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Comic art values surge as Tintin flies past Superman, Batman and Spiderman

Comic art values surge as Tint...
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In March 1938, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, sold all rights to the first costumed superhero character to Detective Comics Inc. for $130. On April 18, 1938 (cover dated June, 1938), Superman debuted on the cover of Action Comics #1 with a print run of approximately 200,000 copies and was an immediate success, catalyzing the superhero genre. The series was an immediate success, and based on the obvious resonance of Superman with the American public, it resulted in a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip beginning in January, 1939 and a Superman comic book series in June, 1939. The first dedicated Superman comic was comprised of reprints of the Superman stories in the first four issues of Action Comics, with the highest recorded sale being $214,000 by Comic Connect in 2011. Action Comics #1 remains the most valuable single comic ever sold, at an eBay auction in 2014, with a price of $3,207,852.
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In March 1938, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, sold all rights to the first costumed superhero character to Detective Comics Inc. for $130. On April 18, 1938 (cover dated June, 1938), Superman debuted on the cover of Action Comics #1 with a print run of approximately 200,000 copies and was an immediate success, catalyzing the superhero genre. The series was an immediate success, and based on the obvious resonance of Superman with the American public, it resulted in a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip beginning in January, 1939 and a Superman comic book series in June, 1939. The first dedicated Superman comic was comprised of reprints of the Superman stories in the first four issues of Action Comics, with the highest recorded sale being $214,000 by Comic Connect in 2011. Action Comics #1 remains the most valuable single comic ever sold, at an eBay auction in 2014, with a price of $3,207,852.
Like Superman, Batman quickly evolved from an anthology role player in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) to a fully fledged major star in a short time period. The transition saw Robin the Boy Wonder join him in DC #38 (dated April, 1940) and his own comic book in Spring, 1940. The highest priced comic of the three at auction is top left, the most valuable of which was sold for US$1,075,500 by Heritage Auctions in February, 2010. The highest price ever fetched by a copy of Detective Comics #38 is $126,500, sold at a Heritage Auction in May, 2005. Heritage also sold the highest priced copy of the Batman #1 at $567,625 in August, 2013.
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Like Superman, Batman quickly evolved from an anthology role player in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) to a fully fledged major star in a short time period. The transition saw Robin the Boy Wonder join him in DC #38 (dated April, 1940) and his own comic book in Spring, 1940. The highest priced comic of the three at auction is top left, the most valuable of which was sold for US$1,075,500 by Heritage Auctions in February, 2010. The highest price ever fetched by a copy of Detective Comics #38 is $126,500, sold at a Heritage Auction in May, 2005. Heritage also sold the highest priced copy of the Batman #1 at $567,625 in August, 2013.
HERGÉ (Georges Remi dit) 1907-1983 TINTIN AU CONGO Artwork from 'Tintin au Congo' fetched $824,542 (€770,600) in November 2015, while original art from Tintin au Tibet sold for €289,500 ($396,615) in April, 2014
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HERGÉ (Georges Remi dit) 1907-1983 TINTIN AU CONGO Artwork from 'Tintin au Congo' fetched $824,542 (€770,600) in November 2015, while original art from Tintin au Tibet sold for €289,500 ($396,615) in April, 2014
At left is the issue that launched one of Marvel's most lucrative superhero franchises in 1963. X-Men #1 features the first appearance of the X-Men, the Angel, the Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X and arch-nemesis Magneto and the highest price ever achieved for a copy of X-Men #1 was $492,937.50 by Heritage in July, 2012. Flash #1 (centre) is another highly sought-after first edition, featuring the first appearances of the Flash, Hawkman, Shiera Sanders, the Whip, and Johnny Thunder and documented sales of $450,000 (Heritage, 2010 no link), a documented private sale of $350,000 in 2004 and $273,125, also by Heritage. The original art for the cover of Green Lantern #76 (DC, 1970) fetched $442,150 at a Heritage auction in November, 2015.
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At left is the issue that launched one of Marvel's most lucrative superhero franchises in 1963. X-Men #1 features the first appearance of the X-Men, the Angel, the Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Professor X and arch-nemesis Magneto and the highest price ever achieved for a copy of X-Men #1 was $492,937.50 by Heritage in July, 2012. Flash #1 (centre) is another highly sought-after first edition, featuring the first appearances of the Flash, Hawkman, Shiera Sanders, the Whip, and Johnny Thunder and documented sales of $450,000 (Heritage, 2010 no link), a documented private sale of $350,000 in 2004 and $273,125, also by Heritage. The original art for the cover of Green Lantern #76 (DC, 1970) fetched $442,150 at a Heritage auction in November, 2015.
Batman appears in several guises on this list, with the original art for page 10 of 'Batman: The Dark Knight #3'  fetching $448,125. At right is the original art for the 1986 comic classic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 by DC Comics. The cover art sold for $478,000
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Batman appears in several guises on this list, with the original art for page 10 of 'Batman: The Dark Knight #3'  fetching $448,125. At right is the original art for the 1986 comic classic, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 by DC Comics. The cover art sold for $478,000
