Superman No. 1 Auction Is Over

If you wanted that great copy of Superman No. 1 that I mentioned a few days ago, I’m sorry to tell you that you waited too long. The auction is over and the comic sold for $317,200. I know that all of you out there with a spare $325,000 to invest in comics are kicking yourselves right now for letting this one get away.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the comic book was bought for an unnamed bidder who wanted to add this one to his already impressive collection:

The winning bid for the 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, whose cover features Superman lifting a car, was submitted Friday evening by John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down, according to managers at

Dolmayan, who is also a dealer of rare comic books, said he acquired the Superman comic on behalf of a client. He declined to identify the client.

“This is one of the premier books you could collect,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s considered the Holy Grail of comic books. I talked to my client, and we made the move.”

Dolmayan said the client has “a small collection, but everything he has is incredible.”

I suspect that, when the economy improves in a few years, this will actually prove to have been a real bargain purchase for its mysterious buyer.

By the way, is it just me? Doesn’t the cover of the comic make Superman appear to be a villain rather than a hero? Remember that no one was familiar with the Superman image when this comic first hit the market.

Invest in the First Superhero

It is hard to imagine a time when there were no “superheroes” because now those guys are everywhere and it is near impossible to avoid them. There are dozens of them and they are in movies, television cartoons, and books of all kinds, not just comics. Try taking an eight-year-old boy to a toy store and walking out with something other than a superhero action figure or two. It has gotten so bad that I have to wonder what percentage of today’s toy sales relate to superhero gear of some sort.

It all started in 1938 when Action Comics introduced Superman, the first superhero, in a comic book that sold for ten cents at the time. Ten cents may not sound like much, but 1938 being one of the Great Depression years, I have to wonder how many children actually got their hands on one of those comic books.

Well, here is a chance for adults to get in on the action because a copy of the Action Comics introduction to Superman is being sold in an online auction that ends on March 13. As of this morning, bidding has reached $260,399 but you still have more than 12 days to get in on the bidding.

According to CNN

Those who can afford to bid “would ordinarily put money into the stock market. But that’s a shaky proposition.” These days, the comic book may even be a better investment than putting money into a CD or a bond…

The owner of the book has not been identified but he is said to have purchased it as a nine-year-old in 1950 with 35 cents he borrowed from his father. The auction house expects the comic to go for about $400,000 because, although there are about 100 known copies of the comic book, only 20 of those are in “unrestored” fine condition like this one.

Get those bids in…the clock is ticking.

Brains and Brawn Make a Champion

Gene Tunney, heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1926 to 1928, is probably best remembered by sports fans for his storied bouts against Jack Dempsey, especially the second one (the famous “long count” match). Tunney was not typical of most of his boxing competition, much preferring to turn his fights into chess matches rather than slugfests, so it should probably be no surprise that he was a great fan of Shakespeare’s plays and counted Ernest Hemmingway and George Bernard Shaw among his personal friends.

According to USA Today, some of Tunney’s book collection along with some boxing memorabilia will be auctioned by Sotheby’s this week:

Tunney’s unusual life of boxing and books will be on display on Thursday in an auction of his memorabilia by Sotheby’s in New York. Items on the block include the gloves Tunney wore and the stool he sat on when he defeated Dempsey in the 1920s, a collection of Shakespeare’s plays from the 17th century, and books inscribed by Hemingway.

“It wasn’t a persona or an act that he did to get attention,” said Selby Kiffer, a senior vice president at Sotheby’s. “This was really who he was. He was just as comfortable if not more comfortable in a library than in the boxing ring.”

As boxing champ, Tunney lectured once at Yale about Shakespeare for nearly an hour without notes. He related characters in Shakespeare’s plays to those in his own life, comparing the blustery soldier Ajax in “Troilus and Cressida” to a loud contemporary boxer, said his son, Jay Tunney, who is writing a book about his father.

“He brought Shakespeare into his own life and showed people in the audience how Shakespeare influenced him,” Jay Tunney said. “That’s what made his lecture stand out.”

Tunney owned the first complete collection of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1685. It is expected to sell for $80,000 to $120,000.

Hemingway gave Tunney three books, including “A Farewell to Arms.” Tunney turns up in a later Hemingway book, “Island in the Stream,” when the characters drink to him at a Havana bar.

Gene Tunney was a champion in more ways than one.