NEW YORK, NY.- The Billy Wright Collection, a newly CGC-pedigreed collection - featuring five of the top six comic books in the hobby, all unrestored and all offered without reserves - leads the way in Heritage's Feb. 22-24 Vintage Comics and Comic Art Signature(r) Auction, taking place at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (Ukrainian Institute of America) at 2 East 79th Street (at 5th Ave.).
"While a relatively small collection of little more than 300 comic books," said Lon Allen, Managing Director of Comics Auctions at Heritage. "The Billy Wright Collection represents not only five of the top six comics in the business, but also 45 of the top 100 comics overall, all unrestored."
Those top comics include Detective Comics #27 (DC, 1939) CGC FN+ 6.5, the first appearance of "The Bat Man" (Estimate: $475,000+); Action Comics #1 (DC, 1938) CGC GD/VG 3.0, the most important comic book ever published (Estimate: $325,000+); All-American Comics #16 (DC, 1940) CGC VF 8.0, the debut of Green Lantern (Estimate: $125,000+); Batman #1 (DC, 1940) CGC VF+ 8.5, a superb copy of the first official Batman comic (Estimate: $125,000) and Marvel Comics #1 (Timely, 1939) CGC VF- 7.5 (Estimate: $125,000+).
In complement to the Billy Wright copy of Detective #27, Heritage will also be offering another copy of the famed comic book, this one in a lesser grade, CGC 2.0, estimated at $80,000+, giving collectors two chances to own one of the greatest comic books of all time.
Collectors will also take special note of the amazing Curator Pedigree run of Fantastic Four comics, led by a superb CGC 9.4 graded copy of Fantastic Four #5, estimated at $55,000+.
"Not much is known about this collection," said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President of Heritage Auctions, "but many experts agree that the Curator books are among the best Silver Age Marvel comics available, and many of these FFs are the highest-graded copies in existence."
One of the most interesting wrinkles in the Feb. 22-24 Heritage Comics event will be the auction of 12 original DC "ashcan" comics, special editions created by DC comics to protect trademark and logos of what would become their most valuable titles, including Action Comics. The top offering of these incredibly rare books is the Action Funnies Ashcan Edition (DC, 1937/38) Condition: VF+, estimated at $20,000+.
"In the early days of comics publishing," said Jaster, "a print run might have been in the hundreds of thousands, maybe even the millions. Yet only about 100 to 1,000 of a given issue of any comic survived. With these ashcans, only two or three copies were made in the first place, so it's a miracle that even one of these has made it."
As is always the case with Heritage Comics auction, original comic art plays an important role in this event, led by John Romita Sr.'s Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 cover art, a large size cover, by one of the greatest names to ever pick up a pen, featuring superb renderings of almost every top Marvel character. The piece is estimated at $100,000+.
A Dark Knight Returns #1 original double page spread, pages 46-47, a moody sequence featuring classic villain Two-Face, is expected to catch collector attention, as original Dark Knight artwork has recently been commanding great interest in the hobby and superb prices. This piece is expected to bring $50,000+.
The creator of The Dark Knight series, Frank Miller himself, has consigned two pieces of original Dark Knight artwork to the auction, Absolute Dark Knight Book Cover Original Art (DC, 2006) and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (10th Anniversary Edition) Batman and Robin Frontispiece Splash Page Original Art (DC, 1997), a classic take on the famous issue #3, Page 10 splash page art from the original Dark Knight series. Both pieces are estimated at $50,000+.
"These pieces, consigned by the master himself, Frank Miller, represent some of the best original Dark Knight artwork yet to come on the market," said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage. "To top it off, Miller himself will be making an appearance at the auction preview on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion. Fans are more than welcome to come by and say hello in person."
One of the most special pieces in the auction, and likely one of the event's sleeper pieces, is the original published Bill Watterson cover art for the Calvin & Hobbes 1989-1990 18-month calendar, the only piece of published Calvin & Hobbes artwork to ever surface for public auction. While estimated at $50,000+, this piece has the potential to go much higher.
"Beyond the Peanuts comic strips of legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz, there is no more popular comic strip and certainly no strip where the original art is more in demand," said Hignite. "The difference being that original Schulz work can be had at a variety of price points. Original published Calvin and Hobbes artwork simply never comes up for public auction. There's really no telling how high collectors will be willing to go on this one, seeing as they will also be competing with non-traditional collectors who simply love the comic strip and will be very excited to see a piece of original art on the block."
One more important original comic art highlight is represent by the original Robert Crumb cover art for The People's Comix, estimated at $30,000+. This is the artwork from the famous mid-1970s Underground Comic where R. Crumb - bitter over the many difficulties thrown his way by his early success, and his opposition to the Ralph Bakshi Fritz the Cat movie - actually kills off his beloved Fritz, a character he had drawn since childhood.