The Golden Age of Comic Books began with the introduction of Superman in 1938, while the Silver Age of comic books ran from 1956 to the early 1970s. The first Silver Age comic book to crack the million dollar mark was Steve Ditko's Spider-Man, who first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Comicconnect sold a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for $1,100,000 in March, 2011 and as we all know, the franchise is still going strongly, as evidenced by the sale of the original cover art from 1990 of The Amazing Spider-Man #328, which fetched $657,250 at auction in July, 2012.
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The Golden Age of Comic Books began with the introduction of Superman in 1938, while the Silver Age of comic books ran from 1956 to the early 1970s. The first Silver Age comic book to crack the million dollar mark was Steve Ditko's Spider-Man, who first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Comicconnect sold a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 for $1,100,000 in March, 2011 and as we all know, the franchise is still going strongly, as evidenced by the sale of the original cover art from 1990 of The Amazing Spider-Man #328, which fetched $657,250 at auction in July, 2012.
An October, 2015 Paris auction by Sotheby's of the collection of Jean-Arnold Schoofs, one of the world's leading strip cartoon collectors, saw this original artwork of a Hergé double page spread from "Le sceptre d'Ottokar" (King Ottokar's Sceptre) sell for €1,563,000 (US$XXXX). Published in Le Petit Vingtième in 1939, the Indian ink drawing inspired a battle between four bidders. After the sale, Schoofs said that he was "very happy with the results, which were worthy of an admirable catalog and did justice to all the authors, not only the most famous in the field, but also several somewhat forgotten by history." Published in Le Petit Vingtième in 1939, an exceptional double-page spread from King Ottokar's Sceptre,
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An October, 2015 Paris auction by Sotheby's of the collection of Jean-Arnold Schoofs, one of the world's leading strip cartoon collectors, saw this original artwork of a Hergé double page spread from "Le sceptre d'Ottokar" (King Ottokar's Sceptre) sell for €1,563,000 (US$XXXX). Published in Le Petit Vingtième in 1939, the Indian ink drawing inspired a battle between four bidders. After the sale, Schoofs said that he was "very happy with the results, which were worthy of an admirable catalog and did justice to all the authors, not only the most famous in the field, but also several somewhat forgotten by history." Published in Le Petit Vingtième in 1939, an exceptional double-page spread from King Ottokar's Sceptre,
The biggest indication yet that comic art is entering the mainstream contemporary art world was this world record price achieved by Paris- and Hong Kong-based auction house Artcurial in May, 2014, which sold for €2,654,400 (US$3,618,566). The ink drawings of China in 1937 capture Hergé's most inventive period.
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The biggest indication yet that comic art is entering the mainstream contemporary art world was this world record price achieved by Paris- and Hong Kong-based auction house Artcurial in May, 2014, which sold for €2,654,400 (US$3,618,566). The ink drawings of China in 1937 capture Hergé's most inventive period.
At left is the original cover art from the TinTin album "L'Île noire" (The Black Island), published in 1942 by Casterman and used until 1966. The drawing was sold by Artcurial at a Paris auction in May, 2014 for €1,011,200 (US$1,375,232). At right is the single page original drawing used only in the first (1936) edition of "Le Lotus Bleu" (The Blue Lotus). It was sold as the only original drawing from this album still in private hands at a Hong Kong sale by Artcurial in October, 2015 for HKD9,269,000 (US$1.2 million).
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At left is the original cover art from the TinTin album "L'Île noire" (The Black Island), published in 1942 by Casterman and used until 1966. The drawing was sold by Artcurial at a Paris auction in May, 2014 for €1,011,200 (US$1,375,232). At right is the single page original drawing used only in the first (1936) edition of "Le Lotus Bleu" (The Blue Lotus). It was sold as the only original drawing from this album still in private hands at a Hong Kong sale by Artcurial in October, 2015 for HKD9,269,000 (US$1.2 million).
April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold
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April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold
April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold. That's Eric Leroy, Artcurial's comic book expert with the art.
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April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold. That's Eric Leroy, Artcurial's comic book expert with the art.
Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer published from 1827 onwards , with cartoons in English published in the United States from 1842
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Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer published from 1827 onwards , with cartoons in English published in the United States from 1842
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At a Christie's Paris Auction dedicated entirely to the works of Hergé in March, 2015, the top selling lot was this original cover art from the French issue of "le Journal Tintin" #161, dated 10 October 1978, fetching €577,500 (US$606,201), fetching €577,500 (US$606,201). The Chinese ideograms areprinted on a different paper. This is the last cover ever produced by Hergé for the magazine.
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At a Christie's Paris Auction dedicated entirely to the works of Hergé in March, 2015, the top selling lot was this original cover art from the French issue of "le Journal Tintin" #161, dated 10 October 1978, fetching €577,500 (US$606,201), fetching €577,500 (US$606,201). The Chinese ideograms areprinted on a different paper. This is the last cover ever produced by Hergé for the magazine.
