Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Comic Art Want List

As tough as it may be for me, I am going to try to make this brief. Although technically qualified, I am nowhere near the BSD range with regards to my comic art collection. I am not a guppy in this pond, but neither am I a shark. I swim in the mid-range pool. Nonetheless, I have lofty goals for the coming year(s). My previous want list is about this long:

1) Starman pages, any and all from the James Robinson run
        especially Starman 15 page 20
2) Dr. Strange double page spread by P Craig Russell from Ultimate Spider-Man Super Stories
3) Showcase '94/'95 pages featuring The Shade by Matt Smith
4) Chris Bachalo Amazing Spider-Man 555 pages with Dr. Strange
5) Paul Smith - the Golden Age pages, especially pages 68-70 in the trade (page 69 please!). This is Book Two, pages 10-12.
6) More Dan Green paintings from Into Shamballa
7) Another Dr. Strange Paul Smith commission. List was full last I checked, so what can you do.
8) More from Dr. Strange 170 by Dan Adkins. I have a 3rd page 50% paid off and want as many as I can ideally! Yes, I am a pack rat at times with these things.

Now I am still interested in those items. But now I also have my eye set on some truly spectacular, and significantly more costly, art. I would love to own the following items.

A Frank Miller page -maybe even a great one. I would prefer something from Elektra Lives Again or perhaps a page from Dark Knight Strikes Again with the DC superheroes featured. Lance Blastoff even. But really nice. The Elektra stuff is my ideal but he does some great work in many many different books.

A great Barry Windsor Smith page from Storyteller. I am looking at a real wonderful image and it would be the biggest purchase ever for me. Soon. Not now I think, but soon enough.

Art Adams commission - Another case of not now but eventually. The time and money must align, and the above may come first, but this will also happen should I continue to exist into the next decade.

A second, and then third, fourth, etc. page from Dracula 44 featuring Dr. Strange by the legendary art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer. I tend to enjoy the Paul Smith, Marshall Rogers, Frank Brunner, and P Craig Russell Docs above Colan's, but this storyline could be the high mark for the character of Dr. Strange for me.

As I said before, I believe in creating your own destiny. I get only a few readers here, but I am grateful for the viewing and do not underestimate the power and effect of just one reader. So there it is.

Maybe someday I will seriously shoot for a Steve Ditko Dr. Strange page and really swing with the others. And before reaching that stage I would need to acquire some Alex Raymond, R. Crumb, Windsor McKay, and Frank Frazetta work. Maybe even a little Wood and some more Williamson. But for now these are my goals in terms of comic art. And when I say for now, of course I mean the very minute I type this. Because as any collector knows, the next object of desire is very hard to predict.

I mean, I have college for 2 coming up. I have to be realistic. ;-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

A New Comic Art Convention Theme

Okay, I got a bit tired of the whole 17X5 thing and decided to try something new recently. This is not to say that I am done with the 17X5 strip art theme or that I will stick with my new love exclusively, but when the Comic Geek Speak people cancelled their convention in Pennsylvania and a loosely affiliated business stepped up to host a show on the same dates in the town next to mine I figured there was no better time to try something new. And so I broke out the colored paper and set out for the Super Wild Pig Show a few weeks ago. I brought a few different colors and some ideas about what characters would work on each color paper. I had a small size, regular 8.5X11, and a few larger sheets about 26X22 or something like that. I also had a colored blue art board, firm, maybe for watercolors. I was most excited to use the largest sheets for head shots of The Hulk. My approach on head sketch jams is to try and get head sketches thrown in with, or negotiated alongside, convention sketch commissions and then consider a central figure if it is looking good. Lee Weeks was attending and hey, Lee Weeks = The Hulk, right? Well to me he does. Or at least did. He was next to Joe Staton, who could go a Green Lantern on another piece for a mixed character jam perhaps? Well Joe actually agreed to do a quick GL head sketch for free, or cheaply at least, but I never got around to getting it as he was usually busy or I wanted to go home. I had also pre-arranged a piece with The Shade from Chandra Free and figured she might do a small head sketch as well. And conventions always offer up unanticipated opportunity, so I always have that going for me. With that I set out for the long trek to Piscataway.

