Lon Allen (Heritage Auctions) Interview
February looks set to be a huge month for Heritage Auctions, as they prepare for their upcoming New York comic book auction billed as “Possibly The Greatest Comics Auction Ever” featuring the Billy Wright Collection and a wealth of rare comic book art.
In addition, department Director Lon Allen is preparing to head across the pond to the U.K for the London Super Comic Convention in search of consignments for future sales. We spoke to Allen about the convention, and what 2012 could hold for the comic book market….
You’re heading to the London Super Comic Convention to accept consignments for Heritage – what kind of material will you be on the lookout for?
We’re always looking for the next big collection and we’re always actively seeking individual items that collectors are clamouring for, such as the Marvel Keys. Amazing Fantasy #15 is hotter than ever in any grade and all of the keys are trading at record levels. High grade books are always nice, but lower grade Golden Age has also been selling very well for us. I’ll also be on the lookout for any and all comic book artwork. Do you think the atmosphere will differ from the major U.S conventions?
It’s hard to know what to expect having never been to London before, plus I don’t think a show of this size has ever been attempted in London, so I expect it’ll be fun to watch.
When it comes to the line-up of creators and exhibitors, who’s caught your attention so far?
The whole lineup looks very solid, though getting Stan Lee to show up is a real coup. He’s always been a great friend of Heritage – we sold his collection, actually – so it will be nice to hopefully catch-up with him.
After a record-breaking year in 2011, do you think there’s a growing buzz around the comic book market going into 2012?
I do. The record sales have really legitimized this hobby to the point now that the average “man on the street” has become aware of the value in rare comics. The best material, starring the most well known characters (Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, etc), is going to continue to set records this year.
Do you think the number of major comic book movie adaptations scheduled for release this year will bring more collectors to the hobby?
It’s hard to say how much that translates into kids actually walking into the shops and picking up an issue of a comic book. It seems logical to assume that whichever movies have heavy buzz going in to their release will give that particular title a boost in anticipation. Whether it lasts as or not is another story.
What have Heritage got coming up over the next few months?
Our February 22-24 auction in New York City is going to be a tremendous event – likely the biggest comics and comic art auction ever held – with more stuff than I could possibly name here. A few of the highlights include two unrestored copies of Detective #27, the first appearance of “The Batman,” along with an Action Comics #1 – Superman’s debut – and fully 60 comic books out of the top 100 books ever printed. A lot of these come from the newly CGC pedigreed Billy Wright Collection, a smallish but important grouping of superb comics.
There’s also a huge array of great original art, including Dark Knight art by Frank Miller, consigned by Miller, along with original John Romita, Sr. Spider-Man cover art, Watchmen original art, Charles Schulz and a very rare Bill Watterson Calvin and Hobbes published piece of original art. All of that barely scratches the surface.
Finally, we’re looking forward to seeing some amazing costumes at the convention – what’s your comic book character outfit of choice?
It is fun to see the unique ones that the wearer obviously put a lot of time and attention into. I feel like an old man walking around these shows; I don’t know what 75% of the people are dressed up as!
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