The cheque which was given to those two high school kids who had conceived Superman for the entire rights to the character (including additional remuneration for artwork which appeared on the cover of the first issue of Action Comics #1) subsequently sold at auction for $160,000. Its infamy was partly due to the story that subsequently unfolded as Jerome Seigel and Joe Schuster kicked off legal action against Detective Comics which lasted 70 years.
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The cheque which was given to those two high school kids who had conceived Superman for the entire rights to the character (including additional remuneration for artwork which appeared on the cover of the first issue of Action Comics #1) subsequently sold at auction for $160,000. Its infamy was partly due to the story that subsequently unfolded as Jerome Seigel and Joe Schuster kicked off legal action against Detective Comics which lasted 70 years.
The most valuable ever artwork of the beloved comic The Adventures of Asterix was this 1972 cover art which fetched €193,500 (US$265,128) at a Christies auction in April, 2014. The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote in 1959, written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo until the death of Goscinny in 1977. Uderzo then took over the writing until 2009, when he sold the rights to publishing company Hachette. The comic is still in publication, and recent auction prices suggest original art will continue to appreciate in a similar vein to Tintin as the baby boomer and subsequent generations invest in art they find relevant.
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The most valuable ever artwork of the beloved comic The Adventures of Asterix was this 1972 cover art which fetched €193,500 (US$265,128) at a Christies auction in April, 2014. The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote in 1959, written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo until the death of Goscinny in 1977. Uderzo then took over the writing until 2009, when he sold the rights to publishing company Hachette. The comic is still in publication, and recent auction prices suggest original art will continue to appreciate in a similar vein to Tintin as the baby boomer and subsequent generations invest in art they find relevant.
Two examples of recent high-priced Asterix original art are these cartoons which fetched €145,500 (US$199,360) and € 181,500 (US$190,521) respectively, both at Christies auctions. The art at left is from 1973 and at right from 1972.
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Two examples of recent high-priced Asterix original art are these cartoons which fetched €145,500 (US$199,360) and € 181,500 (US$190,521) respectively, both at Christies auctions. The art at left is from 1973 and at right from 1972.
Alex Raymond Flash Gordon Sunday Comic Strip (Used to Create a USPS 1995 Comic Strip Classics Stamp) $215,100In January 1929, the syndicated newspaper comic strip "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D." debuted, catalyzing the "space opera" genre. Buck Rogers comics have never achieved high prices at auction due to their high print runs, but they did spawn competitors, and Flash Gordon which launched as a syndicated newspaper strip six years after Buck Rogers was the most successful. This 1938 original art is the highest priced Flash Gordon has ever fetched, mainly because it was also used in 1995 by the United States Postal Service to create a 32-cent stamp for it's "Comic Strip Classics" series. The stamp used the portraits of Flash Gordon and General Lin-Chu from panel two of this strip, making this one of the most-widely circulated and popular images in the entire history of action-adventure comic strips. It was sold for $215,100 in May, 2014 by Heritage.
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Alex Raymond Flash Gordon Sunday Comic Strip (Used to Create a USPS 1995 Comic Strip Classics Stamp) $215,100In January 1929, the syndicated newspaper comic strip "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D." debuted, catalyzing the "space opera" genre. Buck Rogers comics have never achieved high prices at auction due to their high print runs, but they did spawn competitors, and Flash Gordon which launched as a syndicated newspaper strip six years after Buck Rogers was the most successful. This 1938 original art is the highest priced Flash Gordon has ever fetched, mainly because it was also used in 1995 by the United States Postal Service to create a 32-cent stamp for it's "Comic Strip Classics" series. The stamp used the portraits of Flash Gordon and General Lin-Chu from panel two of this strip, making this one of the most-widely circulated and popular images in the entire history of action-adventure comic strips. It was sold for $215,100 in May, 2014 by Heritage.
Peanuts and its characters Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy became a global institution in the latter half of the twentieth century. Drawn by it's creator Charles M. Schulz, it attracted more and more interest, finally running daily in 2600 newspapers in 75 countries and 21 languages until Schulz died from cancer. It ran daily from October 2, 1950 to February 14, 2000 and the entire body of work constitutes 18,250 strips. As Professor Robert Thompson observed on the PBS ''NewsHour'' in a tribute to Schulz, Peanuts ''is arguably the longest story ever told by one human being. This is the most expensive Peanuts original art to date - it fetched $113,525 at a Heritage auction in 2007.
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Peanuts and its characters Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy became a global institution in the latter half of the twentieth century. Drawn by it's creator Charles M. Schulz, it attracted more and more interest, finally running daily in 2600 newspapers in 75 countries and 21 languages until Schulz died from cancer. It ran daily from October 2, 1950 to February 14, 2000 and the entire body of work constitutes 18,250 strips. As Professor Robert Thompson observed on the PBS ''NewsHour'' in a tribute to Schulz, Peanuts ''is arguably the longest story ever told by one human being. This is the most expensive Peanuts original art to date - it fetched $113,525 at a Heritage auction in 2007.
