Hake’s auction led by Star Wars comic strip original concept art

08 July 2022
A high-grade Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype figure and a trove of pop culture rarities also feature

If modern art aficionados could be granted one wish, it might be the discovery of a major, previously unknown Picasso. While Picasso lovers may have a very long wait ahead of them, those who revel in the uniquely imaginative art and imagery of the Star Wars saga just might have their wishes granted later this month, when Hake’s auctions six extraordinary artworks from Star Wars’ earliest days. 

The July 26-27 auction of pop culture memorabilia includes six consecutive lots of original Star Wars art that only a small circle of insiders would even know about. Each lot contains unpublished concept art that legendary comic strip artist Al Williamson (1931-2020) created in the late 1970s for a proposed Star Wars daily newspaper comic strip. Williamson, already regarded as a titan of the industry for his work with EC Comics and for having drawn the 1960s Flash Gordon comic strip, prepared 12 strips to cover the first two weeks of newspaper publication (Sundays were not included). However, the deal never came to fruition. Russ Manning (1929-1981) was tapped to write and draw the Star Wars strip, which he did from 1979 to 1981, when poor health forced him to retire. At that point, Williamson stepped back in to handle the art and storyline duties through the strip’s conclusion in 1984. 

As for the disposition of the original Williamson concept art, the first six strips were gifted to George Lucas, while the six strips intended for the second week of publication were given to Star Wars marketing genius Charles Lippincott (1939-2020). “Mr Lippincott’s six gifted artworks never left his family, and now it is our privilege to represent his widow by offering the never-published original art to Star Wars, comic art and fine art collectors everywhere. It is an absolutely unique opportunity,” said Hake’s president Alex Winter. The art is cataloged in six consecutive lots, each carrying a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

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Who better to share the spotlight in the auction’s Star Wars section than one of the highest-graded Boba Fett prototype rocket-firing action figures Hake’s has ever encountered in its 55-year history? The encapsulated L-slot version – “L-slot” referring to the shape of the dorsal slot that secures the rocket-release button – from Kenner’s 1979 Star Wars toyline is AFA-graded 85 NM+ (archival case) and comes with a notarized CIB LOA. “We’ve seen one record price after another for Boba Fett prototypes here at Hake’s,” Winter said. “In March 2022, an AFA 50 VG J-slot version sold for $204,435; while three different L-slots – each AFA-graded 85 NM+ – have sold for successively higher prices since 2018, rising to $165,200. In June, an AFA 80+ NM example of an L-slot Boba Fett sold in our all-Star Wars auction for a world-record $236,000. The one in our July sale is of an even higher grade.” Auction estimate: $200,000-$350,000

Many rare standard-production figures have been consigned to the July event, including a 2.25-inch Jawa (vinyl-cape version) from Kenner’s 1978 Stars Wars toyline. AFA-graded 85 NM+ on an unpunched 12 Back-A blister card, the Jawa figure is preserved in an archival case and comes to auction with a $35,000-$50,000 estimate. The highlights continue with a straight-arm G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero action figure of Commando Snake Eyes from Hasbro’s 1982 toyline. This coveted “Joe” on the earliest card variety is AFA-graded 80 NM. According to the AFA Population Report, there are only two known examples in a higher grade, thus warranting a $10,000-$20,000 estimate. Completing this trifecta of action-figure royalty is an 8-inch Green Goblin from Mego’s “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” line. Issued in 1977 and AFA-graded 80+ NM (archival case), it is the only graded example included in the AFA Population Report. Its pre-auction estimate is $10,000-$20,000. 

A wealth of comic books will be available for bidding, including such classics as Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15. An important Silver Age issue published in August 1962, it introduces The Amazing Spider-Man (Peter Parker), and Parker’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben. In CGC 2.5 Good+ condition, it is estimated at $35,000-$50,000. A Bronze Age treasure from Marvel, Incredible Hulk #181 was published in November 1974 and features the first full appearance of the Wolverine. A must-have comic in CGC 9.6 NM+ condition, its pre-sale estimate is $20,000-$35,000.

Mike Sekowsky’s original pen-and-ink art for DC Comics’ Justice League of America #19, May 1963, is significant because it illustrates the Justice League members revealing their secret identities to each other for the first time. The art for this particular page (16) includes Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Green Arrow, showing them first as superheroes entering their own private changing rooms, then emerging in their civilian attire and introducing themselves to one other. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000