Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat original cover art for the 1969 Ballantine collection of Fritz stories has just hammered at Heritage Auctions tonight for a record $717,000. Tonight's result is the highest price ever publicly paid for a piece of original art from an American comic book, eclipsing blockbuster sales of recent years such as:
- The original art for the final page of Incredible Hulk #180 (1974, Marvel) by Herb Trimpe and inked by Jack Abel, which features the first published appearance of Wolverine, and sold at Heritage Auctions in 2014 for $657,250.
- Amazing Spider-Man #328 (1990, Marvel) cover by Todd McFarlane for $657,250, sold at Heritage Auctions in 2012.
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 original cover art by Frank Miller and inked by Klaus Janson sold at Heritage Auctions for $478,000 in 2013.
It was a strong session tonight at Heritage for original art, with another Crumb page — the infamous "Keep On Truckin" page from XYZ Comics (1972, Kitchen Sink) selling for $191,200, the cover of Infinity Gauntlet #2 (Marvel, 1991) by George Perez selling for $28,680, and numerous other noteworthy results. We'll do an update on tonight's activity at Heritage — including some surprising vintage comic sales prices — in a few hours.
Robert Crumb R. Crumb's Fritz the Cat Cover Original Art (Ballantine, 1969). Fritz gets cozy with girlfriend Charlene in this famous cover image, taken from the oversized collection of stories first published by Ballantine in October, 1969. This book was so popular, it rated a second printing a month later! The image would go on to inspire a popular statue by Randy Bowen and Neil Surges in 2003 that quickly sold out. Fritz himself would go on to star in two feature-length animated movies, Fritz the Cat (1972), and The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (1974). Although later abandoned by the artist, Fritz remains one of R. Crumb's most popular characters, one that dates back to the homemade comics Robert was producing as a teenager in the early sixties. This is perhaps one of the most famous and important single pieces of art by Crumb, one that has been stashed away in a private collection for many years. It's sure to be the centerpiece of any collection of Underground Comix art. It's in ink on Bristol board, with an approximate image area of 11" x 12.5", and matted to an overall size of 16" x 20". There is minor outer border handling and edge wear, but the image remains in Excellent condition. From the Felix Dennis Estate.