Record-Breaking Comic Book Sales: A Comprehensive List

Record-Breaking Comic Book Sales: A Comprehensive List

Comic collecting and investing have skyrocketed in the last decade, and even more so in the last few years. People who collected for years are selling their collections, and people who are interested and avid collectors are buying, often at some of the highest prices ever seen for comics and similar collectibles. You can see the same effect across other collectible markets, but comics are among the oldest and longest-lasting collectibles with a history, so it's very visible when one breaks another record.

What are those records, though? How much could you stand to make if you find a pristine copy of a golden age book somehow carefully preserved in your attic? Here's a list of the record-setting sales, most of which are in the last couple of years.

What makes a sale a record-breaking event? Well, it can either be a noteworthy sale because of the condition or quality of the book, or noteworthy because it's part of a pedigree, or a rare issue that almost never goes up for auction. Most of the time, though, it just means one thing: money. Every book on this list has sold for well over a million dollars at least once.

Table of Contents

What's the Most Valuable Comic?

If you ask any comics collector what the most valuable comic is, what do you think they would say? What would you say?

Valuable Comic Books

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Most people would say that it's Action Comics #1, the famous, often-reprinted introduction of Superman and the comic that arguably kicked off the entire industry of superhero comics in the first place.

While it's true that Action Comics #1 is among the most valuable comics of all time, it's not the one that has the highest sale price on record. In fact, it's #3. So what are the higher two? The answer may surprise you.

Superman #1

That's right; it's not the introduction of Superman, but instead the first issue of the first comic ever published with his name. Published in 1939, the 64-page book detailed many early exploits of the hero we now love so much.

This comic didn't sell at a public auction. Rather, it was sold to a private buyer through a brokered trade.

Superman 1

Before we tell you how much it sold for, though, we need to mention that this comic was exceptional in two ways. The first is the condition. Graded and slabbed at an exceptional 8.0 by CGC, it's an incredible specimen of a rare book.

The second is the pedigree. This isn't just any random copy of Superman #1. No, it's a piece of one of the few pedigree collections recognized by the grading agencies. Pedigree collections are usually large collections in great condition, with some noteworthy collector or story attached. This one was part of the Mile High pedigree collection, one of the most famous of the known pedigrees.

With two exceptional things going for it, what did this comic sell for? A whopping – and still unsurpassed -- $5.3 million dollars.

A previous copy of this book has an interesting history. First purchased at the newsstand for a mere ten cents, it was sold in 1979 for a shocking-at-the-time $1,000. That's a pretty big return on investment, but moreover, it sold again four decades later in 2019 for $2.6 million. 

Superman #1 is a rare book, though. Very few copies remain in decent condition, and the vast majority of the ones that exist are falling apart. If you have a high-quality copy of this lying around, you're sitting on gold.

Amazing Fantasy #15

We mentioned that there are two comics that have sold for higher numbers than the ever-famous Action Comics #1. The second one is this; the introduction of another beloved superhero, Spider-Man. This book sold for an incredible $3.6 million dollars back in 2021 and remains the world record for a comic sold at a public auction.

Amazing Fantasy 15

Unlike Superman #1, this isn't a pedigree copy of the book. It's noteworthy, however, for being one of just three known copies with a 9.6 grade, which is the highest out of any copies of this comic still known to exist. The others haven't sold as recently, but you can bet any high-grade copy of this sought-after issue is going to sell for quite a bit any time in the next few years.

Action Comics #1

It's no surprise to anyone that Action Comics #1 has a spot in the top ten most valuable comics of all time. In fact, it has several of the top spots, with several different copies selling for at-the-time record-setting numbers.

The current most recent sale and the record holder for this book is the "Rocket Copy" of Action Comics #1. It's called the Rocket Copy because the person who owned it as a child used a stamp to place a rocket on the cover in red ink. Graded at a 6.0, it's still one of the best condition copies of the book available, and it's noteworthy because of the mark, not despite it.

Interestingly, the most recent sale of the Rocket Copy included the original stamp used to make the rocket, as well. Did that contribute to it breaking the record? Maybe; it's hard to say. You'd have to ask the person who bought it.

Action Comics 1

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Sales of this book recently have included:

  • The Rocket Copy for $3.4 million.
  • An 8.5-grade copy that sold for $3.25 million in 2021.
  • A 9.0-grade copy that sold for $3.20 million in 2014.
  • An 8.5-grade copy that sold for $2.05 million in 2018.
  • A 9.0-grade copy that sold for $2.16 million in 2011.

As one of the more popular comics to sell for record-setting numbers, if you made a list of the top ten sales of all time, Action Comics #1 would make up most of the list.

Captain America #1

Captain America and his anti-Nazi stance is distressingly relevant to today's political climate, but even if some things never change, other things do, like the price of this book.

