburg, which features a woman tied up and apparently about to be sacrificed by Nazis and the KKK, a crossover that would attract potential buyers from several groups of enthusiasts (this issue was described in an earlier auction as a ““Nazi/Bondage/Horror/War hybrid”). Plus it’s rare — the lurid cover may have suppressed sales when it was first published — and in good condition. [Observer]
If you’ve been hoping to jump-start Ragnarok or merely lay a smackdown on some supernatural foes, here’s your chance: Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom is up for sale.
The replica from Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 adaptation Hellboy is just one of the items going on the block Friday in Los Angeles as part of the “Rick Baker: Monster Maker” auction. Organized by the Prop Store, the sale features more than 400 items from the Hollywood effects legend’s lengthy career.
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
Auctions | Sotheby’s auction of comics and comics art over the weekend in Paris brought in about $4.1 million for 189 works, including Hergé’s cover art for the 10th-anniversary issue of Le Petit Vingtième (the magazine where Tintin first ran), several Tintin pages, and pieces by Hugo Pratt, Charles Burns and Osamu Tezuka. An acrylic and crayon illustration by Dave Stevens created in 1988 for the first issue of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine (at right) fetched $66,017, a record for the late artist’s work. [Paul Gravett, Artnet]
Creators | “Hobbes was as much my alter-ego as Calvin was”: In an excerpt from the new book Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson talks about how he came to comics, how he developed the style and characters of Calvin and Hobbes, and the continuing popularity of the strip years after it stopped running in newspapers. [Comic Riffs]
The original cover for the 1942 Tintin book The Shooting Star sold at auction for more than $2.8 million, just shy of the record price paid last year for a piece of Hergé’s art.
Comic book dealers Petits Papiers-Huberty-Breyne told Agence France-Presse the yellowing art was purchased by a European investor who “is neither Belgian nor French.” No other details about the buyer’s identity were disclosed.
The Shooting Star cover is one of just five that remains in the hands of private collectors. Most of Hergé’s work is held by Moulinsart, the Brussels-based organization established in 1987 by the cartoonist’s widow Fanny Rodwell
The 10th volume of The Adventures of Tintin, The Shooting Star follows Tintin, his faithful dog Snowy and his friend Captain Haddock as they take part in a scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean to find a meteorite before it’s uncovered by a rival team.
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]