Highlights of the Wayne Martin Comic Book Collection at PBA Galleries

PBA Galleries Sale 582, Fine Books in All Fields with Illustrated & Children's Books took place on March 24, 2016. Along with a variety of other illustrated books, the sale featured a collection of comic books from the late Wayne Martin, an avid collector of autographs, books and ephemera from many fields. This was the first major comic collection offered by PBA and the results lived up to expectations, with many of the comics bringing impressive prices. The comics brought a high level of attention from potential buyers, with a number participants by telephone and real-time bidding over the internet, as well as by those who left earlier proxy bids.

The highlight of the comic collection was a very fine copy the rare 35 cent variant of Marvel's Star Wars #1 from 1977, which sold for a record breaking $7,200. This comic is considered to be one of the most valuable and sought after comic books of the Bronze Age (1970-1985). Marvel typically tested price increases on a limited basis before rolling out the increase to all titles, and approximately only 1,500 copies of the first printing priced at 35 cents are thought to exist; all others being priced at 30 cents. The timing was great for this book, with the new film bringing the Star Wars saga back into the media spotlight.

 Another rare item that performed well was a pristine copy of the first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, which sold for $3,900. This book was the beginning of what would soon become a phenomenon in the 1980's and 90's, spawning popular films, cartoon show and video games. The book features the origin and first appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter, and Shredder, with a wraparound cover by creator Kevin Eastman. Only 3,000 copies were printed of this independent rarity, and it is hard to find in good condition. One of the most sought after books from the Copper Age (1985-1991) of comics.

Undeniably the most unique item in the collection was a copy of Dick Lupoff's history of comics, All In Color For a Dime, which sold for $1,440. The book in itself is not particularly valuable, but Wayne Martin spent over a decade filling the book with autographs and sketches from the legends of the comic book industry. The book is signed by the author and over 100 comic industry giants throughout the volume. Signatures include Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Marion Zimmer Bradley, R. Crumb, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jaime Hernandez, Marv Wolfman, David Prowse (Darth Vader) and many others. The volume is signed by many artists along with sketches of the characters they are famous for, including Sergio Aragone, Art Spiegelman, Rob Liefeld, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, P. Craig Russell, Arthur Adams, CharlesVess and many, many others. A truly one of a kind item for fans and collectors.

The X-men made a good showing as well, with a very nice copy of Giant Size X-men #1 going for $1080. The book is a highly collectible milestone of Marvel Comics, featuring the first appearances of many of the X-men's most popular characters, including Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Thunderbird. This is the first issue of the X-men to feature the fan favorite Wolverine, and is his second full-length appearance in any comic book, after his debut in The Incredible Hulk #'s 180 and 181. X-men # 94 sold for $300, the first issue in the regular series to feature the new team, signed by award winning writer Chris Clairemont.

The collection featured a number of wonderful comics from the Golden Age (1930's-1950's), the highlight being Flash #'s 101 and 104 from the 1940's, the pair of them selling for an impressive $2,700. Issue 104 is considered to be the last Golden Age appearance of the Flash, who would not appear again in his own book for the better part of a decade. Golden age comics did well overall in the sale.  Detective Comics # 142, featuring the second appearance of the Riddler sold for $1200. Three issues of DC's sci-fi series Mysteries in Space, featuring art by Frank Frazetta and Gil Kane went for $1020. Issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Submariner made nice showings as well. Perhaps the most unique of the Golden Age comics was Our Gang Comics #1 from 1942, which was the first comic version of the film/TV series, featuring stories and art by Walt Kelly who went on to fame with his Pogo series, going for $300.

Overall, the collection's performance shows that it's an exciting time for comic book collectors, with many of the titles bringing very strong prices. The complete catalogue for the auction, with prices realized, is at www.pbagalleries.com. Note that all prices listed include the buyer’s premium.

PBA Galleries holds sales of fine, rare and collectible books every two weeks.  For more information regarding upcoming sales, consignments, or auction results, please contact PBA Galleries at (415) 989-2665 or pba@pbagalleries.com.

Auction Guide