Like those mothers of legend who used to toss entire comics collections in the trash, comics artists used to throw away their original art, too, with little regard for its future worth. Back in the day, original comic art wasn't considered valuable—it was the printed item that mattered.
Fortunately, Jerry Robinson, the creator of The Joker, had a bit more foresight. Back in 1942, he rescued the art for a couple of covers from the trash. One is his own work, Detective Comics No. 69,
which featured the first appearance of The Joker, (apparently not—as our commenters noted) and the other is an equally iconic Superman cover by Fred Ray, a motif that came to be known as "The Superman Patriotic Shield," according to The New York Post. Now he is selling both, via the online auction site ComicConnect.com. While the Post estimates the two will bring in $1.4 million, ComicConnect owner Stephen Fishler is a bit more restrained, estimating about $1 million. Said Robinson,
So obviously this was a very hard decision, they’re going to be very hard to part with — they were a big part of my youth, but I’m 88 now. I think it’s time to see that they get into the proper hands to be preserved. I’m hoping whomever buys them will donate them to the Library of Congress or the Smithsonian.
While he would like to have made that donation himself, Robinson said he was selling the covers so his family would be financially secure. If you're interested, bidding starts today at noon, Eastern Time.