The Most Important Comic Book In History Heads To Auction, Expected To Sell At Record-Breaking Price

By Charlene Badasie | Published

An issue of Action Comics #1, which features the print debut of Superman, will be sold via Heritage Auctions on April 4. Industry experts predict that it will not only surpass but shatter the world’s highest-ever comic book price of $5.3 million, set by an 8.0-graded issue of Superman #1 in a private sale in 2022.

Action Comics No. 1

Action Comics

“Without Superman and Action Comics No. 1, who knows whether there ever would have been a Golden Age of comics – or if the medium would have become what it is today,” Vice President of Heritage Auctions, Barry Sandoval, said in a statement acknowledging the pivotal role this comic played in shaping the landscape of the entire industry.

Described as a treasure beyond compare, the allure of this particular issue lies in its scarcity and remarkable condition.

“The colors are stunningly rich, and the cover is almost pristine and largely unmarred,” the lot description says. The Action Comics #1 issue israted at 8.5, denoting a state of Very Fine+ in collector parlance.

Only 100 Have Survived

superman comic action comics 1

Out of the staggering 200,000 copies of Action Comics #1 printed in 1938, only 100 have survived. “The vast majority ended up in the garbage back then,” Sandoval explained, shedding light on the precarious fate that awaited these 85-year-old treasures in their infancy. Originally priced at a modest 10 cents, its value has soared over the decades.

According to Sandoval, there are currently 58 bids for the Action Comics #1 issue, with the highest standing being an impressive $5 million. However, the eventual selling price promises to be much higher.

“We definitely have some names you would recognize,” Sandoval said of the bidders. “But the majority are just successful professionals, be it lawyers or doctors or people in the financial field.”

Introduced Superman And Lois Lane

superman: legacy

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action Comics #1 not only introduced the world to the Man of Steel but also featured reporter Lois Lane, a character who became an integral part of the Superman mythos. 

Action Comics continued for 904 numbered editions and special issues until it reset its numbering in 2011. It reverted to its original numbering with the release of #957 on June 8, 2016.

So Many Milestones

Action Comics was created by publisher Jack Liebowitz, with the inaugural edition, with a print run of 200,000 copies, swiftly selling out.

However, it took time to realize that the Superman story was the driving force behind the sales, which reached almost 1,000,000 copies per month. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster received $10 per page, totaling $130 for their contributions to the first issue.

Action Comics #1 hit several sales milestones over the years. In February 2010, a copy with a CGC Grade of 8.0 was auctioned for $1 million. The sale involved undisclosed parties on both ends. Subsequently, in March of the same year, another copy was sold for $1.5 million. This copy was the third highest graded by the CGC, boasting an 8.5 VF+ grade, which is considered one of the best-preserved.

Few Left

Action Comics

By 2011, only six copies graded above VG (CGC 4.0) were known to exist under the Comic Guaranty LLC (CGC) system, with only one attaining the VF/NM (CGC 9.0) grade at that time.

William Gaines, associated with EC and Mad Publishing, previously revealed that he once owned multiple copies of Action Comics #1, owing to his familial ties with the comic book industry.

How Much Will It Sell For?

Action Comics

However, he said that they were likely disposed of over time. Another notable discovery occurred in July 2010 when a family facing foreclosure found a CGC 5 copy of Action Comics #1 while packing their belongings.

Initially estimated to fetch up to $250,000, the comic eventually sold for $436,000 at auction, saving the family from financial ruin.

Source: New York Post