The Q Score for Dr. Stephen Strange has grown by mystic proportions since the release of Disney’s 2016 Doctor Strange film. Is it just possible all this attention will boost the prices of Doctor Strange art?… INDEED!
Popping in from portals everywhere, the character has contributed major manifestations in a couple monstrous Avengers movies, significant What If…? episodes, and an upcoming role in Spider-Man’s next journey. Then, 2022 will be strange days indeed as Doctor Strange enters the Multiverse of Madness!
Don’t Bury the Lead, Doctor Strange Art Indeed
A couple years ago, I featured Frank Brunner in the Comic Art Trends Price Guide 2020 edition. While making updates, I noticed record and spectacular sales of Doctor Strange art from multiple artists, past and present. Of course, co-creator Steve Ditko led the way. Frank Brunner, Frank Miller, Marshall Rogers, Marie Severin, and Geoff Isherwood all experienced terrific prices for their Doctor Strange art, indeed.
So fast forward to 2021, and By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth! It’s happening again.
Beginning with Brunner
I will lead with sorcerer supreme Frank Brunner. His art made me take notice two years ago. The cover art for Doctor Strange #1 (1974) cast his spell on me again. As of 11 days before the close of auction, Brunner’s original cover art from the first issue is bid at $186,000 including Buyer’s Premium. That’s double his next closest sale on HA.
Meanwhile, the comic itself appears to be breaking out. From GoCollect I pulled the CGC 9.8 sales. From 2013 to early 2020, prices ranged from just under $500 to just over $1,000. Late 2020 through 2021 sales appear to be consistently over $1,000. One sale flirted with $1,500, but I would be cautious since the sales pattern clearly shows a tendency to break down from those roughly $1,000 levels.
Going back to Brunner’s Doctor Strange second series cover art. Covers for issues 4 and 5 by Brunner sold for an average of $50K in Spring 2020. Then, in January 2021, cover art for issue 3 sold for $72K. That’s over a 40% increase. Next, in April 2021, the original art from Doctor Strange #2 sold for $90K. Bonus heroes, the Defenders, also appeared on the cover of issue 2, which enjoyed a 20% increase from issue 3. Now with Issue 1 Doctor Strange art, indeed at least 100% higher, where can it go from here? I want to note that cover art from a first issue in a series always enjoys a little gravitas. Though first appearances are king, number ones still sell at a premium to later issues as comics. I believe art has the same appeal.
Mystical Marie Severin
It would be hard to argue that Marie Severin isn’t the first lady of Marvel. She was decorated and highly regarded as a colorist, but also accomplished much performing pencil and ink duties.
Currently up for auction, the complete ten-page Doctor Strange tale, “Alone, Against the Mindless Ones!” from Strange Tales #153. We do have a benchmark for this type of Marie Severin art. In 2020, another 10-Page story sold for $66,000. That art from Strange Tales 157, “The End of the Ancient One”, featured the first appearance of the Living Tribunal. That likely boosted prices. Probably, the current auction won’t reach those levels. But with Dr. Strange on everyone’s mind, the average price per page is more likely in the four to five grand area than $2,000 to $3,000.
Genial Gene Colan
Long-time Marvel and DC artist Gene Colan stands out for his work on Daredevil and Iron Man. But he was no slouch in a magical cape when he penciled Dr. Strange. Bidders have lifted the Gene Colan pencils Dr. Strange #176 (1969) to almost $18K with eleven days to go. There’s a strong possibility the Gene Colan art will surpass the 2020 sale of Doctor Strange #13 cover art. It fetched $26,400. Before that, similar cover art from Doctor Strange #174 sold in 2017 for $23,900.
Are these good prices for Colan cover art? Well, Daredevil 32 cover art from 1967 recently sold for $67,000. I would be surprised if the final price is anywhere near that. Further, it won’t be anything like the record-breaking $240,000 price paid for Iron Man and Sub-Mariner 1 art. However, the Doctor Strange #13 art was published in 1976, so I expect a nice percentage boost for Doctor Strange #176 art by comparison.
Doctor, help me with this Strange Art indeed
I discussed some of the highlight pieces for the good doctor. However, interior pages are currently at auction as well. Even though the cover is the most recognizable page, much enjoyment and eventually investment return can come through the interior pages too.
Where do you rank Doctor Strange among Marvel characters? The more people that care about him, the better his comics and original art will do. For another movie art tie-in, check out my article on Bill Sienkiewicz Dune Art.