Of Auction Records and Non-Fungible Tokens: On the New Valences of Superhero Comics
1. Auction Records: Popularity and Validation
2. New Digital Valences: Non-Fungible Tokens
“Imagine owning a physical Fantastic Four #1 (1961) comic book (CGC 9.6 graded has fair market value over 6 million$), there comes the liability for you in proof of authenticity, dealing 6–12 month grading timeline with grading companies (CGC, CBCS etc), insurance and trivial tips for preserving. I bet you would be too afraid to take this amazing book out of your house in case ruining the potential million-dollar ‘paper’. It is even much more tricky when it comes to selling.
- Worldwide marketplace open 24/7, transactions are completed within milliseconds.
- They don’t degrade, saving you efforts in preserving.
- You can own thousands of comic books without storing them in several long boxes.
- Possible language toggle to allow owners to read comics in various languages, bringing comic collecting into a truly global market.
- They are officially licensed comic NFTs from IP holders with proof of authenticity and ownership.” (Howard 2022)
“allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token,’ and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one-of-a-kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.”
“Now having the most expensive poem ever sold is just an incredibly surreal feeling and I’m thrilled with how well Arcadia was received by everyone. I’m hoping this inspires other women and creatives to go after whatever it is they’re passionate about, nothing is too far out of reach.”23
“Comic book artists are claiming that this is depriving them of the ability to make money off of their original artwork like the two companies [Marvel und DC] have always allowed with their physical artwork, except that this is digital work and not physical, during an era where much of the art being made for comics no longer exists as pencils and ink on a page.”
“As DC examines the complexities of the NFT marketplace and we work on a reasonable and fair solution for all parties involved, including fans and collectors, please note that the offering for sale of any digital images featuring DC’s intellectual property with or without NFTs, whether rendered for DC’s publications or rendered outside the scope of one’s contractual engagement with DC, is not permitted.”
“The big comic book companies are sending letters to artists asking them not to sell their digital original art because they are copyrighted. They are asking nicely, you would say, so what is the problem? Well, they are also sending DMCA’s (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to the platforms to stop them from selling the art.
So, let me get this straight. If you are a traditional comic book artist you can sell your original art on paper. If you are a digital comic book artist you are not allowed to sell your digital original art. In both cases, there is no copyright involved. In both cases.
So WHY digital comic book artists are being deprived of their rights? Isn’t a pandemic destroying economies and making people losing their jobs bad enough?”28
3. Marvel and the Marketplace App VeVe
Conflicts of Interest
All originally German-language quotations were translated by the authors of this article. This article emerges from our research project (with Niels Werber) “The Serial Politics of Pop Aestehtics: Superhero Comics and Science Fiction Pulp Novels,” which is part of the Collaborative Research Center Transformations of the Popular, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).
For evolutionary readings of superhero history, see Lopes (2009); Stein (2021a). Perren and Steirer (2021, chp. 6) provide an evolutionary framework for understanding the development of the digital production, distribution, and reception of comic books, which begins with an experimental/pre-market phase before 2007, continues with a market-making phase between 2008 and 2011, enters a phase of consolidation from 2012 to 2014, and culminates in the still ongoing monopoly phase from 2014 onwards.
Key issues, or “keys,” are, for instance, “a #1 comic, a 1st appearance, death, or other significant event)” (Comic Spectrum.com 2018).
Astonishment at the monetary value of older comic books is not a recent phenomenon. On 6 December 1964, the New York Times printed the short article “Old Comic Books Soar in Value; Dime Paperbacks of 1940’s Are Now Collector Items” (New York Times 1964), which inspired similar reporting around the nation. However, the prices that the coveted 1940’s comics used to fetch in the 1960s were very moderate (between $2 and $25) compared to today’s auctions. For an in-depth discussion, see Stein (2021a).
See also Jules Feiffer’s comment: “Comic books, first of all, are junk. Junk is there to entertain on the basest, most compromised of levels. It finds the lowest fantasmal common denominator and proceeds from there. […] Junk is a second-class citizen of the arts; a status of which we and it are constantly aware. There are certain inherent privileges in second-class citizenship. Irresponsibility is one. Not being taken seriously is another” (Feiffer 1965, p. 186).
On questions of cultural value, or symbolic capital, in the field of US comics, see Beaty and Woo (2016, pp. 1–4), who argue that cultural value is not intrinsic to a comic but is assigned by reading communities aiming to define excellence or greatness. In the context of our argument, quantitatification is part of this endeavor even though it is not always recognized as such. The excellence of a popular, i.e., much noticed, bestselling, creator or comic takes on a different quality when readers are aware of this popularity. Popularity might even be cited as evidence of excellence—how could thousands or millions of readers who like a certain comic book be wrong about its worth?
Fortune Business Insights provided the following figures in January 2021: “The global comic book market is projected to grow from USD 9.21 billion in 2021 to USD 12.81 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 4.8% during the 2021–2028 period” (Fortune Business Insights 2022). The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed more than $25 billion since it was launched in 2008 (Clark 2022).
A total of approximately 600 million Superman comics were sold between 1938 and 2015 (Statista Research Department 2015).
