Neal Adams’ Green Lantern/Green Arrow # 76 Cover Sells For Over $440,000
Last weekend, Heritage’s latest comic auction came to an end, and the big ticket item was the cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow # 76. According to Heritage’s website, the final total for the cover was $442,150. That’s truly impressive, but not a record.
Green Lantern/Green Arrow # 76 was the beginning of writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams’ run on the title in 1970, which featured more socially relevant stories than had previously been attempted. This is also considered to be one of the most famous covers of the Silver Age of comics.
The cover itself was drawn by Adams, who has frequently voiced his objections to the sale of artwork from this period because the original pages were not returned to the artists. Instead, they ended up in the hands of staffers or private collectors, and Adams has characterized his art from that time as “stolen.” During the Bronze Age of comics, publishers finally began returning pages to the artists.
This auction is particularly unusual in that the seller and Heritage reached an accord with Adams to endorse the sale in exchange for a percentage of the final price. The comic book charity, The Hero Initiative will also receive a portion of this sale.
As noted in a column on iCv2, Adams released the following statement about the auction: “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me. This sharing of profit with the creator, of the sale of artwork produced back in those days when ownership has ever been in question, will in this case and may in all cases go far in bringing underground artwork into the light of a fair and open marketplace.”
The writer of the iCv2 column, Rob Salkowitz added this thought: “Considering how much Silver Age original artwork falls into this gray area, it would be very interesting if this arrangement set a precedent.”
Legally, the current owners of these Silver Age comic art pages probably aren’t obligated to make these arrangements. But Adams had the advantage of being very vocal about the situation, and unlike some of his famous contemporaries, Adams is still alive to do so. His endorsement carried weight that another artist, or the family of a deceased artist may not be able to match.
But as Salkowitz noted, this was a particularly “ethical’ comic art auction. And that in of itself could be a positive step going forward.