Origins of the character
Superman was created by the comic book artists Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster in 1933. Seigel had written a story entitled ‘The Reign of the Super-Man’, which appeared in his self-published science fiction fanzine, although the character was originally a villain.
He followed this up by creating a comic book simply called ‘The Superman’ along with Shuster, in which the character was now the hero and bore little resemblance to his original namesake.
It took until 1938 for the idea to be picked up by a publisher, during which time the pair wrote for other publications and created other characters. But in 1938 the comic book publisher Max Gaines chose the story for the lead in the new ‘Action Comics’ title, and Superman made his first appearance on the cover of Action Comics 1 in April 1938.
Superman was the first notable superhero character to appear in comic books, and inspired a host of similar characters. His first appearance is considered the start of the ‘Golden Age of comic books’ and the birth of the superhero as a major influence on popular culture.
The character was the first to be given his own title in 1939, and has since appeared in a range of titles published by DC Comics along with radio shows, a short-lived Broadway musical, a series of animated cartoons, a number of television series and five films.
As of June 2011 Action Comics #1 is the most valuable comic book of all time. The record was set when a copy was sold at a ComicConnect auction on March 29 2010 for $1.5 million.
The title had previously held the record when a copy graded 8.0 was sold in February of the same year for $1 million, again by CominConnect, but this was briefly surpassed by an issue of Detective Comics which sold for $1,075,500.
In 2006 a copy of Siegel’s original fanzine featuring the firs ‘villainous’ Super-man was sold for $47,800.00 by Heritage Auction Galleries.
ComicConnect have also been responsible for the sale of a 9.0 grade copy of Superman #2, which sold for $47,000, and a copy of Superman #1 for $28,000.
In January 2007 heritage sold the original Fred Ray artwork for the cover of Action Comics #45 featuring Superman for $61,841.25.
Other original cover artwork sold by Heritage include the Silver Age cover of Superman #180 by Curt Swan and George Klein which sold for $39,435 in 2009 and Carmine Infantino’s artwork for Superman #199 featuring Superman racing the Flash, which sold for $33,925.
In 2007 the cape worn by Christopher Reeve in the first Superman film was sold by Profiles in History for a price of $115,000.
In April 2010 a cape and pair of boots worn by both Christopher Reeve in the series of Superman films and John Haymes Newton in the ‘Superboy’ television series were sold for $14,340 in a Heritage online auction.
In March 2010 a rare toy Superman ring was sold on the auction site eBay for $13,100. The ring had been awarded by National Periodical Publications to the 1,600 members of the ‘Supermen of America’ club, and only 20 are now believed to exist.
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