Concerning the normative pejorative discourse around the concept of “mass culture,” for instance, in Dwight MacDonald’s “A Theory of Mass Culture” (MacDonald 1953), Thomas Hecken writes: “Mass culture is considered here above all as the lower than the bad culture. It is the negative foil of high culture […]. If one adheres to the influential art critic Clement Greenberg, the products of mass culture are the ‘kitsch’ that lags behind the ‘avant-garde’ of genuine art by a wide margin—as a poor and standardized copy” (Hecken 2010, p. 205).
See statements by Jack Kirby, the illustrator of the first Captain America issues in the early 1940s and later of the Fantastic Four and several other superhero comics, about the collaborative production process: “I believe we were professionals […] who had something to give to each other that culminated in a product worth selling. Joe [Simon] and I manufactured products worth selling. And they sold. They sold a lot.” And: “[A]t the time I really didn’t want to be a Leonardo da Vinci. I didn’t want to be a great artist, but I loved comics and wanted to be better than ten other guys” (Eisner 2001, pp. 197, 199). Kirby values comics as professional works but does not see them as art (yet). For detailed studies of the self-understanding of succeeding generations of comics artists, see Lopes (2009); Gabilliet (2010).
The problem of preservation in the case of early comic books is exacerbated by the fact that, in addition to the low paper quality with its tendency to fade and degrade fairly quickly, fans could not rely on the kind of collectors’ equipment that would have allowed them to store the comics in the best possible way. See also the advice offered in an article on “slabbing” on Comic Spectrum.com, which defines this term as “slang for getting a comic professionally graded and encased in an un-openable hard plastic shell from CGC, PGX, or CBCSthe” and suggests to the interested comics collector that, once a comic has been slabbed, “you never want to physically touch that book again. Any kind of handling could easily drop a grade” (Comic Spectrum.com 2018).
This includes voucher copies that did not even go on sale. Less-than-pristine copies can, of course, also fetch thousands of dollars, which means that even copies that show significant use can mark the discrepancy between their cheap original price and their current monetary value. However, the sale of such copies is not newsworthy enough for major news outlets to report on, which means that they do not quite serve as agents of second-order popularization as the highest-selling issues that are making the headlines.
The “classics” of the genre reappear in numerous anthologies and collected editions, and they can be purchased as digital issues directly from the publishers, via online bookstores, or as a bundle with thousands of other issues on a subscription basis (e.g., Marvel Unlimited). Many of the issues are also available on more or less legal websites. However, most of the paratexts that are relevant for collectors and for us as researchers are missing, including editorials, letters to the editor pages, publication announcements, and advertisements.
In the 1990s, when the major auction houses offered individual comics as well as entire comic book collections, so-called pedigree collections, i.e., collections of rare and very well-preserved comics, were also referred to as “blue chip comics” and thus marked as particularly valuable (Beaty 2012, pp. 163–67).
See also Reichert’s definition of NFTs as “digital certificates of ownership with tamper-proof record in the blockchain” (Reichert 2021, p. 8).
Ullrich’s comments on the 2021 raffle of works by British artist Damien Hirst, who added NFTs to 10,000 dotted original paintings and raffled them off for $2000 each, are also relevant. Over a period of one year, buyers could choose either the (material) painting or the (virtual) NFT (Ullrich 2022a, p. 12). Ullrich therefore speaks of two markets and maintains that we cannot foresee which one of them will prevail. In the meantime, the first findings on the decisions of the buyers are already available: “5149 people exchanged their NFT for a […] painting […] 4851 [NFT are] still in circulation.” See also Hitz (2022). On these developments, see also the following lecture by Wolfgang Ullrich in the context of the CRC 1472 Transformations of the Popular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z11HiNhSvnM (Ullrich 2022b, accessed on 30 October 2022).
Sotheby’s has its own platform for crypto art (Dieckvoss 2021); in September 2022, Christie’s launched “Christies 3.0 [a]s a fully on-chain auction platform dedicated to exceptional NFT-based art” (Christie’s.com 2023). The platform can be accessed at https://nft.christies.com/ (accessed on 8 February 2023).
The privileged position within art is also reflected in the fact that only a few can work full time as artists and be successful. Therefore, they often do not describe themselves as artists, as has already been shown in this article by the classification of comic actors as craftsmen.
Arch Hades mentions other artists, but again, the focus is on measurable success rather than artistic innovation and brilliance: “Then to have our work selected by the world’s leading art auction house for such a prestigious sale alongside titans like Doig and Hirst, is something I never thought was possible for me” (Steiner-Dicks 2021).
Arch Hades’s poetry can be categorized as an example of what Moritz Baßler labels “midcult.” See, for instance, Baßler’s observations on the most successful poetry collection in literary history, Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey (Kaur 2014). With a view to Kaur’s millions of Instagram followers and the discrepancy between literary-critical doubts about the quality of the poetry and the masses of anthemic lay reviews on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads, Baßler writes: “[S]ocial media and the interactive Web 2.0 are not only overriding professional gatekeeper functions on the reception side; something similar is already happening in production.” Kaur had initially published her poems on Instagram and found a publisher due to the attention she received there (Baßler 2021, pp. 132–49).
Conversely, one could argue that popular series and their aesthetics have always contributed to the legitimization and popularization of new media (Hagedorn 1988, pp. 4–12).
This struggle came to be known as “creators’ rights,” including coverage in The Comics Journal #137 (9/1990), which features interviews with Steve Bissette and Scott McCloud as two key representatives of this movement and reprints the transcript of a panel discussion titled “Creator vs. Corporate Ownership”.
