Printing Money

This comic, featuring the first appearance of the Spectre, went for $119,500 over the weekend. I know, that means nothing to you. Just stop laughing.

Over the weekend, Heritage Auction Galleries started offloading the famous Davis Crippen comic-book collection about which we've written a few times--and the three-day auction of that collection and other valuable geek trinkets brought in a fairly jaw-dropping $2,812,080. That was for 2,147 comics and comic strips, most dating from 1938 to 1954, which is considered the so-called Golden Age of the superhero. And Heritage still has some 9,000 Crippen comics in its possession, which it's auctioning off on its Web site and during another Signature event to be held next month in Baltimore--one of the Oak Lawn-based Heritage's rare out-of-town events.

According to Heritage's vice president, Ed Jaster, most of the key titles in Crippen's collection went for well above what Heritage expected. For instance, that infamous Suspense Comics No. 3, with the sadistic Nazi bondage cover artwork by Alex Schomburg, was expected to go for about $25,000; it sold for nearly twice that much, at $47,800. The first issue of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories sold for $13,000; a 1940 issue of Detective Comics, featuring Batman, fetched nearly $18,000.

But the one that went for the largest of small fortunes was More Fun Comics No. 52--which belonged not to the Crippen collection, but to a man named Lamont Larson, who began collecting comics as a kid in Nebraska in 1940. That's the year from which that issue of More Fun Comics dates, and it went for the price of a modest home--$119,500 to an unidentified buyer--because it's an old comic featuring the first appearance of a key superhero (the Spectre) that's in near-perfect shape from the famous collection of a beloved collector. In other words, it's the dork's perfect storm. Original Peanuts comic strips went for significantly less: a September 1962 Sunday strip brought in $31,070, while a 1951 daily strip got $23,900. Lesson? Kids, do not let your mothers force you to sell your comics at Half-Price Books for pennies on the pennies on the dollar. You will regret it. --Robert Wilonsky