Friday, August 30, 2013

The Fifty

My post earlier got me thinking. That can be a rare occurrence so I thought it worth mentioning. I decided that I would throw a curve a show something a little unexpected for The Fifity.

So in the next day or so expect to see a piece a little different from what people think of when they think of excellent comic art.

I have noticed that the majority of The Fifty is commissions. That surprised me. I am not sure it will be that way if I am ever "done" collecting, but it seems to be the case for now. Of course only 34 pieces are in The Fifty in my mind so far anyway; there is a lot of time before we get to the end point.

And I do have an end point.

The Fifty - It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's...Bill Sienkiewicz

This was a no brainer.

Bill Sienkiewicz Superman 400 recreation

I got a comment on CAF or the yahoo group list about this being the first commission the person had ever known of that requested the back of the character's head. That was a good one, pretty observant and a killer dig at a great piece.

Well played Thomas Vise, well played.

This piece was the result of a little mis-communication that resulted in it not being done in color as originally requested. At first I was really bummed. But that was the first and immediately and visceral reaction; I expected the big red cape but got black and white. Then I looked at the piece and all was well. I have since decided that I am glad it is in ink only. It is more singular of purpose. More abstract. The white is white hot, full of energy the red could never suggest. Less is more, at least in the hands of a master.

In fact it occurred to me that perhaps it was too good. Could Bill have lightboxed his own piece? I mean this is remarkably similar to the pin-up published in Superman 400 that it recreates. Upon further reflection I do not think this to be so, I thik it is original and new and wonderful. The background retains the most important effects and squiggles but is still totally original.  Bill told me when I requested this that it was the first time anyone asked but not the first time it occurred to him and that he was doing a bigger one himself. This piece is really great and Bill was a gentleman to work with. I have received mail from Bill in the past so I was confident I could pull it off but was wrong and thank to the art angel who prodded and reminded Bill a few times.

So this piece really impressed me and is a wonderful addition to my collection. I have gushed about it before here on the blog, so suffice it to say I fuckin' love it. It is the kinetic energy I have always wanted from Bill.

And I even know what I will get next time. Although this may be the ultimate unpublished Sienkiewicz piece for me, I don't think I will ever stop getting convention sketches from him.

See you soon Bill, see you soon.

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones 2007 commission
3  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
4  Bill Sienkiewicz Superman 400 pinup recreation
 JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread
6 Rudy Nebres - commission Doctor Strange comes upon Dracula & The Scarlet Witch

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comments, or lack thereof

I wonder sometimes why I do not receive comments on this blog. I try to engage the occasional person who honors me with a comment, but it never leads to more comments from them or from others.

Why is this?

See what I tried to do there?

Anyway, I would love to have an honest, fun and engaging dialogue in the comments section if anyone cares to go at it. I would love comments from readers out there to the comments, not even to me. I would really enjoy more discussion about original comic art, or whatever else  is on your mind as you read my posts. It can be related to the posts or not. Whatever. I would love to listen and hopefully learn a little as well.

I got 74 hits today so far. Someone seems to be reading. I used to get a steady 5-15 per day until I started posting more regularly. Lesson learned there. So I will post and hope someone reads and will be pleased as punch should someone comment.

And thank you to those of you who have commented in the past. I enjoyed reading them and I hope to hear from you all again. Each and every one of you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Pursuit of The Fifty

I have finished moving everything from other galleries on CAF to the gallery for The Fifty. I have two other pieces, at least, that I will have in there eventually but have no scans now. Most everything I have is on CAF though.

So right now we have these pieces active in The Fifty on CAF:

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones 2007 commission
3  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
4  Rudy Nebres - commission Doctor Strange comes upon Dracula & The Scarlet Witch
5  JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread

Five pieces revealed. Well I just counted and I have 34 in the gallery now. Many did not initially come to mind, but as I went through my galleries I saw some things that I knew fit right in The Fifty. Real gems. I thought I had about twenty or so. 


