Speculative bubble forming on market for comic art



A speculative bubble appears to be forming on the market for original plates of comic art. True, none of the comics sold so far this year have beaten the record price fetched by plate no. 12 of Marsupilami’s nest by André Franquin, but prices are still rising. Up 62% on the end of 2001, the market has never been so bullish. Prices rose sharply between 1992 and 1994, recording a cumulative increase of 72%, but this bull run ran out of steam almost as quickly as it took shape and by 1998 prices had dropped back to below 1992 levels. Today, however, comic art is enjoying a real renaissance.

Auctions in this segment are usually held in either New York or Paris. The first took place in the 1980s, when the market was dominated by Hergé. The record price fetched at auction by a work by Hergé was recorded in Paris in 1999, when a two-page original plate from King Ottakar’s Sceptre was sold. But prices have since collapsed, including the price of works by André FRANQUIN , which after rising ten fold between 1997 and 2001 dropped back by 72% in the first half of this year. On this rapidly rising and still developing market, however, prices are inevitably volatile and subject to speculation.


Works by artists with well-established reputations fetch the highest prices. The most sought-after and expensive works are those by classic artists such as Hergé, André FRANQUIN, Walt KELLY, Carl BARKS, Frank FRAZETTA, George HARRIMAN, Albert UDERZO,… But some extremely attractive artworks can still be snapped up for less than EUR 2,000. Below the EUR 2,000 mark, the choice of works is huge: more than 85% of original plates and drawings sold at auction fall into this price bracket.
In France, EUR 1,00 will buy a portrait of Asterix, while illustrations of the Smurfs often sell at auction for less than EUR 500. Even a portrait of Tintin can still be bought for less than EUR 1,000 in France, although in the US, icons such as Snoopy, Krazy Kat and Tarzan fall into higher price brackets. Even so, comic art can bring investors immense pleasure without the need to spend a fortune.

On 19 October, fans of the ninth art will have the opportunity to bid for numerous original plates at Jean-Pierre Besch, an auction house in Cannes.