News | January 10, 2020

Heritage Auctions’ Comics Department Sets New Record: $79 Million in 2019

Marvel Comics #1 Windy City pedigree (Timely, 1939) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white pages. Sold for $1,260,000.

Dallas, TX – Auction sales for the Comics & Comic Art Department at Heritage soared to a record $79,332,770 in 2019, with sell-through rates exceeding 99% as measured both by value and by number of lots. The total was the highest ever in the 18-year history of the department, and represented a jump of more than 35% above the department's previous record of $58,544,323 which was set in 2018.

Numerous records fell in 2019, further strengthening Heritage's position as the largest comic books and comic art auctioneer in the world.

“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.”

Among the records that fell in 2019:

Egyptian Queen, Frank Frazetta’s 1969 masterpiece, published first as the cover for Jim Warren’s popular comic magazine, Eerie, issue #23 in mid-1969, tripled the previous price record for any piece of American published comic book art when it sold for $5,400,000 at Heritage's May 16-18 Comics & Comic Art Auction in Chicago. The previous record been set in 2018 by Heritage for another fantastic Frazetta cover, Death Dealer 6, at $1,792,500. After that sale, many experts had speculated that it could be many years before that 2018 record, which had nearly tripled the previous record for a piece of comic book art, would be broken. Yet barely a year later, Egyptian Queen smashed the previous mark.

That total of $15,121,405 in realized sales at the Chicago auction in May also set a new world record for any individual comics auction, besting the previous $12,121,036 record, which had been set by Heritage in the May 2108 auction. Amazingly, Heritage nearly broke the record again when its Nov. 21-24, 2019 Comics & Comic Art Auction in Dallas realized $14,744,367.

Heritage Auctions’ Dec. 13-15 Animation Art Auction was the highest-grossing Animation Art Auction of all time, with sales totaling $2,965,596. The total blew away the previous record of $2,086,451, which was set by Heritage Auctions in June 2019.

The Comics Department has enjoyed a boost from the popularity of video games, which a sold in the Comics Department’s signature and weekly auctions. The highlight video game for 2019 was, Mega Man [“Dr. Wright” First Release] – Carolina Collection Wata 9.4 A+ Sealed NES Capcom 1987 USA, which broke the record for the most ever paid at auction for a video game when it sold for $75,000 in Heritage’s November auction.

“Our bidder base of collectors, both seasoned and new, has been expanding at a rate beyond our most optimistic expectations,” Heritage Auctions 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 Auctions Comics Grader Brian Wiedman said. “Time will tell.”

Other Heritage Comics Department highlights include:
    •    Marvel Comics #1 Windy City pedigree (Timely, 1939) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white pages: $1,260,000
    •    HERGÉ (1907-1983) Les Aventures de Tintin, Tome 1 Tintin au Pays de Soviets Couverture: $1,125,000
    •    Captain America Comics #1 San Francisco Pedigree (Timely, 1941) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white to white pages: $915,000
    •    Robert Crumb Your Hytone Comix #nn "Stoned Agin!" Inside Back Cover Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1971): $690,000
    •    Neal Adams Batman #251 Cover The Joker Original Art (DC, 1973): $600,000
    •    Superman #1 (DC, 1939) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Cream to off-white pages: $456,000
    •    Jack Kirby and Chic Stone Fantastic Four Annual #2 Splash Page 1 Doctor Doom Original Art (Marvel, 1964): $288,000
    •    Jack Kirby and Syd Shores Captain America #103 Cover Red Skull Original Art (Marvel, 1968): $288,000
    •    Frank Frazetta Creepy #17 Cover Painting Original Art (Warren, 1967): $264,000