This is a prime example of what scarcity can do to a price. Calvin and Hobbes comic strip artist Bill Watterson retained all his original artwork and this is the only known original art to escape captivity. Despite never achieving the global ubiquity of Peanuts, it sold for almost double the more freely available Peanuts best price at $203,150 at a Heritage Auction in 2012.
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This is a prime example of what scarcity can do to a price. Calvin and Hobbes comic strip artist Bill Watterson retained all his original artwork and this is the only known original art to escape captivity. Despite never achieving the global ubiquity of Peanuts, it sold for almost double the more freely available Peanuts best price at $203,150 at a Heritage Auction in 2012.
You might be surprised to see these very popular comics so far down the value ladder, but that's because of the laws of supply and demand - they were so immensely popular that they were produced in such large quantities that they aren't all that rare. At left is the first issue of Archie, which spawned its own genre, and it's also the first appearance of Archie on a cover - like Superman and Batman, he appeared in anthology comics (his first appearance was Pep #22, cover-dated 12/41) before reader feedback determined he was popular enough to have his own comic and the rest is history. Archie #1 sold at a Heritage Auction for $167,300 in February, 2011. At right is the first issue of what Overstreet called "The definitive funny animal anthology comic after which all others were modeled." It is the first regularly published Disney comic book - the very first of the best-selling comic series of all time, peaking in the early 1950s at nearly four million copies an issue! The series has been in near-continuous publication since. Heritage Auctions sold this copy, with the highest graded condition (9.4) known, for $116,512.50 in November, 2008. At that time, it was in the top 10 comics ever sold by price - now it struggles to make the top 250.
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You might be surprised to see these very popular comics so far down the value ladder, but that's because of the laws of supply and demand - they were so immensely popular that they were produced in such large quantities that they aren't all that rare. At left is the first issue of Archie, which spawned its own genre, and it's also the first appearance of Archie on a cover - like Superman and Batman, he appeared in anthology comics (his first appearance was Pep #22, cover-dated 12/41) before reader feedback determined he was popular enough to have his own comic and the rest is history. Archie #1 sold at a Heritage Auction for $167,300 in February, 2011. At right is the first issue of what Overstreet called "The definitive funny animal anthology comic after which all others were modeled." It is the first regularly published Disney comic book - the very first of the best-selling comic series of all time, peaking in the early 1950s at nearly four million copies an issue! The series has been in near-continuous publication since. Heritage Auctions sold this copy, with the highest graded condition (9.4) known, for $116,512.50 in November, 2008. At that time, it was in the top 10 comics ever sold by price - now it struggles to make the top 250.
One of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics, Spirou et Fantasio (Spirou and Fantasio) has been drawn by a succession of artists since 1938. The highest price the franchise has fetched at auction was €157,500 (US$215,802) at a Christies auction in April, 2014.Christies auction in April, 2014. At right is the highest priced artwork yet sold from the Blake and Mortimer comic series by Belgian writer/artist Edgar P. Jacobs. First published in 1946 in Tintin comics, the series was subsequently published in book form. The single page artwork fetched €205,500 (US$286,023) in March, 2015 at a Christies auction in Paris at a Christies auction in Paris.
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One of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics, Spirou et Fantasio (Spirou and Fantasio) has been drawn by a succession of artists since 1938. The highest price the franchise has fetched at auction was €157,500 (US$215,802) at a Christies auction in April, 2014.Christies auction in April, 2014. At right is the highest priced artwork yet sold from the Blake and Mortimer comic series by Belgian writer/artist Edgar P. Jacobs. First published in 1946 in Tintin comics, the series was subsequently published in book form. The single page artwork fetched €205,500 (US$286,023) in March, 2015 at a Christies auction in Paris at a Christies auction in Paris.
Despite the remarkable success of The Incredible Hulk since his first appearance in his own comic title, The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1963, it is this original art from page 32 of The Incredible Hulk #180 which is the most valuable to date. The page signifies the first appearance of Wolverine and fetched $657,250 at a Heritage Auction in 2014. The most valuable copy of the Incredible Hulk #1 to sell was $326,500 at a ComicConnect auction.
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Despite the remarkable success of The Incredible Hulk since his first appearance in his own comic title, The Incredible Hulk #1 in 1963, it is this original art from page 32 of The Incredible Hulk #180 which is the most valuable to date. The page signifies the first appearance of Wolverine and fetched $657,250 at a Heritage Auction in 2014. The most valuable copy of the Incredible Hulk #1 to sell was $326,500 at a ComicConnect auction.
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A surge in prices for TinTin comic art over the last two years has seen the prices of original comic art surpass even the fabled "Action Comics #1" (the first appearance of Superman) as the most valuable comic-related items at auction. Until just two years ago, the first Superman comic (published in June, 1938) was invincible at auction, but five separate sales of Belgian artist Herge's TinTin comic art has surpassed the entire wear-your-underpants-on-the-outside superhero genre, suggesting movement is afoot in the narrative art marketplace.

