Spider-Man original comic book artwork sells for record $3.3M

Original comic book artwork of page 25 from Secret Wars No. 8, rendered by Mike Zeck in 1984, commanded $3.3 million and a new world auction record. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Original comic book artwork of page 25 from Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars No. 8, rendered by Mike Zeck in 1984. It commanded $3.3 million and a new world auction record. Courtesy Heritage Auctions

DALLAS – Spider-Man was already the star of the most expensive comic book ever sold at auction. As of January 13, the Web-Slinger is also credited with what is now the world’s most valuable page of original comic book artwork. Page 25 from 1984’s Secret Wars No. 8, which tells the origin story of the Web-Slinger’s now-iconic black costume, sold at Heritage Auctions for $3,360,000.

Live bidding opened at $330,000, but it quickly became clear several bidders coveted Mike Zeck’s artwork as it soared past the million-dollar mark. When it hit its final price, shattering all previous comic art records, the auction gallery erupted with cheers.

Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars might have been created to sell toys, but this week it forever altered the comic-art landscape, as Page 24 from the same book sold moments earlier for $288,000.

That’s $3,648,000 total, for two pages of art from one 1980s comic book.

“We could not be happier, especially for our consignor, who bought the art in the late 1980s and treasured these pages ever since,” says Heritage Auctions’ New York Director of Comics & Comic Art, Joe Mannarino. “Today’s results prove what we’ve long been saying: Comic book art is as beloved and valuable as anything put on canvas.”

A copy of Action Comics No. 1 with a CGC Fine 6.0 grade sold for $3.1 million. The iconic Golden Age title features the debut of Superman. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

A copy of Action Comics No. 1 with a CGC Fine 6.0 grade sold for $3.1 million. The iconic Golden Age title features the debut of Superman. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Moments later, the Dallas-based auction house sold one of the few surviving copies of Action Comics No. 1 for $3,180,000. That makes this CGC Fine 6.0 copy of Superman’s debut the second-most-expensive comic ever offered by the auction house, behind only the finest-known copy of Spider-Man’s first web-sling through Amazing Fantasy No. 15, which sold for $3.6 million last year to become the world’s most valuable comic book sold at auction.

It’s also the most expensive copy of Action Comics No. 1 ever sold by an auction house.

Those were but two highlights from the first session of Heritage’s Jan. 13-16 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction – a session that realized $12,990,840 in just 90 minutes.

It should not come as a surprise that Spider-Man’s black costume is now responsible for the most expensive work of original comic art. The two pages from Secret Wars that tell the backstory of this living outfit – this symbiote, in the parlance of True Believers – also changed the course of Spider-Man, as the black costume slowly morphed into the villain (and anti-hero) known as Venom. And until Thursday, they had never before been available to the public.

The Action Comics No. 1 that sold Thursday was known as the “Rocket Copy” of Superman’s 1938 first flight, given the playful moniker because of the red spaceship stamped on its cover by its first – and, until January 13, only – owner, whose family kept the historic issue in an envelope meant to preserve important documents. This book is as consequential as it gets: Action Comics No. 1 is the palladium title of the Golden Age, the book in which Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduced readers to Clark Kent and Lois Lane and ushered in the Era of the Superhero.