Comics and comic art market: 2012 auction review

Following record-breaking successes in 2011, this year saw major auction houses accept comic books and art into the collectibles market, with Sotheby's holding its first major sale in July.

Important collections, such as the Doug Schmell Collection of Marvel Silver Age and the Shamus Modern Masterworks Collection, have left a wake of records behind them, making comics an attractive area for both collectors and investors alike.

Top sale

Tintin in America
Hergé's piece beat its own record

  • While Marvel and DC may be the big names in US comic books, it was Herge's Tintin that saw the top sale of the year. The original cover art for Tintin in America set a new world record at a Parisian auction house in June, when it sold for $1.6m. In doing so, it beat its own record price of $764,218 - which was set in 2008 - by 14.4% pa.

New records in 2012

  • The Tintin in America artwork became the most valuable piece of original comic book cover art ever sold at auction, in June.
    Todd McFarlane Amazing Spider-Man cover art #328 world record
    The most popular artist meets the most popular superhero
  • Todd McFarlane's original cover art for Spider-Man #328 now holds the auction record for the most valuable piece of American comic art, selling for $657,250 from the Shamus Modern Masterworks Collection.
  • The only Calvin and Hobbes comic strip to be offered for sale this century grabbed the title for the most valuable original newspaper comic strip art, after selling for $203,150 on November 16.
  • Heritage Auctions further displayed the strength of the market, achieving a house record of $216,108 for its hugely popular weekly comic book sales with a 100% sell-through rate over 874 lots.

It was a breakout year for…

Schmell X-Men #1
Schmell's X-Men #1 is one of the finest known copies

  • The market as a whole. As previously mentioned, Sotheby's held its first comic art sale back in June with strong results, while Heritage Auctions - which currently leads the market - has stepped up the amount of auctions it holds to cater for demand. 2012 also saw the "greatest-ever comics auction" in February, as the Billy Wright collection sold with a final realisation of $8.79m.

A year to forget for…

One you may have missed…

  • Amazing Fantasy #15. Perhaps the most renowned collectibles comic book, the final issue of Marvel's Amazing Fantasy series sees the first appearance of Spider-Man. With art from Jack "The King " Kirby, it continually sells well, with Heritage Auctions stating that it has sold 10 issues in 11 consecutive weekly auctions this year. 

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