Batman drawing sells for $448,125


On March 30, I wrote about Heritage Auctions' announcement that they would be auctioning the original art for page 10 from issue #3 of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's The Dark Knight Returns (1986). They figured it would sell for at least $100,000. Well, the auction was yesterday, and it sold for $448,125, making it "the single most valuable piece of American comic art to ever sell." The buyer is anonymous.

The image is the single most memorable image from the entire comic book series and the greatest image from the decade of the 1980s ever to come to market, as well as now standing as one of, if not the most desirable pieces of original comic art from any era to come to market. It is a perfect stand-alone image of Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelley, the first female, full-time Robin) soaring high above Gotham City, emblematic of the entire storyline.

"I've always loved that drawing," commented Miller, when asked before the auction what his thoughts on its imminent sale were. "Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it. I hope it finds a good home."

The previous record price for a piece of original American comic book art was set last year when the cover of EC comics Weird Fantasy #29, by legendary artist Frank Frazetta, sold at Heritage via a private treaty sale for $380,000.

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Batman: The Dark Knight #3 Batman and Robin Iconic Splash Page 10 Original Art


  1. “the greatest image from the decade of the 1980s ever to come to market”

    That phrase seems a bit too much hyperbole. while it is an awesome piece of art…I don’t think it earns that title.

    1. “Give me an original Little Nemo or Krazy Kat over this any day.”

      Damn straight.

  2. The single most memorable image from the entire comic book series? So, not the cover with the lightning strike?


    I have wealthy friends who keep collections of comics and memorabilia and spend more on it annually than I make in 3 years time. Even they are laughing about this, way too overvalued.

  4. Yeah… while there were a number of splash pages from The Dark Knight Returns that were arguably instantly iconic, that looks like the kind of thing that Miller could have dashed off at a convention, if he did that sort of thing. I’m betting that the buyer is someone who came of age during the 80s, made a bunch of money in the meantime from dot coms or something, and let the bidding get away from them, in the manner of comic artist and action-figure magnate Todd McFarlane paying $3 million for Mark McGwire’s record-setting home run ball–it’s worth a fraction of that now, at best, thanks to Barry Bonds.

    1. She’s a teenager whose life was saved by the Batman, and in turn saved his life after she made up her own costume, which happens to include the goggles (instead of a mask) and slingshot (her weapon of choice).

  5. The thrill of this image and what Frank Miller’s comics (and Dark Knight in particular) represented to me as a teenage comics fan is still palpable. A rush of pure nostalgic excitement in my chest. Fantastic to see that someone paid so much for it – it plants a flag in history and somehow validates my wide-eyed wonder of 25 years ago.

  6. We can all argue about what is the “most iconic” splash page from Dark Night, or how overvalued this is, but I think it’s great that a comic that’s not simply old and familiar or “FIRST!” but an overtly political and social commentary is at the top of the market. Can we get our Aranofsky Dark Knight Returns film now, please?

  7. waitasecond — you mean to tell me that THIS sold for more than a FRAZETTA? oh ye gods, my faith in the world is slipping.

    1. To Anon That’s what you get for having faith in this world in the first place

  8. It’s worth what they paid for it, if not more. At least from the standpoint of the insurance policy I’m sure will get placed on it.

  9. the singlemost overrated “artist” possibly in all of comicdom, whose overruse of ink can only begin to try to mask his excruciatingly tenuous-at-best grasp of human anatomy…


    robin looks like she has down’s syndrome, for fuck’s sake. while this is probably among the “better” things miller has drawn, compare it to this (the frazetta in question):

  10. What anonymous donor would have the resources to spend that kind of cash on a comic book, and what are they trying to hide by taking it out of circulation? Could it be… AN ECCENTRIC BILLIONAIRE DESPERATE TO CONCEAL HIS SECRET IDENTITY?

  11. Gotta echo Miller’s comment “I hope it finds a good home”, and doesn’t end up in a vault somewhere where nobody can appreciate it….

  12. Great piece of art, waaaaaay overvalued. I’m guessing whoever paid that much for it is a noob and just got caught up in the moment. HAHAHA Who pays that much for a sketch?

    1. HAHAHA Who pays that much for a sketch?

      I’m guessing some bankster used your money, friend.

      Pretty funny, isn’t it?

  13. Three reasons why this is such a valuble item to somebody:

    1. It’s from the days when Miller drew Batman comics. DC is reluctant to let him play with their toys ever since he fell off the far right edge with “Batman: Holy Terror”.

    2. It’s from the days back when Miller illustrated his own stuff. These days he lets Lynn Varley or Jim Lee do all the heavy lifting.

    3. It’s from the days before Miller whent full whingnut, back when he still actually told stories rather than convoluted tracts.

    So, for all intents and purposes, this is on the same prize list as a work by a “Dead Master”. There is a finite and limited supply.

    1. 4. Because gold and silver are heavy, and showing off a pile of bullion is considered vulgar.

      … did I miss anything?

    2. I think you mean “Holy Terror, Batman!”, the comic he was writing about Batman beating up Osama Bin Laden.

      “Batman: Holy Terror” was an Elseworlds comic set in the US as a theocracy (which Miller was not involved with).

      /pedantic nerd mode

  14. I wonder if it’s going to end up hanging in a kid’s bedroom? Somebody call Samuel L Jackson…

  15. I think it safe to say that whatever anonymous collector paid nearly a half million dollars for this mid-’80s Batman drawing is not only a virgin, not only has never touched a girl, but even his own *mother* refused to hug him as a child. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

    1. Nah. You got it backwards. A nerd would shout and cheer and let everyone know THEY bought it for nearly HALF A MILLION DOLLARS. Since the buyer wished to remain anonymous it was probably a football player or some other such person with tons of disposable income who didn’t want this attached to their rep.

  16. The buyer is anonymous? Did they use one of the stolen PlayStationNetwork credit cards to pay?

  17. And folks say anonymous never does anything positive, good luck getting the visa charge through. Also that is a kick ass image from one of the greatest comics ever. Fuck the begrudgers. If Traci Amin can make mint for a dishevelled bed this deserves immortality.

  18. Frank Miller makes some of the ugliest “art” around.So now the buyer isn’t just an idiot with too much spare money; he’s an idiot with the most overvalued piece of s**t EVER.

  19. I don’t get this image at all. It’s just so weird and boring.

    It’s unfinished and has very little detail. And as a picture, it makes no sense.

    I mean, Batman and Robin are oddly hovering over a city in a very odd position. They seem to be jumping over a gap of some sort, which is not in the picture.

    It just looks more like a drawing exercise than anything else, as if Miller wanted to try drawing this specific pose, then stuck a city in the background to remove some emptiness.

    deviantart is full of stuff that is way more interesting than this.

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