This weekend’s Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con was already looking like a grand fun time, when suddenly a random guest star appeared walking around the crowds. None other than Academy Award-winning actor Nicolas Cage.
Nic Cage is best known as the famous American actor and producer with loads of film credits to his name. He has performed in leading roles in a vast variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies “Raising Arazona,” dramas “Leaving Las Vegas,” science fiction, action “The Rock,” Con-Air,” to even those not so great comic book films “Ghost Rider” and its sequel “Spirit of Vengeance.”
Pictures from this past weekend’s Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con showed Nicolas Cage having a great time meeting with fans, taking pictures with comic creators and possibly buying up spectacular silver age key issues after issue. From rare gems like Amazing Spider-Man #1, Incredible Hulk #1 and Fantastic Four #1, could it be that Nic Cage is building up his comic book collection?
Did you know how big of a comic book fan Nicolas Cage really is?
People may have heard of Nic Cage’s rather large spending habits on collecting rare cars and buying big houses. But many folks don’t realize that Nic Cage has long been a massive superhero and comic book memorabilia aficionado as well, only seeking out owning the rarest comics of all time. More on that in a bit, but first let’s take a brief look at Cage’s other comic book connections.
Nicolas Kim Coppola, known professionally as Nicolas Cage (Nic Cage) is related to great film legend Francis Ford Coppola. Nicolas, who didn’t want his famous name to interfere with his getting real acting jobs, decided to change his name. Being the comic book fan he was even back then, Nic used the Marvel character Luke Cage’s last name to make his Hollywood debut.
Nic has even gone as far to prove his comic book love in other ways as well. When Nicolas’s second child was born, in 2005, Cage named his newborn son Kal-El Coppola Cage. Kal-el being the real Kryptonian homeland name for Superman.
Nic Cage buying a Ghost Rider portrait
Action Comics #1 – First appearance of Superman:
Nic Cage suffered one of the worst comic book robberies of all-time at his Los Angeles home. Not knowing exactly when it happened, but after several parties in 2000, Cage noticed that three of his most valuable comic books to ever hit the market history were missing. Among them was a prestige copy of “Action Comics No. 1″ created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and published in June 1938, features mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent in Metropolis and his crime-fighting alter ego, as well as other characters like Lois Lane. Of the 200,000 copies printed 78 years ago of Action Comics No. 1, only 100 known copies are believed to have survived. Nicolas Cage had one of the finest unrestored copies known. Here is a look at its history.
This particular issues’ history began in 1993, when Sotheby’s sold it for $86,000 to an unnamed buyer. Stephen Fishler (remember this name), a Manhattan comic book dealer, then bought the issue in 1996 for $135,000. Months later, Cage contacted Fishler about starting a comic book collection.
At the time, Cage was slated to play The Man of Steel himself, Superman, along with eccentric director Tim Burton who had just revitalized Batman for the 90’s. After tons of production money and time had been spent on Superman, the project was mercifully killed off. But that’s an entirely different story that can be seen in the fantastic documentary: Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?
2015 ‧ Documentary.
Fisher sold Cage about 400 vintage comics. One of them was the Action Comics No. 1 with the Sotheby’s pedigree. “Action Comics No. 1 is the holy grail of comic books, “ Fishler says.
The Case of the Stolen Cage Comics:
One February morning in 2000, Los Angeles police detective Don Hrycyk pulled up to the Tudor-style mansion that actor Nicolas Cage called home.
“Cage’s living room was an exuberant jumble,” Hrycyk recalls. He collected everything from rare cars to dinosaur fossils. “It looked like an adult kid’s playground, “ Hrycyk says, noting that it included a big robot, two well-groomed dogs fussed over by their handler and a vintage sports car smack in the middle of the room.
“I couldn’t figure out how they got it in there,” he says of the 1955 Jaguar D-Type. “It looked like they built the house around it.”
Cage was shouting angrily from behind a closed door. The property manager appeared and led the officer to the scene of the crime, a dimly-lit smoking room on a lower level of the mansion.
Hanging on the walls in locked, bulletproof display cases were “dozens and dozens” of vintage comic books from Cage’s prized collection. It was a shrine to superheroes. There were rare copies of Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Hourman, Hawkman, The Hulk and many more.
Gone was Detective Comics No. 1, the series that gave DC Comics, the publishing company now owned by Warner Bros., its name. Far more valuable was the stolen Detective Comics No. 27, the 1940 issue in which Batman first appeared. The real heartbreaker, however, was the disappearance of Action Comics No. 1, the 1938 book that unleashed the Man of Steel, the one and only Superman, upon the world.
In three decades of police work, Hrycyk had never investigated a comic book caper. He soon realized that to the Academy Award-winning actor, comics meant more than the large sums collectors are willing to pay. Cage was distraught.
“He had a real attachment to the comic books, “ Hrycyk says – especially the one that gave birth to Superman.
