Curt Swan’s original cover art for Action Comics #309 will land at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles in November 2013 just in time for the 50th anniversary of the iconic piece’s original publication. In addition to Superman, the original cover art features Lois Lane, Perry White, Supergirl, Batman, Robin, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Saturn Girl, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Police Chief Parker, and Lori Lemaris.
The piece also features Clark Kent seemingly standing right in front of Superman, the story’s great mystery and the issue’s compelling tie to one of the saddest moments in our nation’s history.
Cover dated February 1964, the issue hit stands in November 1963 the week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That sad event unintentionally tied into the more celebratory lead story in Action Comics #309 when Superman revealed his secret identity to President Kennedy in order for JFK to impersonate Clark Kent and help Superman maintain his façade. The issue was too far along in the distribution channel for DC Comics to recall following the President’s death.
“As striking as this piece is to look at online, it’s even more impressive in person. It features so many characters depicted in bold, strong, clean line work. At this time in our culture, the word ‘classic’ is certainly suffering from overuse, but this is classic Curt Swan,” said Alex Winter, General Manager of Hake’s Americana & Collectibles. “This piece has been privately held for more than 40 years by the same consignor who placed Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #95 in Hake’s Auction #208, in which it sold for more than $95,000.”
While he broke in working on other characters for DC Comics, Curt Swan’s work defined Superman for many fans in the Silver Age. Beginning with Superman #51 (1948) and Superboy #5 (1949), his association with the character spanned decades, hundreds of covers, and thousands of story pages.
During his tenure, Swan’s Superman became the company’s definitive model of the character. His crisp, clean art was infused with a subtle yet distinctive sense of nobility that deliberately embodied the familiar phrase “truth, justice and the American way.”
His work on the Man of Steel was featured in Action Comics, Superman, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, and Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, among other publications, as well as the Superman newspaper strip. He also illustrated the adventures of Superboy in Adventure Comics. There were many highlights to his work. In Superman #199, writer Jim Shooter and Swan created what would become an oft-repeated, fan-favorite event with their story "Superman's Race With the Flash!" and in 1986 he illustrated Alan Moore’s acclaimed tale "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" in Superman #423. His last work, published posthumously, was a five-page contribution to the 1996 special Superman: The Wedding Album.
“We are very happy to be able to offer this piece to Superman collectors and particularly to fans of Curt Swan. At the peak of his career – which was more like a long, wonderful plateau rather than peak – even the appearances of Superman he didn’t illustrate were distinctly influenced by his work. This particular piece, packed with a full roster of familiar characters, features truly distinctive art by this master,” Winter said.