Six minutes later I was there, delayed who knows how long by having to endure the interminable wait of a passing train. I actually ended up going to this convention and home again two or three times each day since it was so close. I arranged for art from 4 artists: Lee Weeks, JK Woodward, Chandra Free, and Reilly Brown at a cost slightly north of $300. More than I wanted to spend but I had my new idea to pursue. Jk Woodward was quickly up for the challenge, as I new he would be. He took an 8.5X11 piece of red paper and agreed to do a Spider-Man shot. He seemed excited about it, so i was too. Then I got to speaking with Lee Weeks, who now knows me by sight if not by name. (For the young among you, dear readers, might I suggest it is a bad sign for your wallet when the artists recognize you when you enter the room. They poke each other and nod knowingly, saliva and spittle appearing at the edges of their slightly agape mouths almost imperceptibly, instantaneously. And when they speak you hear what the guppy hears when the shark speaks to him, what the fly hears when he alights on the web. "Welcome my friend. So good to see you.") Now I wouldn't want to cast any aspersions on Mr. Weeks with that digression, who is a gentleman and a scholar and overall nice guy. Deeply genuine, you can tell when you talk to him for even a few minutes that he lives by a strong ethical code. Nonetheless, he also possesses a bit of charlatan in him, and in this persona will amaze and astound you with feats of magic and prestidigitation. Although he did indeed do some great card tricks while I was in his presence, charming a young girl and her father both as Rudy Nebres and I looked on, it was his artistic ability that really left me amazed. When I approached him with the red paper and asked him to draw Spider-Man it was because I really like his version of the ol' wallcrawler. But he too got excited and told me about a Daredevil he had drawn a few years ago on red paper. DAREDEVIL! Lee Weeks "equaled" Daredevil for me long before Lee Weeks = the Hulk. So I left him the paper for a Daredevil and off I went. When I got back the next day I had the same reaction I had when Sean Chen handed me my first 17X5 piece. That of awe and of being astounded. This guy knew what he was doing, that is for sure.

Yes, another long trek awaited me. So one table down I ventured, down to the left where Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Nebres were seated. I had gotten my first Nebres sketch in the early 90s and reminded him of the show, the Super Mega Show in Secaucus. He had some wonderful art for sale, but I now have 3 Dr. Strange pieces drawn by Rudy and the convention sketch thing was covered for me. So we arranged a commission for him to complete at home and I gave him the rough idea and promised to bring reference to him by the shows end Sunday. That night I almost forgot and Rudy laughed late the next day when I finally showed up at his table, saying he was sure I had disappeared on him. So in the next few months I hope to have a sweet Dr. Strange vs Dracula drawn by Rudy Nebres in my possession. Doc will hopefully be discovering Dracula just after partaking of a little snack, to be one of the following heroines: Clea, The Valkyrie, The Scarlet Witch, Moondragon, or Photon aka Captain Marvel aka Monica Rambeau. So I also have that going for me. but I digress. Back to COLOR!

By the end of the day Saturday I had arranged for reilly Brown to do a Dr. Strange, but he was charging $50 for head shots and it didn't look like a good idea to ask for a freebie with my sketch. I often feel that if I spend $100 or more on a convention commisison from an artist than that is enough do-re-mi that I can feel okay asking for a quickie when I pay. But you have to feel each situation out and asking reilly would have been too big an imposition. He was going all out on my sketch and making good cash with his time on a Zatanna (really nice Zatanna, too) so it would have been unfair to ask, he likely would have done it too, but that don't make it right.

Now Chandra Free, on the other hand, was someone I felt fine asking for a quick sketch. I wanted to get a sketch from Chandra for a year or so since I became aware of her work but time and money had not yet aligned until now. She had arranged to do a Shade, from Starman, for me but since I wanted it big I had to bring the 11X17 paper to her late Saturday for Sunday pickup. That meant going home Saturday with 4 arranged pieces but nothing yet in hand. So when giving Chandra the paper I hit her up for a quick Batman on my blue artboard. She agreed and really did much more, and a much larger piece, than I expected. Now it is too big to scan and I have no picture yet, but believe me when I say it is way cool. Her take on The Shade was equally wonderful. but the main point is that I now have a large piece of blue art board with a sketch of Batman on the lower left corner. So I guess the colored paper thing may gain some traction after all. While the 17X5 pieces will continue, they will slow and be more carefully chosen. I only have a few more sheets left before I have to buy more. But colored paper, I got tons of that stuff. And with that DD up there to go by, I expect great things to come as a result.

