At $288,000 for one panel, think about what Bill Everett’s Daredevil #1 page could have sold for if ALL seven panels featured Daredevil! I guess it doesn’t work that way with first appearance mania–for comics or original art! This article is sure to produce feelings of envy, greed, lust and other seven deadly enemies of man. However, let’s congratulate our fellow humans on their purchases in Heritage’s Signature Auction this April. And, we’ll enjoy talking about some amazing first appearances.
Original Art First Appearance Mania is Nothing New
Euphoria over first appearance original art is not new. Anyone remember Herb Trimpe’s modest contribution to the Marvel Universe: Wolverine? Better yet, do you remember Wolverine’s one-panel first appearance that I discussed in Looking for the Pop in Original Art? Herb Trimpe’s last page of Incredible Hulk #180 sold for over $657K seven years ago!
Of course, Herb Trimpe had an amazing career mostly at Marvel. His Silver and Bronze age contributions included a long run as the Hulk’s main artist. To put it another way, Wolverine’s 1st appearance original art was created by one of the legends!
Did Daredevil Get Disrespected?
Now, what about Daredevil? First, Daredevil artist Bill Everett is the epitome of a legend; he created Sub-Mariner for Marvel Comics #1 in 1939. Talk about first appearance art! Everett illustrated the Silver Age Daredevil’s first story in 1964. Is Daredevil as popular as Wolverine? No…clearly he’s not. But, Daredevil has been a fixture of the Marvel Universe almost from the beginning. The 1964 debut of Daredevil precedes Wolverine by ten years! In today’s chronology, that doesn’t seem like much. However, that difference is not a decade, it’s an AGE!
So, consider the Daredevil original art sale from the first week of April. One could argue that less than $300K for the first appearance of Daredevil SEVEN YEARS AFTER the Wolverine page sold for more than double, is an insult! Admittedly, spectacular Daredevil action is missing from this page. Wolverine ranks far higher in popularity. And perhaps, the art from Incredible Hulk #180 sold too high. I still assert the copyright 1964 should have made a bigger difference.
The Debut of Nightcrawler
Where does Nightcrawler rank compared to Wolverine and Daredevil? I would say third, but he does have the distinction of debuting in perhaps the most important comic of the Bronze age: Giant-Size X-Men #1. That comic also debuted in 1974.
The first new X-Men comic is iconic in its own right. And by virtue of that importance, every page from the book is significant, whether a new character first appeared or not. (By the way, the same could be said for every page of Daredevil #1.)
Original art from Nightcrawler’s first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1 sold for $102,000 this April. Dave Cockrum qualifies as another legendary illustrator. Other interior pages from this Cockrum classic sold from 2005 to 2018. The most expensive page fetched $30K. However, none were as significant as the debut of Nightcrawler. Would you agree with me that only Storm ranks higher than Nightcrawler among the new X-Men created for G-S X-Men 1?
Another New X-Men Character: Rogue
As an old guy who grew up with the original five: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Ice-Man, Angel, and the Beast–EVERYONE else is a New X-Man (or person). Rogue, however, didn’t debut until Avengers Annual #10. But, I think she is one of the most popular X-people. Her first appearance occurred in 1981.
Rogue appeared first as an image in the mind of Spider-Woman on a panel of page 7. That art sold in 2019 for $45,600. Here in April, page 8 from Rogue’s debut fetched $40,800. That page featured the drama of Rogue sucking power from Captain America. I suppose the debate over first cameo appearance vs. first real appearance is loosely relevant to the price difference here.
Bring on the Bad Guys
Bad guys have first original art appearances, too. Journey Into Mystery #107 introduced the world to the stone-cold touch of the Grey Gargoyle. Thor experienced that touch on Page 13 by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone. It sold for $12,600 in the recent Signature Auction. Similar to the recent Rogue sale, it was a page from Grey Gargoyle’s debut issue, but not the exact first time he appeared. However, the importance of the Grey Gargoyle compared to the four heroes described above is THE main reason his art sold cheaper. By the way, JIM #107 came out in 1964 and featured art by the greatest comic book artist ever. Yet, first appearance mania drove prices much higher for the other pages.
One Comic Book First Appearance Mania – Jonah Hex
All-Star Western, or Weird Western, is an unremarkable title. Jonah Hex definitely has a cult following, but he’s not a household name. Yet, the 1972 comic where Jonah Hex moseyed on to the scene recently sold for the phenomenal price of $9,000.
I don’t know if Hex’s critically panned movie or guest appearances on Legends of Tomorrow justify that price. Clearly, the sale demonstrates the power of the first appearance. That power extends to original art first appearances as powerfully as to comics.