"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]
Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, when you can stock up on free comics, while Tuesday was National Superhero Day, when you could’ve … loaded up on free doughnuts. But today? It’s Batman Day. Apparently.
Sure, DC Comics long ago established Feb. 19 as Bruce Wayne’s birthday, and then just last year declared July 23 as “Batman Day” as part of the promotional celebration of the Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary. However, this Batman Day is set aside to honor the anniversary of the character’s debut in Detective Comics #27, covered-dated May 1939.
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]
Like many fans, biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman was pleased to see Bill Finger’s name on the cover of DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, marking the first time the writer has received cover credit for the first Batman story. However, while he’s hopeful it’s a sign that change is afoot, Nobleman is keeping “realistic expectations.”
“Though this is indeed the first time that Bill’s name has been on the cover of a comic, it is far from the first time DC Comics has credited him as writer for his stories, so it is a logical extension of what they have already done,” Nobleman, the author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, wrote today on his blog. “Modern management is enlightened but also bound by old contracts. This is a way for them to demonstrate the former while honoring the latter.”
Characterized by Nobleman as “the dominant creative force” behind Batman, Finger is widely acknowledged with such contributions as the Batmobile, the Batcave, the name Gotham City, Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner Gordon, the basic look of the Dark Knight’s costume, and numerous villains and supporting players. However, because of the contract Bob Kane negotiated with what would become DC, only he receives official credit for the creation of Batman and most of those foundational elements.
A Golden Age comics collection that included a pristine copy of 1940′s Flash Comics #1 sold this week in an online auction for a combined $1.5 million, The Associated Press reports, exceeding early expectations.
Kentucky insurance executive John C. Wise put up for sale about 175 comic books, including the first issues of Action Comics, All Star Comics, Marvel Comics, Archie Comics and Wonder Woman, as well as Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman.
The CGC-graded 9.2 copy of Flash Comics #1, featuring the debuts of Jay Garrick, Hawkman and Johnny Thunder, fetched the top price with a winning bid of $182,000. Online auction house ComicConnect.com described it as “the second-best copy known to exist.”
It was followed Tuesday by a CGC-graded 7.0 copy of Action Comics #1 and an 8.0 copy of Detective Comics #27, which fetched $172,000 and $137,000, respectively. A near-mint copy of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, sold for $95,000, while the first appearance of Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics #2 went for $86,000.
Although most of the landmark comics have already sold, bidding remains open on hundreds of issues (some of which push into the Silver Age).
Wise, 63, plans to use the proceeds from the auction to buy a new home in San Diego and to pay the college tuitions of his seven grandchildren.
Among the about 175 comics being sold by John C. Wise through ComicConnect are Action Comics #1, All Star Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, Marvel Comics #1, Archie Comics #1 and Wonder Woman #1. However, the jewel of the collection may be a pristine copy of 1940’s Flash Comics #1, featuring the first appearances of Jay Garrick, Hawkman and Johnny Thunder.
“This copy is in incredible high-grade condition and is the second-best copy known to exist,” ComicConnect co-owner Vincent Zurzolo told The Associated Press. The current bid for the CGC-graded 9.2 copy of Flash Comics #1 is $91,000; the 7.0 copy of Action Comics #1 is at $75,000.
The record price paid at auction for a comic book is held by a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1, which fetched $2.16 million in 2011.
Over the past few years, Brad Meltzer has become one of the pinch hitters of comics.
Although his day job as a bestselling suspense novelist and TV host of History’s Decoded has kept him from taking on an extended comics project since 2006’s Justice League of America relaunch, Meltzer has stepped in for a number of comics projects over recent years, including an arc on Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 and a recent short in Art Baltazar and Franco’s Aw Yeah Comics.
Next up for the writer is a special contribution to DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27, arriving next week. The spiritual heir to the first appearance of Batman will clock in at more than 100 pages to kick off DC’s 75th anniversary celebration for the Dark Knight, with contributions by Scott Snyder, John Layman, Mike W. Barr and more creators from the character’s past and present. And for his part, Meltzer will team with artist Bryan Hitch to retell “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” the Bill Finger/Bob Kane short that began the Batman legend in 1939’s Detective Comics #27.
We spoke with Meltzer about the legacy of the original story and the challenges of bringing it into the modern era – and not for the first time – while DC shared an exclusive first look at Co-Publisher Jim Lee’s variant cover for the issue.
The bulk of the comic collection amassed by a young Billy Wright in the late 1930s and early 1940s sold at auction Wednesday for a staggering $3.5 million, The Associated Press reports, far surpassing initial estimates.
Wright’s childhood purchases — 345 comics, all kept in good condition — boasted 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s list of Top 100 comics from the Golden Age, including Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27 and Captain America Comics #2. Wright passed away in 1994 at age 66, leaving the comics forgotten until his great nephew Michael Rorrer discovered them neatly stacked in a basement closet last February while cleaning house his great aunt’s Martinsville, Virginia, home following her death.
“The scope of this collection is, from a historian’s perspective, dizzying,” J.C. Vaughn, associate publisher of Overstreet, told The AP.
The “jaw-dropping” collection had been expected to fetch about $2 million. However, the 227 comics sold Wednesday brought in a whopping $3,466,264, including $523,000 for the CGC-Certified 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27 and $299,000 for a 3.0 copy of the first appearance of Superman. The remaining, lesser comics will be sold online Friday and Saturday by Heritage Auctions; they’re expected to bring in about $100,000.
According to The Associated Press, 31-year-old Michael Rorrer found the neatly stacked comics in a closet last February while he was cleaning out his great aunt’s home following her death. It turns out that his great uncle Billy Wright, who died in 1994 at age 66, had (unknown to most of the family) held onto his boyhood comics dating back to 1938.
Described as “jaw-dropping” by Lon Allen of Heritage Auctions, the collection boasts 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s list of Top 100 comics from the Golden Age, including Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27 and Captain America Comics #2. The CGC-Certified 6.5 copy of Batman’s first appearance is expected to fetch about $475,000, while the 3.0 copy of Superman’s debut could bring as much as $325,000.
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]
Comics | A copy of Detective Comics #27 bought for 10 cents by Robert Irwin in 1939 sold at auction Thursday for $492,937. It’s not a record price for the first appearance of Batman — a CGC-graded 8.0 copy fetched more than $1 million in February — but the $400,000 that the 84-year-old Irwin will make after the commission fee is subtracted will more than pay off the mortgage on his home. [Sacramento Bee]
Digital piracy | The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would grant the Justice Department the right to shut down a website with a court order “if copyright infringement is deemed ‘central to the activity’ of the site — regardless if the website has actually committed a crime.” In short, Wired’s Sam Gustin writes, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act “would allow the federal government to censor the internet without due process.” [Epicenter, AFP]
Barely a month after Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 sold for record prices, the first appearance of Superman has broken another barrier.
The Associated Press reports that a copy of the 1938 comic went for $1.5 million this morning on the auction website ComicConnect, jumping past the $1.075-million record price paid on Feb. 25 for a copy of Detective Comics #27. That issue broke a record $1 million paid just three days earlier for another copy of Action Comics #1.
Before last month, the top price paid for a comic was $317,000 in 2009 for — wait for it, wait for it — Action Comics #1.
About 100 copies of the issue are believed to exist, and only a handful of those are in good condition. It has a cover price of 10 cents.