On Sunday, August 24th, comic book lovers across the world watched with abated breath to what avid collectors would pay for a rare Superman comic book. Though bids above the initial asking price of $1 million USD had been coming in gradually since the pristine copy was placed on auction site eBay on July 14th, things really started to heat up during the final minutes when the price jumped from $2.5 to $2.6 and then $2.7 million, before shooting up to $3,207,752. Just when everyone thought it was over, an unknown buyer sneaked in the winning bid – a mind-boggling $3,207,852!
This of course was no ordinary Superman comic book, but an edition of the extremely sought after Action Comics #1 series – the first publication of the superhero that was born from the creative minds of teenagers, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
Though Action Comics #1 series, which depicts a diaper clad baby Superman lifting furniture had a print run of 200,000 copies, only about 100 are known to exist today.
While the rarity is certainly a reason for the high price, Stephen Fisher, CEO of ComicConnect.com, thinks it also has lot to do with the fact Superman was the world’s first superhero!
Even so, none of the copies have been able to fetch as much as the most recent one, simply because they have not been as well-preserved.
Graded a rare 9 out of 10 by Sarasota-based comic book experts, Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), it is the highest rated copy of Action Comics #1, so far. According to CGC officials, the 76-year-old comic book looks and feels as though it has just come off the newsstand.
That is not surprising given that the original owner, a West Virginia man who bought it for a mere 10cts in 1938, had carefully tucked it away in a cedar chest for four decades. This combined with the fact that he lived in a high altitude area, helped preserve the comic book perfectly. Fortunately when he passed on, it was bought by a string of collectors who all realized it was a rare treasure that needed to be looked after. Darrell Adams the comic book’s last owner says he knew he was acquiring the ‘Mona Lisa’ of comic books, when he purchased it for seven figures a few years ago, and therefore kept the copy sealed inside a bank locker!
Prior to this, the highest price paid for an Action Comics #1 series had been $2 million USD for a copy sold by Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage, in 2011. Ironically, the two teenagers responsible for creating Superman, received a paltry $130 USD when they sold the rights to the superhero to comic book publisher Detective Comics, in 1938.
Resources: Time.com, latimes.com, cnet.com
Critical Thinking Challenge:
If you were given a choice, what superhero power would you choose? Why?