Auctions | July 21, 2011

John Romita Sr.'s Original Spider-Man Cover Art

DALLAS, TX - The original 1967 cover art for Amazing Spider-Man #49, by legendary comic book artist John Romita, Sr., featuring Spidey in a seemingly impossible bind between Kraven the Hunter and the Vulture, is expected to bring $100,000+ on Aug. 17-18 in Heritage AuctionsSignature® Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction. This is the first time this indelible cover art has ever been offered for public sale.

“This cover was only John Romita Sr.’s eleventh for the title and it’s simply one of his very best,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “It's not just a cool cover; it's a priceless piece of Silver Age Marvel lore and only the second Romita Sr. Spider-Man cover from this era we have offered to date. We’re expecting some fireworks when this comes up.”

Iconic original comic art is not only represented in mainstream offerings like Spider-Man, but also in the form of classic Underground Comix illustration, with few pieces of original Underground art being more important than Victor Moscoso’s original treatment for Zap Comix #4 Wraparound Cover (Apex Novelties/Print Mint) from 1969, estimated at $50,000+.

“Underground comix opened up a real can of worms with the fourth issue of Zap,” said David Tosh, Consignment Director at Heritage. “This was the infamous comic book that was the subject of a lengthy obscenity trial in New York City in the early 1970s, one that eventually caused the rules on what exactly was considered ‘obscene’ to be left in the hands of local authorities, rather than any kind of federal ruling.”

Steve Ditko’s original 1964 art for Page 17 of The Amazing Spider-Man #12 (estimate: $40,000+), wherein Spidey and Doc Ock go at it in a classic, and bruising, exchange, has high end collectors across the comics spectrum abuzz at the prospect of acquiring this early Marvel masterwork.

A CGC grade 9.6 first printing of Zap Comix #1 is the latest high quality representation of this ever popular, and increasingly valuable, counterculture offering. Different copies of this same comic book, all sold under the Heritage auspices, have broken the record for most valuable Underground comic as they’ve come to auction in the past few years. This particular book, as the highest graded and estimated at $35,000+, should continue that upward trajectory.

Highlights of the auction continue with more incredible original early comic artwork offerings in the form of an exceedingly rare George Herriman hand colored Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip, dated June 25, 1922 (estimate: $30,000+), while The Man of Steel is expected to flex his muscle in the form of Joe Shuster, Paul Cassidy and Wayne Boring’s original Page 7 artwork from the unpublished landmark Superman "K-Metal from Krypton" story (estimate: $20,000+).

Rounding out the early top offerings of the auction comes an early 1960s run of The Amazing Spider-Man comic books from the Edward M. Sarley Collection, featuring one of the very best runs of the title that Heritage specialists have ever come across, including The Amazing Spider-Man #28 (estimate: $15,000+), The Amazing Spider-Man #39 (estimate: $15,000), The Amazing Spider-Man #40 (estimate: $15,000+) and The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (estimate: $15,000+).

Sarley was a brilliant young man, and a meticulous collector, who recognized early the value of investing, collecting and safe-keeping items that would become sought after in years to come. He kept his comics in a small closet in his tiny bedroom on the top floor of his house, safe from the prying eyes of his younger siblings. After graduating college Eddie had a promising career moving up the business ladder. Yet fate had other plans for this young man. Tragedy struck on Thanksgiving Day, 1974 when Eddie died instantly in an auto accident at the age of 25. It was more than 20 years before that Eddie’s mother and father were finally able to bring themselves to peruse their son’s beloved comic book collection. They put a number of Eddie’s comics up for auction at a different auction house in 1992.

“The family has finally decided to release the rest of Edward’s amazing collection,” said Jaster, “a boon to collectors and a great honor for Heritage. These are truly great comic books and should command according respect from collectors.”