At the time of this writing, the bid on Action Comics Number 1 stood at $277,300 with exactly 10 days, 5 hours and 39 minutes left in Metropolis Collectibles’ online auction and Stephen Fishler, the company’s founder and Brooklyn product who started selling comic books at the tender age of 10 in Bensonhurst, couldn’t be happier.
“I love the chase,” the 41-year-old says. “Buying the next great comic book or movie poster or piece of art.”
The quest for Action Comics number 1 started just a few months ago when Fishler received a call telling him about a gentleman on the West Coast who had purchased an original copy of the first-ever Superman comic book for the whopping sum of 35 cents back in 1950 when he was 9-years-old. Not only did the man still have the issue, but he was ready to sell. It was the “holy grail” of the comic book world.
DC Comics published a reprint of Action Comics number 1 in 1974 and more than a few neophyte collectors with dollars signs in their eyes have mistaken it for the original. But Fishler knew he had something real.
“We knew it was an original because we were called by an antique dealer who said the same guy came in and showed it to him,” he explains.
Superman - the only survivor of the doomed planet of Krypton - was a totally new and unusual character when he first made his Action Comics debut in 1938. Since then, of course, the “Man of Steel” has gone on to become an iconic figure in pop culture fighting for truth, justice and the American way.
“This is the one that started it all,” Fishler says. “There was no such thing as a super hero before it. No flying man. Comics weren’t even that popular. It’s the single most important event in comic book history.”
Blockbuster deals began early for Fishler.
“I think the 1st comic I ever sold was a Captain America number 1 from 1941,” he recalls. “Bought it for $500 and sold it for $700.”
Fischler has come across other original copies of Action Comics Number 1 in the past, but he says that this one is “a treat” because it was not part of any known collection - a true discovery.
“Lots of kids bought comic books in the ‘50s, but almost all of them eventually tossed them out,” Fischler. says “This guy understood its value and took good care of it – that almost never happens, either.”
Right now, the owner of the rare Superman comic book chooses to remain anonymous and Fishler won’t talk about the deal, but he does say that the auction might attract high-powered collectors and known Superman enthusiasts like Jerry Seinfeld, Shaquille O’Neill and Nicholas Cage.
Economically speaking, it just might also be a very savvy move on somebody’s part.
“While the real estate market and stock market keep falling, comic book sales remain very strong,” Metropolis Collectibles co-owner Vincent Zurzolo says. “Some people are taking their money out of low-interest bank accounts and under-performing stocks and investing in hard assets like comics, coins, and other collectibles. A hard asset is an appealing alternative to a soft stock market.”