COMICS AND COMIC ART CATEGORY BREAKS RECORDS AS SUPERHERO CULTURE STAYS STRONG
By The Intelligent Collector staff
Comics and comic art had a spectacular year.
Heritage Auctions set a new record when its comics and comic art department registered sales of more than $79.3 million in 2019. The total is up more than $20 million from 2018, which also saw a record-setting total of $58.5 million.
“Our bidder base of collectors, both seasoned and new, has been expanding at a rate beyond our most optimistic expectations,” says Aaron White, a comics consignment director at Heritage. “Comic books, comic art and related memorabilia have never been more popular.”
Among the treasures grabbing collector attention in 2019:
- Frank Frazetta’s Egyptian Queen painting for Eerie #23 (Warren, 1969) sold for a record-setting $5.4 million
- Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939), Windy City Pedigree, CGC NM 9.4, sold for $1.26 million
- Hergé’s first Tintin cover art, which appeared on the Feb. 13, 1930 issue of Le Petit Vingtième, sold for $1.12 million
- Captain America Comics #1 (Timely, 1941), San Francisco Pedigree, CGC NM 9.4, realized $915,000
- Robert Crumb’s “Stoned Agin!,” Your Hytone Comix (Apex Novelties, 1971), inside back cover original art, sold for $690,000
- Neal Adams’ Batman #251 (DC, 1973), original cover art featuring the Joker, sold for $600,000
- Superman #1 (DC, 1939), CGC VG/FN 5.0, sold for $456,000
- Jack Kirby and Syd Shores’ Captain America #103 (Marvel, 1968) original cover art featuring Red Skull, sold for $288,000
What’s behind the surging interest?
“Thanks to movies, TV shows, toys and games inspired by Marvel, DC and other comic-book publishers,” says White, “comic characters are enjoying an unprecedented international appeal among all age groups and demographics, especially millennials and younger.”
Another explanation could be that the baby boomer generation has hit a critical mass of nostalgia and disposable income – “a position that handily explains a similar rise in popularity enjoyed by retro and vintage science-fiction art,” reports Forbes magazine. “Whatever the answer, more and more collectors old and new are getting the itch to buy comics.”
This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2020 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.