Thursday, August 27, 2009

Al Franken penned (and signed) Megaton Man comic art readies for November comics auction

Aug. 27, 2009
Posted by Noah

For the second day in a row I find myself in the political realm, though today it is of a different stripe. If Al Franken is not your thing - and I know there are many that feel that way - then please forgive me. This is strictly a non-partisan lot that I am writing about, and the proceeds are for a good cause.

It's a safe bet that when the original artwork for an introduction to the 2005 re-print of Don Simpson's classic Megaton Man, written by then-comedian-now-senator Al Franken, comes on the block as part of a Nov. 19-20 Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction at Heritage Auction Galleries, it will be the first time in the history of the nation that the comic book work of a sitting U.S. Senator will be up for auction.

"This is the only time something like this has happened," said Todd Hignite, Consignment Director at Heritage, "which makes it pretty special in the first place, but Franken also waived any fee for the work on the condition that it would be auctioned with all proceeds going to benefit the USO, his favorite charity, the non-profit organization responsible for entertaining American troops."

When Franken was asked by Simpson to write the introduction to the 2005 Megaton Man re-print, which Simpson then sketched, any political aspirations Franken may have been harboring were a closely guarded secret. In this instance, as shown by Franken's signature wry humor, his only agenda was creating something funny and appropriate to Simpson's oafish, endearing character. It is interesting to note, however, that it was shortly after he penned this introduction that he announced his bid for the Minnesota senate seat.

Now, flash forward four years, two election cycles, a six-month court battle and a recount in Minnesota, and Franken is the sitting junior U.S. Senator from Minnesota, has sat on the judiciary panel that helped elect the Supreme Court's first Hispanic and third female justice and is continuing to make history by being the first Senator to be associated with the auctioning-for-charity of original comic art.

"I don't know if this particular instance will end up on the list of monumental achievements in Franken's biography," said Hignite," but you gotta admit it's pretty neat."

The lot consists of five distinct originals, all signed by both Franken and Simpson. The artwork is vintage Simpson, and his caricature of Franken is dead-on. Originally the artwork was supposed to be auctioned off soon after its creation, in 2005, but the process lapsed and, as Franken announced he was running for national office, the consignor decided to put any pending auction further on hold. Four years later, and with Franken's national status considerably elevated, the decision to wait has proved fortuitous. Heritage has guaranteed, in line with Franken's wishes, that 100% of the proceeds from the auction of this artwork will be donated to the USO, including the BP.

"This material would have a fairly wide appeal in normal circumstances," said Hignite. "Now, however, we would expect that appeal to be much stronger and much wider than it was."

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-Noah Fleisher

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