Precisely because comic artists were generally not granted copyrights to their work for the major publishers until at least the 1990s, the sale of original drawings is considered an officially tolerated way of generating additional income, even though it involves protected content. This is also due to the fact that these drawings, as already noted, are not originals in any conventional sense but templates for an industrially shaped end product.
One solution to this problem is the time-consuming and labor-intensive creation of entirely new characters and content, as Rob Liefeld, known for his work for Image Comics, plans to do (Epps 2022). Where Liefeld envisions a whole new superhero universe, renowned comic book artist Alex Ross is invested in the establishment of “a permanent digital archive of [his] lifetime of work” (Colivingvalley.com 2021).
It is important to stress that we are not so much interested in market analysis or investigating Marvel’s digital business models than in the ways in which the app creates new possibilities for buying, trading, and collecting digital “originals” and how the aesthetics of the app as well as the discourses surrounding the introduction and promotion of superhero NFTs indicate the transformation from qualitative to quantative regimes of valuation, including a shift from the older high/low logic to a new popular/non-popular logic. For more on these changes, see Döring et al. (2021) as well as Werber et al. (2023). For an astute and well-researched history of comic book publishers’ evolving investment in the digital distribution of comics, see Perren and Steirer (2021, chp. 6). As these authors indicate, digital distribution—for instance, via subscription-based platforms such as DC Universe or Marvel Unlimitted—has not yet surpassed the print market, which continues to dominate the sale of superhero comics.
In a cryptowallet, the password-like keys to the blockchains of the respective owners are stored and thus make transactions possible.
Since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, this practice has changed (Spiegel Netzwelt 2022).
In the context of the FanDome (October 2021), DC made “selected” covers available free of charge for this period in cooperation with the Palm NFT Studio platform. Interested users had to register or be registered (on both platforms) to receive one (maximum two) random NFTs. Since mid-2022, DC has been trying to establish its “own marketplace,” also in cooperation with Palm NFT Studio (currently, however, this is still in the BETA phase). It is reasonable to assume that DC has made attempts in the context of FanDome to generate attention and gain users in advance, as well as to test the popularity or success of the NFTs first. Examples are (DC Universe 2023; Downing 2021; Ledger Insights 2022; Daz3D 2022).
Beyond VeVe, Marvel is also collaborating with NFT artists and creating its own comics with them (Marvel Entertainment 2022). In addition, Marvel is promoting other exclusive NFT offerings via the late Stan Lee’s account, which will be posthumously used by Marvel (Lee 2021) and BeyondLife.club and Orange Comet Launch Stan Lee’s Chakra The Invincible NFTs (BeyondLife.club 2022).
According to Reichert, the market is dominated by sports trading cards (Reichert 2021, p. 24). Sports trading cards and superhero comics have had a close relationship since at least the 1980s. Starting in the 1990s, the industry magazine Wizard reported on the cards and comics, among other things, as well as on movies and computer games (Beaty 2012, p. 168). The Italian company Panini is a good example, as it still publishes both comics and sports trading cards.
Usually, the market is closed 30 min before and after a drop so that the app can adjust to the traffic. However, with the constant software development, the time-out is more and more suspended, which could also refer to a decreased popularity of the app (VeVe 2023b).
It should be noted, however, that “public” by the act of registration refers to a public that is not open to everyone. In July 2022, VeVe also introduced KYC (Know Your Customer). This is a verification system designed to confirm the identity and address of users in order to protect them from “fraud, corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.” Only after verification are the app functions available to users (VeVe Digital Collectibles 2022b).
Kerkmann writes: “An NFT Drop refers to the release of an entire collection of unique trading cards, objects, or artwork. Usually, new NFT collections are announced with some lead time before they are finally minted and distributed to buyers. The term ‘minted’ refers to the process of transferring an NFT to a blockchain. A drop usually includes the entire collection of an art series or specific trading cards, but can also consist of just a single NFT” (Kerkmann 2022).
Ullrich touches on the topic of user behavior (with reference to game theory) on the online platform Discord: “They meticulously study their sheets to discover value-enhancing features. And, of course, they observe the price development.” The users thus become art (trade)/NFT experts (Ullrich 2022a, p. 12).
Far more pronounced forms of this gamification can be found on the U.S. platform Comic Vine (Comic Vine 2023), which describes itself as the “largest comic book wiki in the universe,” complete with forums, reviews, videos, podcasts, and much more. In addition to a comprehensive metrification system that ranks the most popular and most active contributors, one can acquire so-called “wiki points” and thus move up in the ranking (https://comicvine.gamespot.com, accessed on 8 February 2023). Non-digital versions of such practices can be found in comics as early as the mid-1960s. There, Marvel fans were ranked by the number of letters to the editor they sent to the publisher.
VeVe marks such an NFT comic with the respective era of its creation (Golden Age, Bronze Age, Silver Age, Modern Age).
The fact that the payment method is Gems not only reflects another form of gamification but also suggests a certain prestige (like claims to the cryptocurrency) as users exchange their regular money for valuable Gems. However, this line of thought is complicated by the fact that Gems and USD are equal in value.
