The Fantastic Four look set to live up to their name when more than 2,000 comics go up for auction on Tyneside tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Newcastle auction house of Anderson & Garland is anticipating some fantastic prices when it holds its second major comic sale of the year.
The last sale in February brought in around £40,000 as comics collectors bid for rare issues in what is an increasingly buoyant market.
In today’s sale, the first early 1960s comic to feature the Fantastic Four is set to fetch between £400 and £600, despite its worn condition.
But that is likely to be eclipsed by a 1962 X-men No 1 comic, which is estimated at £800-£1,400.
The comics are being sold by the widow of a collector who had kept the issues since boyhood.
Anderson & Garland auctioneer and comic expert, John Anderson, said: “The lady had heard about our previous comic sale and contacted us. When I got to her home, there were four smallish boxes on her kitchen table, fewer than I expected but they were special as gold dust.
“These are not normally the comics you come across unless you’re dealing with a knowledgeable collector. Comics from this period are usually heavily read and have been stored in a cupboard but some of the comics in this collection are in really good condition.
“Fantastic Four No 1, which came out in November 1961, is a key comic if you’re a Marvel collector.
“This is the one that kicked off the Marvel Universe of Superheroes. Although this is in poor condition, it is still expected to make £400-£600. Every collector wants a copy of Fantastic Four No 1.
“X-men is the best selling comic worldwide and we have the first ever issue. “
From the same collection are a No 1 of The Avengers, rated at £600-£900 and a Daredevil No 1 at £300-£500.
Recently, a copy of X-Men No 1 went for nearly a quarter of a million dollars because it came from a famous collection and was in mint condition.
Publicity about comic book heroes also helps and the recent spate of films featuring superheroes has helped to increase the value of the original comics. Both the Avengers and Iron Man have benefitted from this trend.
“Ironman was a relatively minor member of the Marvel stable but it was considerably boosted by the success of the film adaptations,” said John.
“These movies are considered to be some of the best cinematic adaptations of comics.”
A number of classic comics from Marvel rival DC, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Bat Man and Green Lantern are also in the sale.
Also for auction is a copy of Viz No 1 signed by brothers Chris and Simon Donald. It is estimated at £200-£350.
At the last auction 200 internet bidders registered and 60% of the sales were to people either bidding online or by telephone.
“This shows the way the market is moving, and we’re expecting a lot of interest,” said John.
A number of other Viz issues are being sold, alongside Giles cartoon albums, a collection of British horror comics from the 1950s and a huge set of science fiction magazines from the 1930s to the 1950s.
John said: “They have amazing futuristic cover artwork and there are some copies of Astounding Stories, which include very early work from pioneering authors like L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.
“He made his reputation through pioneering and influential novels and short stories in magazines like these.”
Anderson & Garland pioneered auctions of comics, starting 25 years ago.
Toys will also feature in the sale, including toy soldiers made by the William Britain, the most important name in the business.
They come from around 600 soldiers being sold by a Northumberland collector, some of which were owned by his father.
Also for sale are more than 10,000 toy soldiers and wargame figures from the estate of a Sunderland collector.