First Superman comic up for bid

Tomorrow, the holy grail of comic book collectors will go up for auction. An "unrestored" copy of Action Comics #1 (1938), the first appearance of Superman, is expected to sell for $400,000. Comic Connect is hosting the auction on behalf of an unnamed seller. The actual cover is seen in the photo below. Don't miss the priceless "WTF!" expression on the guy's face at the lower left; that image has stuck with me since I was a little kid and first saw a reprint of this. From CNN:
 Data Image Gallery Act1.6061A "Of the 100 existing copies, 80 percent have been restored, but people want an untouched copy," (Comic Connect owner Stephen) Fishler said. The book is listed in "fine" condition, a six on the 10-point rating scale...

Co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic book first appeared on newsstands for 10 cents a copy in June 1938.

Nearly 12 years later, a young boy on the West Coast found himself in a secondhand book store, where he persuaded his dad to loan him 35 cents to buy the comic book.

Until 1966, the owner forgot about the book, which was hidden in his mother's basement. Since then, he's been holding onto it, hoping to see it increase in value, Fishler said. He has not been disappointed.
"'Unrestored' copy of first Superman comic book for sale (CNN), Action Comics #1 auction (ComicConnect)


  1. 100 copies?

    Not exactly rare if you know what I mean.
    Let’s do the math: $400,000 x 100 = $40,000,000!

    You might be able to buy the rights to Superman for that much!

  2. oh! is THAT what that is? I suppose I should take it out from under that leaky radiator then, but it did stop the drip from spreading.

  3. hmph! that triggered a host of olfactory memories; radiator dust, radiator paint, the peculiar smell of radiator water when you cracked the valve, coal, coal dust, the furnace scent, the burlap of the coal sacks, October fog redolent with coal smoke and firecrackers and Halloween candy giving way to Japanese oranges in little wooden crates of still fresh smelling pine, Christmas before you knew it,

    oh yes, comic books, they had a unique odour when ankle deep in the dozens if not hundreds…

  4. The 100 copies is a figure that no one could possibly know, and was apparently pulled out of someones ass. Golden age comic books are all rare. I am skeptical that there are only 100 of these, but your guess is as good as mine… and probably better than the joker who made up the 100 copy estimate.

  5. $400,000? Makes me wonder how easy it would be to create unscrupulous forgeries. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be difficult.

  6. I worked at a shop that had one of those for sale. It was 25 years ago, and I don’t remember what the asking price was. It sure as hell wasn’t $400,000. Though the copy we had wasn’t quite that well preserved.

    As for the ‘100 copies’ thing, it’s probably based on the number of copies known to be for sale through collector’s circles, but it still seems awfully low to me. ‘Course, I really don’t know. It’s been 20 years since I worked in a comic shop, and even then I was in charge of back issues of Playboy and Penthouse.

  7. I just looked at an ‘artifact’ with that exact cover the other day at my mother’s house. It seems to almost be varnished onto a piece of wood. It initially belonged to my older brother when he was a young boy, which would mean we’ve had it at least 30-35 years.

  8. $400,000? Makes me wonder how easy it would be to create unscrupulous forgeries. I’m guessing it wouldn’t be difficult.
    probably not any harder than making 4000 $100 bills and circulating them.

    The one in this picture has been graded and put in a sealed plastic case which makes it harder to forge (since you would have to forge the plastic case and seal as well and I think they have serial number on them that you can look up as well) so that makes it harder.

    Typically the whole slabbing comics by paying to get them graded and put in plastic is a scam and in my opinion misses the point of buying comics but this might be an example where I can see the point.

  9. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
    I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
    All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
    Time to die.

  10. My Uncle Austin bought this for me when I was 8 years old. Imagine that. I once held $400, 000 in my hands. I also had Detective Comics #27, the Bat Man’s first appearance. I must have been a millionaire between the ages of 8 and 12. How money slips away…

  11. I’ve seen this cover many times, and always wonder why he’s smashing a car into rocks. Is he committing a terrorist act? Let’s see, he’s using civilian transport as improvised weapon, hysterical people are fleeing in terror, and I’m guessing whoever he bashed with the car has been crushed into jelly, and so, was not drawn.
    Would the distinctive uniform with the clearly identifiable symbol on the front confer lawful combatant status?

  12. @Telecustard:

    Having read some early Superman stories, I’d guess the driver is a wicked criminal who did something heinous like cutting Superman up in traffic.

  13. @4, I’m not quite sure it works that way. For one thing, not all Superman #1’s are graded the same, hence the same value. This one is a 6 on a scale of 10. So $400k for something that’s effectively a “D” is quite a bit of bread.

    Several of those 100 copies are restored and might not make it to that asking price. Prices for each can be all over the map.

  14. Any of you chaps go to the Met this summer? They had an exhibit of superhero costumes and bafflingly, off to one side copies of this comic, Amazing Fantasy #15, and a host of others (Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman). I never thought I’d see them in person.

  15. Dear Forum,
    I’ve been having carnal relations with my neighbor’s Merino ewe since last March. Is paper still the preferred gift for a First Anniversary? Also, where can I purchase Svetlana KT88 output vacuum tubes for my McIntosh MC275 power amplifier?
    Sincerely, D. K., Blanchard, ID.

  16. Wow, my Dad had one of these he had found in the trash in the 1980s in mint condition…sold it in the late 80’s for $8000…would have should have. Didn’t realize there’s only 100. Wow, what a story…can’t wait to see what it goes for. Wish I had it now…

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