Superman comic book Values
THE “HOLY GRAIL” of comic-book collectibles received a record-breaking bid Friday — yet the seller would have been none too pleased if the offers had stopped climbing.
Action Comics No. 1 — better known as the book that essentially launched the entire superhero industry in 1938 by featuring Superman’s debut — received an “actual bid” of nearly $2.2 million on Friday evening, with two days left before the virtual gavel fell, according to eBay’s auction site.
Fortunately for the seller, a late flurry of action Sunday night brought a winning bid of more than $3.2 million — more in line with his expectations.
The highest price ever paid at auction for a comic book had been $2, 161, 100, when another high-quality copy of Action Comics No. 1 — widely rumored to have been stolen from actor Nicolas Cage before being recovered — was purchased by an anonymous buyer in 2011.
Yet the owner of the book on the block this weekend, Darren Adams — a collector who runs the Pristine Comics shop in Washington state — says that he paid seven figures for his issue several years ago, and that he turned down multimillion-dollar offers for the book prior to going to auction.
“The idea of sitting at $2-million was never really a risk in my mind, ” the collector tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Too many people have such an interest in this book.”
Adams said before the auction’s close that he would like to see his book sell for a figure north of $3 million. He got his wish.
The winning bid, according to eBay: $3, 207, 852.
“This book is like a museum piece, ” he tells Comic Riffs. “It’s a freak-of-nature work.”
Only several dozen unrestored copies of Action Comics No. 1 are known to still exist, Adams says, and perhaps only seven of them are in such good condition that they receive a grade higher than “6.0” from the Certified Guaranty Company. (The independent CGC grades comics on a scale of 1 to 10.)
Adams’s Superman book is graded at “9.0, ” an almost unheard-of condition for this issue, which hit newsstands in the summer of 1938. And among the known copies, Adams tells Comic Riffs, “only two have perfect-white pages” — including his.
All because in terms of ideal storage conditions, the book’s provenance seems almost as if by providence.
A COMIC BOOK IS best stored in a place that’s “cool, dry and dark, ” Adams says, with low exposure to oxygen. His Superman book was purchased off the newsstand in the ’30s by a man who kept it in a cedar chest at high altitude in the mountains of West Virginia, where it rested for decades until that owner himself was laid to rest.Darren Adams’s rare “9.0” issue of Action Comics No. 1 from 1938. (courtesy of eBay)
“What happens next is kind of cool, ” Adams tells The Post. “This young guy — a collector who’s getting going — goes to the estate … and sees this book and sees the pages are incredible. So he [bought it and] reconstructed himself a similar cedar chest” to store it in.
Adams, 53, began as a young collector himself. He was an avid comics reader by age 12, pulled in by artist Neal Adams’s early-’70s work on Batman.
As a “military brat, ” Darren Adams says, he moved a lot, going to 13 different schools, in the Seattle area, and Oregon, and Germany. He was always “the new kid, ” and had no siblings, so comic books often kept him company. By age 11, he started a lawn-mowing business — renting push mowers and getting friends to do the mowing for a cut of the money — and poured much of his profits into buying comic books. Like some latter-day Tom Sawyer, “I was already a wheeler-and-dealer, ” he says.