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Fantastic team-ups mark comic book auction Dec. 20

Superheroes team up in a no-reserve comic book auction that Jasper52 will conduct on Sunday, Dec. 20. Nearly 300 lots of vintage comic books will sell to the highest bidder, no matter the price. The first pairing featured in the auction comes in Green Lantern #76 co-starring Green Arrow, a fellow DC character, in a groundbreaking series dealing with various social and political issues in America.

‘Green Lantern #76,’ co-starring Green Arrow, VG+. Jasper52 image

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No. 1 issue of ‘Supercar’ stars in online comic book auction

Action, adventure and laughs await winning bidders in a no-reserve comic book auction that will be presented by LiveAuctioneers on Sunday, Dec. 6. Among the star lots is the scarce No. 1 issue of Supercar. Because this is a no-reserve auction, the high bidder wins the lot, no matter how low the price.

Supercar #1, VF-, 1962. Jasper52 image

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No. 1 issues stand out in comic book auction Nov. 15

Jasper52 will conduct another no-reserve comic book auction on Sunday, Nov. 15. The bulk of the nearly 200 titles consists of Marvel and DC Comics superheroes, but Disney and Archie fans will find a nice selection of their favorite comic characters as well. Because this is a no-reserve auction, the high bidder wins the lot, no matter how low the price. Bid absentee or live online exclusively through LiveAuctioneers.

The Shadow #1: VG. Jasper5The Shadow #1: VG. Jasper52 image2 image

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Superheroes prevail in Jasper52 comic book auction Nov. 1

Action heroes and diabolical villains are featured in a Jasper52 comic book auction on auction Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31-Nov. 1. These no-reserve auctions consist of more than 400 vintage comic books.

‘Avengers #15,’ VG-. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Fantastic Four headline Jasper52 comic book sale Oct. 10-11

Jasper52 will present a pantheon of superheroes in a two-day online auction of rare comic books on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10-11. Fans of the Fantastic Four will have the opportunity to fill holes in their run of this landmark Marvel comic book on Day 2 as all 170 lots are devoted to “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” title.

Fantastic Four #3, the first time in costume, first appearance of Miracle Man, VG. Jasper52 image

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#1 issues showcased in no-reserve comics auction Sept. 20

Among the scare titles entered in a no-reserve online comic book auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Sunday, Sept. 20, are a handful of #1 issues – the key to every collection. The prized #1 issue often has the highest value of any series. And, in a no-reserve auction, the highest bidder wins the item, no matter the price.

Ms. Marvel #1, VG-. Jasper52 image

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Jasper52 presents classic comic book auction Aug. 9

Superheroes and arch-villains abound in a no-holds-barred comic book auction that will be conducted on Sunday, Aug. 9, by Jasper52. This no-reserve online auction of 273 vintage comic books features several #1 issues and a few first appearances by notable characters.

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Underground comix, posters costar in online auction April 1

Some of the finest underground comix ever created by the likes of Robert Crumb, Rick Griffin, Spain Rodriguez, S. Clay Wilson, Gilbert Shelton and Victor Moscoso lead off a Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, April 1. The rare comic books will be followed by a collection of psychedelic rock posters from the Fillmore, Avalon and other concert venues.

Underground comic book, ‘Air Pirates Funnies #1,’ dealer-punched at the top left. Estimate: $300-$1,000. Jasper52 image

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Superheroes will prevail in online auction March 14

Jasper52 will sell more than 300 lots of superhero comic books – no Sad Sacks or Archies – in a no-reserve online auction on Sunday, March 14. Many of the titles are Silver Age comic books from the 1960s. Popular characters from both DC and Marvel are represented. Because this is a no-reserve auction, each lot will sell to the high bidder, no matter how low the winning bid may be.

Action Comics #335. Jasper52 image

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Zap Comix subverts the comic genre

NEW YORK – Comic books have long fulfilled many needs from young children learning to read to adults seeking entertainment or escapism. Created for adult tastes, underground comics have all the appeal of their more straitlaced counterparts but set out to be revolutionary. With titillating covers and subversive topics, the most sought-after of these were Zap Comix, which proclaimed from its first issue that it was breaking new ground, printing on the cover “For Adult Intellectuals Only.”

Underground comics sprang from the youth counterculture movement in the late 1960s and while Zap Comix was not the first, it is well known. Its name (comix vs. comics) is not merely phonetic but spoke to the co-mixing of comics with raunchy art, dirty jokes and provocative storylines.

