Beard: Action Comics #1 sells for record amountWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A copy of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman, sold at a recent auction for $3.2 million. The pristine 1938 publication will most likely never be touched or read by its new owner.
The comic has been “slabbed,” that is, placed in a sleeve of gas-impenetrable plastic material, and sealed in a hard plastic shell that will easily shows signs of any tampering. The process is the brainchild of Comics Guaranty LLC, known as CGC, a business that encases and entombs comics for the high-end collectors among us, as well as registering the condition grading of such books. The $3.2 million copy of Action Comics #1 is graded as a 9.0 out a possible 10, reportedly in the same condition as it appeared on newsstands in 1938.
When the comic was just a baby, the world was a different place, not yet inundated by the superheroic characters we take for granted today. Then, the Spanish Civil War raged, Hitler too, and a “minimum wage” was established in the U.S. Good thing, too, for it, among other things, enabled people to happily plunk down the 10 cents needed to purchase the magazine featuring a red-and-blue clad figure hefting an automobile over his head.
A child in 1938 would never have conceived of a comic book that was not meant to be read; in fact, children tended to roll them up and stick them in their back pockets for ease of transportation. One imagines, though, some freakishly odd youngster somewhere, purchasing his or her Action Comics #1 and asking their mother to keep it nice and safe in her cedar chest, so they might pass it to their grandchildren one day.
The comic offered much more than Superman. Beyond the inaugural adventure of the Man of Steal, one could also thrill to Chuck Dawson, Zatara the Magician, Sticky Mitt Stimson, Marco Polo, “Pep” Morgan, and Tex Thomson, among other strips. The idea of such an anthology in mainstream comics is almost lost in today’s industry, with companies relying on title characters to carry the weight of each book. In fact, Action Comics was rebooted and renumbered in 2011, ending the previous incarnation at issue #904. For the curious, the original 1938 issue has been reprinted numerous times, one of the most recent in 2000. These reproductions can be had for substantially less than $3.2 million.