Thursday, September 1, 2011

Batman: The Dark Knight #3

On May 5, this splash drawing of Batman and Robin from Batman: The Dark Knight #3 drawn  by Frank Miller sold for the phenomenal price of $448,125 at Heritage Auctions. The auction lot description uses words like iconic, definitive, and masterpiece to describe this image, where I basically see a Batman with awkwardly-rendered arms.

I confess to being out of my element here. I'm not in the least familiar with The Dark Knight Returns although I certainly would like one day to read what Time magazine calls one of the top ten graphic novels of all time. To make matters worse, I haven't even seen the movie, which means I'm more clueless than most about this whole Dark Knight franchise. I suspect the runaway popularity of the movie may have done something to enliven the bidding on this drawing, and perhaps even some Hollywood money was involved in its purchase. And perhaps not.

In general, I support the power of the market to set prices whether high or low, even in cases like this where I'm clearly not getting it. It's possible that if I read the graphic novel--is it really so much more than a comic book?--I might gain more of an appreciation of the artwork here, or at least of its context. It certainly has energy; I'll grant that. 

Frank Miller, The Dark Knight #3 Splash Page

Sold for:$448,125.00 (includes BP ) 
Bid Source: Live: Phone

Auction Ended On:May 5, 2011
Item Activity:15 Internet/mail/phone bidders 
18,254 page views

Lot Description:

Frank Miller and Klaus Janson Batman: The Dark Knight #3 Batman and Robin Iconic Splash Page 10 Original Art (DC, 1986). Frank Miller'sThe Dark Knight Returns defined the best of 1980s comics, and has since been universally acknowledged as one of the most important and influential stories ever published. Miller is arguably the greatest superhero writer/artist to work during this period, and Dark Knight is his undisputed masterpiece: the four-issue series rejuvenated Batman as DC's most popular character and in the process helped revitalize the comics industry. This splash page is to our minds the single most memorable image from the entire book and the greatest image from the decade ever to come to market -- as well as one of the handful of most desirable pieces of original comic art from any era to come to market. A perfect stand-alone image of Batman and Robin (Carrie Kelley, the first female, full-time Robin) soaring high above Gotham City, an icon symbolizing the entire storyline -- this one has everything going for it.
As demonstrated by the fact that we've only offered two Dark Knight panel pages previously -- and the fact that no splash page, much less a such an undeniably classic image, has never been offered at auction -- artwork from the famed series is much scarcer than anything else from the period. This gem has been locked away in a single collection since being purchased upon the series' original publication and is the definition of "fresh to market." And unlike many pages from the series, where differences between the original art and the published version are evident (as a result of Miller making changes on pasteovers), no changes were made to this artwork for publication, and the original contains no paste-ups or stats -- it's pure art, just the way it appeared in print.
Definitive is the only adequate description of this masterpiece, and as such, it was chosen to represent the entire time period in DC's recent 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking book, serving as the chapter heading for "The Dark Age: 1984-1998," and reproduced as a glorious color full-page image, leading off the chapter on page 556.
In 2005, Time magazine ranked The Dark Knight Returns as one of the top ten graphic novels ever created. As Alan Moore wrote about the series: "Beyond the imagery, themes, and essential romance of Dark Knight, Miller has also managed to shape the Batman into a true legend by introducing that element without which all true legends are incomplete and yet which for some reason hardly seems to exist in the world depicted in the average comic book, and that element is time... time has come to the Batman and the capstone that makes legends what they are has finally been fitted. In his engrossing story of a great man's final and greatest battle, Miller has managed to create something radiant which should hopefully illuminate things for the rest of the comic book field, casting a new light upon the problems which face all of us working within the industry and perhaps even guiding us towards some fresh solutions."
In short, this is one of the most important pieces of original comic book art Heritage has ever had the pleasure to offer.
This iconic masterpiece from "Hunt the Dark Knight" has an image area of 11.5" x 17.75", and aside from some very light paper aging in the image area and some passages of white-out, the art is in Excellent condition.

"I've always loved that drawing. Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it. I hope it finds a good home." 
--Frank Miller

Miller, Frank:  Frank Miller (American, b. 1957): is a multi-talented cartoonist, writer, and film director, most celebrated for his work on the Marvel characters Daredevil, Elektra, and Wolverine, as well as on his own characters for the Dark Horse titles Hard Boiled, 300, and Sin City. In the late eighties, Miler became the first and foremost of a new breed of "noir" comic book storytellers, thanks to the tremendous popularity of his work on the industry-changing Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series. He also directed the film version of Will Eisner's The Spirit, and shared directing duties with Robert Rodriguez on Sin City, and produced the film 300.
Frank Miller, The Dark Knight #3 Splash Page


Note:  My recent post on Captain America is here.


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