Until just two years ago, the first Superman comic from June, 1938 was invincible at auction with first, second and third place in the most valuable comics ever sold (US$3,207,852, $2,161,000 and $1,500,000 respectively), plus 6th and 10th, with Batman (twice), Spiderman (twice) and the Incredible Hulk making up the top ten, and giving the superhero genre a clean sweep.

In March 1938, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, sold all rights to the first costumed superhero character to Detective Comics Inc. for $130. On April 18, 1938 (cover dated June, 1938), Superman debuted on the cover of Action Comics #1 with a print run of approximately 200,000 copies and was an immediate success, catalyzing the superhero genre. The series was an immediate success, and based on the obvious resonance of Superman with the American public, it resulted in a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip beginning in January, 1939 and a Superman comic book series in June, 1939. The first dedicated Superman comic was comprised of reprints of the Superman stories in the first four issues of Action Comics, with the highest recorded sale being $214,000 by Comic Connect in 2011. Action Comics #1 remains the most valuable single comic ever sold, at an eBay auction in 2014, with a price of $3,207,852.
In March 1938, the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, sold all rights to the first costumed superhero character to Detective Comics Inc. for $130. On April 18, 1938 (cover dated June, 1938), Superman debuted on the cover of Action Comics #1 with a print run of approximately 200,000 copies and was an immediate success, catalyzing the superhero genre. The series was an immediate success, and based on the obvious resonance of Superman with the American public, it resulted in a syndicated daily newspaper comic strip beginning in January, 1939 and a Superman comic book series in June, 1939. The first dedicated Superman comic was comprised of reprints of the Superman stories in the first four issues of Action Comics, with the highest recorded sale being $214,000 by Comic Connect in 2011. Action Comics #1 remains the most valuable single comic ever sold, at an eBay auction in 2014, with a price of $3,207,852.

