The image of Superman, powerfully posed in front of a patriotic shield with a bald eagle perched on his arm, cemented the Man of Steel’s status as the guardian of truth, justice and the American way.
And now the original drawing by Fred Ray for the cover of “Superman No. 14,” is hitting the auction block.
When the digital gavel falls on the online auction, the selling price will likely eclipse the top selling price of any other piece of comic book art.
“The current record price of the most expensive piece is $380,000,” said Stephen Fishler, owner of ComicConnect.com, where the cover, as well as the original artwork for the cover to “Detective Comics No. 69,” featuring the Joker, will be sold. “This will certainly break that record. Probably ‘Superman” is worth half a million to $750,000. The value of the ‘Detective’ is $400,000-$500,000.”
Comics have remained recession-proof collectibles, with recent auction for actual comic books reaching into the millions.
The pieces are both owned by artist Jerry Robinson, 88, a legend in the comic book field, who is best known for co-creating Batman’s sidekick Robin and creating the Dark Knight’s nemesis The Joker, the clown prince of crime.
The biggest crime, however, is what almost happened to the work: Robinson nabbed the pieces right before they were about to be thrown out in 1942. Robinson drew the iconic “Detective” issue, which features the Joker holding a pair of guns.
In 1942, in the infant years of the comic book industry when these pieces were drawn, the art was thought of as “reproduction art” and not something worthy of display, said Robinson, who lives in Manhattan.
“Nobody had a real appreciation of the art form,” he said. “I can’t say I had the foresight to think it was so valuable. We would just save [the art] from destruction and save it for the studio wall.”
Robinson, who’s story is told in the book “Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics,” hopes that the pieces, which he’s had in his collection for more than 70 years, will be put on display after they are purchased.
“They should be seen by historians and collectors,” he said. “That early work [is] so iconic, [it’s] a pioneering American art form.”