Comic book original art

Comic book original art

Comic book original art refers to the original production pieces used to make comic books. Most typically, these are 11x17 bristol boards with the pencils and inking done by the comic book artist or artists, but there is a wide variation in the type of material. Comic book original art is not limited to the Superhero genre; many high profile Science-Fiction, Crime, War, Romance, Humor, Horror and Disneyana pieces exist.

Collectibility and Value

Auction prices for original art are varied and prices are realized based on many things including but not limited to the artist, comic page or cover, time period and character portrayed in the piece. Prices of Original art can vary from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result. As an example Heritage Auctions has sold the original art for a 1940s Batman cover for $195,500 and numerous other pieces for six figure prices, while a 1960s Amazing Spiderman cover recently sold for over $100,000.[1][2]

The highest price ever paid for a single page of American comic book art is believed to be $380,000, paid by James Halperin in June 2010 for the Frank Frazetta cover of EC Comics Weird Science Fantasy #29 (published 1955).[3]

Original art collections exist at the University of Missouri[4] and the Northern Illinois University.[5]

Original art is characterised by its name - for any given page of any given comic book, there is only one original page that the artist drew from which all other pages are copies. The phrase "original art" may encompass any of the following:

  • Bristol board containing the artist's pencil and inks. The pencils are typically done in non-reproducing blue with black ink over. Often, corrections (such as with White-out) can be seen, as well as production directives in the margins. This work is now now done electronically by most shops and more recent original art pieces have only the artwork.
  • Proofs used in production. These are often paste-ups of photocopies, titles, etc. used in the final camera-ready copy. There is often little or no actual drawing on these pages. These are considerably less valuable than the actual original art, but can still command high prices for desirable pieces. For example, in May 2007, the production proof for X-Men #4, feature Jack Kirby art, listed for $1,500.[6]
  • Color proofs. These are production proofs used by the colorist to correct colors.
  • Sketches and commissions. For example, comic book artists often appear at conventions and do sketches for fans, or accept commissions to produce pinups or other artwork. These are not directly related to the production of finished comic books, but are often referred to as "original art" regardless.


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