In 2001, Nicolas Cage suddenly auctioned off the rest of his comic book collection for a whopping $1.6 million dollars. He once even blamed his marriage with Lisa Marie Presley (m. 2002–2004) as the reason for having to sell the collection; it was later discovered by lawyers that major debts from Cage were most likely the reason.
The Storage Wars Sting:
“Literally everybody wants a piece of this thing, “ says comic book expert Brad Ricca. “It’s certainly about the money, but we’ve also assigned this huge cultural value to Superman.”
One of the first calls Cage made when he noticed the comics were missing was to Stephen Fishler, the same person who sold him the very book. Fishler, thinking Cage might have simply misplaced them, flew to L.A. and searched the actor’s enormous home. Then he notified comic book storeowners in the area to be on the lookout for someone trying to sell the three books. The case went cold.
Eleven years later, the Action Comics #1 was hopefully spotted in the most astounding storage wars tales ever told. In a story found on TheStar.com, here is how Vincent Zurzolo tells the story involving some of TV’s Storage Wars stars.
In the spring of 2011, 11 years after Cage’s comic books went missing,
“One day we got a call from somebody out in California telling us they had an Action One for sale. So they sent us a picture. My partner Stephen Fishler has a photographic memory, so the moment he saw it he recognised it as Nicolas’ copy,”
The caller was Dan Dotson, a well known auctioneer in Los Angeles, who was approached by one of his clients, Silvestre Lozano.
“He showed me this Superman comic book, “ says Dotson, a regular auctioneer on the TV reality show Storage Wars. “It said 1938 on the cover but it was in such good shape, I thought it was probably a reproduction.”
But it was indeed an actual copy of Action Comics No.1.
Lozano, who lived in Simi Valley just outside L.A. at the time made a living buying storage units that people abandoned or could no longer afford, then selling their contents. Lozano told Dotson he found the comic book in one of those units.
Dotson introduced Lozano to Mark Balelo, another auctioneer on Storage Wars, who said he knew the biggest comic book dealer in the U.S. Balelo contacted Stephen Fishler. He sent Fishler a scan of the comic book and a sale price of $1 million.
“In a third of a second I knew that was the stolen book, “ Fishler says. One distinguishing mark was a tiny white spot on the book’s blue banner, left during the original printing and unique to that copy.
Fishler called Hrycyk, the detective who has been looking for this comic after the Cage robbery, and they decided on a sting.
Setting up a meeting for April 6 at Balelo’s Simi Valley warehouse, Hrycyk posed as Fishler’s associate. Police officers hid outside as backup. Balelo was expecting a big commission from the sale; Hrycyk recalled him as a “wheeler-dealer.”
“He was loud-talking and wearing these loud sunglasses indoors, “ Hrycyk says.
The sellers presented the comic book in a transparent Lucite case. Fishler examined it and secretly signalled to Hrycyk that it was the stolen Cage book. Then Hrycyk gave the men his LAPD business card. Their faces dropped.
“You can see (Lozano) melt in the chair, “ Fishler says. “He turns white. He goes from being, ‘I’m getting a million dollars, maybe, ‘ to ‘I’m getting nothing.‘“
Hrycyk produced the police report for Cage’s stolen book and confiscated Lozano’s copy for analysis. Forensic experts compared it to a picture Sotheby’s had of the copy from when it sold it in 1993. There were 15 exact matches of defects in the original printing. It was the very comic book stolen from Nic Cage’s home.
“It is divine providence that the comic was found, “ Cage said in an April 2011 statement, “and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family.”
The only problem now was that the recovered Superman comic book belonged to the insurance company since they had settled Cage’s claim when the books were stolen. The comic sat in Hrycyk’s work area while Cage negotiated a return of the claim payment to regain ownership.
“It was nerve-wracking for us because we had this in the squad room with people wanting to look at it and you think, ‘Hey, this thing’s worth a huge amount of money,'” he says. “You don’t want someone to suddenly stick their coffee cup on it or tear it and say, ‘Oops.’ So we had to watch out and make sure nobody put their grubby hands all over it. Then we wrapped it up and put it in the safe in our evidence room.”
A movie is being made on this Action Comics #1 robbery.
Where is it Now?
After he got Action Comics No. 1 back, Cage put it up for auction on Fishler’s site. On Nov. 30, 2011, it sold for a record $2,161,000.
The Action Comics #1 is now part of an astounding collection about to be displayed in London at the Impossible Collection. The Impossible Collection curators are Stephen Fishler (yes, that very same Stephen Fisher) and Vincent Zurzolo. They now own two copies of the Action Comics #1 and they’ve also worked to arrange the books to show the cultural importance and evolution of comics as a medium.
“If you look at the two we have [in the collection] one has a very thick blue head, but the other has white specks. That’s actually a printing flaw and it acts like a fingerprint,” he told Trusted.
Read more about this amazing collection at trustedreviews.com.
Superman was created in 1933 by two Cleveland teenagers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but they sold the rights to DC Comics for just $130, receiving $10 for each page they drew.