The first printing of ‘Zap Comix #1,’ 1968 (Charles Plymell edition, was written and illustrated entirely by Robert Crumb. It introduced characters like Mr. Natural. Photo courtesy of ThirdMindBooks.com

Alex Winter, president of Hakes’s Auctions in York, Pennsylvania, said the underground comics world embraced the counterculture movement of the time and reveled in all things subversive. “No topic was off limits from political views to drug culture to the sexual revolution and all points in-between,” he said. “While the comic book world was not without controversy over the years, what was printed in the pages of the underground comics was like nothing that had come before it. It set the stage for what would follow in the coming decades as far as taking content and subject matter to new limits and further shaking up the establishment.”

The second issue continues political incorrectness and provocation. That this is a first printing is evident in the use of heavy paper stock in the covers. Photo courtesy of ThirdMindBooks.com

Arthur S. Nusbaum, founder of Third Mind Books in Ann Arbor, Mich., said one must first consider the emergence of underground in the wake of their countercultural predecessors – the writers of the Beat Generation – and in the heady milieu of late 1960s San Francisco in which Zap Comix first appeared. “By the late 1950s, New York City was not the only countercultural hotbed for literary or artistic insurgency then flowered or blooming,” he said.

In 1963, poet-publisher-printer Charles Plymell was based in San Francisco with Neal Cassady, known to most as the muse or “hero” famously depicted in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, according to Nusbaum. Plymell’s peer group comprised Beat Generation luminaries like

Allen Ginsberg, and being a printer/publisher afforded him unfettered access to a large group of like-minded poets, activists and intellectuals.

Shown here is original artwork by Victor Moscoso for the wraparound cover of ‘Zap Comix #4,’ which was published in late 1969, leading to drawn-out obscenity trial in New York City. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Arguably the most controversial – and most well-known – of all the underground comics artists was Robert Dennis Crumb, who shared his story in volume V of The Complete Zap Comix (Fantagrafics Books Inc., 2014), explaining he drew one issue in October 1967 and one in November. “Don Donahue, publisher of Apex Novelties, saw the original art for Zap and really liked it. Donahue knew Charles Plymell, an old hipster poet who had a small offset printing press,” Crumb was quoted as saying, adding that Donahue funded Zap’s first printing in early 1968 by trading his $300 tape recorder to Plymell. “Plymell was the printer of the early runs of the most-important issue of Zap Comix, Zap Comix No. 1, and Crumb did write and ‘draw’ the entire issue himself,” Nusbaum said.

Robert Crumb’s cover for ‘Zap Comics #8’ demonstrates Crumb’s talent for portraying himself as a comic character. In this original artwork, the art is drawn in ink on sketchbook paper. Photo courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

What makes one issue more valuable than another? Just like other comics and printed matter, first and foremost are printings and condition. Most sought after are first printings in high grade of key issues, Winter explained. “Many Underground titles saw multiple printings and some are not so obvious but there is now a wealth of information on the subject, so it is key to make sure of the printing you have or are searching for,” he said. “Robert Crumb is certainly the most recognized name in underground comis, and the most collected, but there are so many legendary names that were a part of that movement and command just as much attention such as Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, S. Clay Wilson and Spain Rodriquez just to name a few.”

Nusbaum echoed his comments, saying, “Early issues of Zap don’t necessarily have value because they just contain Crumb ‘artwork’ and Crumb actually isn’t even the best artist of those that contributed to Zap as it went along. His contemporaries, including the great Robert Williams, were far better artists than Crumb ever was,” he said. “What Crumb did was combine the countercultural sentiments of the Psychedelic Revolution – namely a prescription to the psychological beneficence of psychedelic drugs on one’s worldview – the literary angle of the Beat Generation (as exemplified by this partnership with Plymell) – and the sexual revolution that went part-and-parcel with both of those.”

The complete boxed set of ‘Zap Comix’ in five volumes packed in the original cardboard shipping carton includes every issue, even a 17th unpublished issue. Photo courtesy of Hake’s Auctions.

The legacy of Zap Comix is widespread and echoes today. “Zap is fun, educational and historically important because it’s virtually the first time the counterculture began to laugh at itself in order to learn from itself. It’s the counterculture, commenting on the counterculture,” Nusbaum said.

A product of its time and place in the birthplace of counterculture, San Francisco, Zap Comix influenced artists worldwide, changed how comics are created (graphic novels might not otherwise exist today) and they continue to inspire nonconformists and enthrall collectors today.