One of the finest collections of comic original art, ranging from founding fathers of the medium to the best of the undergrounds, is going on the block at Heritage Auctions in April, as cartoonist, writer, publisher, packager, and agent Denis Kitchen parts with 275 pieces from the collection he's amassed over a lifetime.  The pieces are "…reminders of friendships and relationships, reminders of projects and the people I admired," Kitchen said of the collection.  "They're the works of artists I appreciate aesthetically.  I was just lucky to be in the position to know a fair number of them.”

A few of the key artists represented in the auction:

  • Al Capp
  • Will Eisner
  • Art Spiegelman
  • Bill Griffith
  • Ernie Bushmiller
  • MAD founders Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis
  • Robert Crumb
  • MAD artist Will Elder
  • Denis Kitchen’s own
  • Winsor McCay
  • Basil Wolverton
  • Milton Caniff
  • George Herriman
  • Chester Gould
  • Wally Wood
  • Chris Ware
  • Jaime Hernandez
  • Spain Rodriguez
  • Trina Robbins
  • Howard Cruse
  • Ivan Brunetti
  • Donald Simpson

Perhaps the piece that best represents Kitchen’s tastes and the worlds he brought together is the Will Eisner cover art for Snarf #3, published by Kitchen Sink Press.  It depicts Eisner’s 1940s masked crimebuster The Spirit bursting into an office filled with hippies producing underground comix.  The cover marked Eisner’s un-retirement from comics, and emergence into a period that produced what many believe is his most important work, the graphic novel A Contract with God.

"As a collector, Denis Kitchen was always in a uniquely envious position, as he’s been long respected and successful as a cartoonist, publisher, editor, writer, historian, exhibition curator, and agent to some of the all-time greats — and that list still leaves out some of his comic industry hats," Heritage Executive Vice President Todd Hignite said in a statement accompanying the announcement.  "The resulting range and depth of his collection is simply without peer.  The artwork we all dream about bringing to auction is immediately recognizable as the very best by a given artist and hasn’t ever been available on the market.”

Kitchen’s art collection will be offered in Heritage’s; April 4-7 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, which will also feature important items not from Kitchen’s collection, including an 8.5 Action Comics #1, and the original art from the Tales of Suspense #39 page in which Tony Stark becomes Iron Man for the first time.

Click Gallery below for full-size art from the Kitchen collection!