Wolverine's First Comic Book Appearance Art to Be Auctioned

Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel's original artwork for the final page of "The Incredible Hulk" No. 180, featuring the debut of the Marvel superhero, will go on sale later this year.
Courtesy of Herb Trimpe/Heritage Auctions

Over the last 40 years, Wolverine has become famous for being the best there is at what he does -- whether that's being a member of the X-Men and the Avengers or appearing in a number of comic book series, animated shows or movies both as a team player and solo star -- and he's arguably the most successful superhero to appear since Spider-Man a decade earlier. And now, the original artwork for the very first appearance of Marvel Entertainment's Wolverine is for sale.

The character made his first appearance on the last page of The Incredible Hulk No. 180, and the original art for that page by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel will be one of a number of items auctioned by Heritage Auctions later this year in Dallas.

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The artwork was given to a teenage comic fan by Trimpe in 1983, and it was held in private ownership for more than three decades. "This is indisputably one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever surface," said Todd Hignite, vp of Heritage Auctions. "Up until the day I actually saw it and held it in my hands, I had a hard time believing it even really existed. Since the consignor isn't a collector, and therefore unknown to everyone in the hobby, it just wasn't even known for sure this survived."

Hignite added that Heritage Auctions was "anticipating a tidal wave-sized surge of interest in this piece, not only from all of the top comic art collectors, but from bidders all over the spectrum swept away by this piece's unparalleled importance to both Marvel Comics and pop culture history."

To date, the most expensive piece of American comic art is the cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 328, drawn by superstar artist Todd McFarlane, which sold for $675,250 in 2012. A year later, the cover to the second issue of The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller sold for $478,000.

While Trimpe may lack the fan following of either of these artists, it would be surprising if the first appearance of such a popular character as Wolverine sold for a considerably lower sum. Who knows? Perhaps Hugh Jackman's comic book alter ego could also prove to be the best there is at setting auction records.