Sunday, December 30, 2012

Surprise acquisition - Tim Truman concert poster art

In the original comic art hobby there are a few seasonal sales you can come to count on. With most dealers it is a kind of waiting game, a gamble with the risk - reward being that the art could be purchased at any time at full price but if it gets to the seasonal sale it will be reduced to a very attractive price and you will get it then. Or you could be like dealer Roger Clark. Roger is always a little different, you see, because I find he always has fair prices. That is just odd, innit? And his year end sale is different as well. He took last year off for some reason but for the five or so years before that I had come to count on Roger Clark's New year's Eve sale. With Roger's sale the art did not sit in his for sale stock all year and then get discounted but rather contained NEW art, mostly form Roger's collection apparently and other stuff acquired over the year for the sale. I got a Tony Harris Flight of Bones page every year for three or four years there by staying home New Year's Eve and waiting for the art and prices to be posted. Roger cannot unearth those any more, but this year he had a Starman cover painting he knew I would be interested in. But this post is not about that cover, perhaps we will discuss that in the future.

This post is about this piece.

Tim Truman Ratdog/Hot Tuna/Planet Drum poster art
Although it will not be paid off for some time, this piece will be in my hands eventually. It is the poster art for a Planet Drum / Hot Tuna / Ratdog concert held on New Year's Eve 1999, the Millennium's Eve! How cool is that? I met Tim Truman twice in the last few years and actually bought this poster from him because it was so cool . And now I own the original. Thanks to Roger for working with me on this. If you ever come over my house expect to see this one on the wall.

What did I tell you? I would have to be Blessed to have 2013 be half the year that 2012 was? Well, consider me blessed. And thank you to Bonnie for tolerating this. I be Blessed indeed!

Last thought's on my acquisitions as the year ends

2012 saw me acquire my 100th page of Starman art. That is quite an obsession. I sold off a bunch of Tony Harris art this year as well as I reconsidered my collecting foci. I have made a few new mission statements in my comic art collection and one of these was to pass on most of the other Harris art and focus on Starman and Dr. Strange Flight of Bones. So I sold a few covers, all my Ex Machina pages (and I had quite a few there at one time), Liberty Files/Unholy 3 stuff (some of his best work I think) and kept saying yes when offered Starman pages. No FoB came my way this year as far as I recall. I already showed my Starman 3 cover in an earlier post; below are some of the Starman pages I was able to get this past year.

Gee, that page above is page 1 from issue 0. That would make it the first page of the comic ever published! SCORE!

I always enjoy the Tony Harris pages where he has a circle panel. He used to do it all the time. last year I got a few pages featuring The Shade that have the largest circle panel of Tony's I have ever seen. Look at that page above. I like the art deco elements around the circle panel, and the looseness of the last panel in the ink and in the lack of hard panel borders.

A great page from issue 1 featuring one of The Shade's shadow monsters.  I am always glad to acquire pages like this that really form and establish the character in the reader's mind; right here we find out that the Shade is a badass and is not to be underestimated or trifled with.

A nice Jack page above, always welcome of course, and below it almost looks like a page from Ex Machina, eh?

Below is another nice character and content page from early in the run. Clarence O'Dare and the mayor discuss Jack Knight and how the city should approach a costumed vigilante.

These next two pages were a bit of a departure for me. I have been thinking of eliminating, or at least stop buying, non-Tony Harris pages from my Starman collection. But when I was considering a commission from Richard Pace I realized he had these 2 pages for sale on his CAF as well. So I got a cool Dr. Strange from Richard and these two/too cool pages featuring the Bodines, a great husband and wife villain team, and the Will Payton Starman.

Then, of course, I had to get this page from a bit later in the issue as well.

The big one though, other than the cover to issue 3 which is spectacular!, is the piece below. Tony Harris created two companion portraits, of Jack Knight/Starman and Richard Swift/The Shade. Mike White owns The Shade, but I was lucky enough to buy the Jack Knight one this year. These are two of the finest Starman related ink pieces Tony Harris ever created and I am proud to own this one.

Jack Knight Starman card art by creator Tony Harris
I can only pray and hope that 2013 is one-half as kind to me. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I am up early as I have a sore throat and wanted to take a shower and loosen it up. It is 6:30 and the kids have been awake in their rooms for over 30 minutes. I am going to go upstairs and awaken the Kraken, then loose the Titans on their booty. So right now is the calm before the storm. It should be fun, my girls love their presents! I really do enjoy being their father.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Some more thoughts nearing year's end

I was really quite surprised when writing my earlier post about my art acquisitions this year. I have accumulated quite a bit of quality art in the past year. As I said in that post, I sold quite a bit of art this year to fund all this new stuff - so I do not know why I am so surprised. But I decided I need to break it up into a few posts to really review it properly. Here is the second in a series of three! So important it needs three posts, eh? Not so much as that I get bored easily and need three attempts to get it all in there.

Paul Smith - Baron Mordo

The piece above and its' companion below have long been among art that I have seen for sale on CAF and coveted for years. Well, not too long ago the previous owner posted a few things for sale and I asked if he still owned these pieces. Clea was long gone and himself was too expensive right now, but The Baron and Dormammu were available. I paid my money and the deal was done. Thank you to the wrangler for letting these go.

