The original art of Page #1, Issue #1 of The Watchmen, the very beginning of one of the most acclaimed comic sagas ever - and one of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Greatest Novels in 2005 - will be auctioned by Heritage Auctions
, without reserve, on 19 Nov., as part of its Signature® Comic and Comic Art Auction.
The art work, which was purchased for £85.00 (roughly U.S. $150) in 1987 is expected to bring $15,000+.
The page, featuring the introduction of the blood-stained "happy face" badge, Rorschach's journal and even the first un-costumed appearance of Rorschach himself, comes to auction from the collection of notorious British hard rock designer, musician, DJ and TV host Stephen "Krusher" Joule, long known for his artwork for such rock gods as Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Robert Plant and Motorhead - including some punk luminaries like The Sex Pistols and Blondie - as well as for his longtime tenure as Art Director at Kerrang! Magazine, a longtime bible of Heavy Metal music.
"Sometime in late 1987 I was walking off an absolutely horrendous hangover on my way to work at Kerrang!, which meant that I was stumbling, mumbling and tumbling through Covent Garden," said Joule. "As I was passing the shop where I had originally bought my Watchmen comics, I saw a poster proclaiming 'ORIGINAL WATCHMEN ARTWORK FOR SALE.' My hangover cure was immediate. This was the moment that I'd been waiting for all my life."
Striding up to the door like a man on a mission, Joule asked "Where's the Watchmen pages?"
The owner pointed to a person at the back of the shop who was picking up a portfolio.
"That man down there is looking at them," Joule recalls being told. "I was like a greyhound out of a trap, followed closely by the owner, who was asking me 'Is there any particular page you're interested in?' No sooner than the words were out of his mouth, and the man with the portfolio had just finished unzipping it, did I see a vision of beauty, the Holy Grail, Page #1, issue #1. I pointed to it and said, 'Yes! That one!"
Even the most hardcore and irascible denizens of Metal eventually need a break from the rock and roll life, and want to be closer to their aging parents, which has led Joule to sell of this singular and important piece after more than 23 years of ownership.
"After 33 years of living in my council flat on the 15th floor of what I lovingly refer to as 'Terror Tower,'" he said, "I want to get out of London and be closer to Ma Krusher. This should help facilitate that."
In collector circles, original Watchmen art from the 1980s is very highly sought-after. It is, in fact, among the small handful of most important titles from the entire history of the medium. Appearances of original Watchmen art are very rare indeed, let alone the very first page of the very first book.
"Watchmen pages have proven very scarce on the open market," said Todd Hignite, Consignment Director for Heritage, "and do not change hands very often. In fact, this is the first one Heritage has ever offered - so we couldn't be more excited that it's the page that kicks off the entire Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons saga. Many people who've never read any other comic books have read Watchmen, and given that mass appeal, we expect very strong demand for this lot."
In fact, Joule began to realize the importance of this very page many years ago when he attended an Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons signing, where he brought this page to get the signatures of the Watchmen creators.
"When I asked (Gibbons) to sign this page he was more than willing," said Joule, "but when he saw that it was Page #1, Issue #1, he said, 'Bloody hell, I told the wife not to sell that one!' Sadly for him, it was a little too late."