Thirty-four. Thirty four gems already in The Fifty.

Does that mean I stop collecting when I have sixteen more great pieces? Of course not! I know right away that just a few are tenuous at best. There are some convention sketches in there, and I am not sure they will eventually pass muster. But right now they do, and that is all I can ask.

And listen...I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I passed over some truly wonderful pieces when looking for members of The Fifty. I thought, more than once, "well, I won't sell that one until the bitter end. If at all." I mean, how do I get rid of something like this, even if it is not in The Fifty: 

Matt Smith commission - Dr Strange and Hellboy

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Fifty - Rudy Nebres

Rudy Nebres lives about 4 miles as the crow flies from my home. From this desk where I type these words to his desk where he draws magic, 20000 or so feet away. I started seeing him at conventions regularly throughout the Northeast US in the 1990s and bought a blue pencil Dr. Strange from him at a horror convention that had Tonya Roberts as a guest, and she looked spectacular from behind! Even in her fifties. but Rudy didn't look so attractive as he made a funny face at me when I wanted him to draw a Doc for me then and there instead of taking one he had brought to the show in his portfolios.

(Rudy, accompanied by his wife as always, still takes these portfolios to shows. They are full of wonderful ink and colored marker pieces; you get that pure Nebres style on the characters he is best known for working with. Vampirella. Batman. Conan. Dr. Strange. John Carter and Dejah Thoris. You get the idea.)

So I had been seeing Rudy for a few years and then he kinda became invisible to me. I really stopped looking at him year after year. Artists like Rudy, Rich Buckler, Irwin Hasen, Joe Sinnott, Ramona Fradon, and Jerry Robinson (to name a few) became commonplace in my convention going experience and I began to pass them by despite their greatness. But after a few years I gained a shred of something related to wisdom, wisdom's inbred double first cousin shall we say, (or at least I said it. I imagine you may not have ever say that. At least there in that spot there.) and the wisdom told me to slow down at shows and look at everyone with fresh eyes. I had acquired 2 Nebres Doc pieces over the years and would eventually come to own a few more after rediscovering him. That renewel came at a Comic Geek Speak Supershow in Pennsylvania. I had been browsing his art and talking to Rudy and the missus.They shortly got to the "where are you from?" part of our talk when we learned we were essentially from neighboring towns. Piscataway NJ is between our towns to be more specific. I filed that information away and left the show for the 2 hour jaunt back to NJ. It is a nice ride, and I am sorry the Supershow will not be happening in 2014. hopefully back in full force in 2015 Geek Speakers!

Shortly thereafter there was a Wild Pig Comics convention. These small mini conventions have been in central NJ for a few years and are a good opportuntity for my daughters to get a quality sketch and be home within an hour or two. Rudy was at a show and we caught up again. This was actually 3 miles from my house, and at that show were Rudy Nebres, Walt Simonson, Joe Staton, JK Woodward, and Reilly Brown! So I decided I would spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a commission to be delivered later. Actually, Mrs. Nebres invited me to the home to pick it up and see Rudy's studio. Bonus! So 2-3 weeks later I was in my car for the 10 minute drive and Rudy, with his family around him, presented me with this:

I stared at them and at the art in stunned and awed amazement. Then I sheepishly underpaid the man given the art he produced, was sworn to silence, said my goodbyes and thank yous, got in my car and drove home, guilty of DUI - Driving Under the Influence, the influence of Rudy Nebres!

Not two weeks after this piece came home I had decided to make it into a t-shirt that I could wear. I have gone on to make six or seven such shirts, all due to the awe inspring art you see above.

So now that the concept of The Fifty has been born, this great gathering will now be subjected to the influence of Dracula, Lord of the Vampires!

May The Vishanti Protect Us!

