Frank Miller Dark Knight Cover Artwork About To Sell For Two Million
One month ago, Bleeding Cool asked if the cover of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Book One by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley and used for the main cover of the best-selling collection, would crack a million dollars when it went to auction for the first time. Well, that's happening today, as part of a massive auction of premium comic books and original artwork at Heritage Auctions. Originally acquired from Varley by the unnamed seller, it comes to market at a time when original art is getting prices beyond many creators' wildest dreams and where Frank Miller's Sin City NFT just sold for $840,000. A previous Dark Knight cover, without Batman on it, sold for a quarter of a million. A previous original art splash page by Miller and Janson sold for just shy of half a million. another cover with Batman on it sold for almost half a million back in 2013. This piece has seen Frank Miller break the million-dollar ceiling for the very first time, with pre-auction bids totalling $1.950.000. The auction begins in five hours. We are all living in a post-Mike Zeck Secret Wars #8 society.
Here's what Heritage Auctions has to say;
Frank Miller and Lynn Varley Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 Cover Original Art (DC, 1986). Frank Miller's 1980s Batman tale The Dark Knight Returns is the graphic novel responsible for redefining the depth, tone, and range of storytelling possibilities for the entire super-hero genre, in the process paving the way as primary influence on the filmic universe that has taken over worldwide popular culture.
The dystopian future-epic was the lightning strike that revitalized the Caped Crusader's place in the DC Universe, and the original artwork for this cover to the first issue of the pioneering story is easily one of the most famous comic book covers from any era of all time, as well as the single most resonant image from the series, defining the entire superhero genre from the 1980s to now, not only in comics, but the broader culture, including the popular and acclaimed current Batman movie.
Such a widely reproduced, instantly recognizable, and transcendent original now lives in the broadest possible realm of American art, and the bold image speaks to generations. Miller's award-winning career as a wildly innovative creator reached its apex with this four-issue story, which was immediately recognized as one of the most important graphic novels of all time, and which has remained continually in print as a modern classic. As author of comic book and film properties such as Sin City and 300, all of Miller's formidable storytelling and artistic skill are in full display in this gritty, realistic, and emotionally moving tale, which transports the superhero from the world of adolescent fantasy into an increasingly realistic contemporary urban climate, single-handedly transforming Batman into one of fiction's most resonant characters within American culture.
Any original from this series is among the most desirable original art from the history of comics, but a cover of this magnitude — the key introductory image from a series with so much influence on the entire comic industry — has never before been offered at auction.
This first issue of The Dark Knight marks the first appearance of Miller's Robin, Carrie Kelley, the only female Robin, who saves Batman (and goes on to later become Batman), with the graphic strike of the image definitive of the story's tone and themes, a boldly composed and beautifully rendered statement on comics' transition into fine art. With the ever-increasing popularity and critical and popular acclaim for the rich and varied comic stories epitomized by The Dark Knight — as well as the commensurate viability in the realm of fine art and newly rising market values for the best of the best — this artwork is poised to both achieve the highest price of all time for an American comic book cover, and redefine the understanding of an entire history of art.
Ink over graphite on Bristol board with airbrush color work, image size 12" x 18". Signed by both artists as "FM/LV" in the lower center. A few visible surface scuffs and finger bends; otherwise, in Excellent condition.
And here's what Frank Miller has to say about it all.