Saturday, September 22, 2012

Starman 3 painted cover by Tony Harris - Significant Starman art day part 2


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!