Al Plastino passed away November 25 at the age of 91, one of the last of the classic comics artists. He worked on Superman in the 1950s, and with writer Otto Binder co-created DC Comics characters Supergirl and Brainiac, and the teenage team the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Plastino’s death coincidentally came a week after Newsday reported his discovery that artwork he’d done for a Kennedy-themed Superman story and believed had been donated to the Kennedy Library decades ago had actually been given or sold to a collector, had already passed through several hands and was being offered for auction this month.
“I cried, I actually cried,” said Plastino, now 91 and living in Shirley, who was one of the most prolific artists drawing Superman from 1948 to 1968.
He learned the truth at a recent comic book convention, when representatives of a Dallas-based auction house told him his artwork was actually in private hands and scheduled to be auctioned later this month, with an estimated value of more than $50,000.
The owner who consigned the work to the auction house, who hasn’t been named, had bought it for $5,000 in a 1993 Sotheby’s auction. It was on a catalog page with comic art listed as coming from the collection of rock and roll star Graham Nash.
The auction house, Heritage Auctions, now says it won’t auction the work until questions about ownership are resolved.
A lawyer who had been representing Plastino pro bono was told by the Kennedy Library the artwork was never in its possession.
[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]