Paul Smith - The Dread Dormammu

The piece below was a long time coming. I had been trying to get a commission from Matt Smith, aka Matthew Dow Smith, when he decided he would try this new kickstarter thing. He suggested that if I pledged to his kickstarter drive I would get my commission. Long story short I pledged an amount he reported to find very generous and we decided on Doctor Strange and Hellboy versus Cthulhu monster 11X17. I was very happy but the commission never materialized. (The kickstarter project was funded but has still not yet materialized.) I forget how long passed, but Matt was scheduled to be about 2 hours away signing with a bunch of legends like Walt and Weezy Simonson and Dan Green, among others. I always wanted to meet Dan Green, and relayed to Matt that I would be at the store when the signing would occur. I got to talk to Walt and Weezie, and enjoyed meeting Dan Green for the first time as well. Even if he did inform me that, although extremely similar, the interior page I owned from Into Shamballa was NOT the same image used as the cover for the soft cover edition. And then sure enough Matt Smith said he had my art. And he handed me something that made me so happy.

Matt Smith depicts Hell for Hellboy and Doctor Strange
Somewhere along the way I also inquired about a commission from Azpiri.It didn't happen, but he must have liked the idea because immediately afterwards the painting below popped up on his rep's web site. It is tiny but I had to have it.

Azpiri does Clea
I mentioned Andy MacDonald last time when I displayed the awesome Mephisto Drinks The Defenders piece he did for me. Another theme I was lucky to have him contribute to this year was my penchant for having modern artists re-create the cover to Silver Surfer 4, originally drawn by the late great John Buscema. Big John had big shoes that many artists struggle to fill, and I thought it would be great to see how people react to the particular challenges that SS4 presents. There are two full figures on the vertical page and the art suggests the sheer power about to be unleashed when these two great beings clash in a way very few artists could achieve. I got a few of these and two are presented below. Andy MacDonald went full out as you can see. He never fails to disappoint and I was very happy when I got this.

homage to Big John Buscema - SS4 cover homage by Andy MacDonald
I was also fortunate to have Tom Raney homage this cover this year as well. Tom has been offering commissions through his deviant art account on a fairly regular basis and when you get stuff like this as a result you tend to become a repeat customer. I am really moving away from smaller commissions to larger commissions and larger published pieces, but as long as Tom takes a list I will try to get on it. He is working through a list right now as a matter of fact and I should have a Jack Knight Starman as a result pretty soon.
homage to Big John Buscema - SS4 cover homage by Tom Raney
One of the other commission themes I have going is to get artists to provide homages to the Michael Golden Dr. Strange portfolio plates. Early in the year JK Woodward tackled this theme and provided me with the wonderful watercolor piece you see below. This is a take on Plate 1 - The Ancient One and is a wonderful addition to my collection. JK should be getting me his take on the Nightmare plate early next year.

JK Woodward watercolor homage to Michael Golden
And once again I must say how blessed I am. I was able to purchase the Barry Windsor-Smith page from issue 236 of Daredevil from Bechara at a comic art con. Now I have two pages from this issue. Some of the issue was inked by Bob Wiacek and Barry inked the rest, so when Bob was at this year's NYCC I brought both pages to him to see if he worked on them. Nope, he didn't work on either he told me. I then brought the pages over and showed them off to Jim Cheung. Jim and I have toalked in the past about my love for BWS and Jim seems to be a fan as well. I showed him the pages and he was kind enough to show his envy. When I recounted Bob's information Jim looked at me kinda funny and said it was pretty obvious Barry inked the pages. And then he showed me why he said it and I felt foolish that in the few moments he had looked at the pages he had seen more than I had seen since owning them. For instance, look at the last panel on the page below. The strokes on Black Widows left leg are "Barry strokes" (as Jim called them). I laughed as soon as he showed me because it is so true. It was a meaningful moment for me, as it reminded me to really look at and appreciate the pages I own.

Daredevil page by Barry Windsor-Smith, pencils and inks
More next week or so. You know I got some Starman this year. Yeah boyee!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Birth of Titanium Man!

Well, I just got back from the dentist and it was the worst news possible. I was going for a crown but during the weekend I knew I had messed up the tooth when eating a Mento. They were an impulse buy, and I even got the wrong flavors, rainbow instead of fruit. Well the first one was like a rock (a rock of yumminess) and when I bit down I felt my tooth, the one recently given a root canal, move. I found out today that I cracked it pretty good. There will be no crown. Doc ripped out half the tooth, filed down the jagged monstrosity left behind, and sent me on my way. I left his office a broken man, but I will show him. I will show them all. They laughed at me, but now they will feel the power of TITANIUM MAN! That's right, I am getting a titanium tooth implant! It will be a six month or so process, but I will leave this meager shell behind and be reborn through the furnace of my pain and disfigurement as something else. Something new. Something different. Something technologically advanced. TITANIUM MAN.

But in the meantime I better find $3000-$4000. So I am putting 100 items in my CAF for sale gallery and will also throw some things up on ebay. Please see the links on the upper right and be involved in the birth of Titanium Man. After all, every newborn needs financial support.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Some thoughts nearing year's end

I have to tell you, I have really had a good year. Many blessings have come my way. I started this entry to talk about my comic art, surprise surprise. But I would be remiss if I did not comment on my wonderful wife and my equally wonderful daughters. They really make each and every day better. We are entering the teen years, and I know it won't always be so easy to get along but it has really been a blast so far.

I coached soccer again this year, and that was fun. We had the year end dinner yesterday, a few weeks later than optimal. Only 6 of the 14 kids attended, but it was good to see those kids again. I look forward to coaching again next year.

Okay, comic art. I had a great year. I sold more art than I ever have in one year before (I think) and I bought a bunch of really nice things. Maybe nothing to compete with last year's BWS Storyteller splash page, but what year could compete with that? I usually place my better pieces in my CAF Lowry, and looking at it now, I think it was a good year. Only one of those five things is on my comic art want list but that is really because I could not have anticipated the others. But they absolutely fall right in my collection wheelhouse. This is the one on my want list, a page from Dracula 44 by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer
Tomb of Dracula 44 page 22 Gene Colan / Tom Palmer

Although not in my Lowry, I also got a page from Dr. Strange 14 this year. This is the issue of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts that crossed-over with Tomb of Dracula 44. Gene Colan was pencilling the art for both books at the time, and this issue is again inked by Tom Palmer.

