54 COMIC SUPERSTARS PRODUCED POSTER ART FOR 1988’s ‘HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE’
Heading to auction April 1 is a true bit of comic industry history.
A gatefold poster showing 53 DC Universe characters by 54 different artists is likely the only time collectors are going to see some of these great talents working on the same “jam” piece.
“Joe Kubert. Dave Stevens. Bob Kane. Dave Gibbons. Jack Kirby. The list of talent contributing to this piece of original art reads like a list of comic book royalty,” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Todd Hignite. “And many are doing characters they were closely associated with.”
Among Silver Age artists contributing to the piece are Murphy Anderson, Ramona Fradon, Gil Kane, Jim Steranko and Gene Colan. Bronze Age greats include Michael Kaluta, P. Craig Russell, Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and Frank Thorne. Eighties artists include Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Wagner, Jaime Hernandez, and Howard Chaykin.
“It’s a ‘Who’s Who’ of comic book talent up to the year 1987,” Hignite says. “And that’s just one reason why this is so significant.”
All original pieces used for the poster are being offered at Heritage’s April 1-2, 2021, comics and comic art auction. The lot is expected to realize at least $50,000.
The art was initially created for use as part of a deluxe, hardcover-version of History of the DC Universe published by DC. When Graphitti Designs, headed by Bob Chapman, was given the opportunity to produce a special collected-version of the two books by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, this was created as the crown jewel for the project … a gatefold mural of an eclectic batch of DC characters.
This art was then used to produce a large format (15 x 30 in.), limited-edition (10,000) poster only available for sale directly from DC Comics. A slightly revised version (with a redrawn Chop-Chop by Will Eisner, and the addition of Bat-Mite by Dick Sprang) was later used as a wall mural at DC Comics’ New York offices. DC moved its offices to Burbank, Calif., in 2015.
In order to create a final piece that was well-composed and tight, Chapman points out a different approach was taken relative to other “jam” compositions where numerous artist contributions were required. Kubert was brought in to come up with a design and layout. Once the layout was decided upon, Dave Stevens was drafted to transfer rough pencils of the layout to three art boards. Stevens’ assignment was to provide each artist with a basic size, position and layout for the character they were being asked to draw. “This allowed for a successful composition that was proportionally correct and well-balanced,” Chapman says.
The three boards were then sent via FedEx to various artists. The only artists who did not drawn directly on the boards provided were Brian Bolland (Lady Blackhawk) and Dave Gibbons (Rorschach). Gibbons’ Rorschach was an after-thought and was included at Dave’s request.
“The end result,” Hignite says, “is the creation of a historically significant piece by many of comic’s greatest creators.”