The TV series Pawn Stars (History Channel, since 2009) contains several episodes in which the joyful financial expectations of owners of rare comics (e.g., Batman #1 from 1940) are disappointed, as the issues are in good but not outstanding condition (e.g., 5.5 out of 10.0 on the official scale) (Pawn Stars 2021a, 2021b). They still fetch prices in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, but they do not become the kinds of megasellers that will dominate headlines and produce popularity.
This classification system and its logic of artificial rarity can be usefully connected with the practice of “slabbing” superhero comic books. Slabbing means grading these comics according to their condition, which in conjunction with their popular appeal will ultimately determine their market value. Only rare and well-preserved (i.e., highly graded) comics can fetch large sums; well-preserved comics that are very common will not achieve any sensational prices. Moreover, the very act of slabbing a comic, and, in analogy, of assigning digital rarity, tends to increase the value of the product and may thus facilitate a rise in popularity. As the entry on slabbing on Comic Spectrum.com suggests, “High-grade slabbed books will frequently sell for multiples of what an unslabbed (also called ‘raw’) book will sell for” (Comic Spectrum.com 2018).
Here, classical era and genre designations (“classic cover,” “vintage,” “hero”) mix with terms from the fictional universe of comics (e.g., the magical metal “vibranium” from the Black Panther mythos). The labeling also recalls the paratextually mediated communication between producers and recipients (the readers referred to as “true believers” by Marvel editors on editorial and letters pages). See Marvel (2021).
This could lead to the question of whether these digital comics are actually read. However, VeVe has already integrated various measures into the app to address this question. For example, it is possible to read an NFT comic virtually in the “real” world using an eReader and the AR function. In addition, the showroom displays how much of the comic has already been read. Since VeVe also collects user data and shares it with partners, it can be assumed that Marvel may also receive such reading statistics (VeVe 2022).
Artists who have already provided artwork include Humberto Ramos, Steve McNihen, Mark Brooks, and Brian Stelfreeze.
Gamification can also be observed at this point, as this is very similar to the Loot Box principle in popular PC, console, and mobile games such as Overwatch, Star Wars: Battlefront II, or Marvel Puzzle Quest. Through virtual rewards or in-game purchases (again, there are often regular, rare to very rare boxes), players can obtain regular to very rare exclusive items, cards, or characters to advance in the gameplay or increase or expose the value of their account.
At the time of the first draft version of this article, common covers had a probability of 1 in 1.41, uncommon covers 1 in 6.02, and rare covers 1 in 13.11. For ultra rare, it was 1 in 31.05, and for secret rare, 1 in 59. These probabilities have changed somewhat in the meantime. Common is now available from 2.10, uncommon from 2.25, rare from 7.20, ultra rare from 15, and secret rare from 41.99.
Premium members of the app are able to track the hourly value price of NFTs (ECOMI Wiki 2023).
In the case of VeVe, however, developers and app users are already debating whether the NFT comics should “age” or even show signs of use through resale (Seedeejee 2021).
The financial risk that NFTs, in general, can entail is shown by the recent example of music artist Justin Bieber. He purchased a work from the Bored Ape Yacht Club series, which was popular at the time, for 1.3 million USD but whose value has since dropped drastically to $69,000. See Mok (2022); Frohn and Littman (2022); Daryanani (2022); Petereit (2022).
- Adelmann, Ralf. 2021. Listen und Rankings: Über Taxonomien des Populären. Bielefeld: Transcript. [Google Scholar]
- Ariel. 2022. NFT Marketplace Veve Collectibles Revenue Down 84% in 2022. Appfigures. October 28. Available online: https://appfigures.com/resources/insights/20221028?f=4 (accessed on 10 March 2023).
- Bachman, R. J. 2022. Inside the World of Comic Book Collecting. In AtticCapital. Available online: https://atticcapital.com/inside-the-world-of-comic-book-collecting/ (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Baßler, Moritz. 2021. Der Neue Midcult: Pop. Kultur und Kritik 18: 132–49. [Google Scholar]
- Beaty, Bart. 2012. Comics versus Art. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. [Google Scholar]
- Beaty, Bart, and Benjamin Woo. 2016. The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital in the Field of American Comic Books. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [Google Scholar]
- BeyondLife.club. 2022. BeyondLife.club and Orange Comet Launch Stan Lee’s Chakra: The Invincible NFTs. Available online: https://chakra.beyondlife.club/?fsz=orangecomet (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Bourdieu, Pierre. 1983. Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital. In Soziale Ungleichheiten (Soziale Welt Sonderband 2). Edited by Reinhard Kreckel. Göttingen: Verlag Otto Schwartz, pp. 183–98. [Google Scholar]
- Brahambhatt, Rupendra, and Langston Thomas. 2022. The Bat Cowl: What to Know about DC Comics’ Batman NFTs. nft now. October 10. Available online: https://nftnow.com/news/dc-comics-believes-batman-nft-drop-will-be-a-watershed-moment/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Brown, Abram. 2021. Beeple NFT Sells for $69.3 Million, Becoming Most-Expensive Ever. Forbes Media. March 11. Available online: https://www.forbes.com/sites/abrambrown/2021/03/11/beeple-art-sells-for-693-million-becoming-most-expensive-nft-ever/?sh=40ee69ac2448 (accessed on 16 April 2022).
- Brown, John Mason. 1948. The Case against the Comics. Saturday Review of Literature 20: 31–32. [Google Scholar]
- Chan, Stephanie. 2021. VeVe Collectibles Leads NFT Trading Space on Mobile with More than $100 Million in Consumer Spending. Sensor Tower. December. Available online: https://sensortower.com/blog/nft-app-consumer-spending (accessed on 10 March 2023).
