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

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