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New Watterson Calvin and Hobbes original up for auction

Heritage Auction has a third Bill Watterson Calvin and Hobbes original for auction. The current auction runs through May 15 with a current bidding at $16,000 for the strip that ran May 9, 1987. The two previous Calvin and Hobbes original strips to go up for auction fetched a combined $268,875 ($203,150 for a Sunday strip; $65,725 for a daily).

Looking at the image above (click to enlarge) it surprises me, given Bill’s attention to the craft, how faded the lettering and frames are. The description mentions “lettering and panel borders were laid down in fine-line marker.” I’ve seen some of his originals up close and don’t recall that much fading. Either the current owner hasn’t taken precautions against fading or Bill switched tools. Still, because of the rarity of his art, I suspect this will still fetch quite a bit of money.

Community Comments

#1 John Weber
@ 5:40 pm

Aaaaaand of course it’ll cost me more than everything I own. Do you take payment in souls?

#2 Joe Engesser
@ 11:41 am

Antics Road Show

#3 Fran Deppin
@ 3:27 pm

I gather Mr. Watterson receives nothing for what his work brings in. Just doesn’t seem right.

#4 Darrin Bell
@ 6:55 am

The “American Royalties Too Act” was hoping to mandate five percent royalties for the original artist, but the auction houses have been lobbying like crazy to defeat that.

#5 Mike Peterson
@ 3:10 am

The idea is Watterson’s and, thanks to Sonny Bono and Mickey Mouse, will remain his property roughly until the sun dies out enough that you won’t be able to see to read it anyway.
The piece of paper was his until he sold it or gave it away. It may, to a collector, have more value than the same cartoon printed in a book which was also sold or given away, but it’s still just a piece of paper.

Do you feel that every time a book of cartoons is sold on ebay or at a garage sale, the syndicate, the publisher and the artist should get another chunk of royalties?

Not how it works. Not how it could work.

#6 Terry LaBan
@ 7:43 am

I’m not sure what precautions you could take to keep marker from fading. Keeping art in the dark might slow the process, but won’t stop it. And if you’re going to pay tens of thousands of bucks for a piece of art, you probably don’t want to keep it in a closet. The lettering and panel borders are doomed. I’ll bet hardly anyone bidding actually knows that.

#7 Tom Richmond
@ 8:03 am

Just have your kids go over the letters with a Sharpie. Problem solved!

#8 Jeff Darcy
@ 1:04 pm

I’ve seen that kind of marker fade on other original comics strips and editorial cartoons. It doesn’t seem to happen when india ink was used instead.

#9 Mike Lester
@ 2:43 pm

For the younger cartoonists who frequent this site, you’re looking at two different inks: lettering and border is some type felt tip pen and light will always fade them over time. But I don’t know anybody who can draw w/ a straight edge (border) using a brush or a crow quill. The art’s drawn w/ permanent india ink using a brush and therein lies the magic.

One more thing: not all india ink is created equal. Some more permanent than others. Trial error. Good luck.

#10 Jeff Darcy
@ 7:30 pm

For years I used rapidograph pens filled with india ink. Being self taught, I never knew about brush and quill or how to use them. So I went from ball point to felt tip marker to rapidograph india ink filled pens

Whenever I saw work by a master in the craft with some flaws I thought it was kinda cool, in a good way. It made trying to make it in the profession seem less intimidating

In the 80’s there was a show of Mike Peter’s original editorial cartoons at the University of Dayton, where I was a student and aspiring cartoonist. I was so relieved when I saw work by a Pulitzer winning cartoonist with white-out and felt tip pen marker fade.

#11 Mark Hill
@ 4:49 pm

Agree with Mike Lester. The artwork is india ink while the borders and lettering are apparently simple felt tip pen, (from the late 80’s — before they made such things available with archival ink.) I have an original Bloom County…and the same thing has happened to the lettering on it, (while the artwork remains dark black.) I’ve had it for 12 years or so….and interestingly, the lettering was dark until a year or two ago.

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