- Christie’s.com. 2023. Digital Art & NFTs. Available online: https://www.christies.com/en/events/digital-art-and-nfts/overview (accessed on 18 June 2023).
- Clark, Travis. 2022. All 28 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies, Ranked by How Much Money They Made at the Global Box Office. Insider. May 16. Available online: https://www.businessinsider.com/marvel-movies-ranked-how-much-money-at-global-box-office-2021-11. (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Colivingvalley.com. 2021. Marvel and DC Comics Artist Alex Ross Launching Superhero NFTs. April 21. Available online: https://colivingvalley.com/blog/f/marvel-and-dc-comics-artist-alex-ross-launching-superhero-nfts?blogcategory=Digital+art (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Comic Spectrum.com. 2018. To Slab or Not to Slab? Available online: https://comicspectrum.com/slabbing-comics (accessed on 18 June 2023).
- Comic Vine. 2023. Available online: https://comicvine.gamespot.com (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Cronin, Brian. 2021. Marvel and DC Crack Down on NFTs Featuring Their Characters. CBR.com. April 16. Available online: https://www.cbr.com/marvel-dc-nft-crackdown/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Daryanani, Lavina. 2022. How Much is Justin Bieber’s $1.3 Million BAYC NFT Worth Today? watcher.guru. November 17. Available online: https://watcher.guru/news/how-much-is-justin-biebers-1-3-million-bayc-nft-worth-today?c=192 (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Daz3D. 2022. 200,000 Unique Bat Cowl NFTs, Inspired by DC’s Legendary Super Hero: Batman. In Daz3D. Available online: https://blog.daz3d.com/200000-unique-bat-cowl-nfts-inspired-by-dcs-legendary-super-hero-batman/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- DC. 2021. DC x Palm NFT FAQs. September 29. Available online: https://www.dccomics.com/blog/2021/09/29/dc-x-palm-nft-faqs (accessed on 20 November 2022).
- DC Universe. 2023. Available online: https://nft.dcuniverse.com/splash (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Dieckvoss, Stephanie. 2021. Kampf um die Vorherrschaft auf dem Markt für Kryptokunst. Handelsblatt. December 2. Available online: https://www.handelsblatt.com/arts_und_style/kunstmarkt/die-auktionshaeuser-und-non-fungible-token-kampf-um-die-vorherrschaft-auf-dem-markt-fuer-kryptokunst/27852140.html (accessed on 5 June 2022).
- Dieckvoss, Stephanie. 2022. Was die Käufer an der Kryptokunst fasziniert. Handelsblatt. January 27. Available online: https://www.handelsblatt.com/arts_und_style/kunstmarkt/non-fungible-token-auf-dem-kunstmarkt-was-die-kaeufer-an-der-kryptokunst-fasziniert/28011352.html (accessed on 5 June 2022).
- Downing, John. 2021. Introducing the DC FanDome Collection. Palm NFT Studio. October 7. Available online: https://palm.io/studio/how-to-claim-your-free-dc-fandome-nft/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Döring, Joerg, Niels Werber, Veronika Albrecht-Birkner, Carolin Gerlitz, Thomas Hecken, Johannes Paßmann, Jörgen Schäfer, Cornelius Schubert, Daniel Stein, and Jochen Venus. 2021. Was bei vielen Beachtung findet: Zu den Transformationen des Populären. Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 6: 1–24. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Dzhondzhorov, Dimitar. 2021. Marvel Enters The Crypto Space by Releasing Spider-Man NFTs. Cryptopotato. August 7. Available online: https://cryptopotato.com/marvel-enters-the-crypto-space-by-releasing-spider-man-nfts/ (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- ECOMI. 2020a. ECOMI Collect Is No More! Introducing…. Medium. January 27. Available online: https://medium.com/ecomi/ecomi-collect-is-no-more-introducing-c45ca55eb616 (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- ECOMI. 2020b. VeVe Is Officially Open to the Public! Medium. December 21. Available online: https://medium.com/ecomi/veve-is-officially-open-to-the-public-5dc159c07f1e (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- ECOMI Wiki. 2023. VeVe. Secondary Market Utils. ECOMI Wiki. Available online: https://ecomiwiki.com/veve/market (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Eisner, Will. 2001. Will Eisner’s Shop Talk. Milwaukie: Dark Horse Comics. [Google Scholar]
- Epps, Justin. 2022. Comic Creator Rob Liefeld Creates New Superhero Universe as NFT. Screen Rant. January 16. Available online: https://screenrant.com/comic-creator-rob-liefeld-nft-comic-superhero-universe/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Fadilpašić, Sead. 2020. Top 10 NFTs by All-time Trading Volume. Cryptonews. July 3. Available online: https://cryptonews.com/news/top-10-nfts-by-all-time-trading-volume-7018.htm (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Feiffer, Jules. 1965. The Great Comic Book Heroes. New York: Bonanza. [Google Scholar]
- Fortune Business Insights. 2022. Comic Book Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis. November. Available online: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/comic-book-market-103903 (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Frohn, Phillip, and Saskia Littman. 2022. FTX-Pleite vernichtet Milliarden. Wirtschaftswoche. November 12. Available online: https://www.wiwo.de/finanzen/geldanlage/die-krypto-kernschmelze-ftx-pleite-vernichtet-milliarden/28804520.html (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Gabilliet, Jean-Paul. 2010. Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. [Google Scholar]
- Gabilliet, Jean-Paul. 2016. Reading Facsimile Reproductions of Original Artwork: The Comics Fan as Connoisseur. Comics in Art/Art in Comics, Special Issue of Image [&] Narrative 17: 16–25. Available online: https://www.imageandnarrative.be/index.php/imagenarrative/article/view/1318 (accessed on 8 February 2023).
