Frank Frazetta's painting, Bernie Wrightson original art boost Heritage auction above $9 million

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Frank Frazetta's painting, Bernie Wrightson original art boost Heritage auction above $9 million
Bernie Wrightson Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein Front Endpapers Illustration Original Art (late 1970s).

DALLAS, TX.- The Frank Frazetta The Serpent (aka "Aros") Paperback Novel Cover Painting Original Art (Paperback Library, 1967) and Bernie Wrightson Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein Front Endpapers Illustration Original Art (late 1970s) sparked furious bidding to lead Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comics Art Auction to $9,099,710 in total sales April 30-May 3.

So strong was the demand that the Dallas-based auction raced past its pre-auction estimate of just over $7.3 million and boasted sell-through rates of 100% by lots and value.

The Serpent drew bids from 32 collectors before it sold for $300,000. Normally, a standing, semi-nude human figure would be the dominant element of any image, but in this case, the woman’s skin almost blends into the color around her, while the black and green serpent creates the strongest visual contrast. The image was used on the 1967 paperback edition for Jane Gaskell’s The Serpent, which was the first in the Atlan Saga series.

“Frank Frazetta’s artwork has been extremely popular among collectors in recent years, so it is no surprise that the interest in The Serpent was so high” Heritage Auctions Co-Chairman Jim Halperin said. “In addition, the auction included several new artist’s records, and the Variety Store Collection of fresh-to-market comics produced outstanding results.”

The Bernie Wrightson Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein Front Endpapers Illustration Original Art (late 1970s) drew 44 bids before finishing at $240,000. Wrightson’s original art for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein is exceedingly rare. Starting in 1975, Wrightson spent six years creating images, only three of which are landscape format pieces (the wraparound cover and the back endpapers are the others). Wrightson is so revered for his work on the project that even the images he created that did not end up getting used in the book are in high demand among serious collectors. Among all of his illustrations, this is one of the few that gives a clear portrait of the tortured soul known as “the Monster of Frankenstein.”

That Amazing Fantasy #15 is the most coveted Silver Age comic of all time is no secret, especially in a high grade. So it was no surprise when Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white pages drew bids from 67 collectors before closing at $180,000. The most valuable book from the Silver Age includes the origin and first appearance of Spider-Man, as well as Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Nearly four dozen collectors went after John Romita Sr. and Mike Esposito (as M. Demeo) Amazing Spider-Man #41 Splash Page 1 Original Art (Marvel, 1966) until it also brought $180,000, tripling its pre-auction estimate. The “giant web” splash page presents the first image of the Rhino in what was just Romita’s third issue of his long run on the title.

Donald Duck’s 60th anniversary was celebrated in Carl Barks Surprise Party at Memory Pond Painting Original Art (1994), which changed hands for $156,000. Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Uncle Scrooge, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Grandma, Gyro Gearloose, Gladstone Gander, and Gus Goose are among those in attendance at the celebration in the painting that includes elements from Donald’s first screen appearance in the Silly Symphony, “The Little Wise Hen.”

Superman #1 (DC, 1939) CGC Apparent FN 6.0 Slight to Moderate (A-2) Off-white pages found a new owner at $144,000. After Action Comics #1, it is considered the ultimate prize for any serious Superman collector.

Another elite page of original art inspired 32 bidders before Barry Smith X-Men #55 Cover Havok Original Art (Marvel, 1969) closed at $132,000. One of Smith’s earliest Marvel covers features Alex Summers, a.k.a. Havok, surrounded by the entire X-Men team of Marvel Girl, Iceman, the Angel, the Beast and Summers’ brother, Cyclops.

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 Story Page 24 Original Art (DC, 1986) sold for $66,000. On this page from Chapter Four, entitled “The Dark Knight Falls,” Batman convinces the Mutants to help save the city.

Amazing Fantasy #15 made another appearance among the top lots when nearly four dozen collectors made bids for a Stan Lee-signed Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white to white pages until it also drew $66,000.

Several records were set in the sale, including:

• Bill Elder Mad #3 Complete 8-Page Story "Dragged Net!" Original Art (EC, 1953): $78,000 – a new auction record for the artist

• Jim Starlin and Frank Giacoia Avengers #120 Cover Thor and Iron Man Original Art (Marvel, 1974): $75,000 – a new Heritage Auctions record for the artist

• George Evans and Jack Kamen Tales from the Crypt #33 Complete 7-Page Story "This Trick'll Kill You!" Original Art (EC, 1952): $26,400 – a new record for Evans and the only piece on which he collaborated with Kamen

The sale included 50 lots from the fresh-to-market “Variety Store Collection,” a single-owner trove of incredibly high-grade Marvel titles from the 1960s and 1970s, many of which carry grades of 9.6 and 9.8. The collection has been stored by a Midwest convenience store owner for years, and will have additional lots featured in future Heritage Comics auctions, including Sunday-Monday Night Weekly Online sales. Among the top lots in this sale from the Variety Store Collection were:

• The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (Marvel, 1967) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages: $55,200 – nearly double the previous record for the issue

• The Amazing Spider-Man #39 (Marvel, 1966) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages: $31,200 – more than double the previous record

Video games
The auction also marked the first time Wata certified Atari games have ever been offered at public auction, setting a number of auction records for sealed Atari games. Atari was created in 1972 in Sunnyvale, California, and was a pioneer in arcade games, video game consoles and systems and home computers.

Super Mario Bros. [Hangtab, 3 Code, Mid-Production] Wata 8.0 A Sealed NES Nintendo 1985 USA prompted bids from 29 collectors before selling for $40,200. Although Heritage has offered complete in-box and sealed copies of this title before, this was the first copy offered of the cardboard hangtab variant. Sealed hangtab copies of other black box titles offered previously by Heritage Auctions often have sparked competitive bidding, and this game was no exception. This Nintendo Entertainment System launch title is also the highest-selling title on the console. Not only is it the first video game in the Super Mario Bros. series, it also marks the first appearance of the biggest threat to the Mushroom Kingdom: Bowser.

Other video game highlights in the sale included, but were not limited to:

• Zelda II: The Adventure of Link [Rev-A, Round SOQ, Early Production] Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed NES Nintendo 1989 USA: $38,400

• The Legend of Zelda [Oval SOQ TM, Later Production] Wata 9.4 A Sealed 1987 USA: $33,600

• Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! [Oval SOQ TM, Later Production] Wata 9.2 A Sealed 1987 USA: $33,600

• Chrono Trigger Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed SNES SquareSoft 1995 USA: $28,800

• Spider-Man Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed Atari 2600 Parker Brothers 1982 USA: $9,000

• Mario Bros. [1988, Silver box] Wata 9.2 A+ Sealed Atari 2600 Atari 1983 USA: $9,000

• Frogger Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed Atari 2600 Parker Brothers 1982 USA: $5,040

Drawing the same $28,000 return was a Nintendo-Mego Game & Watch Sales Demo cabinet, a Game & Watch demo cabinet made close to 40 years ago by an emerging Nintendo but marketed by a company that sold Star Trek action figures, a game known by two inviting titles: Exterminator or Vermin.

"We expected this to be quite popular because it’s an early piece of Nintendo history – it even predates the Nintendo Entertainment System by about five years,” Heritage Auctions Video Games Consignment Director Valarie McLeckie said. "But since it’s one of two Game & Watch demo cabinets known and the only one of this title, we left it up to the market to decide its value. Needless to say, this was a pleasing auction result!”

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