‘Holy Grail of Comic Books’

From FOX:

‘Holy Grail of Comic Books’ Looks to Fetch Six-Figures at Auction

Friday, February 27, 2009

An ultra rare copy of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world hits the auction block today and bids could soar as high as the "man of steel."

"Action Comics #1," published in June 1938, is considered to be the world’s most valuable comic book and valued at an estimated $126,000.

"It’s the Holy Grail of comic books," comic expert Stephen Fishler, who created the 10-point grading scale used to evaluate comic books, told Reuters.

"This is the one that started it all. There was no such thing as a super hero before it. No flying man. Comics weren’t even that popular. It’s the single most important event in comic book history," he said.

Only 100 copies of the No. 1 edition are known to exist and those in "fine" condition are worth about $126,000, he said, but this one could sell for several times that.

Bidding for the comic book begins at $1 and is sure to go up, up and away.

The owner, who has not been identified, bought the comic in 1950 when he was 9-years-old after begging his father for 35 cents.

"Lots of kids bought comic books in the ’50s, but almost all of them eventually tossed them out," Fishler told Reuters. "This guy understood its value and took good care of it — that almost never happens either."

Fishler and Vincent Zurzolo, co-owners of Metropolis Collectibles, will offer the comic on their Web site for two weeks beginning Friday.

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23 Responses to ‘Holy Grail of Comic Books’

  1. Jacob says:

    If the seller bought it new for a few cents in 1950, it’s not a first edition, it’s a commemorative reprint.

  2. wsxyz says:

    The cover price is 10 cents, so if he bought it for 35 cents in 1950 then he was buying it as a collectable.

  3. Brian in Wisconsin says:

    Six figures for a sheath of papers with some color drawings on them. I’m not against collectibles, but when you could take $120,000 of that projected $126,000 price tag and help struggling people pay their mortgages, feed their families, pay their utilities bills, etc., it’s obscene. Our priorities are just monstrous.

  4. Mastruca says:

    Rabbit holes in the making … funny how almost anything can be grabbed to start digging a new hole.

  5. John Kusske says:

    Here a bat hole for you instead of a rabbit: Superman may be the first American superhero, but there was at least one earlier than him–the Japanese Golden Bat (Ogon Batto), which premiered in 1930!

  6. John K: Japanese Golden Bat (Ogon Batto)

    Interesting!

  7. Thomas says:

    Jews, homosexuals, and the mortgage crisis in the first four responses.

    We have a new record!

  8. Thomas says:

    On the topic of comic books though:

    I’ve never gotten into them, but at 26 remain a regular reader of the daily comics. Maybe that says something about my attention span or maybe it says something about the “dark side” approach comic book creators took in the ’90s when I was in that prime age bracket for the industry.

  9. Susan Peterson says:

    I have a box of old CATHOLIC comic books, called Treasure Chest. There isn’t a Catholic Action Hero though. There are saint stories, informative articles (such as about Holland making land out of the sea) and family stories with a moral.
    I think if these were reprinted, some Catholic home schoolers might find them useful.

  10. dymphna says:

    Brian, be fair. How many poor people are you keeping fed and watered in your back yard? What this person did with his own money is his own business.

  11. Frank H. says:

    Susan – Here is a link to a website that has many of the old Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact comics available for viewing.

    http://www.aladin.wrlc.org/gsdl/collect/treasure/treasure.shtml

  12. Michael R. says:

    “Six figures for a sheath of papers with some color drawings on them. I’m not against collectibles, but when you could take $120,000 of that projected $126,000 price tag and help struggling people pay their mortgages, feed their families, pay their utilities bills, etc., it’s obscene. Our priorities are just monstrous.

    Comment by Brian in Wisconsin — 1 March 2009 @ 7:34 am”

    The seller will take that money and either spend it or invest it. If he spends it, he benefits the providers of the goods or services he buys. If he invests it, it is used to produce goods or services that other people will buy. Either way, it provides jobs so that other people can pay their mortgages, feed their families, etc. What’s the problem?

  13. Kal-El, alias Clark Kent, alias Superman, was my boyhood superhero. Being one of four boys, each one of us had to have a different comic book hero, of course. Mine was superman; my brother Michael liked Batman; my brother Mark liked the Flash; my brother Joe liked the Green Lantern. [A proper DC family!]

