Scoop has exclusively learned that Heritage Auctions’ 2016 Comics Department sales realized nearly $43 million in total revenue. That total breaks the previous reported record for comics, comic art, and animation art sales in one year by over $5 million.
The exact total for Heritage’s stellar year was $42.96 million, clearing their previous record high of $37.8 million in 2012. A significant factor for the increased interest in comics and comic characters is due to the plethora of comic-based movies that were released during the year, according to Heritage Comics and Comics Art Operations Director Barry Sandoval. He also pointed out that Heritage actively cross-promotes auction offerings to bidders from other categories, building even more interest.
“Movie releases, combined with our aggressive cross-promotion to bidders in other categories really helped drive our material,” Sandoval said. “Throughout the year, comics-themed movies really underscored the interest in some of these characters, and showed that collectors’ desire for them will stand the test of time.”
One of the items achieving the highest level of bidder demand in 2016 was an Action Comics #1 CGC 5.5, which flew past the pre-auction estimate to reach $956,000. This issue, the most highly sought comic, is the highest graded, unrestored copy that Heritage has sold. The impressive price was also due in part to rarity – Heritage has only offered 18 copies in their nearly 15 years.
The highest overall price within their comics and comic art category was brought by the original art for Frank Frazetta’s 1974 At The Earth’s Core paperback, which closed at an immense $1,075,500. Measuring 21” x 29”, the piece was used for the cover of the first Pellucidar novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is regarded as one of the most important Frazetta paintings.
An impressively high grade copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC 9.4 cleared $454,100. Another comic considered among the most significant to the hobby, it features the first appearances of Spider-Man, Uncle Ben, and Aunt May. It is ranked first on Overstreet’s list of Top 50 Silver Age Comics.
Also realizing $454,100 was the 1972 Frazetta painting The Norseman. One of the artist’s favorites, Frazetta considered the image as one of the best in his quest for ways to capture the human figure in action. It was used for the dust jacket cover of the hardback release of Flashing Swords #1.
The Man of Steel also drew bidders with Superman #1 CGC 4.5, which closed at $358,500. The elusive comic hit newsstands about a year after Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1. Though its estimated that one million copies were printed in 1939, very few have survived and entered the marketplace.
The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man took another top spot for 2016 when The Amazing Spider-Man #1 Curator Pedigree CGC 9.6 realized $262,900. The white pages in this Curator Pedigree copy is a rarity for the issue, which features the first appearances by John Jameson, J. Jonah Jameson, and the Chameleon.
Two other pieces crested $200,000 in 2016. One was Batman #1 CGC 5.5, which includes the first appearances by the Joker and Catwoman. It is ranked No. 6 on Overstreet’s list of Top 100 Golden Age Comics. The second was Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man #27 splash page 1 original art, which depicts Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Each piece closed at $239,000.
Other high sellers in 2016 were original cover art for Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing #1 for $191,200, John Romita, Sr. cover art for Amazing Spider-Man #62 for $179,250, Detective Comics #27 CBCS Restored VG+ Extensive Amateur for $167,300, original cover art for Gil Kane and John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man #151 for $155,350, and original cover art for Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum X-Men #95 for $155,350.