The original art from Page 10, issue #3 of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC, 1986) became the single most valuable piece of American comic art to ever sell when it brought $448,125 as part of Heritage Auctions' May 5 Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction.
"Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns defined the best of 1980s comics, and has since been universally acknowledged as one of the most important and influential stories ever published," said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage Auctions, "and no image from that important comic series is more iconic than this Splash Page.
It's a little surprising, yes, but fitting that this piece is now the most expensive piece of American comic art ever sold at auction."
The piece was bought by an anonymous collector and should make an excellent investment. The image is the single most memorable image from the entire comic book series and the greatest image from the decade of the 1980s ever to come to market, as well as now standing as one of, if not the most desirable pieces of original comic art from any era to come to market.
It is a perfect stand-alone image of Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelley, the first female, full-time Robin) soaring high above Gotham City, emblematic of the entire storyline.
"I've always loved that drawing," commented Miller, when asked before the auction what his thoughts on its imminent sale were. "Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it. I hope it finds a good home."
The previous record price for a piece of original American comic book art was set last year when the cover of EC comics Weird Fantasy #29, by legendary artist Frank Frazetta, sold at Heritage via a private treaty sale for $380,000.
"Heritage auctioned Frank Miller's original art work for the cover of Daredevil #188 for $101,575 last year," said Jaster, "so we knew there were serious buyers out there, especially for Miller's top work. Now we know for sure what collectors are willing to pay. This piece is far away the current king. Nothing else has even come close."
As we've reported, Heritage currently holds the world record price for a comic sold at auction (though not the most expensive sold overall): a high-grade issue of Detective Comics 27, which introduced Batman ('The Bat Man') to the world.