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First Edition of Superman Achieves $317,200 at Auction
Superman making his debut in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). Cover art by Joe Shuster.

NEW YORK, NY.- John Dolmayan, drummer for System of a Down and owner of Torpedo Comics , has paid $317,200 for a copy of the first edition of Action Comics, the comic book from June of 1938 which is famous for having in its pages the debut of the “Man of Steel”. The price paid for the comic book is a record, but it is not close to the $500,000 that Comic Connect estimated it to be worth.

The auction started at $1, a price ten times higher than what the first owner of the comic book paid for it when it hit the streets with an insignificant value of 10 cents. The bids started going up during the first few days of the auction until it hit $277,000. The figure climbed in the last hours when several bidders substantially elevated the number. In total, 89 people bid on the item.

The story of this original version of the first comic book where Superman appears deserves to be mentioned. In 1950, twelve years after the first edition came out, a 9 year old boy begged his father to buy him a copy of this first edition. The boy had found the edition in a second hand book store and convinced his father of the importance of making the “investment”- at that time the issue cost 24 cents more than its original price. The boy took great care of the comic book for 58 years until he decided to capitalize on his investment.

Superman is a fictional character, a comic book superhero widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective Comics, Inc. in 1938, the character first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 30, 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips, and video games. With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book. The character's appearance is distinctive and iconic: a red, blue and yellow costume, complete with cape, like a circus costume, with a stylized "S" shield on his chest. This shield is now typically used across media to symbolize the character.

Superman's first appearance was in Action Comics #1, in 1938. In 1939, a self-titled series was launched. The first issue mainly reprinted adventures published in Action Comics, but despite this the book achieved greater sales. 1939 also saw the publication of New York World's Fair Comics, which by summer of 1942 became World's Finest Comics. With issue #7 of All Star Comics, Superman made the first of a number of infrequent appearances, on this occasion appearing in cameo to establish his honorary membership of the Justice Society of America.

Initially Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster would provide the story and art for all the strips published. However, Shuster's eyesight began to deteriorate, and the increasing appearances of the character saw an increase in the workload. This led Shuster to establish a studio to assist in the production of the art, although he insisted on drawing the face of every Superman the studio produced. Outside the studio, Jack Burnley began supplying covers and stories in 1940, and in 1941, artist Fred Ray began contributing a stream of Superman covers, some of which, such as that of Superman #14 (Feb. 1942), became iconic and much-reproduced. Wayne Boring, initially employed in Shuster's studio, began working for DC in his own right in 1942 providing pages for both Superman and Action Comics. Al Plastino was hired initially to copy Wayne Boring but was eventually allowed to create his own style and became one of the most prolific Superman artists during the Gold and Silver Ages of comics.

The scripting duties also became shared. In late 1939 a new editorial team assumed control of the character's adventures. Whitney Ellsworth, Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff were brought in following Vin Sullivan's departure. This new editorial team brought in Edmond Hamilton, Manly Wade Wellman, and Alfred Bester, established writers of science fiction.

By 1943, Jerry Siegel was drafted into the army in a special celebration, and his duties there saw high contributions drop. Don Cameron and Alvin Schwartz joined the writing team, Schwartz teaming up with Wayne Boring to work on the Superman comic strip which had been launched by Siegel and Shuster in 1939.

In 1945, Superboy made his debut in More Fun Comics #101. The character moved to Adventure Comics in 1946, and his own title, Superboy, launched in 1949. The 1950s saw the launching of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954) and Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane (1958). By 1974 these titles had merged into Superman Family, although the series was cancelled in 1982. DC Comics Presents was a series published from 1978 to 1986 featuring team-ups between Superman and a wide variety of other characters of the DC Universe.

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