Amazing Spider-Man #1 ignites comic book bidding frenzy

04 August 2023
An astounding $520,380 auction price at Hake’s

A super-clean, CGC 9.6 copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963) – one of only five of its type and grade known to exist – set off a bidding war at Hake’s July 25-26 auction of pop culture memorabilia, rocketing to an astonishing final price of $520,380. The comic had been displayed at Comic-Con in San Diego and attracted huge interest from fans, a sure sign of what was to come.

“Collectors knew what made the book special. It came from the John B Goodrich collection, had desirable white pages, and was one of only three at that grade level to reach the auction marketplace in more than a decade,” said Hake’s president, Alex Winter. “Eight months prior to our sale, a CGC 9.6 Spider-Man #1, which had off-white as opposed to white pages, sold for $336,000. Everyone in the comic book world was aware that our July auction was a buying opportunity not to be missed, so the result did not surprise us. Now the winning bidder owns one of the world’s top copies of one of the most important books in the Marvel universe.”

More than 300 CGC-certified comic books were offered, including examples of nearly all of Marvel’s key Silver Age titles. The company’s August 1962 production Amazing Fantasy #15, CGC-graded 7.5 VF, is notable for its introduction of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, as well as the character’s cover debut. Like the auction’s top lot, it came with provenance from the Goodrich collection and boasted bright colors and stunning condition overall. It sold at the upper end of its estimate range, for $170,844. A third highlight from the Goodrich trove was a CGC 9.4 example of Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964), an issue that is important for its first appearance of Green Goblin and first meeting of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. Not only did it surpass its high estimate, selling for $38,615, it also set a new auction record for the title/grade in so doing.

Original comic book art showed its strength at auction, starting with Neal Adams’ original pen-and-ink art for Page 19 of DC Comics’ Green Lantern Vol. 2, #80 (October 1970). A depiction from the “Even An Immortal Can Die” storyline, the artwork zeroed in on Green Lantern’s distinctive power ring, which was visible in three of the four panels. The lot reached the midpoint of its estimate range, selling for $25,057. Another sought-after item was Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s original pen-and-ink comic book cover art for DC Comics’ Super-Team Family #15 (April 1978), featuring The Flash, Orion, Lightray, and Metron of the New Gods. It sold at the upper end of its estimate range, for $17,653. 

Even Bart Simpson got in on the act. An Art DeBart card with original art by Matt Groening, PSA DNA-graded 8NM-MT AUTO 10, came from Skybox/Bongo Comics’ 1993 limited-edition of 400. The “framed,” artist-signed portrait card captures the rebellious offspring of Marge and Homer Simpson mouthing off with the line, “I’m Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?” Against an estimate of $5,000-$10,000, it realized $13,769.

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The Star Wars selection was topped by a Kenner Boba Fett L-slot rocket-firing prototype action figure from 1979. AFA-graded 75+ EX+/NM and accompanied by a notarized CIB COA, the unpainted 3.75-inch-tall figure lacked its rocket accessory, but due to its extreme rarity, it still commanded a hefty $99,297. 

Market trend-spotters would not have missed the bullish prices paid for Kenner store displays. A large (25- by 40-inch) Star Wars Toy Center hanging display made in 1979 was a visual feast with its images of the Death Star looming in the background as Darth Vader and his squad of TIE Fighters squared off against the fast-approaching X-Wing Fighters. AFA-graded 90 NM+/Mint, the sign swept past its $5,000-$10,000 estimate to reach a final price of $42,690. 

A colorful circa-1984 die-cut double-sided store display header for Kenner’s Super Powers Collection of action figures and other toys would have been impossible for any shopper to ignore in its day, whether child or adult. The legion of DC Comics superheroes shown in the eye-catching panorama includes Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman and many others, plus well-known villains, like Brainiac, Lex Luthor, the Joker and Penguin. It sold for $15,706, more than triple its high estimate.