The bargain between man and Superman: Steve Boggan watches some serious bidders in action during Christie's first comics auction

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The Independent Online
WHEN the bidding reached pounds 13,000, the coolest kid in the room was an eight-year-old. The other juveniles, those in their thirties, forties and fifties, were hot under the collar.

The final bill, with commission for Christie's, was pounds 14,300 but the man who yesterday paid a European record price for a single comic was unrepentant: 'It's a bargain. I was ready to go to pounds 25,000.'

The buyer of Action Comics No. 1, a man prepared to be known only as Mr Carr, a 37-year-old telecommunications manager from Surrey, had fulfilled one of his life's ambitions - to complete the set of three original comics in which Batman, Spiderman and Superman made their debuts.

His son, Sam, who prefers a comic called X-Men to Superman, had slapped Mr Carr on the shoulder when the auctioneer had shouted: 'Sold'. He knew his father planned to give the comic to him.

'My dad says it's an investment for me, so I won't get chance to read it,' he said. 'It's going straight in the bank.'

Mr Carr was among about 100 collectors at Christie's first sale of comics in South Kensington, London, yesterday. Original work by Frank Hampson, creator of Dan Dare in the Eagle, rubbed shoulders with Action Comics and DC Publications from the 1930s onwards.

There were hand-drawn story boards from Judge Dredd ( pounds 170), Dan Dare ( pounds 180), Biffo the Bear ( pounds 1,800) and The Man from Nowhere ( pounds 240). There was a large Mekon model ( pounds 380) and comics featuring the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Dick Tracey and the Silver Surfer. Four American DC comics topped the pounds 5,000 mark, to the delight of the assembled collectors, a group of remarkably ordinary-looking men.

While Sam posed for photographers, Mr Carr explained why he sees the pounds 14,300 comic as an investment. Two years ago, he paid pounds 9,000 for the first comic in which Batman appeared. Yesterday, another copy of the same comic was withdrawn from sale after a pounds 20,000 bid failed to reach its reserve price.

(Photograph omitted)