Offered at: Heritage Auctions, Dallas, May 16, 2014
Sold for: $657,250
“Better be here next time Marvelite since…the Wolverine strikes but once!” Those words, boldly lettered across the bottom of this historic comic book page, could easily have been uttered by collector and sports car dealer Thomas Fish, who acquired, at Heritage Auction, this original drawing of the original appearance of Wolverine.
The page, which appeared at the end of The Incredible Hulk #180, published by Marvel in 1974, is described by Heritage Auctions as “one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to appear on the market.” The drawing has perfect provenance—in 1983 artist Herb Trimpe gave it to a teenage fan, who kept in his possession until consigning it to Heritage. Since the consigner was not active in the collecting market, aficionados were uncertain whether the page even existed.
Roy Thomas, who was editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time, told Heritage’s experts, “Because Wolverine was introduced in the final panel in the final page of Hulk #180, that has become one of the Holy Grail pages from any 1970s comic book. I’m overjoyed that it still exists.”
The ink, graphite, and blue pencil on Bristol board drawing, measuring 10 x 15 inches, depicts Wolverine, a secret-agent mutant sent by the Canadian government to dispatch the Incredible Hulk, who strayed north of the border in search of solitude. It tied the record for any page of American comic art and set the record for any page of interior comic art, far surpassing the previous benchmark. “We knew when this artwork surfaced, that it was, without doubt, one of the most significant pieces of comic art every drawn,” says Heritage Vice President Todd Hignite, “it has now brought a final price realized, commensurate with that status.”