Imagine how it feels to be the person finding out how potentially valuable something is only after you’ve sold it.
Perhaps the best episode of NBC’s 1980s anthology series “Amazing Stories” centered on a man (played by Mark Hamill) who never throws out his collectable possessions. (He’s told not to be a weird woodland spirit. It was the 80s, OK?) He only learns in his old age that he’d been toting around supremely valuable first printings of classic comics like Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 for 48 years. He ends up selling them, along with his old toys and other assorted americana, for enough money to make him rich.
It’s too bad that show wasn’t more popular, because a British comic owner could really have used the good example when they put their copy of Marvelman #26 for auction on eBay. The issue is apparently in great condition: the description notes only that “There is a slight tear in the binding below the bottom staple.” And on Saturday, it sold for an astonishing £2,605.55, or $4,330.22.
Technically the second issue of Marvelman*, the series prior to issue #25 was simply a reprinting by publisher L. Miller & Son Ltd. of Fawcett Comics’ Captain Marvel. However, in 1953 the lawsuit between Fawcett Comics and DC over Captain Marvel, a character DC insisted was a blatant rip off of Superman, was settled in DC’s favor. Fawcett agreed to immediately cancel the series, cutting L. Miller & Son off from their biggest moneymaker.
To stave off financial ruin, L. Miller & Son quickly commissioned artist Mick Anglo to whip up a substitute, and the result was Marvelman. An instant hit, it kept the company flush throughout the 1950s. That is, until 1959, when the UK relaxed laws regulating the direct importation of American comics. The black and white Marvelman couldn’t compete with full color rivals. The title was ultimately cancelled in 1963 when L. Miller & Son declared bankruptcy. As a result, the original series archives weren’t preserved, extant copies surviving only thanks to readers who purchased them.
In the early 80s, Marvelman was revived by publisher Quality Communications for inclusion in its anthology series Warrior. Soon after, the character’s name was changed to Miracleman, in order to avoid the ire of Marvel Comics. That problem was made moot in 2009, when Marvel finally bought the rights to the series outright, since then producing reprints, including a very sillily censorious rerelease of Miracleman #9 earlier this year.
EDIT for clarity: Marvel bought the rights to Marvelman from Mick Angelo in 2009, and at the same time was trying to work out a deal for Miracleman with Neil Gaiman. Gaiman’s dispute over the rights to Miracleman with Todd McFarlane delayed that, though the deal was finalized in 2013. – Ross
Which brings us back to Marvelman #26. For some reason, of all the issues printed during the L. Miller & Son years, this one is the most rare. So rare, in fact, that in 2010, Marvel’s Tom Brevoort was unable to locate a copy for inclusion in Marvel’s anthology book Marvelman Classic – Volume 1. When the collection was published in August of that year, it contained only issue 25, and issues 27-34. Think about that for a moment. Tom Brevoort is Marvel’s Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing. And he wasn’t able to locate a copy of a comic the company he works for now owns. Hell, even Britain’s biggest collector of Marvelman couldn’t find it. It goes without saying then that an issue in good condition would be worth… a lot of money.
To make it clear, as Bleeding Cool notes, the issue sold on Saturday might be the only remaining copy of Marvelman #26 in existence. Whoever purchased it is by now probably aware that they have a potential goldmine on their hands. We’ll be paying close attention to see if this gets auctioned off properly sometime soon.
Just don’t tell that to this eBay user. Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at what they were selling.
Source: Bleeding Cool.
* Though confusing, this was fairly common once upon a time. For example, Mad Magazine’s first issue is technically issue #24. Earlier issues were a traditional comic book series, also called “Mad” (AKA “Tales Calculated To Drive You Mad”). A less straight example would be Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man. The very next issue was Amazing Spider-Man #1.