She is truly a Wonder Woman among boys! Wonder Woman has never been afraid to mix it up in the male-dominated comic universe. Though not the first super-heroine, Wonder Woman ranks first among ALL female superheroes. Two jungle-based characters preceded her. Will Eisner and Jerry Iger introduced Sheena, Queen of the Jungle in 1938. Another jungle heroine, the bizarre Fantomah, debuted in Jungle Comics #2 dated 1940. Nonetheless, since All-Star Comics #8, no female character has impacted the comic industry like Princess Diana. So, while she might just seem like one of the boys, her looks and Amazonian stature ensures she always stands out.
JLA 1 cover art by Howard Porter and John Dell featured Wonder Woman and the boys. It sold in November 2020 for $15,600.
Is the Amazonian Princess Really First Among the Girls?
Female heroes have made huge strides in recent years, and not just as the subject of “good girl” art. Original art and comics featuring Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers) and She-Hulk (see my blog) enjoy smashing good sales enhanced by media hype. Considering, WW now has two new movies, can the same be said for her? In this article, let’s ponder if the demand for Wonder Woman original art is as spectacular as her ever-changing costume or as invisible as her plane!
But before we review the trends in Wonder Woman art, I claim that she is first among female characters. In fact, for me, she is the only Grade A female character in the Comic Art Trends (CAT) grading scale. Certainly, heroes like the two mentioned above along with Spider-Gwen, Batwoman, Black Canary, Power Girl, Stargirl and a host of others are no longer hiding behind their male counterparts. However, only Wonder Woman has the longevity, media presence, and universal recognition to be called a Grade A character.
The title splash for Wonder Woman #301 by Gene Colan and Frank McLaughlin sold for $1,500 in 2021. Average Gene Colan panel art featuring Wonder Woman averages modestly higher for sales from 2017 to the present compared to prior sales. A splash featuring WW and Zatanna sold for $5K last December.
Where is the Wonder Woman Among Boys?
Her start was inauspicious. When Wonder Woman debuted in All-Star Comics #8, not only did she not rate a cover appearance, she also failed to appear in the blurb! The boys were all there–Spectre, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Johnny Thunder, Sandman, and Atom–even two new members, Doctor Midnite and Starman, but was Wonder Woman among them?
Check out the blurb for the comic book with Wonder Woman’s first appearance. This discrimination case is ripe for the ACLU! In case the picture is difficult to read, it mentions two new members of the Justice Society of America. Then, it lists every hero, EXCEPT the one that makes this comic super-high dollar: Wonder Woman! Graded 9.4 FMV for All-Star Comics 8: $650K.
WW Sales trends for Brian Bolland, John Byrne, and Matthew Clark
Brian Bolland illustrated several Wonder Woman covers in the early nineties. Taking him as an example, three cover sales averaged $9,500 in the last 3 years through Heritage Auctions. I graded the covers C3, C4, and C5 on my scale. Two covers (graded C3 and C4) both sold in 2010-2011 for $4,481. While Bolland’s Killing Joke art sells for extraordinary prices, other subjects like Wonder Woman sell more modestly. In this case, the prices changed significantly, but we can’t assume its all related to the movies since most art prices have exploded recently.
John Byrne presided over many well-known characters during his career: the Fantastic Four, Superman, a merry little band called the X-Men, and of course, Wonder Woman. Byrne’s X-Men art is legendary with prices to match. In contrast, happy buyers picked up Wonder Woman covers for a little less than $4,000 each on average in the last few years. Splash and panel pages sell much less typically. One interesting sale came for a WW battle page that fetched $2,600 in 2019. A splash page sold in 2011 for only $837 even though it shared similar content to the panel page that sold shown to the left.
Let’s consider a third Wonder Woman artist. Credits for Matthew Clark extend to Ghost Rider, Doom Patrol, Outsiders, Batman, and a nice run on Wonder Woman, among others. Though Clark has 20+ years of credits, few people have the name recognition of John Byrne and Brian Bolland. With relatively few sales at HA for Clark, it’s still interesting to see solid sales for Wonder Woman panel pages as high as $800. Recent sales for other characters aren’t as strong. At this point, please consider these examples as anecdotal indications of good demand for Wonder Woman art.
Before Spider-Man and Superman: Ross Andru’s Wonder Woman
It would be a shame to quit this article without mentioning a legend like Ross Andru. Though beloved for his work on Spider-Man and to a lesser extent Superman: Wonder Woman may be his legacy. Andru spent nine years on the character beginning in 1958 and did a comeback tour during the Eighties. Recent sales are sparse, though. I wonder where all that art is. Did it survive? Unfortunately, original art does not always share Wonder Woman’s ability to survive and thrive across the decades. However, Andru certainly shaped the character with his long tenure of creative work. Wonder Woman #98 featured Andru Art.
Finally, have Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman appearances strengthened the character and increased demand for WW art? My gut says yes. Though, I’ve always stood by my claim that Wonder Woman is the only Grade A female character. Past demand for her art has been relatively tempered despite the work of top tier artists like George Perez, John Byrne, Brian Bolland, and many others. I’m happy to see the current strong market for her art across a wide range of artists. The broad spectrum of artists with positive sales suggests Wonder Woman art demand is as strong as the character. I’m confident that many heroes will come and go while Wonder Woman remains, thus she embodies a CAT scale Grade A character.
For more, see my article Wonder Woman 84 Art: Pop Quiz Cheetah Sheet.
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