Action Comics #1 CGC 6.0 Rocket Copy Sells for $3,180,000

The Action Comics #1 CGC 6.0 "Rocket Copy" has just sold for $3,180,000 at Heritage Auctions. This copy, which emerged from the family of the original owner who bought it off the newsstands when he was 13 years old, is called the "Rocket Copy" because that young buyer used a rocket ship stamp on the cover.  The 1938 comic book features the first appearance of Superman from DC Comics, by creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Action Comics #1 Rocket Copy.
Action Comics #1 Rocket Copy.

The hammer price for this copy of Action Comics #1 is the third-highest price ever paid for any copy of this issue, the fourth-highest price ever paid for any comic book, and the fourth comic book to pass the $3M barrier.  The $3M club at the top of the comic book record charts currently looks as follows:

  1. Amazing Fantasy #15 CGC 9.6 Sept 2021 sale for $3,600,000.
  2. Action Comics #1 CGC 8.5, April 2021 sale for $3,250,000.
  3. Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0 April 2014 $3,207,852
  4. Action Comics #1 CGC 6.0 Rocket Copy Jan 2022 $3,180,000.

Three of those four sales have taken place within the last year, which is certainly a reflection of the incredible run that the vintage comic book and original art market has been on during that period.

Action Comics #1 Rocket Copy.
Action Comics #1 Rocket Copy.

Action Comics #1 Rocket Copy (DC, 1938) CGC FN 6.0 White pages. It's aptly named "The Rocket Copy" because the front cover bears the stamped imprint of a rocket ship that was applied by the 13-year old who bought this copy of Action Comics #1 off the stands in 1938. It's the first original-owner copy of the issue we've offered since the Billy Wright copy in 2012, and it's the highest-graded copy we've ever presented.

Unquestionably it's the most important comic book ever issued. The Superhero genre essentially was born with this issue, as was the Golden Age of Comics. Superman's creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had been submitting ideas to newspapers for several years – from the time they were still teenagers – and had begun getting work in the new genre of comic books by 1935, along the way honing their ideas for a Superman character. Their early ideas for the character were rejected, but by 1938, the publisher Detective Comics (DC) decided to introduce Superman in the premiere issue of a new anthology comic book titled Action Comics, and the rest is history.

Ernst Gerber's 1989 The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books assigned Action Comics #1 a scarcity index rating of "7" or "scarce", estimating that no more than 50 copies were still in existence. It turns out that was a conservative estimate, since CGC has to date certified 75 copies (just 43 unrestored) of the issue. But it is exceedingly difficult to find an unrestored copy in the grade as offered here. It's the finest copy we've ever offered in our 20 years of auctioning comics, from the FN 6.0 grade to the astonishingly vivid colors and the unbelievable matchless white pages! And the actual stamp that produced the rocket ship imprint is included!

Besides the first appearance of Superman, herein are the first appearances of Lois Lane and Zatara. Joe Shuster created the iconic cover, with Fred Guardineer and Bernard Baily contributing story art in this issue. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $920,500. CGC census 1/22: 2 in 6.0, 8 higher.


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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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