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Early Superman cover art sells for $286,800

action comics15-cover artThe earliest original Superman cover art known to exist sold at auction over the weekend for $286,800, exceeding early estimates.

Fred Guardineer’s cover for Action Comics #15 (dated August 1939), on the fifth cover appearance of the Man of Steel, depicts the superhero aiding a distressed U.S. submarine on the ocean floor. It was purchased by Richard Evans of Bedrock City Comic Company in Houston.

“Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence, and an absolute treasure of comics history,” Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “A price like this shows just how much collectors covet a rarity like this.”

A prolific Golden Age writer and artist, Guardineer created Zatara, whose first appearance in Action Comics #1 was overshadowed by the debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman.

The Feb. 20-22 auction in New York City featured more than 1,200 lots, including the second part of the Don and Maggie Thompson collection. Highlights included: a near-mint copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which sold for $191,200; Jack Kirby and Frank Giacola’s original cover art for Tales of Suspense #84, which fetched$167,300; and R. Crumb’s original art for the three-page story “Ducks Yas Yas” from Zap Comix #0, which went for $101,575.

Comics A.M. | U.K. artists Gordon Bell & Tony Harding pass away

"Dennis the Menace," by Gordon Bell

“Dennis the Menace,” by Gordon Bell

Passings | British cartoonist Gordon Bell has died at the age of 79. He was a contributor to DC Thomson’s children’s comics, including The Beano and The Dandy, in the 1960s and ’70s; his creations include The Bash Street Pups. After that, he went on to become a political cartoonist (under the nom de plume Fax) for the Dundee, Scotland, newspaper The Courier, which is also apparently owned by DC Thomson. Lew Stringer has posted a sampling of his work at Blimey! [The Courier]

Passings | Another U.K. creator who drew for weekly children’s comics, Anthony John “Tony” Harding, has also died. While Bell’s work was on the goofy side, Harding drew soccer stories for action-packed boys’ comics such as Bullet, Hornet and Victor. His best-known gig was as the artist for “Look Out for Lefty,” the story of a hotheaded soccer player with a skinhead girlfriend, which got a bit too close to reality with its depictions of violence during soccer games. Again, Lew Stringer posts some of his work. [Down the Tubes]

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Comics A.M. | New DreamWorks imprint won’t affect licenses

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

Publishing | DreamWorks Animation’s announcement on Monday that it is launching its own book-publishing unit doesn’t mean the end of the road for its comics licensees, at least not yet: ICv2 talked to representatives from IDW Publishing, which publishes the Rocky & Bullwinkle comics, and Ape Entertainment, which has had a number of DreamWorks licenses, and both say that this won’t affect their comics. [ICv2]

Auctions | A collection of comics that included the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the British satirical comic Viz, as well as long runs of several Marvel series, brought in almost £25,000 (about $41,300 U.S.) at an auction in Newcastle, England. The majority of the comics were from a single collector whose wife decided to put them up for sale after he died. For those who are curious about the details, Duncan Leatherdale of The Northern Echo liveblogged the auction. [BBC News]

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Bam! Pow! Amazing ‘Fantastic Four’ cels actually justify this title

ff effects1

I somehow missed this incredible auction when it took place in November, but thanks to Tumblr I still get to marvel at the art (not that I would’ve plunked down $850, mind you): 16 crash effects cels from Hanna-Barbera’s 1967 animated series The Fantastic Four.

Of course, those effects, coupled with Alex Toth’s character designs, are pretty much the best things about the cartoon, which like other series of the era was crippled by poor animation. These, however, are suitable for framing.

Check out some of them below, and more here.

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1966 original ‘Peanuts’ daily strip sells for $26,450

peanuts auction

A 1966 original daily Peanuts comic strip from fetched $26,450 at auction earlier this month, surpassing pre-sale estimates of between $15,000 and $20,000.

Featuring Peppermint Patty, Linus and Snoopy, the strip was the top-grossing item in a multi-estate auction held Jan. 18 in Lynbrook, New York, by Philip Weiss Auctions. The auction was devoted primarily to Golden Age comic books, sports memorabilia and comics art, along with some original Disney production cels and paintings.

