The rare 1937 prototype for Action Comics No. 1 takes flight at Heritage Auction in April
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The rare 1937 prototype for Action Comics No. 1 takes flight at Heritage Auction in April
Action Comics #1 Ashcan (DC, 1937) CGC NM- 9.2 Cream to off-white pages.

DALLAS, TX.- One of three known copies of the most important comics book in the medium's history serves as the centerpiece of Heritage Auction's April 1-4 Comics & Comic Art Signature event: an ashcan copy of Action Comics No. 1 from 1937. It's also the best-known copy in existence. And until now, it has never been for sale to the public.

It's not hyperbole to say this is the mock-up that changed history, the prototype that shaped an industry. After all, this is the very book to feature the words "Action Comics" and the logo still used by DC Comics 84 years after this exemplar was made. The artwork, by The Shadow and pre-Batman Detective Comics illustrator Craig Flessel, may look unfamiliar; this blade-wielding ghoul, rejected for the cover of Detective No. 2, is no car-tossing Superman, after all. But the template had been set; the die, forever cast.

This is Action Comics before Action Comics. And everything that came after.

From its inception in the late 1930s through the 1950s, DC Comics frequently made these so-called ashcans — mock-up covers bound over the interiors of existing books — to establish trademarks, to keep the competition from stealing titles and logos and even heroes. The ashcans, so-called, allegedly, because they were intended to be tossed and destroyed, were then distributed across state lines and sent to the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, which made legal the publisher's claims to title.

For Action Comics DC publisher Harry Donenfeld had three ashcans made featuring variations on the title: Action Comics, Action Funnies and Double Action Comics. The latter offerings "were for spin-offs that never happened," according to the deluxe edition of DC's 2018 Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman.

The very logo used on this Action Comics ashcan is the one still on file with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, which received DC's submission on Jan. 28, 1938. The comics publisher told the patent office that Action Comics had first been used "in commerce" on Dec. 1, 1937 — which means this ashcan predates Superman's first flight by at least five months.

Of the three known copies, one is locked away in DC Comics' vault, seldom to be seen and never to be sold. Another copy, graded CGC 9.0, changed hands 11 years ago.

The Action ashcan being offered by Heritage, graded CGC NM- 9.2, is the highest-graded copy in existence.

And its provenance is impeccable.

This pre-action Action Comics No. 1 come from the collection of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide ashcan advisor and comic book historian Gary Colabuono, whose ashcan collection was so revered that a decade ago it was displayed at Chicago Comic Con and written about in the Chicago Tribune.

"When you see them, they are so cool," Colabuono told the newspaper. "They shouldn't exist. They should be gone. They're like pop culture relics or artifacts."

Added the convention's organizer, former Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus, "When you talk about collectibles, it's all about having things that are rare and, in a lot of cases, one-of-a kind. What Gary has is a piece of history that people haven't seen before. That's what gets the juices flowing for collectors out there."

Colabuono bought his Action Comics ashcan, along with the one for Action Funnies, in 1986 — from none other than Sol Harrison, who in 1933 worked on Famous Funnies (considered the first comic book) and wound up becoming DC's president 43 years later.

This is the first time the book has ever been offered for sale. And it might just be the last time.

Today's News

March 20, 2021

Selling art to pay the bills divides the nation's museum directors

Mystery buyer of $69 mn digital artwork reveals identity

Jean-Michel Basquiat: ARTBnk Market Report

Louis XIV has not become Louis 14, insists Paris museum

Artist JR shows off Italy 'museum opening' in latest work

Carl Reiner's archives will go to the National Comedy Center

Lithuanian hotels roll out red carpet for film festival

Newfields announces promised 30-day action plan

New ethereal and atmospheric color paintings by Isaac Aden on view at David Richard Gallery

Museum Frieder Burda unveils the first institutional solo exhibition in Germany of Matthew Lutz-Kinoy

Manifesta 14 Prishtina appoints two architectural studios to investigate the fabric of Kosovo's capital

For Rohingya survivors, art bears witness

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum exhibits three videos by Antoni Muntadas

The rare 1937 prototype for Action Comics No. 1 takes flight at Heritage Auction in April

Heritage Auctions' first Sports Monthly showcase scores $3.3 million

Wright announces highlights included in its 'Danese: A Private Collection' sale

Kehrer Verlag publishes Richard Gosnold's 'It Starts With Silence'

Ashley Harris assumes executive position at Mana Culture

Met Opera's music director decries musicians' unpaid furlough

Let's make the future that the 'New World' Symphony predicted

'A perfect world' around every miniature bend

March Madness brings vibrant art and energy to Indianapolis

5 Suggestions For helping You De-Stress and Sleep Better

Your Complete Guide For Finding A Reliable Car Accident Lawyer

How Practicing Photo Repair Can Make You A Better Artist

11 Ways to Increase Home Value

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful