Dallas, Texas - The original art for the comic story that changed how comics told stories will make history on Thursday when the original art for the complete 8-page story “Master Race” is offered at auction for the first time.
The 1955 EC Comic masterpiece, which writer and illustrator Neil Gaiman calls “one of the most important stories in the history of comics and the history of the art of comics,” will be offered in its entirety in Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 15-17 Comics & Comic Art Auction in Dallas and on HA.com. The artwork for Master Race crosses the auction block the afternoon of Nov. 15.
EC Comics co-editor Bill Gaines and writer Al Feldstein developed the important Holocaust story, but critics point to Bernie Krigstein’s storytelling artwork that perfected the piece and influenced the comic genre for more than 60 years.
“It’s been called the most critically acclaimed comic story of all time,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “It's been the subject of numerous studies in books on the history of comics, as well as a hugely influential analysis by John Benson, David Kasakove and Art Spiegelman.”
Frequently called the Citizen Kane of comic books, Master Race is a powerful look at the effects of Nazi concentration camp atrocities upon those who survived them, while retaining EC Comics’ traditional "twisted" ending.
Krigstein's jaw-dropping formal invention of mirroring previous panels and layouts from one page to another became an iconic template for both mainstream and underground cartoonists for many decades to come. The format is said to have influenced Dave Gibbons’ genre-shattering Watchmen in 1986 and many other illustrated contributions to American literature.
The story was the cover feature for Impact #1, one of EC's “New Direction” wave of books, released in 1955. So important is this story, that when Gaines sold much of EC's original artwork during the 1980s, it was the only artwork sold directly instead of at auction. An astute collector made Gaines “an offer he couldn't refuse” ... well over market-based value on what other EC art had been selling for at the time. The set is signed as “B. Krigstein” in the first panel.
“This is a true ‘auction first’ in comic history,” Hignite said. “Krigstein's tour-de-force demonstrates everything he dreamed the comic language was and is capable of as an art form.”
The original art for the complete, 8-page story “Master Race,” illustrated by Krigstein for Impact #1 (EC, 1955), will be auctioned this Thursday afternoon, Nov. 15, in Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 15-17 Comics & Comic Art Auction in Dallas and on HA.com.