Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

by Patrick Bain

CATBlogCover2-1024x536 Batman Art in Heritage Signature AuctionWow!  The September Heritage Signature Auction wipes the scowl off the Dark Knight’s grim visage by featuring a ton of awesome Batman art.  But not just quantity, quality artists like Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, and Frank Miller abound!  I know 99% of us will only feel envy, but let’s delight in some historic works for just a few moments.

Shine the Bat-Signal on the Stars

Batman-281-by-Ernie-Chan-196x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

Everyone has their own list of all-time greatest Batman artists.  I think Adams, Aparo,  and Miller top many lists.  But let’s add Jim Lee, Dick Sprang, and even Bob Kane to the All-Star lineup.  Each has at least one work in the September Signature Auction at HA!  And from the Copper and Modern Ages, consider artists Frank Quitely, Tim Sale, and Tony Daniel.  Hold on, there’s more.

Brave-and-the-Bold-84-Page-1-230x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

The range of featured Batman art in the upcoming Heritage Signature Auction also packs a punch!  Park the Batmobile in the 1940s for original comic strip art by Bob Kane and Dick Sprang.  Jump to the end of the Silver Age, 1969.  Neal Adams’ work in Brave and the Bold ushered in the true Dark Knight.  Dark Knight and dark days, indeed, as art from 1986 (Dark Knight Returns) and 1989 (A Death in the Family) change Batman forever.  Don’t leave out new millennium works by Tim Sale, Tony Daniel, Tyler Kirkham, and Peach Momoko.

Signature Batman Art That Caught My Eye

Batman-429-Cover-by-Mike-Mignola-196x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

In this column, CAT Eyes on Original Art, I want to preview comic art that catches my eye.  I won’t limit myself to Heritage Auctions, although the September offering amazes me.  Don’t be afraid to point out your favorites as they become available.  I’ll be happy to give them a look, some analysis, and possibly blow your chance to get an under-the-radar piece cheap.

Batman-428-198x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

First, let’s focus on art by two different artists, but from the same infamous storyline: A Death in the Family circa Batman 429.  The cover by Mike Mignola features a smug grade A villain, Joker.  I give it a grade of C5 as it features only the villain.  Two other Death in the Family Mignola covers sold previously.  Batman 426 (1st in the storyline) cover art fetched $33,600 in 2018.  I graded that cover C6, featuring a Grade A Batman, but not an especially dramatic picture.  That sales price was good money for Mignola art at the time.  Batman 428 cover art featured a bloody Robin.  It sold earlier this year for $228,000.  Now THAT’S good money!  I grade it C7, not because of the price, but because of the cover drama.

In my earlier system, I would have given it only a C5 because I treated Robin as a Grade B character.  I’ve changed my tune on that distinction now.  By the way, the Joker cover is currently at $34,000.  I expect it to finish with a phenomenal price compared to most Mignola sales, but far below $228,000.  I would equate it to Batman 426 and adjust for inflation to guess somewhere in the range 60 to 80 grand.

Batman-429-Complete-Story-by-Jim-Aparo-198x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature AuctionBuying Death in the Family

Equally interesting to me, HA offered up the complete story for issue 429 by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo.  I’ve been a big fan of Jim Aparo, but his art sales typically don’t overwhelm.  The current bid sits at $18,400 for this CS22 art (22-page complete story).  It will finish well above that bid, but I don’t expect it to breathe the rarified air of the issue 428 art.  That complete story from part 3 fetched $288,000.  At $13 grand per page, I think someone overextended in the June ’22 sale.  A bidder recently paid $78,000 for a twelve-page Spectre story from the classic Adventures Comics run.  That was Aparo’s peak work; and I think that’s about the final price for this story, if not less.

Miller Batman Art Heritage Auction Deep Dive

Dark-Knight-Returns-4-page-11-by-Frank-Miller-200x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

How about talking Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns 4 page 11?  This page probably wins top-sale honors among Bat-art in this auction.  It has a pretty good start at $100K as of 8/26/2022.  We all know the significance and demand for art from this series.

Page 11 from book 4 is WAY less significant than other recent pieces.  The art is an interior panel page rather than a cover or splash.  Batman is not the prominent character on the page.  The art features Batman on 1/3 of the page, therefore it receives an R4 on my CAT scale.

Dark-Knight-Returns-2-Page-3-197x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

Three past sales are similar: From June 2022, a page from the same book featuring Superman sold for $132K. This page also receives an R4 due to the relatively small part of the page dedicated to Superman.  In the Dark Knight Returns, people want to see Batman, so that probably limited the final sales price.

Dark-Knight-Returns-2-Page-6-219x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction

Two pages that I would also grade R4 sold in 2017 and 2014, for $47,800 and $51,000, respectively.  The Bat-silhouettes create more drama in the older pieces than the current one.

More Discussion on Original Art

Batman-Legends-of-the-Dark-Knight-69-Page-13-199x300 Batman Art in Heritage Signature AuctionCheck out my article on Miller’s grail cover from Dark Knight Returns 1 vs cover art attributed to Bob Kane.  I would say the DK 1 cover art underperformed when it sold for a mere $2.4 million.  That’s much lower than Spidey art by Mike Zeck that garnered $3.36 million, without near as much critical fanfare.  And all of the above-mentioned art will sell higher than a nice interior page (also CAT R4) by Mike Zeck from Legends of the Dark Knight 69.  Original art comes at many prices, so no need to be completely shut out of the fun.  Besides Batman art, the Heritage Signature event presents a plethora of amazing works.  I’ll dig deep into other art themes offered in the September auction over the next few days.

Want more original art analysis?

00080221C_Green-Footer Batman Art in Heritage Signature Auction*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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A Baer August 28, 2022 - 7:34 pm

Great choices Patrick

Patrick Bain August 29, 2022 - 12:26 pm

Thanks for reading, Andy. To be honest, I could’ve gone a thousand more words (at least) to cover interesting Batman art in this auction. I grew up on Ernie Chan Batman and loved the David V Reed period. So that really would have been a topic I would have liked to explore.


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