Original art from Wolverine's debut heads to auction

Long believed lost, the original page from 1974's The Incredible Hulk #180 featuring the first appearance of Wolverine will be auctioned in May to benefit The Hero Initiative.

The Associated Press reports that Heritage Auctions was contacted by the owner, who said he has had the page since 1983, when it was given to him by artist Herb Trimpe. The auction house describes it as "one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever appear on the market."

According to Heritage's Todd Hignite, as a teenager the comic collector and his family had visited the artist, hoping to get Trimpe to sign some issues he'd drawn. As they were about to leave, Trimpe ran to his studio and brought back the page, which Hignite describes as being in pristine condition. It's signed "Ben — Best Wishes Herb Trimpe."

"I went out and met with the owner and it wasn't until I was there and actually saw it that I fully believed it," Hignite said. "It's a pretty amazing thing."

The issue, written by Len Wein and penciled by Trimpe, introduces Wolverine in the final panel of the final page. His full debut came with The Incredible Hulk #181, cover-dated November 1974.

A majority of the after-tax proceeds from the May 16 will be given to The Hero Initiative, which provides financial support to creators in need.

"Because Wolverine was introduced in the final panel of the final page of Hulk #180, that has become one of the holy grail pages from any 1970s comic book," Roy Thomas, who as editor-in-chief of Marvel at the time, said in a statement. "I'm overjoyed to know that it still exists -- and even happier that its sale will in part benefit the comics industry's own charity, Hero Initiative, on whose disbursement board I've sat since its founding."

Trimpe added, "I am sure the fruits of this sale will be greatly appreciated by all concerned."

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