The cheque which was given to those two high school kids who had conceived Superman for the entire rights to the character (including additional remuneration for artwork which appeared on the cover of the first issue of Action Comics #1) subsequently sold at auction for $160,000. Its infamy was partly due to the story that subsequently unfolded as Jerome Seigel and Joe Schuster kicked off legal action against Detective Comics which lasted 70 years.
The cheque which was given to those two high school kids who had conceived Superman for the entire rights to the character (including additional remuneration for artwork which appeared on the cover of the first issue of Action Comics #1) subsequently sold at auction for $160,000. Its infamy was partly due to the story that subsequently unfolded as Jerome Seigel and Joe Schuster kicked off legal action against Detective Comics which lasted 70 years.

A decade ago, the comic auction marketplace had seen less than 20 sales of comics exceed $100,000, with the record held by a copy of Detective Comics #27 (the first appearance of Batman) at $278,190. The marketplace has been growing like topsy since then, though, and our database now lists 257 comics that have sold for more than $100,000 at auction, and the last two years in particular has seen massive growth in prices.

In particular, a series of high-priced sales of artwork from Hergé's TinTin series has seen five separate sales push into the top 10, including taking Superman's top spot with a sale of $3,618,839, and giving the non-superhero more entries in the top 20 than any comic book character.

While American superhero culture might have kicked off the popularity of the comic book, creating a new genre of print mass media in America in the late 1930s, Europe also had its own popular comic books during the same period, with characters such as Tintin by Belgian artist Georges Remi (who used the nom de plume Hergé) and Astérix et Obélix by Albert Uderzo the best known.

The biggest indication yet that comic art is entering the mainstream contemporary art world was this world record price achieved by Paris- and Hong Kong-based auction house Artcurial in May, 2014, which sold for €2,654,400 (US$3,618,566). The ink drawings of China in 1937 capture Hergé's most inventive period.
The biggest indication yet that comic art is entering the mainstream contemporary art world was this world record price achieved by Paris- and Hong Kong-based auction house Artcurial in May, 2014, which sold for €2,654,400 (US$3,618,566). The ink drawings of China in 1937 capture Hergé's most inventive period.

