A rare copy of the first Superman comic book, Action Comics #1, sold for $1 million on February 22, a record price for a collectible comic. Meanwhile, a Batman book waits in the wings. The auction for Detective Comics #27, the inaugural Batman comic is now open for bidding and could climb close to its fellow action hero as the highest figure ever paid for any comic.
Monday's private transaction was conducted by ComicConnect.com and its affiliate Metropolis Collectibles, with neither buyer nor seller releasing their names. By contrast, Batman is available through public auction until February 25. "Among collectors of the golden age of comics in the 1930s and ‘40s, there are Marvel fans or DC Comics fans, Superman fans or Batman fans," Barry Sandoval, Heritage Auctions' director of operations, which is offering the Batman book, told Relaxnews.
Batman's first edition sold for 10 cents when it was published in 1939, a year after Superman's debut. This copy's condition has a certified grade of 8.0 out of 10, the same as this year's Superman book. Last year's Superman comic was rated at 6.0. It is rare for a quality, non-restored copy of these comics to be available for sale.
According to the industry bible, the Overstreet Price Guide to Comic Books, Action Comics #1 is the highest-valued comic book, about 25 percent higher than second-place Detective Comics #27, which introduced Batman into the pantheon of superheroes.
With a current bid of $508,000, this No. 27 Batman book has surpassed last year's previous record price for a comic. Beyond expectations, it's just the start, explained Sandoval, "The way it typically works on big-ticket items is that bidders hold back until the live phone auction begins."
The live auction, which includes other comic books and animated film art, happens February 25, starting at 1 pm CST, with the Batman book bidding between 2-2:30 pm CST. "You can watch all the fireworks," said the comics' officer, as it streams live on the website www.HA.com. To join the bidding, the auction house accepts online registration.
With Hollywood's love affair with superheroes feeding the comic book market, Sandoval said, "Kids today don't know how good they have it." Monday's record price for the Superman comic may be setting a new standard, he noted, "A rising tide lifts all boats."
Another issue of the same Superman comic sold last year for $317,000, bought by John Dolmayan, drummer for the Armenian-American rock band System of a Down. There are an estimated 100 copies in existence. For a look inside the 64-page Superman book: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/actioncomics/cover.html