John Romita Sr. is one of the most important artists in the history of Marvel Comics. Original art collectors prize all his work dearly, particularly his early work from Marvel's formative years. His Amazing Spider-Man artwork is the most coveted from that era, and his covers don't change hands very often — and when they do, it's often in private transactions. Heritage Auctions has just announced that Romita's cover art for Amazing Spider-Man #49 will be on the block in a public auction beginning July 23. The cover is from early in Romita's influential run on the title (he took over from Steve Ditko with #39 in 1966) written by Stan Lee.
The piece is noteworthy both for its visual and for the particulars of its era. By my rough count, Romita Sr did (penciled or penciled & inked) approximately 100 Amazing Spider-Man covers in his initial run ranging from #39-169 (1966-1977, though his run on interior art stopped sooner). However, only 24 of those covers are large art (So called because the image area is fully twice up, 12.25" x 20.25". Marvel then switched to smaller art board with a 10" x 15" image area in 1968). Other considerations being equal, large art is generally more desirable to original Marvel art collectors.
Of course, the cover also features not one but two classic Spidey villians in Kraven and the Vulture, which will also help attract bidders from the pool of high-end collectors waiting to get their hands on a prime Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man cover example.
Heritage last sold a Romita Spider-Man large art cover in 2005 — the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #41 went for $58,650 at that time. The market has exploded since then (as Bleeding Cool reported, the climactic interior splash page of Spider-Man #50 sold for $88,500 last year), and this sale is pretty well-timed, all things considered, so I have a hunch it's going to be pretty entertaining to watch the closing minutes of this auction.
John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man #49 Kraven and Vulture Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1967). Hold onto your web-spinners Spider-Man fans — this is one eye-popping display piece, showcasing John Romita Sr. at the height of his talent — it's not just a cool cover, it's an priceless piece of Silver Age Marvel lore. This dynamic "twice-up" cover spotlights the deadly dual menace of Kraven the Hunter and the Vulture. This is only the second Romita Sr. Spider-Man cover from this era we have offered to date. Any Spider-fan who bought this issue off the spinner-rack has this iconic scene firmly fixed in his memory. It's worth noting this was only John Romita Sr.'s eleventh cover for the title — Jazzy Johnny was already making his own classy contribution to the sterling legacy left behind by Sturdy Steve Ditko — and for Marvelites, it doesn't get much better than this. The image area of this cover scene to "From the Depths of Defeat" measures 13.25" x 20.25". The art is in Very Good condition, with some overall paper aging that has little effect on the overwhelming power of the image. John Romita signed the page at the lower right.
Romita Sr., John:(American, b. 1930): John Romita Sr. started drawing comics after spending a year in commercial art. His first jobs were done for the Atlas group in 1949, and he drew mostly horror and romance stories, but also war, western, and crime features. After the Atlas implosion, Romita Sr. went to DC, where he drew romance stories for eight years. After that, it was back to Marvel, where he initially inked The Avengers and drew Daredevil. However, Romita Sr.'s most celebrated work was done for the Amazing Spider-Man, the feature he took over when Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko left Marvel in 1966. Under Romita Sr.'s tenure, Spider-Man became one of the comic field's most popular characters. Romita Sr. left his regular Spider-Man art chores in the early seventies to become an Art Director at Marvel in the Special Projects Department, and as Art Director for Marvel Books. In 1977, Romita Sr. briefly drew the syndicated Spider-Man newspaper comic strip. His son, John Romita Jr., is also an artist at Marvel.