Narrative art

Indeed, narrative art has been with us for thousands of years. Some contend it can be traced back 20,000 years to the Palaeolithic period (citing the Lascaux cave paintings in France), though more fully-formed and detailed examples can be seen from 2,500 years ago (the sanskrit Panchatantra fables of India), 2,000 years ago (Trajan's Column) and 1,000 years ago (the Bayeux Tapestry), so the concept of storytelling with a series of images is far from new.

Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer published from 1827 onwards , with cartoons in English published in the United States from 1842
Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer published from 1827 onwards , with cartoons in English published in the United States from 1842

Regardless of how long ago it all started, the European tradition of storytelling with art culminated with the first comic book in Glasgow in 1825, and a rich tradition accelerated by the work of Swiss artist Rodolphe Töpffer from 1827 onwards (published in English in the United States from 1842).

April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold. That's Eric Leroy, Artcurial's comic book expert with the art.
April 30, 2016 saw the latest TinTin artwork crack the million dollar mark when 'Le Sceptre D'Ottokar' sold. That's Eric Leroy, Artcurial's comic book expert with the art.

The rise in price at auction of Herge's art past the values of Superman, Batman et al is even more surprising when you consider the strength of the American superhero cult and the strength of the American collector market. America has by far the greatest number of High Net Worth Individuals, and its auction sales consistently draw higher prices for similar objects than those in Europe, regardless of the genre of collectible, but infinitely moreso for objects embodying American culture. A prime example of this is sporting memorabilia, where more than 75 percent of the top 100 most valuable sports memorabilia items ever sold comes from just one sport – baseball.

Like Superman, Batman quickly evolved from an anthology role player in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) to a fully fledged major star in a short time period. The transition saw Robin the Boy Wonder join him in DC #38 (dated April, 1940) and his own comic book in Spring, 1940. The highest priced comic of the three at auction is top left, the most valuable of which was sold for US$1,075,500 by Heritage Auctions in February, 2010. The highest price ever fetched by a copy of Detective Comics #38 is $126,500, sold at a Heritage Auction in May, 2005. Heritage also sold the highest priced copy of the Batman #1 at $567,625 in August, 2013.
Like Superman, Batman quickly evolved from an anthology role player in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) to a fully fledged major star in a short time period. The transition saw Robin the Boy Wonder join him in DC #38 (dated April, 1940) and his own comic book in Spring, 1940. The highest priced comic of the three at auction is top left, the most valuable of which was sold for US$1,075,500 by Heritage Auctions in February, 2010. The highest price ever fetched by a copy of Detective Comics #38 is $126,500, sold at a Heritage Auction in May, 2005. Heritage also sold the highest priced copy of the Batman #1 at $567,625 in August, 2013.

America invented, embraced and still adulates the superhero, as can be seen by looking at a list of top grossing movies or most watched television shows from any year. There are now more viable American superhero franchises than there are major religions. Superman, Batman, Spider-man, Ant Man, the X-men, Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, Captain Marvel, the Mighty Thor, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, Justice Society of America and the Human Torch have all been the primary subject of comics sold for more than $100,000 at auction.

See our image library where we have images of the highest priced "first editions" of each of these comics at auction.

The Comic Art market

The rise of Tin Tin and his contemporaries in the world of comic art directly correlates with the rise of Paris auction house, Artcurial. The company is the fastest-growing of the international auction houses and has moved into the automotive collectibles marketplace with similar success, too, recently setting a world record for a Ferrari 335S Spider Scaglietti that sold for $35.7 million in February 2016.

Artcurial set up a dedicated comic strip division in 2005, building a pool of in-house expertise that could identify, authenticate, and curate this marketplace and since then it has sold six of the world's top 12 comic/comic art works, and holds a strong first place in the world for comic art.

Narrative art has long been the art most visible to the public, and this dramatic rise in the value of the original art that has been part of the childhoods of so many collectors is now moving into the realms of the traditional art market, with pricing to match.

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1 comment
habakak
I used to read Tin Tin and Asterix and Obelix as a kid. It is simply not available in the US.