- Genette, Génette. 1997. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Translated by Jane E. Lewin. New York: Cambridge University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Gordon, Ian. 2013. Comics, Creators, and Copyright: On the Ownership of Serial Narratives by Multiple Authors. In A Companion to Media Authorship. Edited by Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 221–36. [Google Scholar]
- Haas, Laura Désirée. 2023. Wiederholung, Variation und Selektion: Serienevolution und Paratext am Beispiel von “Ms. Marvel”. Medienobservationen 27: 1–41. Available online: https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/19380 (accessed on 8 February 2023).
- Hagedorn, Roger. 1988. Technology and Economic Exploitation: The Serial as a Form of Narrative Presentation. Wide Angle 10: 4–12. [Google Scholar]
- Hecken, Thomas. 2006. Populäre Kultur: Mit Einem Anhang ‘Girl und Popkultur’. Bochum: Posth Verlag. [Google Scholar]
- Hecken, Thomas. 2010. Philosophie und Popkultur. Bochum: Posth Verlag. [Google Scholar]
- Hecken, Thomas. 2013. Pop-Ästhetik. Pop-Zeitschrift. November 24. Available online: https://pop-zeitschrift.de/2013/11/24/pop-asthetikvon-thomas-hecken24-11-2013-2/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Hitz, Julia. 2022. Damien Hirst verbrennt Kunst: Das NFT bleibt. Deutsche Welle. September 23. Available online: https://www.dw.com/de/damien-hirst-verbrennt-kunst-das-nft-bleibt/a-63215639 (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Howard, Dr. 2022. How Are VeVe Comic Book NFTs Changing the Collecting World. NFT News Today. October 17. Available online: https://nftnewstoday.com/2022/10/17/how-are-veve-comic-book-nfts-changing-the-collecting-world/ (accessed on 11 March 2023).
- Isaak, Joshua. 2022. Batman NFTs Officially Announced as DC Promises Relevance to Future Comics. Screen Rant. March 30. Available online: https://screenrant.com/batman-nft-official-announcement-dc-comics-future/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. New York: New York University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Kaur, Rupi. 2014. Milk and Honey. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel. [Google Scholar]
- Kelleter, Frank, ed. 2012. Populäre Serialität: Narration—Evolution—Distinktion. Zum seriellen Erzählen seit dem 19. Jahrhundert. Bielefeld: Transcript. [Google Scholar]
- Kelleter, Frank, ed. 2017. Media of Serial Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Kerkmann, Jens. 2022. NFT Drops—So erkennst du die besten Drops. Blockchainwelt. August 9. Available online: https://blockchainwelt.de/was-sind-nfts/nft-drops/ (accessed on 19 September 2022).
- Koenigsdorff, Simon. 2022. Warum Kunst nicht ohne Original geht. Stuttgarter Nachrichten. December 1. Available online: https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.nft-auktion-warum-kunst-nicht-ohne-original-geht.8a357476-065f-4c33-91b9-d509c5484b38.html (accessed on 5 June 2022).
- LA Times. 2021. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a stratospheric $3.25-million Record Sale of Rare Superman Comic. April 7. Available online: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2021-04-07/rare-superman-comic-sells-record-price (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Ledger Insights. 2022. DC Comics Launches Standalone NFT Marketplace. Ledger Insights. June 3. Available online: https://www.ledgerinsights.com/dc-comics-launches-standalone-nft-marketplace/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Lee, Stan. 2021. Twitter Web App. December 14. Available online: https://twitter.com/TheRealStanLee/status/1470750431643058181?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Lopes, Paul. 2009. Demanding Respect: The Evolution of the American Comic Book. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Lyons, Kim. 2021. DC Will Give away Free Superhero NFTs to People Who Register for Its FanDome Event. The Verge. October 2. Available online: https://www.theverge.com/2021/10/2/22705818/dc-free-superhero-nfts-register-fandome-event (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- MacDonald, Dwight. 1953. A Theory of Mass Culture. Diogenes 1: 1–17. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Mannweiler, Antonia, and Dennis Kremer. 2022. NFTs—Spiel, Hype oder gigantisches Schneeballsystem. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. April 12. Available online: https://www.faz.net/podcasts/f-a-z-finanzen-immobilien/f-a-z-podcast-finanzen-sind-nfts-eine-gute-geldanlage-17954316.html (accessed on 16 April 2022).
- Marvel. 2021. First-Ever Marvel Digital Comic Collectibles Arrive on VeVe. Marvel. August 18. Available online: https://www.marvel.com/articles/gear/first-ever-marvel-digital-comic-collectibles-nft-veve (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Marvel Entertainment. 2022. Twitter Web App. April 9. Available online: https://twitter.com/marvel/status/1512603710525947906?s=21&t=zq93S1HvjROClSsT2ZCpiw (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Meier, Philipp. 2021. Die Kryptomanie hat die Kunst erfasst—und reisst die Preise in den Himmel. Neue Züricher Zeitung. May 21. Available online: https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/nft-kunst-die-krytomanie-erfasst-auch-die-kunst-worum-gehts-ld.1614348 (accessed on 5 June 2022).
