Collection completion is very real for those who collect comics. For those who acquire every issue of a comic of choice – Superman, Spider-Man, etc. – there is an alternative way to scratch the collecting itch: comic original cover art. Much of the value in collectible comics is in the cover, and of particular appeal to collectors is the fact that with original comic art, everything is unique. Even the rarest comics have multiple copies printed, but the artwork used to make the cover always is a one-of-a-kind item.
1. With an estimate of $25,000 and up, this Robert Crumb ID #2 Cover Original Art (Eros/Tantagraphics, 1991) is expected to vie for top lot honors in the auction. One of the architects of the underground comix movement of the 1960s, Crumb – whose Fritz the Cat cover art recently sold for $717,000, the highest price ever paid for a piece of American comic art – produced comic art that sometimes included profane language and/or grisly images. This example includes no foul language, but it does feature a man who has had the top of his head cut off from the inside by a creature who emerges from the skull, shouting “I’ve churned this bozo’s brain into a pulpy mush! Ha ha ha ha” while wielding a saw.
2. Another offering by the most well-known underground comix artist is this Robert Crumb Weirdo #23 Cover Original Art (Last Gasp, 1988), which also carries a pre-auction estimate of $25,000 and has the profanity that the ID #2 cover lacked. Covers by the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame inductee are rare, but are rare and coveted by collectors.
3. A John Buscema Conan the Barbarian #124 Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1981) (est. $20,000 and up) spotlight’s the work of one of two artists who worked with early Conan covers for Marvel. This particular cover stands out in part because of the definitive portrayal of Conan, who is significantly bigger than the other figures on the cover and is drawn with an impressively intense glare.
4. A Joe Kubert Our Army At War #165 Cover Sgt. Rock Original Art (DC, 1966) (est. $15,000 and up) is significant for a several reasons.
- He drew probably more war-related art than any other artist of this genre
- Anything by Kubert featuring Sgt. Rock tends to have immediate value.
- Characters wearing Nazi regalia make convincing villains.
- The issue features “go-go checks” – a checkerboard pattern that DC added to the top of all of its comics for about 18 months during the late 1960s as a way of catching readers’ eyes when they viewed racks full of comic options.
5. Barry Windsor-Smith Wolverine/Weapon X Original Art (1991) (est. $10,000 and up) spotlights Windsor-Smith’s perfectionist streak, as this piece was produced after the comic book was printed, making it original comic cover art that ended up not being used for a cover. The original cover that was used on the book was finalized and approved, and for most artists, that means it is time to move on to the next project, the next deadline. Windsor-Smith, however, continued to ponder the image and decided he could improve upon the original, which led to this example.
Written by: Steve Lansdale
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