Earlier this month, the sale of a Tintin drawing set the record for the most valuable black and white original comic drawing by illustrator Hergé.
The 1942 cover art for the Tintin in America comic book sold for $2.3 million at a Feb. 10 sale from Artcurial, a Paris-based auction house. The drawing was made for the 1942 cover of Tintin in America, the third volume in the Tintin series, which follows the adventures of a young reporter named Tintin accompanied by his dog Snowy. It was also reused for the 1946 color edition of the book, and has been in use since.
“This sale reinforces Hergé’s position as the leading artist in this specialist field,” said Eric Leroy, Artcurial’s comic strip expert, in an emailed statement. “The prices of his comic strips and drawings are now approaching the ones of contemporary artworks.”
Hergé, whose real name is Georges Prosper Remi, was a Belgian cartoonist who first created the The Adventures of Tintin series in the 1920s, which has 24 seperate books.
The cover art of these books are rare and the most valuable illustrations of the series, according to Leroy. “There are 62 pages in an album and only one cover,” he said.
In January 2021, Artcurial sold another Hergé drawing, this time a 1936 illustration which was rejected as the cover of The Blue Lotus, the fifth Tintin book. It was bought for $3.9 million, a record for the most valuable original comic strip work and an artist record for Hergé.
Meanwhile, the first published Tintin cover sold for $1.12 million in June 2019, in a sale by Heritage Auctions, a Dallas-based auction house. The illustration was for Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, the first in the Tintin series.
A growing market
Other European comic artists are also seeing their works reach high figures on the second market, said Leroy, who cited illustrators Albert Uderzo and Enki Bilal as contemporaries to Hergé. A strip from Uderzo’s Asterix comic series sold for $341,000 in a 2017 Sotheby’s auction, while one of Enki Bilal’s drawings was purchased for $177,000 in a 2007 auction, at the time breaking the auction record for most valuable original comic work.
The art market has increasingly seen a growing demand for comic art in the past few years — the ten most expensive comic auctions have all taken place in the past two years.
And Heritage Auctions saw more than $195 million in comic art sales in 2022, surpassing its $181 million worth of sales in 2021 which had marked a 117 increase from the year prior.
“This sale may of course encourage collectors to sell, but it also helps reinforce collectors to choose to buy artworks from this specialist field,” said Leroy.