These things are forever open to debate, but I'm having a hard time coming up with too many cover images from the history of American comics that I'd definitively call more iconic, more memorable, more instantly evocative of what makes comics what they are, than the cover of Watchmen #1 by Dave Gibbons, which kicked off the Watchmen series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in 1986.
The original art for this cover, along with the covers of Watchmen #2 and #3, are coming up for sale in a Heritage Signature Auction in February.
As we've been telling you on Bleeding Cool, the market for important and vintage original comic book art has been exceptionally strong over the past couple years, and observers have been expecting that to start bringing out the truly important pieces. We've already told you about another key piece of art in this Heritage Auction, the John Romita cover to Amazing Spider-Man #121, "The Night Gwen Stacy Died". I think these Watchmen covers also fit the bill.
The Watchmen covers are from a comic art collection that Heritage Auctions has dubbed the Shamus Modern Masterworks collection, a rather stellar group of original art from the 1980s and 1990s being sold by Martin Shamus, the father of Wizard Magazine founder Gareb Shamus. The collection has already produced a number of eye-popping hammer prices, including the $675,250 sale of the Todd McFarlane cover of Amazing Spider-Man #328, the record price for a piece of American comic book art.
In 2010, we told you that Watchmen #1 page 1 sold for $33,460. I understand that the complete Watchmen #1-12 cover set sold for roughly $26,000 at Sotheby's in 1993. Next month, each of these covers is going to sell for… a large multiple of that.
These covers are up for auction in the February Heritage Auctions Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, February 21-22 in New York. Online bidding begins February 2.