- Mok, Aaron. 2022. Justin Bieber Bought a Bored Ape NFT in January for $1.3 Million That’s Likely Worth about $70,000 in the Wake of the FTX collapse. Businessinsider. November 17. Available online: https://www.businessinsider.com/justin-bieber-bored-ape-nft-value-dropped-after-ftx-collapsed-2022-11 (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- New York Times. 1964. Old Comic Books Soar in Value; Dime Paperbacks of 1940’s Are Now Collector Items. New York Times, December 6. [Google Scholar]
- OpenSea. 2023. Collection Stats. Available online: https://opensea.io/rankings (accessed on 8 February 2023).
- Patel, Vimal. 2022. First Issue of Captain America Comic Book Fetches $3.1 Million at Auction. New York Times. April 8. Available online: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/08/arts/captain-america-comic-book-auction.html (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Pawn Stars. 2021a. INSANE MONEY for Rare Batman #1 Comic (Season 17). YouTube. October 26. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCOGwm9L4b4 (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Pawn Stars. 2021b. AMAZING RARE First Edition of Amazing Spider-Man (Season 5). YouTube. October 26. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si7Zkd38-5Y (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Perren, Alisa, and Gregory Steirer. 2021. The American Comic Book Industry and Hollywood. London: BFI. [Google Scholar]
- Petereit, Dieter. 2022. Millionenverlust für Justin Bieber: Bored-Apes-NFT stürzt ab. t3n. November 24. Available online: https://t3n.de/news/bored-apes-so-stark-sind-die-nfts-der-celebrities-abgeschmiert-1514380/ (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Porterfield, Carlie. 2022. First ‘Fantastic Four’ Comic Sells For $1.5 Million. Forbes Media. April 8. Available online: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2022/04/08/first-fantastic-four-comic-sells-for-15-million/?sh=561256df634c (accessed on 14 November 2022).
- Rauscher, Andreas, Daniel Stein, and Jan-Noël Thon, eds. 2021. Comics and Videogames: From Hybrid Medialities to Transmedia Extensions. Abingdon: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Reichert, Kolja. 2021. Krypto-Kunst NFTs und digitales Eigentum. Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach. [Google Scholar]
- Reyburn, Scott. 2021. JPG File Sells for $69 Million, as ‘NFT Mania’ Gathers Pace. New York Times. March 11 (updated 25 March 2021). Available online: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/11/arts/design/nft-auction-christies-beeple.html (accessed on 16 April 2022).
- Roe, Mike. 2014. You Can Read a Pristine $3.2 Million Copy of Action Comics #1 Online. Southern California Public Radio. October 25. Available online: https://archive.kpcc.org/blogs/newmedia/2014/10/25/17472/you-can-read-a-pristine-3-2-million-copy-of-action/ (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Rosenberger, Patrick. 2018. Bitcoin und Blockchain: Vom Scheitern einer Ideologie und dem Erfolg einer revolutionären Technik. Berlin: Springer. [Google Scholar]
- Schaffrick, Matthias. 2016. Listen als populäre Paradigmen: Zur Unterscheidung von Pop und Populärkultur. KulturPoetik 16: 109–25. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Seedeejee. 2021. So Apparently Our VeVe Comics Will Age! Reddit. Available online: https://www.reddit.com/r/VeVeCollectables/comments/px338y/so_apparently_our_veve_comics_will_age_at_least/ (accessed on 20 January 2023).
- Simons, Baya. 2022. Arch Hades, the $525,000 Poem and the New Meta Verse. Financial Times Limited. September 22. Available online: https://www.ft.com/content/89412834-e421-4cf7-bcce-741d51247bc0 (accessed on 26 September 2022).
- Spiegel Netzwelt. 2022. Twitter pausiert neue Blue-Bestellungen. November 12. Available online: https://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/twitter-pausiert-neue-blue-bestellungen-nach-authentifizierungs-chaos-a-82609ea1-aeb4-40b1-a469-9d0da3ab1e77 (accessed on 20 November 2022).
- Spiegel Panorama. 2022. “Captain America”-Comic für 3,1 Millionen Dollar versteigert. April 8. Available online: https://www.spiegel.de/panorama/captain-america-comic-fuer-3-1-millionen-dollar-versteigert-a-977cb762-bfc3-4e3d-80cc-449bd1b5e375 (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Statista Research Department. 2015. Best-Selling Comic Books of All Time Worldwide as of February 2015. Statista. February 25. Available online: https://www.statista.com/statistics/583041/best-selling-comic-books/ (accessed on 17 November 2022).
