Archie Andrews, everyone’s favorite carrot-top, has proved that he can hold his own with, and even exceed, the likes of Spider-Man, The Hulk and The Fantastic Four.
This was no epic fight to save the planet, or even Riverdale, for that matter. The arena was Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 24-25 Signature Vintage Comics & Comics Art Auction and the battleground was firmly one of price. When a CGC- certified 8.5 copy of Archie Comics #1 brought a world record price of $167,300 (including 19.5% Buyer’s Premium), it was clear that Archie is now capable of occupying the same rarified air as the most valuable of silver age books.
“Archie may have a ways to go to catch the likes of Superman and Batman, his Golden Age counterparts,” said Lon Allen, Managing Director of Comics at Heritage, “but you can bet that collectors sat up and took notice when this comic brought that price. This amount exceeds the priciest of Spidey and Hulk comic books we’ve sold, which brought in excess of $125,000 each.”
In fact, George Pantela of GPAnalysis (which tracks all sales of CGC-certified comics), has confirmed that this is the highest price ever paid for a non-superhero comic book. It sold to a West Coast collector who chose not to be identified by name.
“I’ve been collecting Archies for 40 years,” the collector said, “and over the years I’ve become much more selective as far as condition. I’ve been looking for a high-grade Archie #1 for some time, and this is the first I’ve come across that I’d feel good about owning. It’s not going to leave my possession until I die.”
The Heritage event realized a total of $4,270,483, with more than 2,375 bidders vying for 1,262 lots, which translated into an almost unheard of 99.6% sell-through by both lot value and lot total.
Original artwork of Scrooge McDuck, done by his creator, Carl Barks, continued to perform superbly on the open market, as paintings from The Kerby Confer Collection dominated the top 10 lots of the auction, with Barks’ Business as Usual, 1976, a classic Uncle Scrooge in his massive money bin image, leading the way with a final price realized of $179,250.
Five more Barks paintings populated the top slots in the auction, with Only a Poor Old Duck, 1974 realizing $107,550, both Voodoo Hoodooed, 1974, and Nobody’s Spending Fool, 1974, bringing $101,575, the monumental July Fourth in Duckburg, 1976, ringing up $65,725 and The Stone That Turns All Metals Gold, 1991, tallying $59,750.
Other top comic books in the Heritage Feb. 24-25 auction included solid prices realized for a copy of Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939) CGC FN 6.0, which realized $71,700 and a Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel, 1961) CGC VF 8.0, the comic book that essentially started the Marvel Age, bringing $47,800.
A lot of pre-auction attention was focused on five original production proof pages from Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of “The Bat-Man” in 1939, found in 1975, in Rego Park, Queens in an old steamer trunk once belonging to Batman’s creator Bob Kane, sitting on a curb, destined for the rubbish heap. The pages, perhaps the closest anyone will ever get to seeing the original art for the famed comic book, brought $69,011 altogether, with the proof for Page 3 – the first time we see “The Bat-Man” – bringing the most at $19,120.
Original comic art from the great names in the business continued to bring impressive amounts of bidders to the table, with John Byrne and Terry Austin’s original cover art for X-Men #116 (Marvel, 1978), a classic Savage Land cover featuring Collosus, Ka-Zar and Banshee topping the section with a $65,725 price realized.
The name of Robert Crumb is one of the most significant in the entire world of comic and comic art and original pieces always command high levels of attention and top dollar from collectors, as evidenced by the $47,800 price realized by Crumb’s original art for the two-page story, “Kitchen Kut-Outs,” from Zap Comics #1.
When it comes to original comics art from the 1980s, there is no name more important than that of Frank Miller, and collectors hotly anticipated the auction of the original Miller and Klaus Janson artwork for Page 24 from 1986’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 (DC), a page on which Robin defies Batman’s orders by taking the controls of the helicopter to rescue him, while the anti-Batman psychologist character, appearing with the Joker on David Letterman’s show, meets his demise courtesy of the Joker’s sinister puppet. The page did not disappoint, as it rose, amid spirited bidding, to finish at $38,838.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com