The previous record sale for this book was somewhere in the $900,000 range, pre-pandemic. The person who bought it decided to see if the spike in interest in collectibles driven by the pandemic would give them a return on their investment, and sure enough, it certainly did. In 2022, the same copy sold at auction for $3.1 million dollars.

And really, who would turn their nose up at a book depicting an icon of America punching out Adolf Hitler himself right on the cover?

Captain America 1

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The rapid inflation in the price of this book serves to showcase how immense the inflation in the world of comics has been in the last few years. The pandemic caused a ton of interest in all manner of collectibles, and comics, being some of the most visible and already-expensive collectibles on the planet, have seen one of the biggest surges. Before, a million-dollar sale was noteworthy news. Now, to even breach the top ten, you need to sell for at least two million.

Marvel Comics #1

These days, the Marvel name is a brand, not a line or a book. Marvel is everywhere, with thousands of series' and the movies that break records every time they're released. Who would have thought, way back in the late 30s, that almost a century later, the funny books telling tales of people with fantastic powers would be such an incredible and lucrative industry?

Back in 1939, Marvel Comics was just debuting, and this book is the one that started it all. The issue debuts the human torch (or, rather, the concept of the human torch; the one we know as Johnny Storm hadn't been dreamed up just yet) and Namor the Submariner, two still-famous heroes, and a couple of folks who didn't catch on, like the Masked Raider. 

Marvel Comics 1

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The record-setting copy of this book sold for $2.42 million back in 2022, but it, like many record books, wasn't your standard copy. This one has some markings on the cover, which, normally, would decrease the grade and value. In this case, though, they're annotations, a recording of what the writers and artists were paid for their work. As a piece of history, it's near-priceless, and it's surely the prized copy in someone's collection today.

The previous record-setting sale of this book was another pedigree book from the Windy City collection. It was an astonishingly high grade of 9.4 and sold in 2019 for a quaint $1.26 million.

Batman #1

Batman's debut as a character came in Detective Comics #27, but despite being almost as noteworthy as Action Comics #1, that's not the issue with Batman that has the record-setting value.

Batman 1

Batman #1 is the first issue of the first series starring Batman, and it's the introduction of two of his most famous villains, Joker and Catwoman. Graded at 9.4, the record sale for this book is $2.20 million dollars. Not bad, considering the guy who sold it originally bought it back in 1979 for $3,000. 

Interestingly, there haven't been many other high-price sales of this book. Maybe more will go up for auction soon – and maybe you have one of them?

Detective Comics #27

Batman's true debut in Detective Comics is, of course, one of the most noteworthy key issues of all time. This book has had a couple of million-dollar sales throughout the years, and it's a certainty that the next time a great copy goes up for auction, there will be another record, but for now, it's surprisingly far down on the list.

Detective Comics 27

Image source: Google Images

The two most recent million-dollar sales of this book were:

  • $1.07 million back in 2010, with an 8.0 grade copy.
  • $1.74 million in 2022, with a copy graded 6.5.

What a difference a decade makes! If that same 8.0 copy came to market today, you can be sure it would top two million and could push the record even higher. It likely wouldn't take the top spots from Superman, but it would give him a run for his money, as the two so often do in their stories as well.

All Star Comics #8

Another key issue, this book shows the Justice Society on the cover, but the true value is hidden inside: it's the first appearance of the beloved Wonder Woman. Though the heroine has gone through many changes over the decades, this introduction back in 1941 proves that female heroes have their place in the pantheon.

All Star Comics 8

Image source: Google Images

Only one copy of this book has broken the million-dollar mark at $1.62 million, which was a 9.4-graded copy that sold through Heritage Auctions back in 2022. The previous record was an eBay sale that just barely failed to reach the seventh figure and closed for $936,223 in 2017.

Fantastic Four #1

Few superhero groups have gone through more shifts over the years than the Fantastic Four. Sue Storm has gone from a damsel in distress to a powerhouse and back again, Mister Fantastic was one stymied by ropes and has sat as the super-genius head of the Illuminati, and everything in between. The Thing has gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk, and of course, the Human Torch isn't even the same Human Torch introduced in Marvel Comics #1.

Fantastic Four 1

Image source: Google Images

Only one copy of this book has sold for more than a million, and it hit $1.5 million last year in 2022. That copy was a 9.2 grade, and it's thought that only five copies exist with better grades out there in the world. 

Your Sales Here

Noteworthy comics come and go throughout the industry all the time. It's not always record-setting, but anyone with a high-grade or noteworthy copy of any of these comics can be assured they'll have a decent sale on their hands.

Noteworthy Comic Books

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No matter what you have in your collection, we'd love to talk to you about it. Whether you inherited a collection and need it appraised, you know what you have, but you want thoughts on how much it might sell for, or you just want to chat about what you have and what you could acquire, we're always available to talk. Just drop us a line, and we'll see what advice we can offer!

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