Every comic book collector dreams of having that one amazing title, the one issue that proves to accrue in value at a rapid pace and surprise you with its market value. Issue #1? That’s the crown jewel of any comics series and really great series like Detective Comics can be worth enough that they live in a safe, not sitting on the coffee table.
Which is why it’s notable that PBA Galleries recently auctioned off a collection of comic books from collector Wayne Martin. The auction was held via proxy bids, telephone bids, real-time bidding via the Internet and even some collectors at the actual auction.
The highest bids came in for a very fine copy of the rare $0.35 variant of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 from 1977, which sold for a quite impressive $7,200. According to collectors, this particular comic is considered to be one of the most valuable of the so-called Bronze Age of comics (1970-1985). The back story: Marvel tested price changes on a limited basis and only printed 1,500 copies of the 35 cent version, every other copy being the then-usual 30 cents. Nowadays an almost unimaginably low price for a comic book.
Also sold at a good price at the auction were a first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, which sold for $3,900. That issue features the origin story and appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter and Shredder, with a wraparound cover by Kevin Eastman. Giant Size X-men #1 sold for $1,080, X-Men #94 sold for $300 and there were some Golden Age rarities too, including Flash #101 and Flash #104 from the 1940’s, selling as a pair for $2,700.
The auction also included Detective Comics #142, featuring the second appearance of the Riddler. It sold for $1,200. Three issues of DC’s 1950’s Mysteries in Space, featuring art by Frank Frazetta and Gil Kane sold for $1,020. Issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Submariner sold for hundreds each, and the weirdest and most unique of the collection was Our Gang Comics #1 from 1942, featuring stories and art by Walt Kelly, going for $300.
Star Wars #1 is definitely cool, but the coolest item in the collection was Dick Lupoff’s history of comics, All In Color For a Dime, which sold for $1,440. Not because the book has any value, but because it was filled with autographs and sketches from the legends of the comic book industry including Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, R. Crumb, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jaime Hernandez, Marv Wolfman, David Prowse, Sergio Aragone, Art Spiegelman, Rob Liefeld, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, P. Craig Russell, Arthur Adams, Charles Vess and many others. A truly one of a kind item for fans and collectors that was a steal at the price!
So keep those comics clean and pristine, particularly if they’re #1 or really important to a particular storyline. You never know what they’ll be worth down the road…