Dr. Strange 14 page 10 Gene Colan / Tom Palmer

I got a whole lot of Gene Colan this year; in addition to those two pages, I got the only page pencilled by gene Colan that Walt Simonson ever inked; a cool page from Dr. Strange 38 inked by Dan Green; and have paid off a little over 50% of a nice splash.

 The Chris Stevens watercolor was a real treat. How I could expect he would start painting and I would get one of the first ones? Look at that piece of art.

Storm of Asgard by Chris Stevens

I got a Mike Mignola cover. It was a bit of an impulse, and I would trade it for the right Starman/Hellboy/Batman piece, but it is a wonderful piece of art. It may not have hellboy, but it has so much more that you want in a Mignola than many Hellboy panel pages. Check that shit out.

Mike Mignola Witchfinder 4 cover

I have a few collecting themes. Well, that may be overstating it but I like to get a few specific things. I now have gotten a second artist to recreate an image I can no longer find, online or in the real world. But Andy MacDonald was nice enough to take on the challenge and make this homage to a John Buscema poster of Mephisto drinking souls from his chalice. Frank Brunner did it once for me as well, and Andy was right there with his execution like the old pro! (Go buy Andy's latest masterpiece, the adaptation of James Patterson's ZOO)

Mephisto Drinks The Defenders by Andy MacDonald.

This year also found me finally getting a commission from Eric Canete. I once bought, and have since sold, a Silver Surfer from Eric's portfolio. But this year Eric joined a few other comic artists and stopped sketching copyrighted characters. There are many reasons for this, and not every artist has the same reason as the next guy. But if it is a reaction to the Gary Friedrich case it is a total over-reaction. But Eric is taking that position and talking to him in the past made it clear he is a genuine man. So when NYCC came around in 2012 I decided to get Eric to do an underwater Valkyrie. He was all over that shit. Check out the insanity he put on paper for me.

Eric Canete underwater valkyrie convention sketch - my idea, his execution

The next piece I have here represents another want list acquisition. This is the fourth page from issue 170 of Dr. Strange that I now possess. This is page 18. I think that may be enough now that the Tomb of Dracula 44 pages and Doc 14 pages are surfacing, but you never know.

Dr. Strange 170 page 18, art by Dan Adkins

And this year was also the year I got my Mike Allred commission, another want list item. I initially wanted to get the Valkyrie, Dr. Strange, Clea and other Defenders playing volleyball on the sand. After thinking about characters and cost ($200 per after the first four characters) I decided to get Doc and his posse: The Ancient One, Clea, Wong, and Rintrah. Simon Miller was a keen facillitator and Mike Allred just killed it for me. I may have stripes added on Clea's suit, and The Ancient One's shirt is supposed to be a Hawaiian shirt and I will have that added soon enough digitally. I also wish there were a few creatures, seagulls and crabs and such, but I did get the cute beachgoer in the background.

One of the best pieces I got this year is this cover by Kevin Nowlan.

Strange Tales 11 cover - Kevin Nowlan
That is a thing of beauty. It may not be his best of that period, but it is a great representation of those covers and is a very strong cover by a master artist. I loved Mr. Jyp so when this cover was made available to me I was glad to see him and Cloak & Dagger, plus Doc as well! The Doc only covers are my favorites, but MAN look at what I done got!

I also was able to score a major coup when I commissioned Rudy Nebres early in the year to do another one of my themes, Dr. Strange vs. Dracula. Rudy and his lovely, and patient, wife have been at quite a few conventions in my area in the last few years and I got to talking with them on quite a few occasions. It turns out they live 10 minutes from me, two towns over. I arranged to pick up the commission at their house and look at what Rudy Nebres presented to me.

I had given Rudy five different heroines to put in the commission and he chose The Scarlet Witch. This is right up their with my Simon Bisley, Paul Smith, and Jae Lee commissions as one of the best I have received from an artist. I loved it so much I sought out the means to make it into a shirt and now wear it proudly. I wear a comic art shirt, or more than one, every weekend and that Nebres commission started that whole trend for me. It is that great a piece of comic art.

Let's see, I also got a Starman cover this year. Issue 3.

Starman 3 cover painting by Tony Harris

What can be said after that. Thanks be to God, I am blessed. be continued.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

new Gene Colan Dr. Strange page

I got a new page in the mail today. Dr. Strange 38 page 22 by Gene Colan and Dan Green. Now I used to own a few Gene Colan pages that I had purchased directly from Gene and Adrienne at a con in NYC, but along the way I sold them. You see, I love Dr. Strange but my personal favorites on art would be Frank Brunner, Paul Smith, and Michael Golden. (Steve Ditko is in a class all his own, so I left him out. Stylistically I am not a fan of Asian Doc, but the Ditkoverse and the page layouts are a thing of beauty. Art in the true sense.).But Gene Colan was a little before my time. But recently I have been looking for pages from a few specific issues and they all have Gene Colan really doing stellar work..

This page is not from one of those issues.

I bought this page when I saw it while looking for those other pages.

Gene Colan / Dan Green Dr. Strange 38 page 22
I bought this page primarily for the good stuff and despite the...well...the rest. I will leave it to you to decide how "good" this page is, and it has its' storytelling flaws. But coloring IS missing, so maybe that helped. I like it for the first and last panels, obviously, and for the inclusion of Clea, who is always fun to see on the page.

I am really happy to have this page in my collection. It scratched an itch, and will tide me over until I finish my time payments on a sweet Colan / Palmer splash. This is a real obvious example of me moving better pieces into my collection at the expense of selling tons of smaller pieces, which I have been doing on ebay on and off for the last 2-3 months. I think it is a good direction to be headed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NYCC Acquisitions #5 Last but not least...Mike Mignola Witchfinder 4 cover

Okay. The first minutes at a convention are filled with a myriad of decisions, all with life-changing implications and consequences. Should I stand in this line now and pass up on finding a newly arrived artist over there? Or should I keep going and pass up this probable thing for the gem waiting around the corner? For example, do I go looking for Steve McNiven when Leinil Yu is right there? Should I look for Darwyn Cooke or get in this 15 person Barry Kitson line? hmmm As noted previously, in my first pass through Artist's Alley at this year's NYCC I decided to pass up the 12-15 person Jimmy Cheung line in the hopes of finding a similarly wanted artist with a smaller line. I quickly came upon Mike Mignola's table with about 6 people in line and Mike still setting up a rather large stock of sketchbooks and many copies of one specific color print (don't ask, I forget what it was). As I scanned his table I started to ask his gal-Friday if he had original art for sale but mid sentence Mike turned and looked to me and indicated he did indeed have original art. I got in line. I knew most of the people wanted signatures but just jumping in there for first dibs would have been bad form. Desirable, but bad form.

The first guy in line was sitting in a purloined chair at the front of the table. As I got in line he started to look through Mike's portfolio, pulling out three very nice pieces for purchase. No one else in front of me got any original art and when it was my turn I was pleased to see the prices were high, but not outrageous. The lowest priced piece was $1600 I believe. There was very little Hellboy and mostly BPRD related stuff. Pinups, splash/partial splash pages and covers. I saw a few prospects as I went through the book, but any Hellboy was more than I could afford. Then I turned the portfolio page and there were two great pages and I knew that I was going to get one of them. They both had that yin/yang, black/white balance that makes Mike's art so unique. Some of the earlier pieces in the portfolio were better images, but I have two modest Mignola pieces already and wanted to make sure I got something really representative if I was going in at $2000 or higher. I learned long ago to go for the more expensive piece at a convention, although this lesson never made it to my ebay buying habits. So at this convention I passed on the less expensive one on the left and got the one on the right. Here it is: the cover to Witchfinder 4 by Mike Mignola.

Witchfinder 4 cover art by Mike Mignola 2010

I am very happy with this piece of art. It is a real gem to study and look over. The symmetry is strongly top/bottom. Everyone's neck is turned and stretched, all to the middle of course. The smaller details really astound me in person, like the alternating thickness of the black and white lines at the bottom, the symmetry of color and orientation in the elements of her dress - it is all marvelous. Simply marvelous.

In my CAF posting of this piece I indicate that I would consider trading it for a Batman/Hellboy/Starman page, with Starman on it. Cash may be required on my end or on the other end depending on the other piece. But the chances of that decrease the longer I own it. Though I already had one unfruitful negotiation (I cannot add $1000+ for those special pages/splashes/covers) I would welcome the chance to try again. But other than than Starman piece, this may be staying.

I mean, look at it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NYCC Acquisitions #4 - (this is a big one, folks!) Eric Canete Valkryie From the Depths

Eric Canete's art has fascinated me since I first saw it, probably 3 or 4 years ago. One of the wonderful side effects of going to so many conventions is artists new to you and that is how I found Eric. Back then I balked at his full figure prices and bought a piece from his portfolio, a sweetly alien Silver Surfer. Since sold in the periodic culling and focusing of my collection.But I kept my eye on Eric and his blog.

On that blog, maybe a year or so ago, Eric announced he was no longer taking convention requests for company/copyrighted characters.When you combine that fact with the fact that I have recently decided to curtail my habit of obtaining maximum number of convention sketches in order to focus my convention experience to both getting bigger and better pieces, i.e. more expensive and typically Dr. Strange or Starman related, and finding published art at dealers' tables, it seemed unlikely that Eric's work would be finding its' way to my collection in the immediately future. However, when I saw on his blog the quality of work he had been doing recently I knew he would be mine at NYCC! Although it was not published pages, if I did it right it would definitely be a bigger and better than average piece!!!

Since that time I have also learned that Eric was now cool with basically taking established characters as a starting point and then doing his thing with the central idea. But I already knew how I was going to bait this hook, and fishing may be an appropriate reference as I planned on asking for a character based underwater. I settled on an underwater Valkyrie, collector of warrior souls whose battles have forced them to their watery graves. I hedged my bets by pairing the underwater valkyrie request with a supreme sorcerer option, but I knew Eric would love that underwater aspect. My bait was taken hook, line and sinker. Look at what I done snared in my net:

Eric Canete 2012 NYCC sketch - The Valkyrie From The Depths
Thanks to Jason at Essential Sequential for the facilitation and for hosting Eric and all those other wonderful artists at his NYCC booth. And a special thanks to Eric Canete for the wonderful drawing and the wonderful conversation. Beyond that, he made my daughter's convention experience by drawing her in a nice 5 minute sketch. That smile on Abigail's face was a wonderful gift Eric, thank you!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

NYCC acquisitions #3 - Andy MacDonald at-home commission Mephisto Drinks...The Defenders!

Okay, here is a real gem of a piece and I cannot thank Andy MacDonald enough for the effort and the wonderful result. Quality all the way around. Another dynamite ANDY MAC ART ATTACK!

This one is funny because it starts with a memory of an image - Mephisto drinking people/souls from a chalice. The people are non-descript and formless, the focus is on the idea and the character of Mephisto. I believe John Buscema did a version in the 1970s that I am remebering, and Frank Brunner remembered the same image when he did the first recreation/homage for me. Joe Jusko, a huge Buscema fan, has done a version but I have been unable to connect with Joe directly to get the source image. Joe's painting is much too recent for the one I have in mind. Great painting though by Joe Jusko, a really terrific piece.

So Andy was kind enough to take on the challenge. Here is what he delivered at NYCC - a standard commission from him, just so you know.

Mephisto Drinks The Defenders 2012 Andy MacDonald private commission

This image is a beast structurally and has to really be well thought out compositionally. Andy did a stellar job, I like that he is really fearless in his art. look at the size of that Hulk, you really have to grasp the size of Mephisto and the scope of the perspective. If you make it fit it fits (or at least..yeah, it fits. SHUT UP!) and you can imagine the long fall as a Hell in and of itself.

I love all of the little details that Andy included. First one in is Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan, and he looks like he couldn't care less about the situation. Smirking smarmy smartass. In other words perfect characterization. Hulk, large and center stage as always - he probably leapt from the chalice and will still fall into the gaping maw below him. And up top all Hell is indeed breaking loose. The Surfer tries in vain to scramble back onto his board. Nighthawk looks very worried - such delicate linework to convey so much. Kyle and Iceman next to him are the last ones in the chalice and the most worried. One of the big choices in this composition is how you handle the arm of Mephisto. Andy gives up as hand, and a wonderfully delicate chalice that really stands out. Fit for a demonic king. The skulls are a nice touch.

So there it is, an at-home commission from an up and coming artist who never fails to impress me with his standout linework and composition. Thanks again Andy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

NYCC acquisitions #2 Mike McKone Asgardian Storm

If you have not heard me proclaim my love for Asgardian Storm, aka Storm as Thor, then let me extol her virtues a bit. Asgardian Storm was designed by Art Adams when the X-Men went to Asgard and Storm pick up Thor's hammer. You know, as people do. So if you don't know, Thor's hammer Mjolnir is inscribed
with "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." So when Storm picks up the hammer she gets Thor's powers; of course this changes her appearance and clothes as well and we get the wonderfully designed costuming by Adams.

I have 20-25 convention sketches and commissions of Asgardian Storm. I decided it was a great character visually and have found that many artists really respond to the challenge of drawing her. I give them free rein to change the costume should they see fit, but almost all have chosen to stick pretty closely to the original designs. There are two versions, which can be called furry boots version and chainmail version. Furry boots version was the predominant choice for the longest time but chainmail version has been getting a lot of attention recently. Look for a Chris Stevens oil painting (!) of her soon.

But today revel in the glory provided by Mike McKone. Watercolor on 11X17 comic art board, this is an at -home commission delivered at NYCC. Thanks to fellow dr. Strange devotee Art Shotten for the facillitation and a big and hearty thank you to the talented and genuinely nice Mike McKone. We chatted for quite a bit yesterday and he was a lot of fun to talk to.

Asgardian Storm, watercolor, by Mike McKone 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NYCC acquisitions #1 Tom Raney - Dr. Strange, into the hands of Eternity

I don't think that I will show everything I got today at NYCC all at once. Five pieces of art, and one of them cost more than 99% of the other things I own. I got a Mignola cover from Mike. Not Hellboy but a Witchfinder cover and I love it. I looked through his portfolio and when I turned the page I knew one of the two pieces I was looking at would be the one for me. I passed on the cheaper one and bought the other. Mike said he liked it especially when he took it out for me. I have to decide when I want to show this off, but today is not the day.  The wife was NOT impressed and thought it should be more overwhelming. She thought it should be a painting for that kind of money. Gotta love her, she puts up with me, but she is wrong on this one. It is a real gem. Not spectacular, but such a wonderful example of Mike's balanced work. Tons of yin and a boatload of yang.

A few people were gracious enough to withstand my assault of "look what I got". Scott Adsit was one of them This makes the second time we have spoken. The first was also at NYCC, last year, and I saw he had a sketchbook with him and could not pass up the chance to see the treasures within. Yes, it was the league sketchbook and today I learned Dave Johnson and Matteo Scalera have drawn in it and Scott has yet to see what lies within. He seems so nice that I actually think he deserves all that glorious art. He was nice enough to say something like "nice talking to you again" when we parted. Classy. Too classy for me to ask him what Tina Fey smells like. I would really like to know. So Scott, on the off chance you read this, sometime soon when the opportunity arises take a deep inhale and sample the fine Fey bouquet. Crystallize the aroma in your brain for verbal download next year at the show.

So after maybe 15 minutes my NYCC 2012 was essentially over. My goal was to find some art to buy and when Mike said he had a portfolio of stuff for sale I knew the time was right. All ride home I wondered if I had done the right thing but when I laid it out on the table with the other stuff from tonight I was so glad dat I done did what I done did.

So that other stuff, yeah. Look at this.

Dr. Strange, into the hands of Eternity by TOM RANEY, 2012

What a wonderful piece. You may not have noticed the hand of Eternity, so look again. Freaking Kirby Krackle is so effective and so cool. I have gotten a bunch of homages to the Michael Golden Dr Strange portfolio and this homage to Plate 5 is a keeper. I liked it right away, but now I love it. Doc's cape is swiggity sweet, and that hand is so cool. Eternity's headgear is done well, and that can be tricky. Tom Raney is a real gem in the industry and I hope he continues to find comic work for as long as he seeks it.

I will show another piece or maybe even two later in the week. Back to the show tomorrow.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New York Comic Con approaches!

New York Comic Con (NYCC) has becomes huge, both as a convention and as a piece of my yearly comic art budget. And it is only a few days away. I am definitely attending Thursday and Sunday and one of the other days as well, probably Friday. I am very excited about a few potential convention sketches, and have even been lucky enough to set up a few in advance. Andy MacDonald did a full blown commission for me - a version of Mephisto Drinks The Defenders that I expect big things from. Jonathan Case is doing Dr. Strange, and Mike McKone is doing Asgardian Storm in watercolor. Those done been confirmed and paid! Bonus! Three great pieces before the show even starts.

And I can probably get those 3 guys to do a quick head sketch for me as well. I plan on getting a few jams going on some colored paper I have. It should be fun and a nice way to keep things focused for me. My main one will be a Batman piece I already have one sketch on, and it is done on a solid blue piece of art board. I may start a second as well; it remains to be seen if it will be Red for Hellboy, Spider-Man, Flash and such or Green for Hulk, Savage Dragon, Lizard et al. Depends on the available creators I would think (although it is a given that I will get a Savage Dragon from Erik Larsen given how nice and available he is. Maybe a Lizard or Vulture as well.).

My main target for sketches would have to be a guy I have never seen in my 20 years going to conventions. Liam Sharp is someone whose art I have enjoyed throughout my adult life. But it is his work on Man-Thing/ Strange Tales that I hold dearest. Big giant wet Man-Thing. And The Incredible Hulk as well. His hulking beast types are just fantastic, but he can do the small and slow stuff just as well. I have emailed him and discussed a commission, but have never made it happen. I would looooove a nice Dr. Strange and Man-Thing in the swamps or in a mystical Ditko-esque other-realm by Liam Sharp. Maybe I can make something happen, even if it is not that particular image.

Bill Sienkiewicz will be on my radar as well. His is a flighty, constantly moving, frenetic, sporadic convention experience so you have to be in the moment when dealing with and anticipating Bill Sienkiewicz. I might have a good idea, or even two if you count the variation on a done-to-death Sienkiewicz theme. But can I get them out of Bill for the right amount of money is the question. Will he kill it like I need him to do if he chooses either idea? I mean, one needs a ton of color. I am considering bringing every con piece I have from Bill, about 7 probably, and showing him the progression of our "relationship" as I beg for one that puts them all to shame. Then I want to try and work a page from Starman 81 out of him as well, and maybe a Batman head on the blue board. I plan on giving a fair chuck of change to my Polish compatriot.

Other than those two guys, hopeful acquisitions would come from Jim Cheung (Asgardian Storm), Sean Chen (hoping to get 2 or more 17X5 pieces as he does them the best), Steve McNiven (Doc or Asgardian Storm), and Walt Simonson (Manhunter perhaps, if I have the right markers). Andy MacDonald goes without saying (what 'til he sees what I have in store for him should he rise to the challenge, which he is incapable of failing to do!) and Geof Darrow may surprise me (I can dream can't I? I sent a commission request through advance channels. So yes, I know, dream dream away but that is fine for me!).

Friday (or maybe Saturday instead) will largely be spent looking at original art. I am hoping to find a Starman page or two (2% chance of that in reality as I know none are on dealer's sites). Other than that, it is Bechara at Nostalgic Investments for Tomb of Dracula 44 pages or maybe some Barry Windsor Smith or Mike Mignola is out there for me. Maybe something from Paul Smith (The Golden Age would make my year!) or even Matt Smith and The Shade in Showcase '95 ('94? maybe) will show up. I hope to scour the whole show to find my gems. It should be a blast!

And Thai Chicken Zestos at the Europa Cafe on 7th Ave all weekend! w00t!

I'll show you what I get next week or the following! Thanks for reading!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Comic Art Want List - Item Acquired!

Some time ago I wrote about my comic art want list, the items I was hoping to acquire and add to my collection. Number 8 on that list was more pages from Dr. Strange 170 by Dan Adkins and I am happy to have acquired another page from this issue. I now have 4 pages from the issue - that may be enough for now. Well, maybe one more.

So here it is - Dr. Strange and Nightmare battle in Dr. Strange 170 (1968), courtesy of Dan Adkins.

Dr. Strange 170 page 14 Dan Adkins pencils/inks...I must admit I touched it up a bit to remove some staining

These pages are a blast to own. I loved these early sixties comics when I read them in the 1980s. They have a trippy, psychedelic quality that really appealed to me in my pre-Deadhead life. It is funny how you see the dots connect looking back. It is no wonder I am in the profession of Sigmund Freud, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary.

Look at that page. Two tremendous images, camera angle reversed from the first panel to the second. That menacing hand in the second panel that is assaulting Dr. Strange with such devastating fury is the tiny tiny hand in the upper left corner of the first panel. And don't tell me that hand isn't moving in the second panel, gesturing and contracting to cause Doc to writhe in such pain!  And that first panel, with Nightmare on his steed rearing up to attack our good doctor. And the magical force and the other-worldliness of the Nightmare dimension are rendered so effectively as well.

And you can't talk about this page without talking about the talking, the dialogue. Alliteration and assonance indeed. "Impudent Upstart!" "humble Hamir" And I am lucky enough to get an early "By the Shades of The Seraphim!", not to mention a "puny human" mention from someone other than The Hulk! That is pretty cool as well.

I figured I would show the other pages I have from this issue as well. Here is page 19.

Dr. Strange 170 page 19 Dan Adkins art

And I also have an earlier sequence, pages 10 and 11.

Dr. Strange 170 page 10 Dan Adkins art

Dr. Strange 170 page 11 Dan Adkins art

These pages are among my favorites for so many reasons. I mean, look at that page above and the astral Doc in Nightmare's realm. As Stan would say, 'nuff said!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

OH YEAH! Significant Starman art acquisition! Hoo-Ah! part one - Starman 0 page 1 !!!

I was just saying the other day how much I love Starman, the comic series written by James Robinson in the mid 1990s. Today I was lucky enough to get my hands on 2 important pieces. I will show off the second soon enough, but first I want to honor something special, something that should not be overlooked. The first is, appropriately, the first. The first Starman page, that is. In the late 1980s/early 1990s Starman was a fairly nondescript character created by Roger Stern and Tom Lyle. He died heroically, sacrificing himself in battle with Eclipso in the 1992 Eclipso: The Darkness Within DC comics crossover. He died, and the Starman comic died with him.

Two years later in 1994 DC reconfigured their comic line again with ZERO HOUR and one of the new titles to come out of this event was a new Starman. James Robinson and Tony Harris were at the helm of this Starman series, one featuring Jack Knight, the son of the Golden Age Starman - Ted Knight. I bought Starman 0 in late 1994 or early 1995 in Muncie Indiana. 25 cents in a bin under the table, an orange sticker stuck to the cover announcing the price. This is the page that I saw when I opened that magic book, back in my newlywed apartment in Muncie Indiana.

Tony Harris pencils and Wade von Grawbadger inks history: Starman 0 page 1
As someone who has quite a few pages from this series I am honored to have the first page from this issue. Thanks Elizabeth! In fact, this makes 3 pages from issue 0 now in my collection. Hmmm. I wonder if I can get all 22 pages from this issue? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strange Dr. Strange commission

As I stated in my last post, there are basically 3 types of comic art: true comic art-pieces produced for publication including pages and covers; convention sketches; and studio commissions. Basically. I spend a lot of my comic art hobby money on commissions. Some of them (such as those by Paul Smith; Simon Bisley; Dean Ormston; Andy MacDonald; and Ulises Farinas among others) are among my favorites in my collection. But I have grown weary of the single figure commission (although I just ordered one yesterday, so sue me!), somewhat weary I guess, and more weary of spending big bucks on a commission in general. But  I sold a bunch of art a few months ago in anticipation of the July Heritage comic art auction and when I did not bid high enough for the pieces I wanted I had some money sitting right there that had come from selling some pretty cherished in my collection.


I'll spare you the 2000 words describing the process, but eventually I decided on a commission from either Art Adams or Mike Allred. I had enough for good Mike Allred piece or a bit more than half an Art Adams figure. The Art Adams is a real priority for me, but the Allred pieces were 4 figures for $1000 and I had an itch I figured I may as well scratch. The time seemed right. You see, when Mike Allred started taking commissions I immediately did what I always do when a great artist announces commission openings, I thought about what I would get. now I have never read Mike's magnum opus MADMAN. Maybe an issue or two here and there but never really. But RED ROCKET 7 and SUPERMAN / MADMAN: HULLBALOO were big hits in my book. SOLO. I just loved the zany sense of fun and chaos in his comics. It was clear he was having a ball. So I immediately got a vague notion of Valkyrie and The Defenders playing volleyball on the beach, all drawn by Mike. I never really thought it through and never needed to go any further because it was clear: if there was to be a Mike Allred commission in my future it was going to be based on this idea. And what do you know? My future had arrived.

But wait, what could I do? The Valkyrie and The Defenders would be around 8 characters, and that was too much money. Because, and this is important, commissions do not have good resale value. They are high risk (too specific to your tastes, too weird DING!, they come out poorly, usually expensive, they could come out poorly, and did I mention...they could come out poorly). So spending all that money is one thing, but spending it on a weird and quirky idea is quite another. So The Defenders as a group was out. After trying to decide who to cut and who to keep in I decided to go in a different direction and go with Dr. Strange's posse. I even went the extra $200 for a 5th character when I decided on Doc, Clea, The Ancient One, Wong, and Rintrah..And a short time later, with facillitation by Simon Miller of, I had this-

Dr. Strange and friends - a day off at the beach by Mike Allred
Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Shade 4 by Michael Zulli - a.k.a. the elusive, demented, delusional, and ultimately tragic quest by one collector, once naive and eternally optimistic but now dejected and cynical to the core, to own all the pages from an issue of a comic book

I love me some Starman, the James Robinson-penned comic book with main art duties by Tony Harris / Wade von Grawbadger and then later Peter Snejbjerg. I collect comic art and Starman is a major focus of that collecting obsession. Now for those not intimate in the ways of this particular obsession, it manifests in many different ways. Some people get only convention sketches, some get only published pieces, and most get a fair mix of both if they stay in the hobby long enough. And there are also commissions taken by artists and drawn at home, many of which are found in my collection and may be some of the best pieces I own even if they generally perform poorly on resale (after all, if you want to buy art drawn by artist X you will probably prefer a published piece or a direct commission drawn by X for you instead of buying someone else's commission, and therefore their idea).

Now when a collector such as myself finds himself owning more than one page from an particular comic book an odd phenomenon may manifest. If said collector acquires 4 or 5 pages from an issue, the phenomenon is practically guaranteed. The collector becomes possessed, consumed by one persistant and fixed delusional thought, the thought that they might somehow acquire all the pages from that issue. Now many - myself included - have complete smaller stories and console themselves with the thought that this is an accomplishment of some note, even if it may only be the result of the artist knowing you pour out cash for their works so they offer you an 8 page story. For example.

This is not to be confused with those that own whole stories, often 8 pages in length, from the Golden and Silver ages of comics. EC stories are whole and complete in their 8 page glory, and owning a page is a treasure. Owning a whole story is entering rarefied air. Same for DC backups from the early, and even not so early, days. There are many such examples. And there are modern examples such as Dark Horse Presents or Batman: Black and White where chapters would be structured for 8 pages. But in terms of comic art from the last 35 years, owning a complete story generally means owning 22 pages.

So when I found myself with 4 or 5 pages, I obviously became deranged. Mad. under the delusion that since the art has been sold by the artist to others that it will eventually find its way to you. Because you want it more than they do.

Except you don't. Trust me, you don't.

At this point what you want is to have it all. And I have a little Veruca Salt in me as much as the next person. I want it now, and I want it all. But trust me, they want it too. And THEY actually own it. Not you. Not me. THEM. And you know how THEY are. But somehow, someway, boydon'tchaknowit I done got myself 16 pages from issue 4 of The Shade. Wait, where is it? It was here somewhere just a minute ago. Oh, wait...

If you don't know Starman I can't do that now. Suffice it to say that The Shade is a Golden Age villain who was reinvented in the modern Starman comic as a villain with charm who possesses a fierce loyalty and sense of concern for his chosen city, Jack Knight (Starman)'s home of Opal City. Eventually he would even be revealed as less a villain than he originally seemed but at the time of this story writer James Robinson was flsehing out the character's backstory in a 4 issue miniseries. And one of the central elements of the character of The Shade since Robinson wrote the book was his centuries old feud with the Ludlow family. This issue, the last of the 4 issue miniseries, focused on The Shade's last confrontation with a Ludlow and the end of the feud which began on the night Richard (Dickie) Swift died and The Shade was born immortal.

You see, somehow I found myself buying page after page from ebay back in the day. Most, but not all, of them were coming from art dealer Scott Eder, a man I knew well. Hi Scott. Scott's a straight shooter and we talked turkey until we eventually traded my money for the rest of the art he had from the issue. Over the years I have bought those I could when they appeared. (I have even located  a few colors guides which I now own.) I have also located 4 others that I have missed or were outfoxed on. I remember distinctly that on one I fell asleep and subsequently woke up quite pissed. $56. FRIGGIN' A! See, I am pissed again. But he got it fair and square (different time zone bastard). Just kiddin'!

So the current situation finds me with 16 of the 22 pages. I need six more for mission accomplished - four of these six are known to me and the two others remain hidden. Of the four known to me two are potentially eventually acquirable (just not now) and the guys who own the other two don't respond to emails. But I know who they are. YES I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

Sorry about that.

So if you own one of these pages take $ from me for it! Trade for some of my art! For instance you could get a better Gene HA! page than you have Zulli, trust me on that. I need these pages. And more importantly, I need to know that I am not crazy, that my goal is not a delusion and that it is obtainable, that I can acquire them all, I need them all, I need them all, I need them all, I need them all, I need them all, I need them all, I need them all

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DAVE SIM Digital Cerebus Project

HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL, the graphic novel project that raised $63,000 on Kickstarter in June to finance its conversion to A/D (Audio Digital) format is almost here.  Graphic novelist Dave Sim brings his classic best-selling black and white 1982 graphic novel (FIVE STARS in most graphic novels guides) to life reading all of the narration AND performing the voices of his entire cast of dozens of characters.  All 500 pages have been digitally remastered from the original artwork, original negatives and reconstructions (the original negatives for 130 pages were destroyed in an apartment fire in August).  The first 20-page installment is a FREE download starting October 10 at  VIEW "TRAILER" AT {KICKSTARTER URL} FOR A SMALL TASTE OF THIS AWESOME PROJECT

That last part should be higher up, so I will say it again: the first 20-page installment is a FREE download starting October 10 at is really going all out for this project, which I heard about due to the Kickstarter campaign. I pledged some money on that campaign, and I have to say I am happy with my reward level. One of the things I got was this, which arrived yesterday - 

Dave Sim draws Cerebus as Dr. Strange, just for me!

Dave also posted 4 of the full figure pieces he did for those who paid more than I did, and they are spectacular. But I have to admit that I am happy with this one, which was done just for me. I got a Ditko-esque commission from Dave Sim about two years ago (it was Dr. StrangeRoach) and I am glad to see Dave was able to tap that same vein for this one. Well done sir, well done!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

LONG LIVE THE KING! Belated Birthday wishes to the late great Jack kirby!

Okay, if you have read this blog you know I am nuts. Certifiably crazy. Over comic book art. And it is not only universally accepted but also damn true that Jack Kirby was the King of Comics. Now Johnny Carson may have taken offense to that title when Jack was on The Tonight Show, but that don't make it any less true. And although Jack Kirby shuffled off this mortal coil (been using that one a lot lately) some time ago, his work and his influence remain as strong as ever. So I thought I would post my piece of original comic art drawn by The King.

Jack Kirby Captain America 196 page inked by D. Bruce Berry (1976)
It may be just a story page, but it is so clearly Kirby I had to have it. those rocks, the faces, some tech, and what almost looks like Kirby krackle on the helmet in panel 4. Who else could make so much out of so little? Don't bother replying to that question because the answer is NO ONE!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New ebay auctions

I just posted 25 comic art items for sale on ebay. Many have been offered before and now have new prices and there are also a few new things in there.

Art includes, but is not limited to

Dat's some good stuff there. And that is only some of it. Please bid so I can cure cancer and feed hungry children. (Actually, I will go to the dermatologist and have that thing removed and make lunch for my girls, but the $ will be spent on more comic art dontchaknow?)

You can find a link to all my ebay auctions in the upper right corner of this blog.

Thanks everyone! Have a great day!