- Stäheli, Urs. 2013. Spectacular Speculation: Thrills, the Economy, and Popular Discourse. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Stein, Daniel. 2021a. Authorizing Superhero Comics: On the Evolution of a Popular Serial Genre. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Stein, Daniel. 2021b. Der Comic, das Archiv und das Populäre: Ein Erklärungsversuch. In Comics & Archive. Edited by Felix Giesa and Anna Stemmann. Berlin: Christian A. Bachmann Verlag, pp. 15–70. [Google Scholar]
- Steiner-Dicks, Katherine. 2021. A British Poet Has Made History after Selling a Single Poem for More Than Half a Million Dollars at a New York Auction. The Freelance Informer. November 14. Available online: https://www.freelanceinformer.com/news/british-freelance-poet-sells-poem-for-525k/ (accessed on 28 October 2022).
- Steirer, Gregory. 2014. No More Bags and Boards: Collecting Culture and the Digital Comics Marketplace. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 5: 455–69. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Stevens, J. Richard, and Christopher Edward Bell. 2012. Do Fans Own Digital Comic Books? Examining the Copyright and Intellectual Property Attitudes of Comic Book Fans. International Journal of Communication 6: 751–72. [Google Scholar]
- Stuttgarter Nachrichten. 2022. Instagram startet Testlauf mit NFT. May 10. Available online: https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.krypto-kunst-instagram-startet-testlauf-mit-nft.2bd775cc-d083-4d7a-be6f-2357e98efdda.html (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Tonelli, Emily. 2022. How Blockchain Archives Can Change How We Record History in Wartime. cointelegraph. December 5. Available online: https://cointelegraph.com/news/how-blockchain-archives-can-change-how-we-record-history-in-wartime (accessed on 21 November 2022).
- Twitter Blue. 2022. You Asked (a lot), so We Made It: Now Rolling Out in Labs: NFT Profile Pictures on iOS. Twitter Web App. January 20. Available online: https://twitter.com/twitterblue/status/1484226494708662273 (accessed on 18 November 2022).
- Ullrich, Wolfgang. 2022a. Die “Gamification” der Kunst. Pop. Kultur und Kritik 20: 10–18. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ullrich, Wolfgang. 2022b. Art goes Pop: Über Transformationen der bildenden Kunst. Kulturhaus Lÿz. YouTube. April 21. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z11HiNhSvnM (accessed on 30 October 2022).
- VeVe. 2021. VeVe Master Collector Program v1.0. Medium. December 23. Available online: https://medium.com/veve-collectibles/veve-master-collector-program-v1-0-e93df8427f07 (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- VeVe. 2023a. Trading Outside of the VeVe App. VeVe. Available online: https://help.veve.me/trading-outside-of-the-veve-app (accessed on 8 February 2023).
- VeVe. 2023b. What Happens to the Market During a Drop? VeVe. Available online: https://help.veve.me/what-happens-to-the-market-during-a-drop (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- VeVe Collectables. 2022. Is It Still Worth Getting into Veve? Thread. Reddit. Available online: https://www.reddit.com/r/VeVeCollectables/comments/u0q6rc/is_it_still_worth_getting_into_veve/ (accessed on 10 March 2023).
- VeVe Digital Collectibles. 2022a. Introducing VeVe Artworks. Medium. August 16. Available online: https://medium.com/veve-collectibles/introducing-veve-artworks-1c6e39e34e10 (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- VeVe Digital Collectibles. 2022b. KYC: What You Need to Know. Medium. June 25. Available online: https://medium.com/veve-collectibles/kyc-what-you-need-to-know-850b8501db5c (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- VeVe Digital Collectibles. 2022c. Marvel Artworks: Adam Kubert—Wolverine #107. Medium. September 5. Available online: https://medium.com/veve-collectibles/marvel-artworks-adam-kubert-wolverine-107-f75ce710c6bf (accessed on 26 January 2023).
- Vogel, Evelyn. 2022. Deutschlands größte Eventreihe zu Kryptokunst. Süddeutsche Zeitung. May 4. Available online: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/muenchen-nft-kryptokunst-ausstellung-mai-2022-1.5576891 (accessed on 5 June 2022).
- Weiner, Chloee. 2021. Beeple JPG File Sells For $69 Million, Setting Crypto Art Record. NPR Online. November 3. Available online: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/11/976141522/beeple-jpg-file-sells-for-69-million-setting-crypto-art-record (accessed on 16 April 2022).
- Werber, Niels, Daniel Stein, Jörg Döring, Veronika Albrecht-Birkner, Carolin Gerlitz, Thomas Hecken, Johannes Paßmann, Jörgen Schäfer, Cornelius Schubert, and Jochen Venus. 2023. Getting Noticed by Many: On the Transformations of the Popular. Arts 12: 39. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Wertham, Fredric. 1998. Such Trivia as Comic Books. In The Children’s Culture Reader. Edited by Henry Jenkins. New York: New York University Press, pp. 486–92. First published 1953. [Google Scholar]
- Wertham, Fredric. 1954. Seduction of the Innocent. New York: Rinehart & Company. [Google Scholar]
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.
© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Stein, D.; Haas, L.D.; Deckbar, A. Of Auction Records and Non-Fungible Tokens: On the New Valences of Superhero Comics. Arts 2023, 12, 131. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12040131
Stein D, Haas LD, Deckbar A. Of Auction Records and Non-Fungible Tokens: On the New Valences of Superhero Comics. Arts. 2023; 12(4):131. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12040131Chicago/Turabian Style
Stein, Daniel, Laura Désirée Haas, and Anne Deckbar. 2023. "Of Auction Records and Non-Fungible Tokens: On the New Valences of Superhero Comics" Arts 12, no. 4: 131. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12040131