Auction sales in Heritage’s Comics & Comic Art Department rose to a record $79,332,770 in 2019, marking the highest total in the department’s 18 years. This marks a 35% jump from the previous record of $58,544,323 which was set in 2018.
“Our comics team continues to amaze me with their knowledge, work ethic, teamwork, honesty, and dedication to client satisfaction,” Heritage Auctions co-founder Jim Halperin said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
One of the records achieved in 2019 was on Frank Frazetta’s Egyptian Queen painting that was first published as the cover of Eerie #23 in 1969. It sold for $5,400,000 in their May auction, tripling the previous price for American comic art. That record was set by Heritage in 2018 for Frazetta’s Death Dealer 6, that reached $1,792,500.
That May 2019 sale, held in Chicago, turned in a total of $15,121,405, setting a world record for an individual comics auction. This bested Heritage’s May 2018 record of $12,121,036.
Heritage’s December Animation Art Auction was the highest grossing auction of its type, clearing $2,965,596, surpassing their previous record of $2,086,451, made early in 2019 during the June sale.
Individual sales highlights throughout the year included Marvel Comics #1 Windy City pedigree CGC 9.4 for $1,260,000, Hergé’s Les Aventures de Tintin, tome 1 Tintin au Pays de Soviets Couverture for $1,125,000, Captain America Comics #1 San Francisco pedigree CGC 9.4 for $915,000, and Robert Crumb’s Your Hytone Comix #nn “Stoned Agin!” inside back cover art for $690,000. They also included Neal Adams’ Batman #251 Joker cover for $600,000, Superman #1 CGC 5.0 for $456,000, Jack Kirby and Chic Stone Fantastic Four Annual #2 splash page 1 for $288,000, Jack Kirby and Syd Shores Captain America #103 cover for $288,000, and Frank Frazetta Creepy #17 cover painting for $264,000.
The comics department has expanded into popular video game collecting, integrating games to their signature and weekly auctions. Topping game sales was the Mega Man (“Dr. Wright” first release) WATA 9.4 A+ sealed game from the Carolina collection that broke their video game sales record when it scored $75,000.
“Our bidder base of collectors, both seasoned and new, has been expanding at a rate beyond our most optimistic expectations,” Heritage Comics Consignment Director Aaron White said. “Comic books, comic art, and related memorabilia have never been more popular. Characters originally popularized by Marvel, DC, and other publishers have become the basis of some of today’s most popular streaming shows, movies, toys and games, enjoying an unprecedented international appeal among all age groups and demographics, especially Millennials and younger.”
“Our latest market upturn might be just the beginning, because the total market size for comics is still just a tiny fraction of the value of more developed Fine Art and Collectibles markets such as Contemporary Art, Diamonds and other Gemstones, Numismatics and Vintage Automobiles, among others,” Heritage Comics Grader Brian Wiedman said. “Time will tell.”