May 20, 2014

Original Wolverine comic sells for hundreds of thousands


Art by David Finch

Art by David Finch

The first drawing of the iconic comic book character Wolverine was sold at auction last week for $657,250, George Gene Gustines writes for the New York Times Arts Beat blog.

The seller of the rare item is a comic book fan who got it from the artist, Herb Trimpe, as a gift when he visited him at home in 1983. After signing several books for the fan (who wishes to remain anonymous), Trimpe gave him the original drawing that ran as the last page of The Incredible Hulk #180 in 1974. As Gustines explains, this was a common fate for original art like this at the time: “it was used to sop up ink, given away or destroyed outright.”

Wolverine makes his first-ever entrance on the last page of an Incredible Hulk comic that finds the titular character “wreaking havoc in Canada.” Brought in to stop the Hulk, the world’s most famous Canadian mutant is introduced as “a living, raging powerhouse who’s bound to knock you back on your emerald posterior.” He’d go on to make a full appearance in the following issue of The Incredible Hulk, join the X-Men in 1975, and become a hugely popular character; Marvel Comics is already hyping a “Death of Wolverine” arc that will kick off this fall. Per Gustines, “Marvel has done well with these ‘death’ stories. The characters inevitably return, but their time away from the spotlight often leads to interesting tales.”

The Wolverine art was auctioned off by Heritage Auctions, which specializes in collectibles like comics and coins; in 2002, it set the Guinness World Record for largest comic auction ever when it sold Nicolas Cage’s collection for some $1.6 million. Heritage announced on its page for the auction that a portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to the Hero Initiative, a non-profit that aims to help comic book creators in need, providing a “financial safety net for yesterdays’ creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work.”


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.