Page 15 from Marvel's Defenders #1 (1972) drawn by silver-age legend Sal Buscema and inked by Frank Giacoia.
I receive a weekly newsletter from the Heritage Auction Galleries that is usually full of amazing comics and comic memorabilia that are so far out of my price range it makes me want to cry. Not to long ago I was staring at some early original Conan pages longing for a job that would pay me the kind a salary I need to support my addiction to original comic art. This week was no exception, and included original art pages from one of my favorite artists as a young collector.
Before he bought baseballs hit by steroid fueled pro baseball players and Canadian hockey franchises, Todd McFarlane was responsible for some of the best comic book artwork of the late ’80s and early ’90s. His run on both The Incredible Hulk and Amazing Spider Man are comics that will never leave my collection. My love affair ended with McFarlane shortly after he left Marvel for Image comics, but that is another story. My point is, when I opened this week’s email from Heritage Vintage Comics and Art auctions, I nearly fell off my yoga ball (I use it for posture reasons and to work on my core while typing) when I saw original McFarlane art from The Incredible Hulk #334 selling for $26. That was until I checked it out and saw why the price was so low; no Incredible Hulk. While being an excellent example of McFarlane’s art work, if I’m going to buy a page of his Hulk it better have the Hulk on it.
Now, below that auction was a different story, and this time the Hulk was there. Heritage has page fifteen from Marvel’s Defenders #1 (1972) drawn by silver-age legend Sal Buscema and inked by Frank Giacoia. The page features the Hulk, Dr. Strange, an unconscious Namor and the lesser known villain Necrodamus, who, I think, maybe only appeared once or twice before this issue. I wasn’t around when Buscema’s Defenders was originally being published and have never found high-grade copies of the back issues, but would definitely pay top dollar for Very-Fine+ copy of issue number one. Now, for an original page from issue number one, I’d be willing to knock over a bank if the plan was sound and I could trust the crew (I’ve seen enough heist movies to now what happens when you work with amateurs). By Friday, the bid was up to $600 for the page placing still in my price range but at the extreme upper-echelon. It eventually went for $1,314.50. Stupid bills! Stupid sense of financial responsibilities!
Speaking of high-grade Defenders issues, also up for auction was a CGC 9.6 copy of Defenders #1. In Near-Mint condition, Defenders #1 (1972) guides for $185, but as CGC graded comics are famous for, I predicted this one would probably sell for two-to-three times that amount. Recently a 9.2 graded issue of Defenders sold on eBay for $250. I personally don’t own any CGC graded comics, and no it’s not just because I’m poor, but I do see the draw to a comic graded by a third party especially when buying vintage comics online. Whether or not a grade from a reputable grading company should add exponential worth to a comic is another argument however. One that I won’t get into here. Anyway, this comic finally sold for $776.75, which was more than I was thinking.
For those of you looking for other CGC graded comics, Heritage also offers a new service called ComicMarket that allows you to make an offer on comics that are being sold by private sellers using Heritage Auctions as consignment seller. The selection is, of course, amazing; however some of the asking prices seem pretty high. I’m not sure how the “make an offer” system works, but would love to hear from someone who has had made an offer to a seller.
I’m currently trying to convince WorthPoint of my need of an expense account so I can try this stuff out so as to better inform my readers of how it works but I think they’re on to my clever attempt at getting them to pay for my vintage comic addiction. Maybe if you guys flood them with emails they’ll go for it and I can finally buy that Defenders #1 I’ve always wanted.
Matt Baum is a Worthologist who specializes in comic books.
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