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones 2007 commission
3  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
4  Rudy Nebres - commission Doctor Strange comes upon Dracula & The Scarlet Witch
5  JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Commissions and The Fifty

When looking at pieces for inclusion in The Fifty some are easy and some are a bit harder to place accurately. As I said in my last post, the Simon Bisley commission I have of Dr. Strange and The Mindless Ones is one of the best pieces in my collection. Therefore its' inclusion was not even up for discussion. Then I looked at it among the other pieces and realized it was the only commission I had moved into the gallery.

You see, I may have a few pieces on display in The Fifty gallery on my CAF page but I have many many pieces in the gallery not yet active as well. So when I went to make the Bisley piece active I realized that the rest of the pieces are published pieces, pages and covers and the occasional pinup.

This made me think about what I was going for with The Fifty and if commissions really fit into my plans anymore at all. Because I once spent a large portion of my collection budget on convention sketches and home commissions. Seventy Five percent I would think. But those days are gone and in the last two years I have decided on far far fewer commissions and only a few sketches at any convention. I used to target about 20 artists and spend thousands of dollars on sketches and arranged commissions two or three times a year. No more.

I still get home commissions though. I got one of the two spots when Carlos Pacheco opened his list this past year. I got Dr. Strange and I love it. It is not for sale. It was $400, plus the stuff. But it will never be in The Fifty. It is 11X14 and just won't cut it in the end. So eventually it will be for sale. Five to ten years, but eventually. I have had a few Pacheco pieces over the years, even a published cover wit hDoc on it!, but have not yet found the one, the one that will make The Fifty. I would love a commission from someone like Art Adams, Mark Chiarello, or J H Williams 3rd (all possible sometime in my future so I hear) and will continue to give repeat business to people who have handled our past exchanges in exemplary fashion. That list includes Darryl Banks, Andy MacDonald, and Rudy Nebres - who have all agreed in principle but not specifics to their next assignments from Les Galleries Fedres.

And the same is true for convention sketches. Their is no way that I will not give money to Sean Chen for a convention sketch, especially more of the 17X5 pieces he has been doing for me these last few (FOUR!) years. Some guys, and some ladies as well, will always get my money if they have the time to take it. Andy MacDonald is again in this category. Tony Harris will never leave this category, even if eventually he will only draw cats and fish as superheroes and heroines from the 30s. And he will be dressed as Steampunk Tony as he does it! (Just kidding Tony, I love ya'! I always will! Come on up to NYCC or at least Baltimore!) Mark Texeira full figure graphic pieces when Renee is not around. (HA!) The days when I shell out $100 or $200 or $300 or even $500 (it'll be watercolor and everything!) hoping for the best are over. I spent ten thousand dollars over the last 5 years on convention sketches worth a grand on the open market. No more of that. But the guys I know are a sure thing, the Tonys and Andys and Marks, will always see my money at shows.

So I now forego those pieces for the most part in the quest for the next great piece. Or at least the next serious contender. But the ones that pan out? The ones that turn out truly special? Those may indeed find a spot next to The Biz in my comic art Valhalla! They have a chance at least, and now that I have thought it through I have a few more moved into the gallery awaiting active status. And as I look at them there, I know that they belong.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Simon Bisley's commission of Doctor Strange and The Mindless Ones - The Fifty

In the short history of The Fifty, I usually say pieces enter The Fifty but that is not appropriate here. Simon Reed once assisted me in getting a commission from Simon Bisley, THE BIZ! It went smoothly and although not completed at the London con that year as scheduled, Simon Reed was in touch frequently, I heard tales of it being seen started at the show, and two or three weeks later I had it in my hands.

Look at this amazing piece of comic art.

Dr. Strange vs. The Mindless Ones by Simon Bisley (2007 commission for me!)

