Robert Crumb’s 1969 Fritz The Cat Cover Art set a world record May 18 for the most valuable piece of American comic art when it crossed the block for $717,000 in Heritage Auctions’Comics & Comic Art Auction in New York. The headlining lot in the firm’s inaugural Platinum Night session, the classic Underground Comix art was also the most valuable lot in the $8.3 million auction May 18-20.
“Artworks from Underground Comix – especially from masters such as Robert Crumb – are becoming recognized in the fine art world as cultural cornerstones,” said Barry Sandoval, Director of Comic Operations at Heritage Auctions. “Three of the top four lots in the auction were by Crumb.”
Original Comic Art Scores Big
Crumb’s original art for a complete, four-page story from The People’s Comics (Golden Gate Publishing, 1972) and his ironic “Keep On Truckin’” sequel page from 1972 realized $191,200 each. These two pieces are now tied for the second highest price ever realized at auction for Robert Crumb artwork.
Frank Frazetta’s In Pharaoh’s Tomb Battlestar Galactica Painting Original Art from 1978 also ended at $191,200. Steve Ditko’s original art for Page 17 from Amazing Spider-Man #23, featuring an epic battle scene between Spidey and the Green Goblin, brought $104,562.
Original cover art by Jack “King” Kirby and Vince Colletta for Thor #136, which has resided in a private collection for the past 25 years, more than doubled its $40,000 estimate to end at $101,575.
A Platinum Age gem, the original Sunday Comic Strip Art from Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, dated 1908 – one of just five full Nemo Sunday strips ever offered at Heritage – sold for $89,625.
Joshua Middleton’s NYX #3 Cover and Concept Art, featuring the first appearance of X-23 (Marvel, 2004) realized $71,700 – setting a record for a piece of 21st century comic art since none has sold for more.
Additional comic art highlights include:
- Neal Adam’s Original Cover Art for Batman #222 featuring a riff on The Beatles (DC, 1970): $77,675
- Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen #2 Cover Original Art (DC, 1986): $65,725
- Dave Gibbons’ and John Higgins’ Watchmen Les Gardiens (French Edition) #1 Cover Painting Comedian Original Art (DC/Zenda, 1987): $65,725
Record-setting Comic Books
Suspense Comics #3 Mile High Pedigree (Continental Magazines, 1944), a Golden Age treasure with a NM- 9.2 grade from CBCS, was sold for $262,900 – setting a world record for the issue. This pulp-style comic book won top lot among the auction’s comic books. This issue triumphs over the Pennsylvania Pedigree VF/NM 9.0 CBCS copy that realized at $173,275 in 2015 at Heritage, which at the time was the highest price ever realized at auction for a non-superhero comic book.
The Avengers #4 (Marvel, 1964) rose above and beyond its pre-auction estimate of $120,000 to be auctioned for $143,400. This copy is one out of four copies with a CGC grade of NM/MT 9.8 – the highest reported grade of this issue.
Tales of Suspense #39 (Marvel, 1963), NM 9.4 CGC, famous for the first appearance of Iron Man, sold for $95,600.
Anticipating her own movie releasing in June, Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 1942) captivated the auction floor when this VF- 7.5 CGC-grade comic realized $95,600.
With only five copies known to receive a higher CGC grade, The Avengers #1 (Marvel, 1963) CGC NM 9.4, collected 14 bids to be sold for $89,625. In this edition, the Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp) make their first appearance as a team, and thanks to the current blockbuster movies, these comics remain in the spotlight.
Additional highlights include: