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!