The original artwork featuring the first ever appearance of Wolverine, by artist Herb Trimpe, on the final page of The Incredible Hulk #180 (1974), arguably the most important debut of a comic book character in the last 40 years, has surfaced from the private hands where it has resided for more than three decades and will cross the block at Heritage Auctions
on May 16.
"This is indisputably one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever surface," said Todd Hignite, Vice President of Heritage Auctions. "Up until the day I actually saw it and held it in my hands, I had a hard time believing it event really existed. Since the consignor isn't a collector, and therefore unknown to everyone in the hobby, it just wasn't even known for sure this survived."
In 1983, on the afternoon that Trimpe handed over the piece of original art to the then-teenaged consignor of the piece as a souvenir of their visit that afternoon, neither had any idea that the ink, graphite and blue pencil drawing would turn out to be one of the most influential comic book images ever created. As the decades drew on, and Wolverine soared in popularity and influence in Pop Culture, it because obvious to the owner of the art that he had something of significant value and importance.
Inspired by Trimpe's generosity to him more than 30 years ago, the consignor has specified that the majority of the after-tax proceeds from the sale of the artwork be donated, including a large portion designated for the Hero Initiative, the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in financial need.
"I'm sure the fruits of this sale will be greatly appreciated by all concerned," Trimpe told the auction house.
This year, 2014, marks the 40th anniversary of the character's first appearance in the landmark story, "And the Wind Howls Wendigo," scripted by Len Wein. In this issue, Hulk heads to Canada, looking for some peace and quiet, when he was mysteriously drawn to a cave inhabited by the sister of the man who became the Wendigo. At the very close of the thriller, the Canadian government sends in its own special agent to take care of a Hulk sighting a ferocious mutant known as Wolverine.
"Comic art just doesn't get much more exciting than this," said Hignite. "We're anticipating a tidal-wave sized surge of interest in this piece, not only from all of the top comic art collectors, but from bidders all over the spectrum swept away by this piece's unparalleled importance to both Marvel Comics and Pop Culture history. Wolverine is by far the most popular superhero for an entire generation, and the original art for such a dramatic first appearance is just impossible to find."