Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tomb of Dracula page by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer

I bought this page today.

I think that statement needs to stand alone but I will say it again. I bought this page, page 22 of Tomb of Dracula issue 44 published by Marvel Comics in 1976, today. I traveled 90 minutes each way to get it. I think the blog content here at FEDRES420 makes it clear that comic art and illustration is a pretty big source of fun and time in my life. Well, this page is part of a story that is directly responsible for me being involved in this hobby. If I had to pinpoint specific points in my comic and comic art involvement, the first might be finding a funny animal comic in the street in about 1970 about a block and a half from my house. I picked it up and was amazed it was complete. I brought it home and consumed it. Funny animals, no reading required. Next was the sudden arrival at my house a year or so later of a giant box of comics, gladly inherited by my older brother and I from our friends around the corner. Why they did not want them was beyond me but we took them hungrily. There were a few hundred comics in there, all with no covers. I now know what the deal was there, but back then I was horrified and thankful all at the same time. There were war comics and superhero comics and a little of everything else under the sun. I devoured them all. I remember ignoring the war comics at first for the superheroes but eventually reading and enjoying them all. Then come the comics in the newsstand at Clancy's, followed by a job in high school at 7-11. In my memories I paid sometimes at least. And then a card convention at the Toms River Elks Club. I could get some Nolan Ryan and Astros cards and hey, look at that, they have comics too. I was driving by that time so it must have been 1983 or 1984 and I got a ton of issues of Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts for 25 cents each. When I read them and issue 14 crossed over with Tomb of Dracula I was frantic in my search for those issues of ToD.

That Elks club purchase, one title almost complete at once - even 169, and then the search for missing issues to complete the story may have been the real start of my comics collection/hobby/obsession. Yes, I still have those comics in a box not 15 feet from where I sit and type these words. And now I have a page of original art from those issues in my hands as well. The story of my comic art obsession is the story of a (some would say) mature individual. My collection is generally focused on modern art, created after 1990 by and large and does not generally include stuff I read growing up but more stuff I read in college and as an adult or by artists I became fond of as an adult. Even the older pieces are typically things I admire now, not things I admired as a child or young man. But the Elks Club comics are part of the story of a child, and this page alone in all the pages and pieces in my collection brings me back to a time in my life when I read comics and the experience enveloped me entirely. They were musty and somewhat smelly and HOLY SMOKES Dracula drained Wong's blood. Wong is dead. Doc will save him, no sweat right? Wait, Doc says he can't save him, only destroy him and prevent him from becoming a vampire? Okay, Doc CAN avenge Wong then. Oh no, Dracula's sucking on Doc now? What are they doing? I have all these comics here and Dr. Strange is dead? WHAT ARE THEY DOING?