February 26, 2009 / 5:58 PM / 10 years ago

Rare Superman comic to be auctioned online

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A rare copy of the first Superman comic will be put up for auction online on Friday and bids could soar as high as the “man of steel,” experts say.

A rare copy of Action Comics #1 is seen in a handout photo from Metropolis Comics. Action Comics #1," published in June 1938, is considered by collectible experts to be the world's most valuable comic book and is valued at about $126,000. REUTERS/Metropolis Comics/Handout

“Action Comics #1,” published in June 1938, is considered by collectible experts to be the world’s most valuable comic book and is valued at about $126,000.

“It’s the Holy Grail of comic books,” said comic expert Stephen Fishler, who created the 10-point grading scale that has become the industry standard for evaluating comic books.

“This is the one that started it all. There was no such thing as a super hero before it. No flying man. Comics weren’t even that popular. It’s the single most important event in comic book history,” he said.

Fishler, founder of New York’s Metropolis Collectibles, will manage the auction of the comic — created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster — at www.comicconnect.com. The auction of “Action Comics #1” begins on Friday and concludes on March 13.

The unidentified seller bought the comic in 1950 when he was 9 years old after begging his father for 35 cents.

“Lots of kids bought comic books in the ‘50s, but almost all of them eventually tossed them out,” said Fishler. “This guy understood its value and took good care of it — that almost never happens either.”

Fishler’s business partner Vincent Zurzolo said he expected strong bidding for the comic despite the tough economic times.

“While the real estate market and stock market keep falling, comic book sales remain very strong,” Zurzolo said.

“Some people are taking their money out of low-interest bank accounts and underperforming stocks and investing in hard assets like comics, coins, and other collectibles. A hard asset is an appealing alternative to a soft stock market,” he said.

Some well-known Superman fans include comedian Jerry Seinfeld, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal and actor Nicolas Cage, who named his son Kal-el — the birth name of Superman.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Patricia Reaney

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