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Oldest Existing Superman Artwork Going Under the Hammer

Artwork believed to be the oldest Superman art still in existence is being sold off as part of Heritage Auction's February Vintage Comics Signature Auction.

Action Comics Auction Cover - P 2014
Courtesy of Fred Guardineer/DC Entertainment

The original art for the cover to 1939's Action Comics #15 -- only the fifth time Superman had appeared on any comic book cover during his then-brief existence and believed to be the earliest remaining piece of original artwork featuring the character -- is up for sale. But don't go measuring for frames just yet -- it's already passed $50,000 at auction.

The cover, by Fred Guardineer -- a little-remembered cartoonist and illustrator from the Golden Age of comics who created the magician, Zatara, for Action Comics #1 -- features the Man of Steel holding up a submarine underwater, much to the surprise of the submarine's fedora-sporting occupant. It's currently available for online bidding through February 20, with the current bid, as of now, standing at $60,000.

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"Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence," said Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage Auctions, which is handling the piece. Jaster described the cover -- which is expected to pass $200,000 before being sold -- as "a blockbuster piece of early American comic art history and a fitting companion to the landmark finds in this auction."

Other pieces available in the company's Vintage Comics Signature Auction, being held in New York between February 20 and 22, include original Avengers art by John Buscema, Thor artwork by Jack Kirby and a rare page from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson.