Action Comics #1 Sells for Million Dollars

When I started collecting the books, back in early 1977, copies of Action #1 were available for something like $3500. 

A copy of Action Comics #1 has been sold for a whopping one million dollars.

In this image released by Comic Connect Corp., a the June 1938 cover of 'Action Comics' that first featured Superman, is shown. (AP Photo/Comic Connect Corp.)

In this image released by Comic Connect Corp., a the June 1938 cover of ‘Action Comics’ that first featured Superman, is shown. (AP Photo/Comic Connect Corp.)

A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman sold Monday for $1 million, smashing the previous record price for a comic book.

A 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books, was sold from a private seller to a private buyer, neither of whom released their names. The issue features Superman lifting a car on its cover and originally cost 10 cents.

The transaction was conducted by the auction site ComicConnect.com. Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the site and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles, orchestrated the sale.

Fishler said it transpired minutes after the issue was put on sale at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time (1530 GMT). He said that the seller was a “well known individual” in New York with a pedigree collection, and that the buyer was a known customer who previously bought an Action Comics No. 1 of lesser grade.

The previous comic book record was set last year when John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down, paid $317,000 for an Action Comics No. 1 issue. Attempts to reach him for comment on Monday’s sale were not immediately successful.

This copy fetched a much higher price because it’s in better condition. It’s rated an “8.0 grade,” or “very fine.”

There are only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence, and only a handful have been rated so highly. It’s rarer still for those copies to be made available for sale.

These numbers are mind-boggling.  When I started collecting the books, back in early 1977, copies of Action #1 were available for something like $3500.  Marvel Comics #1, which was then considered the Holy Grail, was fetching something like $5000.  And the newer Silver Age books, like Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man’s debut), Amazing Spider-Man #1, Showcase #4 (the debut of the Silver Age Flash and, indeed, the Silver Age itself) were going for no more than $100.    Even with inflation factored in, the appreciation in values has been tremendous.

FILED UNDER: Comic Books, Economics and Business, Popular Culture, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Andy says:

    My dad had a box full of comics from that era that his mother threw away after he shipped out to fight in WWII. He’s about to celebrate his 85th birthday and he still mentions how mad he was at his Mom for doing that whenever the topic of comics comes up.

  2. Trumwill says:

    The economics behind comic book collecting made a lot more sense when there was scarcity. Having a complete storyline or an original origin story was a big deal because that was how you read it.

    Now you can download (illegal, but free) just about any comic you could want and the big classics have been reprinted enough that you can get a hold of one.

    Now it’s more like baseball cards. Having it is its own prize and touching it with your fingers is criminal. There was always that aspect to it, but it didn’t used to be the /only/ aspect to it.

  3. wr says:

    I’m not so sure about those 1977 numbers. I worked in a comic book store back then (before I went off to college) and my memory is that the early Marvels were edging up well past the $500 mark. I’m talking about FF#1 and Amazing Fantasy #15 and a select few others in prime condition. But even Conan #1 was over a hundred dollars then…

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Action-comedy plot: Guy buys a million dollar comic because it’s one of a hundred, then quintuples the value by destroying other copies. He murders the other owners as a cover for his true motive. Feels like a Mentalist plot maybe. Or an L&O.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Michael, you’re giving that stuff away for free?!?

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    PD:

    Eh. Ideas are nothing. Ideas are fun. It’s the goddamned typing that kills you.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Well, I’m pitching it to Castle then. Pretty good show, but when the ideas aren’t there, it fades.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Castle needs some writers. Not that the ones they have are bad but that is a tough premise to maintain over time. Plus I think the female lead is weak.

  9. James Joyner says:

    I’m not so sure about those 1977 numbers. I worked in a comic book store back then (before I went off to college) and my memory is that the early Marvels were edging up well past the $500 mark. I’m talking about FF#1 and Amazing Fantasy #15 and a select few others in prime condition. But even Conan #1 was over a hundred dollars then…

    I seem to remember Conan #1 selling for something like $40 in mint and FF and AmF in maybe the $150 range. Not sure if that was Overstreet (essentially a blue book) or something like Mile High (a retail catalog).

  10. Brian Knapp says:

    Castle needs some writers. Not that the ones they have are bad but that is a tough premise to maintain over time.

    Agreed. And they rely too heavily on Nathan Fillion’s charm to carry it.

    Still a great show, but I am skeptical for its future.