Seventy-one years after his first appearance, Superman continues to capture our collective imaginations. Armed with a red cape and the power to fly, he single-handedly launched the “superhero” genre. So when an unknown copy of the very rare, very first Superman comic book comes to light—and to auction—word spreads faster than a speeding bullet.
Action Comics #1 is the world’s most valuable comic book, and it almost never happened. The creation of very young men, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the story was rejected numerous times before it was finally published in June 1938. The Man of Steel’s debut went on to spark our culture’s endless fascination with comics and superheroes.
Twelve years later, another event almost never happened. A 9-year old boy spots a copy of Action Comics #1 in a second-hand book shop priced at 35¢. After a round of begging and pleading to his reluctant father who thought that spending 35¢ for a 10¢ was down-right silly, the book was purchased. That little boy held onto his beloved Action Comics #1 for the next 58 years.
“It’s the Holy Grail of comic books,” says Stephen Fishler, one of the leading experts on collectible comics. (Fishler created the 10-point grading scale that’s become the industry standard for evaluating comic books.)
“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. Siegel and Shuster launched something massive.”
Fishler is founder of
New York ’s Metropolis Collectibles (MetropolisComics.com), the largest dealership of vintage comic books. He, along with partner Vincent Zurzolo, will manage the auction of Action Comics #1 via their online marketplace, ComicConnect.com.
“Lots of kids bought comic books in the ‘50s, but almost all of them eventually tossed them out,” says Fishler. “This guy understood its value and took good care of it—that almost never happens either.”
For collectors, discovering a rare, top-condition, vintage comic book—one that hasn’t been damaged or restored—is like striking gold. This newly-found copy is in excellent condition, evidenced by the “6.0/Fine” grading bestowed on it by CGC (Certified Guaranty Company, the gold standard in third-party comic book evaluations).
How much will it sell for? Action Comics #1 currently guides for $126,000 in Fine condition. Having said that, many experienced collectors expect it to sell for considerably more than that. Bidding on this legendary book will begin at $1.00 and will be sold without reserve.
Needless to say, when news of the comic book surfaced, it rocked the comic collectors’ community like a blast of Kryptonite.
That community may include some high-profile collectors, like Samuel Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, Eminem, and even President Barack Obama (who has collected Spider-Man comics for years). The auction may also attract some heavy-duty Superman fans, including Jerry Seinfeld, Shaquille O’Neal, and Nicolas Cage, who named his son Kal-El, Superman’s birth name.
But in this economy, who—other than a rich celebrity—could dream of spending big bucks on a comic book?
“You’d be surprised,” says Vincent Zurzolo, Metropolis Collectibles co-owner. “While the real estate market and stock market keep falling, comic book sales remain very strong. Some people are taking their money out of low-interest bank accounts and underperforming stocks and investing in hard assets like comics, coins, and other collectibles. A hard asset is an appealing alternative to a soft stock market.”
And so the story line of Action Comics #1 draws towards its breathtaking climax. The ComicConnect.com auction kicks off on Friday, February 27 and wraps up on Friday, March 13.
Who will purchase it? How much will they pay? In the words of creators Siegel and Shuster…
To Be Continued...
Click here to see the Action Comics #1 auction lot on ComicConnect.com!