Every time you think you've seen it all when it comes to original comic book art something turns up to prove that you haven't. Exhibit A for that rule today is the Heritage Auctions announcement that 4 pages of 1939 production proofs from Detective Comics #27 just surfaced, having been in the possession of a man living in an apartment building where Bob Kane once lived, who rescued it from the curbside trash some 45 years ago.
Silver Age production art is not uncommon, but like the actual original art itself, Golden Age production art is extremely rare. Usually tossed in the trash, as these pages were. No actual original artwork from Detective Comics #27 is known to exist, although a single page of original art from Batman #1 is known to have survived to the present day.
Be sure to click through to the large versions of the pages below. Careful examination will reveal differences between these and the reproduction in the original printed version (as well as the remastered DC Archives version). If you're a fan of classic comic book artwork, these scans offer the best look you'll ever see of some of the most important pages in the medium's history.
First 'Bat-man' comic proof pages – saved from the trash in Queens – highlight comics event at Heritage Auctions
Detective #27 relics rescued from a steamer trunk once belonging to Batman creator Bob Kane, as it sat on a Rego Park curbside in front of the building Kane once lived in; at auction Feb. 24
DALLAS, TX – The original 1939 production proofs for pages 2-6 of Detective Comics #27, otherwise known as the first appearance of "The Bat-Man," perhaps the closest the world will ever get to the original art for this monumental comic book – long lost, as far as anyone has ever known – will be part of Heritage Auctions Signature® Vintage Comics & Comic Art Auction, Feb. 24. The pages are estimated at $1,000+ each.
The saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure" comes to mind here, as these pop culture relics were literally heading for the dust bin of history: they were rescued in 1975 from an old steamer trunk sitting on a curb awaiting trash pick-up in Rego Park, Queens. Mario J. Sacripante spied the trunk outside of the building where he lived, and where – he soon learned – Bob Kane, Batman's creator, had also lived for many years.
"I actually knew what it was that I had found, having been around antiques and collectibles all my life," said Sacripante. "There was enough comic history, material and original art work for me to figure out that Bob Kane had lived here long before I moved next door. I learned later that a friend's father actually knew Bob Kane when he had lived in the building."
The rest of the trove, which includes original Bob Kane sketches, gag panels, art class notebooks and an incomplete copy of Detective #27, are all in the auction as well.
"Holding some of these pages next to the printed comic I was struck by the details of the art that are better visible here," said Barry Sandoval, Director of Comics Auction Operations at Heritage. "Very little original comic book art from the 1930s has survived, so this is probably the closest a collector would ever get to owning original art from one of the most collectible comic book stories ever."
A proof page in comics is a test run of an uncolored page used for perusal by artists and writers to see how their work would look on the printed page.