Okay, that was longer and more rambling than first intended, but I can live with it I guess! See you soon!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Making Your Future Happen, the selfish version

I can be rather preachy. I am a psychologist, after all, so talking things over and making my point clearly is something I am comfortable doing. Sometimes I can do it rather well, and I frequently make my children stop everything and listen as I expound dramatically on a life lesson that MUST be taught then and there. I think it is important to tell my children when I am being serious, because it doesn't happen every day. I also take perverse fun in making a spectacle of myself while I tell them something of utmost seriousness and, hopefully, profound parental wisdom. You know, stuff kids like me ignored and only learned waaaaaay too late.

Along these lines I was recently on the pulpit in my living room preaching to, if not the choir, then the captive. This captive was my daughter, M age 12, who had mere moments before been watching one of her shows before being loudly and rudely interrupted in the face of my fervor at needing to point out how I had once again conjured the secrets of the universe whilst sitting in my basement at the computer. Today's lesson, and listen now, because this is serious...YOU MAKE YOUR DESTINY HAPPEN. I should stop right there, because that is the message of this post. Sure, this post may be about comic art (really most of my life is about comic art believe me) and yes I know it isn't remotely about comic art yet but just you wait and see but the idea that you make your life happen is about the most important thing I could ever teach my children. If you don't make your life happen, your life happens TO you. Many of the people I grew up with, friends and family alike, let their lives happen. I quickly made my life happen. I went to college, that was unknown in my family before my generation but expected of mine, but then went on to graduate school and then married and moved 700 miles to get a Ph.D. People I knew, friends and family, were perplexed at my decisions but then, and now, I know my life is my life and no one else's. Don't let people live your life. There are many corollaries to this statement and chief among them is you damn well better put yourself in position to accept the consequences of your actions if you live as you alone see fit. But I digress. The point is, again, that you have to form your own future. You can make life happen as you want if you truly want to do it.

Now, the reason I was so eager to pass along this particular nugget of fatherly sagacity was the recent exhibition and sale of art by Frank Miller. From Galerie 9 in Paris France 25 pieces were shown  and offered for sale from Sin City - Hell and Back; Family Values, and The Big Fat Kill. Most of the pieces sold in a few hours. This follows the first multiple piece offerings of prime Frank Miller comic art that I am aware of ever, recently made available by Frank himself through Graphic Collectibles. Now, I collect comic art. I spend a few hundred dollars on things, and have on occasion spent slightly more than than. I must admit than on occasion I have considered selling every piece I own to buy ONE magic Steve Ditko Dr. Strange page. But even as I think those thoughts, and I think them every so often, I realize I would never do such a thing even if I could. It would be too much in every way. But I looked at that gallery exhibit and I recalled those pages Mitch was selling and I decided then and there that I would one day own a sweet sweet Frank Miller page. And I decided as well that I would own this page sometime in the next 4 years. Five is too long and 2 is too soon, but I can see being able to go all out and pay what it takes in 4 years.

Now the reason this becomes noteworthy is that I immediately made this forecast public in a post on a comic art collector's message board. And as I looked at the published post, a boast of bravado and bluster now made public for all to see, I liked what I saw. I knew I was right, that I would own this page eventually, that it is out there right now in someone's closet or desk or even Frank's portfolios. It will make a journey from there to here, whether it comes from a gallery like Galerie 9, a dealer like Mitch at GC, or even from Frank Miller himself who I met at the Chicago Comic Con in 1995 or so where he signed my Elektra Lives Again hardcover and then had a drink next to, but not with, him at the bar in the Sofitel later that night. If I met him socially once hey, it could happen for sure. But it will happen. So I looked at the post and it was good.

Almost immediately I received a response from someone nice who could maybe eventually assist in possibly making this a reality. Equivocations mine, he could definitely make it happen today. But anyway. Nothing concrete at that time, just a note that my vow was heard. And that my friends is karma. The Good Lord looking over my shoulder. Destiny. Free Will. All of those and more. It is a Frank Miller page displayed prominently in every home I own until the day I die. As long as I live four more years of course.