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.