Pop quiz: what’s the most expensive comic ever sold?
If you answered “Action Comics #1 – the first appearance of Superman, duh” then, friend, you would be wrong.
Sure, when it sold on eBay in 2014 for $3,207,852 (£2.2 million), it was widely reported as being the highest price ever achieved for a comic book, dwarfing the figures reached for Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spidey’s debut) and Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first outing).
But later that same year, Superman’s record fell, to a rather unlikely rival: the quiff-wearing, haddock-bothering young reporter, Tintin.
An American collector paid a whopping $3.7 million (£2.6 million) for a single page of drawings signed by Tintin’s creator, Hergé, when it was sold at auction two years ago.
So instead of rooting around in the loft for old copies of your Marvel and DC favourites, it’s time to scour car boot sales (and French flea markets) for well-preserved, original works by the likes of Euro comic masters Hergé, Edgar P. Jacobs, Philippe Druillet, Hugo Pratt, Jacques Tardi and Nicolas de Crécy.
Don’t know what you’re looking for? We asked Eric Leroy, Director of the Comic Strips Department at auctioneers Artcurial, to take us through some of the big-money lots at next week’s much-anticipated Artcurial auction on April 30.
Like what you see and feeling flush? You can bid here.
Asterix and Obelix
Eric says: This is an uncommon and rare strip from Albert Uderzo’s adventures of Asterix and Obelix, a true symbol and icon of French culture.
Estimate: €110,000 - 130,000
The Adventures of Tintin
Eric says: One of the rare screen prints that Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi Hergé signed, representing all of the characters from The Adventures of Tintin. Created in 1979, this is probably one of the most important drawings of the post-war period.
Estimate: €3,000 - 4,000
Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
Eric says: Tintin’s adventures began in 1930 with the first album Tintin in the Land of the Soviets. This copy is signed by Hergé on behalf of Tintin and by his first wife Germaine Kieckens on behalf of Snowy, using her left hand!
Estimate: €34,000 - 38,000
The Exploits of Quick and Flupke
Eric says: An original comic strip in India ink from The Exploits of Quick and Flupke, made in 1937, presenting a very rare opportunity to acquire a board depicting these adventures. Hergé, took much delight in drawing this series and it is a fine demonstration of his talent.
Estimate: €80,000 - 100,000
Le Petit Vingtième
Eric says: An extremely rare complete collection of Le Petit Vingtième (‘The Little Twentieth’). This was the youth supplement published weekly between 1928 and 1940 with the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle (‘The Twentieth Century’). The Adventures of Tintin and Quick and Flupke first appeared in its pages. This collection includes unpublished drawings by Hergé. The real first publication of Tintin!
Estimate: €5,000 - 10,000
Mr Natural & Flakey Foont, A Bitchin’ Bod!
Eric says: Robert Crumb is certainly one of the America’s best-known cartoonists. He is a true legend and the first illustrator of the American underground. This Indian ink drawing is titled ‘Mr Natural & Flakey Foont, A Bitchin’ Bod!’
Estimate: €4,000 - 6,000
The Carnival of Immortals
Eric says: Yugoslavian born French cartoonist Enki Bilal is among the most famous and most expensive artists in France. La Foire aux immortels (‘The Carnival of Immortals’) from 1980 is one of his mystical, science fiction albums.
Estimate: €35,000 - 45,000
Eric says: In recent years, Largo Winch, a character created by Belgian comic artist Philippe Francq has become one of the most well known heroes in the comic world, especially after a successful French film was made about him in 2008. For this reason, this piece will be significant for generations to come.
Estimate: €15,000 - 20,000
Eric says: This is a signed piece of the beloved Spirou by Belgian comic artist Andre Franquin, published in the famous Spirou magazine. Note the presence of Marsupilami.
Estimate: €60,000 - 80,000
Eric says: Blueberry is a Franco-Belgian comic Western series illustrated by French artist Jean "Mœbius" Giraud. It chronicles the adventures of Mike Blueberry on his travels through the American Old West. Nez Cassé (‘Broken Nose’) is a famous and iconic passage.
Estimate: €25,000 - 30,000
Eric says: This wonderful comic strip from Krazy Kat by American cartoonist George Herriman is famous throughout the world. Apparently, Picasso was crazy about Krazy Kat!
Estimate: €20,000 - 25,000
Eric says: An extremely rare sketchbook of Hergé’s drawings, showing his research and inspirations. This document is from the 1930’s when the artist’s creativity was burgeoning. A truly historic piece.
Estimate: €6,000 - 7,000