All of these mighty Marvel pieces of original cover art sold in the same auction. The Heritage Auctions sale took place in mid-November of this year. I’ve indicated the primary artist and the year published, can you put the cover sales in order from least to greatest. No peeking. No checking the internet. It’s ok to ask a friend. Put them in order so the “Price is Right” and let’s see how many HONEST winners we get.
The Art and the Artists for the Price Is Right
The best way to play this game is to go ahead and order the covers right now before reading on. Then read some background info on each artist, and rearrange the sales if you like. Then, (and only then), at the very bottom I provide the correct answer.
Sal is the younger of two brothers that probably contributed more art to a comic book publisher than any other set of brothers in history. During his long career, Sal worked on Avengers, Incredible Hulk, Spectacular Spider-Man and a host of others. In 2019, his cover art for Defenders 9 sold for $102,000. And that same year, Captain America 137 cover art featuring Spider-Man fetched $96,000. Publication date for Daredevil Annual 2 is 1971, about the same period as these. Another cover from Daredevil co-starring the Black Panther raised $28,800 in 2020. Certainly, Sal Buscema’s prolific contributions for Marvel make him a Marvel fan favorite.
Sal’s older brother John was working for Marvel when Sal got his opportunity. Prolific and dynamic, John’s art represented the house style Marvel wanted for their artists. John’s Avengers and Fantastic Four art enjoys strong demand. I personally loved his pairing with inker Tom Palmer. Joe Sinnott embellished the cover for Fantastic Four 117. Apparently, John Romita, Sr. lent his talents to Crystal. Besides those mega Marvel team books, John Buscema is celebrated for his work on the first Silver Surfer series. Most notably, John penciled hundreds, must be thousands, of pages of Conan the Barbarian art.
Two covers by John Buscema that I consider iconic are Silver Surfer 1 and Avengers Annual 2. However, they both sold a looooong time ago, so their respective sales prices of $40K and $34.5K are not indicative of what they could sell for today. In 2020, the cover of Marvel’s Greatest Comics 35 featuring the Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer fetched $44,400. The cover for Doc Savage 1 grabbed $43,200 in 2020. Both of these covers came out around the same time as Fantastic Four 117. The cover for Fantastic Four 114 sold in 2018 for almost $18,000.
Another Marvel stalwart, Gene Colan did amazing work on Iron Man and Daredevil way back in the Silver/Bronze Age of Marvel Comics. Howard the Duck enjoyed cultural phenomenon status back in the seventies, securing Hollywood status in the eighties. Gene Colan’s resume shined for both DC and Marvel, but his Marvel works are the most significant. Besides Colan characters already mentioned, his diverse works included Captain America, Tomb of Dracula, and even Batman (for those other guys).
Howard the Duck 18 cover art, published in 1977, benefited from the inks of Klaus Janson. Other premium cover art by Colan includes Iron Man and Sub-Mariner 1 that sold for $240,000 in 2018. The cover for Tales of Suspense 95 pitting Iron Man vs. the Grey Gargoyle raised $63,000 at auction in 2020. Returning to Howard the Duck, issue 6 cover art sold for almost $30K in 2018.
M. D. Bright
The new kid on the block, Mark Bright owns credits for the Iron Man 212 cover art. His credits extend beyond Marvel to DC where he got his start. Besides Iron Man, Bright worked on Power Man and Iron Fist, Avengers, and G.I. Joe. Iron Man and G.I. Joe are two of Bright’s more notable Marvel runs. Four Iron Man covers by Bright sold long ago in 2005. The cover prices averaged about $1,400. His 2016 Spider-Man versus Wolverine 1 cover fared better, $35,850.
Iron Man 212 published in 1986 enjoys the inking skill of Joe Rubinstein.
The Big Reveal
So, I’ve armed you with some trivia and a few of many sales. Go ahead and do your final ordering from lowest price sale to highest price sale.
Here is the bottom line, and this is the Price is Right.
- Howard the Duck 18 by Gene Colan and Klaus Janson – $13,800
- Daredevil Annual 2 by Sal Buscema – $22,200
- Fantastic Four 117 by John Buscema, Joe Sinnott, and John Romita, Sr. – $22,800
- Iron Man 212 by M. D. Bright and Joe Rubinstein – $24,000
I have to admit, I’m surprised by the results. Credit to fans of Mark Bright for pushing the sales price of his art past three Marvel legends. What does this mean to you if you are an art investor? Post your guesses (right and wrong) and let’s see how people did.
Another Might Marvel artist with years of service is Bill Everett, give my article a look.