I am going to go on a bit on this one, forgive me. I have not yet really commented on a piece when I name it to The Fifty. But I gotta groove on this one for sure. First of all look at the overall placement and orientation of the central image, Doctor Strange, and the relative placement of the supporting elements. As soon as you look at the piece your eye is pulled immedaitely to the center of the page and eventually to the face, arms, and hands of Doctor Strange. The eye then trails directly down Doctor Strange's figure to his feet. This immediately draws attention to the conflict in the piece from the blast at Doc's feet. Again the eye is pulled, first to the blasting Mindless One and then to the rest of them in the background. Doc's cape pulls you down and back to center again.

A masterfully laid out design by Simon Bisley on this commission tells the story in the first few milliseconds the eye hits the page. Scanning and visual saccades immediately transmit the information to the brain and in this case as soon as you see the piece the spell has been cast and the story has been told once again.

Then we can look at the figure. Each limb has a different technique utilized. One arm is straight at you foreshortening and one is off to the side. The legs are utilized to pull the piece back to center and are the source of the primary conflict in the blast, so one is used to anchor the figure to the ground, or at least close to it. I love the white hot of the foot. The other leg is used to show movement in the figure and increase the action level. In fact that back foot is a central piece in pulling the eye around the page.

And the hands! The Biz is the first of the many artists I have commissioned that has pulled off the circuular spell around the hand effect. And he does is so well. When I got this commission I immediately went "Wow. this is not what I expected! But it is better!!!". When I paid my rather large sum of money (most ever at the time by far, most still for a commission for me. Hopefully that changes soon though!) I expected less structure. But what I got far exceeded what I expected and certainly exceeded  what I would have been happy with out of the experience. Seven years later it is still the gem of my collection as far as I am concerned. I asked for it to be created, please sir!, and lookee here what I got in return.

So forgive me for crowing a bit. I may even be full of shit with all that stuff up above. I have no art experience myself but like what I see and like to analyze what goes into the art. Too much perhaps, eh?

So welcome Dr. Strange and Simon Bisley to The Fifty. And thanks again seven years later to Simon Reed and Simon Bisley for the professionalism and sheer enthusiasm they showed me in 2007. I still want another guys but what could be better than this?

As always, the official count.

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones 2007 commission
3  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
4  JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread

I think it is time to lay down a challenge. To myself. When I run out of posting members of The Fifty now in my possession I will buy another member. A new guy to sit at the table perhaps. Then that will be it for the year I think.

Unless you have some Starman or Flight of Bones art for sale? No? C'mon now...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Starman vs The Fifty...Just to be Clear

I have had quite a few questions about what I will do with my Starman pages due to my desire to attain The Fifty. Quite simply, I try not to think about it.

Let me make this as crystal clear as is possible. If The Fifty were to consist of 50 painted Starman covers I would be ecstatic. It would be the achievement of a lifetime as far as I am concerned. I have the painted covers to issues 3, 28, 35, and 53 at this point. I also have the pen and ink (Tony was not painting at this point but began again soon after) cover to issue 81 which came out many years after the series ended as part of some Zombie bandwagon 5th week thing DC did. And an unpublished (i.e. rejected) painted cover for the first miniseries featuring The Shade. Well, I guess I also have the cover to issue 11 of the most recent The Shade miniseries as well. Those last two could soon see the last train out of town if anyone is interested. Just saying. (Besides, at this very moment I also own the cover to issue 10 of that one as well, but Comiclink is selling it for me along with some other things.)

So again, I will continue to try to acquire painted covers from Starman. At least two of the ones I have now are heading to The Fifty, and if the other two don't make the final cut it will be a few years before that decision is made. I love the paintings for issue 3 and issue 53. The vibrant colors are astounding. The more subdued palettes on the others will likely grow on me over time. I already love 28 for the story it tells of Mikaal Tomas and 35 is new to me this year. So 46 more covers would rock my world.

I will likewise continue to try and buy every Starman page drawn by Tony Harris in existence. Only a family financial emergency would cause me to sell these pages. When I first got in the game, I did the math on what it would cost to buy every Starman page from the 80 issues. That was 20 years ago and I was serious at the time, figuring the pages were $40-$200ish and that would never change. After 5-10 years I knew that was foolhardy (but not these other plans, they be rock solid!) and focused on Tony. Although I did try to buy out Albert Moy of every Snejbjerg page he had, and Peter was game as well! But darn that Albert Moy for squashing the deal and seeing to it that the artist he represents gets top dollar for his work. Albert was so non-chalant about the whole thing when I mentioned it to him and I like to think I surprised him by actually getting in touch with Peter Snejbjerg across the world in Denmark and making the early part of a deal workable between Peter and I. It was like 50-100 pages. When push came to shove and dollar numbers were tossed around Albert told me quite plainly that he told Peter he was selling the pages slowly but surely at probably double the price I would be getting bulk. Peter wisely listened to the man he works with on a professional basis to handle those things. And I had seen them leaving one or two every 6 months and when I couldn't get them all, I stopped trying to get every one.

I don't know if any Starman pages will be in The Fifty. I mean, I have page 1 from issue 0, the first Starman page ever. It is a shot of Opal City, not too spectacular. But how could I keep that from my permanent collection? I have a three page sequence I bought from Ray Snyder that is quite simply the best sequence with The Shade in the first 50 issues. Those three pages stay together as far as I am concerned, is that 1 or 3 entries into the Fifty. Same question awaits me with regards to my 8 page standalone story of Ted Knight as Starman.

See, as I said in the is best not to think of these things.

But for right now, The Fifty and Starman fit quite nicely together in my collecting goals. When the day comes to put those goals against each other, my collection should be staggering and that will be a fine day indeed.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's In The Hole!

I was on fire today at Rutgers University Golf Course. The golfer I know is inside me made another appearance, his fourth or fifth this year. Black tees. I have had a great year this year on the course with the sticks. In fact after a few good rounds I decided to renew my handicap and proceeded to shoot 90 or better 10/11 rounds. So it is a good year when breaking 90 is now the goal and not 95 or even the now dreaded hunnert. Now I understand that you may not care but I have no one else to tell so sit right back and enjoy a tale, a tale of a fateful trip around the links.

I played with three gentlemen who were together, but since I play RU so often I had played with one of the guys a few weeks ago as well. So that was nice. I won't go around the course hole by hole, but the tale of the day resides in the fact that I started out pretty well, par on 1 and 2, 3 putt bogey and par again on 4 after a missed birdie opportunity. Four was also the first of 4 very good sand shots today. OH SANDY BABY! So after 6 I was 2 over and feeling good about things. The middle 6 at Rutgers is a tough stretch, but that is not what did me in today. I started talking to the golfer I played with a few weeks ago and a certain subject came up that demanded my focus. It isn't what you're thinking, but what the subject was is irrelevant. The result was a lack of focus as I was absorbed in discussion for a few holes and then left with some things to think about. Yes, I went double, double at 7 and 8 after the initial disturbance in The Force had occurred. I did par 9 deep in thought after blasting a wicked drive and a sweet 4 iron to the back of the green; that left me at par on five holes and 42 on the front.

However Ten is the bane of my existence and I again failed to make par on this hole, the only such hole on the course I have not had a par on at some point this year. In fact I struck a nice 3 iron off the tee but managed a 3 putt 6 after chunking a 6 iron approach shot. Fuck that hole. Fuck that hole in any and every orifice it has. Rumor has it that a fox lives on this hole but since the hole hates me I have never spotted sly Mr. Fox this year. Well fuck that fox in his hole too. In his sandy hole. His dry, green, parking-lot firm and sandy hole.

In any event it was 6, 4, 6 to start the back and make it eight over on the middle six. I had gone from 2 over after 6 to 10 over after 12. So much for that. I went from feeling like The Bishop in Caddyshack to a feeling and ball-striking like a first class moron. I knew it was the talk that had shaken my focus, and I know after playing golf this year for the first time in my life at a decent level consistently that a truly good round requires a level of focus I have never achieved. It is really quite startling. Golf is a matter of precision and degrees. Every shot must have focus. Stance, grip, body alignment, swing plane, and angle of attack to the green must then account for the physical characteristics of each shot. One triple bogey ruins it. One bad shot at the wrong time, or even any time at all, ruins it. Three putts ruin it. Every single fucking shot counts. Now it was after I missed a makeable 10 footer on 12 for bogey that I took a gimme 3 footer for double that I snapped out of it. To that point I had heard the cup rattle every hole and I was kind of proud of that with these 3 other strangers in my group. They had missed some short ones and kinda talked it over every once in a while amongst themselves, as Ken was to let me know. But I myself knew that stroke could have been missed and I should have counted until ball hit cup.

Another point bears mention. I am a constant and unstoppable scorecard counter and score projector. But on this day, around the 5th or 6th hole, I turned the scorecard over so I could not see the scores. I knew what I had at every moment, but it was a visual reinforcer as I drove the cart that I was not focusing of the card but on the hole. And I knew that the 42 on the front made this a good day no matter what I did. I was gonna shoot around 90 at the worst and it was a beautiful day. I always think that when I am on the course. I stand and close my eyes and breathe in the air and then look around a few times each round. And today I took my medicine when it was necessary, including on 13. I knocked out laterally and hit a good iron to the green. Then it happened. I finally hit a putt, this one a dozen or so feet breaking right to left. It slowed to the hole and turned in sweetly. Finally I made a rescue putt. That was the first of six straight par to finish four over. And since it is a par 35 back nine that four over meant 39 on the back. 42/39 equals 81. This is a tie for my best ever. I shot an 82 and an 83 earlier this year, but this round was special in many more ways. 11 par. Two genuine birdie putts missed, on 4 and 6 and another birdie attempt, this one on 15, that lipped out. That one was from 15 feet or so, so it doesn't really count as a missed opportunity but on that hole I was so far right that I had to hit over a hedge to the right of the tee box on the next hole. I opened the face and smashed the wedge straight up and 95 yards on the green. So that was a sweet par to keep it rolling even if I missed the bird. Bird was the word today but I did not in fact have any birdies on my way to that magic 81. the best round of my life so far.

And that damn gimmee on 12 will be the last one I take. Ball in hole from here on out EVERY time fellas. Every time.

See you on the links.

Back to comic art shortly, including the end of the Teddy K tale with a guest appearance by Nick Pitarra. Nick plays the role of spoiler, turning the tables in the end with a Shamalanian twist of redemption that makes your rarely humbled author come out feeling good after being a bit of a dick. I was the dick, not Nick. He was ...well, certainly not a dick but I guess that can all wait. And also coming soon enough is my tale of acquiring and loving the first professional Dr. Strange image drawn by a legendary comic artist. Really. You'll be impressed. He's known for his great body of work and some Doc in particular.

And The Fifty of course. The Fifty is what is generating my blog love lately, so it will be here to stay for a few months I think. Only time will tell I guess.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Fifty - Dan Green enters my Permanent Collection

Memory is a false and untrustworthy mistress, but it is all I got sometimes. If you ask me now I would say that there were two books responsible for beginning and/ or cementing my undying love for Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme and Master of The Mystic Arts! That may not even be true, but that is how I remember it. These two books were Triumph & Torment, written by Roger Stern with art by Mike Mignola and Mark Badger (Don't forget about Mark Badger on this book, he was important to the final look of the art even though everyone now like's to say they saw the Mignola genius here. maybe they did, but I like Mark's inks on Mike too.) and Into Shamballa written by J. M. DeMatteis and painted art by Dan Green. Dan green is probably much more known as an inker; I have fond memories of the Silvestri / Green team on X-Men. Remember the Australian Outback issues with Gateway and Wolverine and Rogue loosing their powers? Well Dan Green is a hell of an artist in his own right, and is a master painter in my opinion. I am lucky to own a Triumph & Torment page and two pages from Into Shamballa. (No you cannot see the Mignola / Badger piece now. It may not even be in The Fifty!) One of the pages from Into Shamballa is very similar to the  cover of the softcover edition; it is so close I thought it doubled as that cover until Dan Green told me he painted a separate image for the softcover edition but that they were the same pose. most would likely chose that one as their favorite but I like to be different. So here is the one I love, page 19.

Into Shamballa page 19 painted art by Dan Green

I find this page more vibrant than the other one I own. I love the (dis)orientation of the main figure and the hint of a Ditko-verse effect in the setting. The colors are strong but in the softer side that permeates the dreaminess of the whole story. Doc falling Into Shamballa. I love this page.

I have spoken with Dan about possibly buying more from this book; he now has the remaining art in his possession after some time in the more than capable hands of Mitch Itkowitz and Graphic Collectibles, from whom I bought my two pages. But if you collect comic art you know how it goes...there are always so many pieces you want and so few funds to get them with. But someday I hope to get some more. But I don't know if I will get any that I like better than this one.

So here I have a wonderfully executed, painted splash from a seminal adventure of my favorite character in all comics (yeah, sorry about that Jack Knight but it is true!) from the early and formative stage of my Doctor Strange fascination. Yeah, that sounds like a member of The Fifty to me!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some Thoughts on The Fifty - Want List

I have been thinking about the concept of The Fifty for some time now. But it was not until the opportunity to buy the Promethea spread moved me to action. I had bought those pages directly from Mick Gray and JHW3 back when the issue was published. I also had a spread from issue 25. Then I sold both of them in one of my periodic comic art collection cullings. These cullings occur periodically when I need money to feed the new purchases; I no longer work a second job nor feel I can use family money now that I have an actual family. So a few years ago I sold those Promethea spreads. But I missed the spread from issue 24! And when I sawit on Heritage I knew I would keep it if I could get it back for the right price. And now that I have, I will.

At least for now.

I can definitely see a future where The Fifty is complete and new, and yes better, pieces would be acquired. Some things would have to go. If I live to 75, I will at some point in the future surely buy some of the things on my current wish list. I have seen enough of this hobby in the last 25 years to know that this is true. (Heck, I may get my Frank Miller piece soon enough, and if I do I can see switching that out for an even better one eventually.)

And if I got any art by any of about 10 artists, all on my fantasy wish list, it would be a piece that would conceivably automatically go into The Fifty at the expense of just about anything in there now. I shouldn't even say "if" because it is a fact that my mind's eye conception of The Fifty surely has something by Steranko in it. There is no reason that Alex Raymond cannot be found in The Fifty, I mean I have some brushwork by Dave Sim that fills the void right now. Why can't I get something that inspired Dave to do his piece?

Hal Foster, Prince Valiant rather than Tarzan at this point in my life, must be in The Fifty. It will likely be a panel but like Alex Raymond I may need to get something small in order to fill that need. Winsor McKay must also be there. I might make do with a political cartoon for this one as every fan's dream is a Little Nemo in Slumberland, but some of the political cartoons that I have seen would immediately place in The Fifty. the guy was a master.

I must take a moment to point out that this fascination with strip artists of yesteryear is a really incredible development in my comic art collecting focus. It started before Dave Sim did Glamourpuss but Dave really lit a fire in me about brushwork and the quality of the line. (I owe him a letter or a phone call, too. He sent me a prelim featuring Raymond and Stan Drake and I owe him some heartfelt thanks!)

And if I am talking quality of line I have to mention my intention to get something nice from the most wonderful artist to ever lay ink on paper: Jean Giraud aka Moebius. I have a small sketch (or two?) in sketchbooks but I need a nice standalone image or even a page. I don't think it will be Blueberry though, something fantasy oriented.

