A ‘perfect’ Flash Gordon strip from 1939 and a Frank Frazetta Death Dealer join a very rare mint copy of The Avengers No. 4 in sweeping Comics & Comic Art auction.
Anyone who has ever spent their free hours spinning a comics rack or opening their newspaper to the comics page will find something in Heritage's Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction that jogs the memory, quickens the pulse, stirs the soul. Among the event's more than 1,330 offerings are significant works handmade by celebrated titans and unsung heroes, valuable titles both famous and forgotten, and countless panels that have provided enduring pleasures.
Meskin famously made comics look like movies; this group image of Vigilante, Green Arrow and sidekick Speedy, Star-Spangled Kid, Shining Knight and the Crimson Avenger seems to jump off the page. And Ray drew some of comicdom's most famous images, including this 1941 Detective cover that, in August 2023, has again landed on comic-shop shelves as a facsimile reprint. Both covers hail from The Robinson Collection, so named for Ray's collaborator — and the man who co-created Robin and the Joker.
"Aside from being an outstanding artist, writer and entrepreneur, Jerry Robinson was a visionary," says Joe Mannarino, Heritage's New York-based Director of Comics and Comic Art. "He was among the first creators to sincerely appreciate the artists in the medium. Jerry worked alongside many of the top DC Golden Age artists, and when he saw an outstanding piece, he requested that it be returned from the printer so he could save it. Jerry accumulated the greatest-known collection of Golden and Silver Age art, and we are thrilled to offer two important examples from this remarkable collection."
From even earlier comes Alex Raymond's original Flash Gordon Sunday strip that ran in newspapers on June 128, 1939, along with the Jungle Jim topper that accompanied it. Raymond worked on Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim for just a decade — from their Jan. 7, 1934, debut until Raymond joined the Marines in 1944 — but his impact lingers well into the 21st century, whether in the ceaseless Star Wars franchise or the Thor films drenched in the bright, campy colors of the 1980 film adaptation.
The Star Wars nod is undeniable in this strip — the third pane, precisely. George Lucas has long insisted Princess Leia's "cinnamon-bun" hair in the 1977 film was inspired by "a kind of southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look." Yet Queen Fria is a dead ringer for Leia, from mane to moniker.
"This is one of my favorite pieces of art in the auction," says Heritage Executive Vice President Todd Hignite. "Not only has it never been on the market, but it's pretty much perfect in every way."
Speaking of Star Wars and works never before offered at auction, Heritage proudly presents Rick Hoberg and Dave Cockrum's original cover of Star Wars No. 5 — the penultimate issue of Marvel Comics' adaptation of Lucas' film, which was written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. This issue — featuring the story "Lo, the Moons of Yavin!" — was published on Aug. 10, 1977, just 77 (!) days after Lucas gave audiences a new hope for sci-fi on the big screen.
Infamously, Marvel initially scoffed at the idea of adapting Star Wars for spinner racks in 1975. But by the summer of '77, these books were the only way audiences could hang out with Luke, Han and Leia without lining up for another ticket. Readers snapped up the first six issues, and as Marvel's then-editor-in-chief Jim Shooter later said, those Star Wars books kept Marvel "alive during a very rough time." An original cover from the first six issues of Star Wars has never been publicly offered. The Force is definitely with this one.
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