How much would you spend on a comic book? What if that comic book were one of the rarest comic books in existence, and in fantastic condition?
Soon, enthusiasts and collectors will have the opportunity to bid on one such comic book, and the price is expected to shatter records for a comic book purchase.
The comic book in question is Action Comics #1, first published in June of 1938. The issue is known particularly for the first appearance of Superman.
Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, had his first outing in the issue. His image, raising a car above his head, makes the cover of Action Comics #1 instantly recognizable. The hero would go on from that first outing to set the standard for the superhero archetype in pop culture, and eventually become a household name across the nation and the world.
Any copy of Action Comics #1 is of interest to collectors, regardless of its condition. However, the book in question is not a tattered, faded comic. In fact, it is reported to be in amazing condition.
According to Cnet, the copy soon to be auctioned on eBay was rated by the Certified Guaranty Company, a well-known comic book quality rating company, as having a condition of 9.0 out of 10, the highest quality rating a copy of Action Comics #1 has ever received. The colors are said to be vibrant, and it even has white pages where most existing copies have long since yellowed.
Only about 50 unrestored copies are believed to exist, according to Cnet. Of those, this one is considered the best.
"The quality and preservation of this Action #1 is astounding," Paul Litch, CGC Primary Grader, said in a statement, according to Cnet. "The book looks and feels like it just came off the newsstand. It is supple, the colors are deep and rich and the quality of the white pages is amazing for a comic that is 76 years old."
The high quality and the rarity of the comic book means that this copy of Action Comics #1 could sell for as much as three million dollars, according to the Economic Times. That's quite a bit more than the comic's original selling price of 10 cents in 1938.
According to Today, the last Action Comics #1 was sold for over two million in 2011. And this copy is in far better condition, having spent most of its existence in a dry, dark chest with very little air for much of its existence.According to a video advertising the auction on eBay, such conditions are ideal for preserving comic books. The copy was later moved to a bank vault and later sold to Darren Adams, the current owner.
Adams says that he chose to make the comic available on eBay so that the issue would theoretically be available to anyone, not just to a small circle of collectors, which is the case with many of the most valuable comic books.
"I felt this book deserves to have as much publicity as possible because of what it is," said Adams in the eBay video. "It is the cream of the crop, and it doesn't get any better than this."
While the book is technically available for purchase by anyone with a few million dollars to spend on it, Adams did also express his hope that a museum might purchase the issue so that the public could enjoy seeing the debut of an American icon in such a pristine format.
A portion of the proceeds of the sale will go to the Christopher and Diana Reeve Foundation. Christopher Reeve was best known for playing Superman in the 1970s and 80s.
News of the upcoming sale comes at a particularly auspicious time for comics, with blockbuster after blockbuster based on various superheroes raking in millions at the box office over the past several years. The next movie featuring the Man of Steel will be "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," set to come out on May 6, 2016.
(Superman's apparent nemesis for this film, Batman, is also making headlines. As the Monitor previously reported, the Caped Crusader is celebrating his 75th year of dealing out justice to criminals with events and celebrations happening throughout this week.)
As for Superman's Action Comics #1, bidders still have a few weeks to pull together a few million dollars. The eBay auction will open on August 14 and will last until August 24.
Weston Williams is a Monitor contributor.