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Comics A.M. | Police auction off criminal’s comics on eBay

Some of the seized comics

Some of the seized comics

Auctions | The Leicestershire (England) Police are auctioning about 1,200 comics — most of them are post-2000 DC Comics titles, described as in mint condition — seized as criminal assets in Dorset (the police force doesn’t have its own eBay account). “Some are signed by the artists and they are mainly Superman and Spider Man, that sort of thing,” said Dave Hargrave, proceeds of crime asset realization manager. “[...] The person who had the comics was obviously a collector.” About 400 comics have been sold, bringing in £600 (about $985 U.S.). [Leicester Mercury]

Publishing | Avatar Press has returned to Diamond Book Distributors as its distributor to bookstores, the mass market, library services, and other markets. Avatar left DBD in 2011 to sign on with BOOM! Studios to distribute its books through Simon & Schuster in the United States and HarperCollins in Canada. [ICv2]

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Ailing dentist’s Silver Age comics sell for $570,000

tales to astonish27An Illinois dentist sold part of his comic book collection at auction last week for $570,000 to help him pay for treatments for a rare autoimmune disease.

Among the more than 400 Silver Age comics were a copy of Fantastic Four #1, which fetched $60,000, and Tales to Astonish #27, featuring the first appearance of Ant-Man, which went for $40,000. Even a CGC-graded 5.0 copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $13,400.

The Daily Herald reports that Steve Landman, aka “Dr. Fate,” who is closing his Lake Zurich dental practice because of his disease, was diagnosed about two years ago with anti-MAG IgM peripheral neuropathy, which attacks the nerves. He’ll use the money from the auction, minus fees, to set aside from potentially costly medical treatments and travel expenses.

The 62-year-old Landman has been buying comics since childhood, amassing a collection of more than 15,000. He’ originally intended to sell them after he retired, but those plans changed with his diagnosis.

“”I imagine that this is a good enough time as any to sell a comic collection,” Landman said, “what with all the superhero movies out there.”

DC acquires Al Plastino’s Superman art to give to Kennedy library

plastino-supermans missionFulfilling one of Al Plastino’s final wishes, DC Entertainment announced it has acquired his original art for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” for donation to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

A prolific Golden Age artist who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, Plastino was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been given five decades earlier to the library, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The seller had purchased the pages in 1993 at a Sotheby’s auction for $5,000.

Plastino, who spent the last weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork — Heritage Auctions put the sale on hold until questions about ownership could be resolved — drew the story in 1963 for DC Comics to promote Kennedy’s physical fitness program. The issue was intended to go on sale in late November but was quickly pulled following the assassination, and other material substituted. President Lyndon Johnson’s staff later asked DC to publish the original, which was edited to add a commemorate page showing Superman saluting a ghostly image of Kennedy.

In a joint statement, Plastino’s wife Annmarie and children MaryAnn, Fred, Janice and Arlene said:  “We are extremely grateful to DC Entertainment for ensuring that the original art Al Plastino created for ‘Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy’ will be preserved as part of his artistic legacy and as a tribute to President Kennedy. This art was always very, very special to Al and our whole family and it would have meant a great deal to Al to know that DC Entertainment stepped in to make this possible.”

Aw, we missed our shot at a Batman Tumbler Golf Cart

bat-cart

OK, so that $200,000 street-legal Batmobile replica is a little bit out of your price range. It’s understandable: After all, the economy is soft and crime-fighting doesn’t pay as much as it used to. Then maybe you’d have been better suited for a “one-of-a-kind” Batman Tumbler Golf Cart.

Alas, someone just snapped it up for a Buy It Now price of $17,500, ending the eBay auction a few days early. Sure, it isn’t Warner Bros.-approved, and it doesn’t have a blinking Batphone, it does look like an adorably squat version of the vehicle from the Christopher Nolan movies. Plus, hey, four cupholders!

The other former superheroes at Gotham Acres Retirement Community will definitely be jealous when they see the Can’t-Drive-After-Dark Knight cruising around in this baby.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ closes in on ‘One Piece’ in Japan

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10

Manga | While Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been burning up the bookstore sales charts in the United States, the dystopian manga is also giving the smash-hit One Piece a run for its money in Japan. According to market research firm Oricon, Attack on Titan sold more than 15.9 million copies in the past year, just behind One Piece‘s 18.1 million (Kuroko’s Basketball is a distance third with about 8.8 million). Of course,  Eiichiro Oda insanely popular pirate manga has little to fear: The 72-volume (and counting) series has 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, meanwhile, is on its 11th volume. [ICv2]

Auctions | Select titles from Don and Maggie Thompson’s collection of rare comics — among them, The Avengers #1, Journey Into Mystery #83 and The Incredible Hulk #1 — sold at auction last week for a combined $835,384. A 9.6 copy of Tales of Suspense #39 alone fetched $262,900. [Heritage Auctions]

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Curt Swan’s Superman-JFK cover art sells for $112,000

action comics309Curt Swan’s original cover art for Action Comics #309, featuring John F. Kennedy disguised as Clark Kent, sold at auction last week for $112,015, 50 years after the president’s assassination.

