For most of the history of comics, artwork was produced by cartoonists drawing in pencil on heavy illustration board and completing the final strips with India ink. The result is what is know as an "original." Many of these were discarded after the images were photographed for reproduction.
Some originals survived and are now sought as collector's items and are sold by galleries and auction houses. Although values have increased in recent years, there are still bargains to be had.
The special illustration above was done by Mort Walker in 1975 for a National Cartoonists Society publication. It sold at Heritage Auction House for $216.
The Beetle Bailey Sunday page below, that was published in newspapers on July 28, 1957 was purchased in 2014 at Heritage for $956.
In addition to the daily strips and Sunday Pages that are printed every day in newspapers, there are a variety of special drawings done for various purposes. The color drawing below was done by Mort Walker in 1970 for a paperback book collection. As far as we can determine, it was never published. It sold at Heritage in 2019 for $456.
These prices are relatively reasonable for orginal comic art. Vintage pieces by masters like Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Hal Foster and Alex Raymond can sell for tens of thousands of dollars and have even sold for six figures.
Original comic art is fun to collect and can be a good investment.
– Brian Walker