And of course no collection that considers itself quality is without a dream of a Frazetta. I would take, heck I may prefer, a L'il Abner (Frank ghosted for Al Capp a few years) but anything ink would likely do. A complete image, not a prelim partially inked. It could be a warrior, a woman, a beastie, a good girl, or just about anything as long as it is clear Frank inked it until it was done and ready for viewing.

(As a Neuropsychologist, but not necessarily an art collector, I would also pretty much kill for a left-handed Frazetta painting. The fact that Frank was able to accomplish this task may be the most remarkable thing he ever did and having a painting that was verified as being painted after the stroke and with Frank's left hand would change my life I think. I would tell everyone who ever saw it what it meant, and I think I would be like a modern day disciple carrying around a blessed artifact. I can't wait until the museum re-opens in the next year or so; my wife and I had made plans to visit when the tragedies started to befall Frank and Ellie so it never happened back then.)

So let's see: Frazetta, Moebius, Foster, Raymond, Steranko, McKay. Anyone else? Oh, Frank Miller was in there too. Since those acquisitions could be low 5 figures each (calm down readers in my family, I will sell the 600 to get them remember!), I may as well put a Charles Schulz' Peanuts on there. Hey, it could happen! But now we are getting silly, so before Calvin & Hobbes comes up I will tie it up here.

Surprisingly little superhero art on there. I know I would love a better Walt Simonson, a better Kevin Nowlan Strange Tales cover, more Barry Windsor-Smith, Gene Colan / Tom Palmer covers from Dr Strange 14 or Tomb of Dracula 44, and many other things. And superhero art is what I have and love, so The Fifty will mostly be about that. But I want a collection that represents the greats of the medium, not the greats of any genre. Or at least my favorites. And at this point JH Williams 3rd, with Mick Gray, and Barry Windsor-Smith sit at the table of The Fifty. I think they would certainly be accepted as peers by the individuals I hope to place in the room with them.

The Fifty - Barry Windsor-Smith Enters My Permanent Art Collection

After making a gallery room for The Fifty and putting the JHW3/Mick Gray spread from Alan Moore's Promethea therein, I looked over my collection. I have about a dozen pieces that would be in The Fifty right now. This is quite possibly #1 on the list. It won't be the only BWS in The Fifty, you can count on that!, but it may be the best.

Young Gods 1 page 4 splash from Barry Windsor-Smith's Storyteller

Now that is fine comic art there, yessirreeBob!

And because it is kind of fun, I will assign numbers. these numbers will change over time as The Fifty gains, and possibly loses, members.

1. BWS STORYTELLER: Young Gods 1 page 4 splash
2. PROMETHEA 24 pages 10/11 double page spread

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Fifty - Promethea Enters My Permanent Art Collection

As evidenced by my last post, I am reassessing my comic art collection. I will have children in college in a few years and will be hitting the half-century even before that. I have about 600 pieces of original comic art. I want fewer pieces, better pieces, and that is nothing new.

So I will accumulate The Fifty. Fifty pieces of art that will hopefully be in my collection when I die on my 100th birthday, 11/29/2066. It will have been a sweet life.

Now a few things must certainly be addressed. I have over 100 Starman pages and they are not going anywhere. Tony Harris Starman and Dr. Strange Flight of Bones will not be part of this equation. But otherwise my art will generally fall into two categories: The Fifty and everything else. And woe to any pieces on the wrong side of the tracks. Should the train come along they could well find themselves swept away in the momentum. It has happened already to many of their comrades in ink.

And pieces can leave The Fifty. Comic art collecting is a fickle and fluid pursuit. But until yesterday I had never had a piece leave the fold and then return.

Promethea written by Alan Moore with art by JH Williams 3rd and Mick Gray

I think its' imminent return is cause for a declaration of loyalty, so it is now a member of The Fifty. I never should have sold it and am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to rectify that poor decision.

More from The Fifty later.