The York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record reports had been conservatively estimated to fetch $50,000 and $75,000, but the historical significance of the issue (cover-dated February 1964), and the timing of the auction — no coincidence, mind you — helped to drive up the price.

The cover shows the Superman  greeting a line of well-wishers, including Lois Lane, Supergirl, Batman and Robin, and, somehow, Clark Kent. In the story, “The Superman Super-Spectacular,” written by Edmund Hamilton and penciled by Swan, Superman must figure out who can portray Clark on a television show honoring the Man of Steel so he can protect his secret identity. He ends up turning to President Kennedy, who dons a mask and make-up to shake Superman’s hand on air.

The issue was already so far into production when Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, that it couldn’t be stopped, and Action Comics #309 was released just days later.

The anonymous seller purchased the original art in the 1970s for $75.

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Rare ‘Magic’ ‘Alpha Black Lotus’ card sells for $27,302

magic-black lotusWe’ve become accustomed to reading about rare comic books — even those found in the walls of old houses — fetching high prices at auction, but it may come as a surprise to learn that collectors are laying down big bucks for certain Magic: The Gathering cards, too. (Or maybe it’s not so surprising; I admit my knowledge of the game is limited to glimpses of people playing it in the back of comic shops.)

WhatSellsBest reports that a 1993 “Alpha Black Lotus” card sold this week on eBay for $27,302, apparently not because it adds 3 mana of any single color of the player’s choice to his or her mana pool, but rather because it’s so rare: just 1,100 were released. In addition, the 20-year-old card is in mint condition, receiving a grade of 9.5 from Beckett.

Widely considered the Holy Grail for Magic collectors, a 9.5-graded “Alpha Black Lotus” previously sold for $25,000, according to the video below from Graded Magic Cards.

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Ron Marz kicks off Comics for Tots auction

Ron Marz with toys that were purchased with proceeds from last year's Comics for Tots auction

Ron Marz with toys that were purchased with proceeds from last year’s Comics for Tots auction

Writer, and Comic Book Resources columnist, Ron Marz (Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Witchblade) has kicked off his fourth annual Comics for Tots auction on eBay. The first round of items, which can be found here, includes original art by Stjepan Sejik, Scott Kollins, and Darryl Banks, as well as a Joker action figure. Marz announced the sale Wednesday on Twitter, and he says more items are on the way. Once shipping costs are paid, all the money will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Last year’s Comics for Tots event raised $2,300. “We purchased and donated multiple loads of toys for the local Toys for Tots effort, everything from action figures to dolls, board games to sports equipment, books to iPods,” he wrote. “This is all possible because of you. We were able to make Christmas brighter for some children in need.”

(via Comicbook.com)

What do you do with 46,000 comics?

Hulk 181There’s a bit of irony to this story of a comics dealer and a collector going to great lengths to acquire an intact comics collection … which they apparently intend to break up by selling off the comics individually.

Matthew Lane, the reporter who got the story for the Kingsport, Tennessee, Times-News, puts the allure of the collection right in his lead:

Imagine coming across a rare comic book collection, complete runs of Marvel and DC dating back to the beginning of the Silver Age of Comics. The first appearances of Spider-man, Iron Man, Wolverine, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

Indeed, that’s what makes this collection so interesting — its completeness. Seeing an entire run of issues, watching iconic characters pop up in the context of their times, is a special experience (albeit one that can now be duplicated fairly easily with digital comics). The collection of more than 46,000 comics seems to have attracted some attention among dealers, and it was ultimately purchased by retailer Brian Marcus and collector Charles Bond.

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Comics A.M. | Maggie Thompson puts rare comics up for auction

Journey Into Mystery #83

Journey Into Mystery #83

Auctions | Comics industry legend Maggie Thompson plans to put up for auction 524 comics from her personal collection. Thompson, who with her late husband Don was a longtime editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, estimates that she has 10,000 comics, all stored in a special vault-like addition to her home, which she built using the money from a previous sale, of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) and the first 100 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. Bidding on the first batch of comics, which includes The Avengers #1, Journey into Mystery #83 (first appearance of Thor), The Incredible Hulk #1, and original cover art from Conan #4, begins today. [The Associated Press]

Comics | ICv2 releases the results of its White Paper (previously reported at Comic Book Resources), which tracks comics and graphic novel sales in all channels. Briefly, the report shows that sales of comics and graphic novels are up, manga is up dramatically, and digital comics sales continue to increase — although growth is slowing a bit, which is to be expected as the base increases. [ICv2]

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