    I found it interesting that the premise of the story is based on a father Jor-El, sending his only son, Kal-El, to save the earth. The Hebrew word for God, BTW, is El (Elohim). Unfortunately, Clark Kent was not the beneficiary of a Catholic education or upbringing. His adopted earthly parents were devout Methodists HOWEVER, Superman comics, issues 209 through 215, had the Man of Steel going to confession to a Catholic priest (yeah!)

    Once I found Doctor Who, however, I became an avid Whovian

  14. RBrown says:

    Six figures for a sheath of papers with some color drawings on them. I’m not against collectibles, but when you could take $120,000 of that projected $126,000 price tag and help struggling people pay their mortgages, feed their families, pay their utilities bills, etc., it’s obscene. Our priorities are just monstrous.
    Comment by Brian in Wisconsin

    Agree and disagree.

    As someone pointed out, if the money is being spent, it’s doing good because it’s being circulated. The money in someone else’s hands might go to the poor. It’s not as if it’s being hidden under someone’s mattress.

    Having said that the right to property is not absolute.

    Further, I think an economy in which there are lots of high priced goods that have little intrinsic value is asking for trouble (I include pro athletes making millions). It’s a type of inflation, like the real estate market of a few years ago.

  15. Dr. Eric says:

    Some Top Super-Heroes
    Superman Methodist
    Spider-Man Protestant
    Batman Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
    Wonder Woman Greco-Roman Classical Religion
    Aquaman Greco-Roman Classical Religion
    The Hulk Catholic (lapsed)
    Captain America Protestant
    Invisible Woman Episcopalian
    Nightcrawler Catholic
    Shadowcat Jewish
    Daredevil Catholic
    Hawkman Egyptian classical religion
    The Thing Jewish
    The Atom Jewish (lapsed)
    Zatanna Dianic Wiccan
    Elektra Greek Orthodox

    Source:
    http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html

    From what I have read, Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) was the one who added a Catholic background to Batman.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    D’oh! There was a space between the names of the Superheroes and their religions:

    Some Top Super-Heroes
    Superman: Methodist
    Spider-Man: Protestant
    Batman: Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
    Wonder Woman: Greco-Roman Classical Religion
    Aquaman: Greco-Roman Classical Religion
    The Hulk: Catholic (lapsed)
    Captain America: Protestant
    Invisible Woman: Episcopalian
    Nightcrawler: Catholic
    Shadowcat: Jewish
    Daredevil: Catholic
    Hawkman: Egyptian classical religion
    The Thing: Jewish
    The Atom: Jewish (lapsed)
    Zatanna: Dianic Wiccan
    Elektra: Greek Orthodox

  17. John Kusske says:

    You forgot Thor–Norse Myth!

  18. Trevor says:

    Nightcrawler actually studied to be a Catholic priest. I wonder if he was of the “Say the Black, Do the Red” variety?

  19. Gregory Nagy says:

    In the early 80s, Marvel introduced a series of Catholic comic book biographies. . The first was The Life of Pope John Paul II, followed by at least St Francis of Assissi and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

  20. Gregory Nagy says:

    correction: the title of the St Francis book was “Francis Brother of the Universe”

  21. Melody says:

    Now now, as a fellow trad I must remind you that the first superheroes were The Shadow and Clark Savage.

  22. The price seems too low. In 1996, two Action # 1 issues sold for $150,000 each. I thought that a copy of Detective Comics # 27 (the first Batman) sold for more than that at one point.

    Of course, with the economy in the tank, collectible prices may be dropping.

    I’m old enough that I still remember the nuns in first grade having us bring our old newspapers for the school’s “paper drive”. I have read that it was the paper drives — “win prizes for your school!” — that lured the parents into gathering up all their teenage and college-aged kids’ old comic books in the 1950s and adding them to the paper heap to be recycled. If that hadn’t happened, there would be a lot more copies of these old comic books still around.

  23. Charivari Rob says:

    Melody – “Now now, as a fellow trad I must remind you that the first superheroes were The Shadow and Clark Savage.”

    Well, Doc Savage and The Shadow did predate Superman by several years, but they had their roots in pulp magazines. Though they inspired certain elements of Superman, Batman, and others, they didn’t make it into comic books until after Superman’s debut.

    If you’re going to branch out to other genres, you’d probably have to include several other heroes, and go back at least as far as The Scarlet Pimpernel.

    In comic books, Superman was preceded by one costumed hero, at least in his own publishing house. Dr. Occult was mostly a trenchcoat-wearing detective of the supernatural when he debuted in 1935, but he did go the tights-and-cape route for one adventure.