Sunday, March 30, 2014

Comic Art Con Acquisition - Barry Windsor-Smith Daredevil 236 page 4

BWS Daredevil 236 page 4
Here is what I drove an hour to pick up today. Well worth it, no? I add this one to the two others from this issue I own. I will post all three of them later today or early this week, but for now let's give the new addition the spotlight.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Comic Art Con this weekend - An Embarrassment of Comic Art Riches

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the Comic Art Con is an ingenious idea - a comic convention not for comic books but comic art. I have been going since the earliest shows, although not the very first one. One of my earliest shows, perhaps my first but more likely my second, was as a dealer; I bought a table and set up shop. thinking back on it now, it may well have been my first as I had high hopes of selling a lot of stuff in the $75-$200 range, although I had a few betters items as well. I ended up selling my two Todd McFarlane Infinity Inc.pages to two dealers, Anthony Snyder (son of Jimmy the Greek dontchaknow) and one of the guys from Comic Link Not a good sign when the other dealers are buying your stuff, but at least I made two sales at the prices I had set when I went into the room.

Most of the time that show was spent sitting at my table obviously. This was a lot more fun than it would at first seem; my table was situated across the aisle from Conrad Eschenberg's booth and I stared at the wonderful art on his walls all day while he spent that time writhing in pain under his booth. I think it was his back. I have not seen him at any subsequent comic art cons and hear that his condition is relatively unchanged. I hope this information is wrong and that he has improved. But his comic art collection was amazing. I also remember, vividly, looking through Bechara Maloof's stuff for the first time (Nostalgic Collectibles). I stumbled across a small portfolio, never seen again, that contained an entire issue of Tomb of Dracula - issue 44 in fact. Issue 44 was a cross-over with Dr. Strange 14 in which Doc and Drac fight it out, both basically winning in their own titles. I remember reading it in the early eighties and loving it. When I tried to buy a page I was told he was not breaking up the issue, although he was thinking about doing so in the near future. Shortly thereafter he did just that. I have seen Bechara at many comic art cons and one or two Penn Plaza Pavilion shows, or NYCC, or WWE, or wherever it may be and always look for pages from this issue. He never again brought the portfolio with the whole book as far as I know, but I have since been able to buy 3 pages from that issue and one from Dr. Strange 14. I have seen one or two in other collectors galleries as well - John Sisson has a beauty and the Dr. Strange splash was recently sold at auction for just under $5K.

But other than that one time as a dealer my experiences at the comic art con have been as a collector. The set-up has some consistency at this point. In the inner circle you will usually find Mike Burkey and Albert Moy, as well as the guest artist for the show. One the outer wall as you walk in you will find Rich Donnelly, Comic Link, Tri-State, Will Gabri-El, Bechara Maloof, Anthony Snyder. I am less sure where you will find Frank Giella, Jim Warden, Scott Eder and Hans but they are usually there as well. I am likely leaving someone out as well. There is a ton of original art in the room of an unimaginable monetary value. It boggles the mind. Portfolios with 40 5-figure pieces abound. Six-figure art is not my domain (not even five figure art yet but someday hopefully!) but I don't think there is too much of that in the room, some but not piece after piece after piece like there is for $5000-$25000 pieces. And plenty of pieces above $25K as well, don't get me wrong. But of the dealers I mentioned above, although I have not bought art from all of them, only a few will have a majority pages and pieces of original comic art available for under $500. My favorite tables to visit at the comic art con are Bechara's and Albert's because they both have a ton of high end and beautiful art to look at which comprises the majority of their wares but they also have some lower end pages that are well worth looking through.

I am spending more time at Scott Eder's table at various shows. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s I was a fixture at Scott's table every con but my essentially buying all his Starman material coincided with him moving to more esoteric and alternative forms of comic art. I seem to be coming around his way once again, with the surefire evidence being my presence at his table again regularly after maybe a decade off or only going by to say hello but not peruse the art. He still has an edgier sensibility than I do but he has a wonderfully diverse selection; on any given Sunday you stand a chance of seeing Herriman, Ware, Moebius, and Crumb all at his table somewhere. Plus he remains a supporter of the artists he has always championed - artists like Ash Wood, Jim Mahfood, Tony Millionaire, Daniel Clowes and Jim Woodring - so his table is always full of new discoveries for me.

That's really why this small show is often the highlight of the collecting year for me, year after year. I am able to indulge most of my collecting passions (very little Starman ever at the comic art con) and ogle art from every interest I have. I also get to be exposed - in a very tactile, stimulating and immediate sense - to new avenues for my passion to follow; every show produces new neural pathways as a result of the experience, all from exposure to ink lines on paper.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fifty - Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X

This could be the most valuable page in my collection. But it is special to me not for its' monetary value but for the sheer beauty and artistry of the page. Ladies and gentlemen, page 7 from Chapter 2 of Barry Windsor Smith's epic Wolverine origin story, Weapon X!

Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X Chapter 2 page 7

This is such a great page, art AND story. You have the previously vicious but now sedated and subdued Wolverine and the scientists central to his creation expressing their true ignorance of what a unique patient they have with their current Weapon X subject. The linework on the page, especially on the Wolverine panels,is amazing. (The figure in panel two looks straight out of the Trimpe/BWS Machine Man series.) Wolverine in the tank is an iconic and unforgettable image and you can see why on this page. The images are mesmerizing: tubes, wires, and futuristic technology supporting and evolving the primitive and bestial figure of Wolverine.

I love it. It was one of the first pieces I had framed when I first envisioned The Fifty. It hangs proudly about six feet in front of me, 2 o'clock high, and it is beautiful.

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Tony Harris / Ray Snyder Dr. Strange WIRED Magazine cover
3  BWS Weapon X page
4  Gene Colan / Tom Palmer Tomb of Dracula 44 page 1 splash
5  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones
6  Ted McKeever Dr. Strange vs Dr.Doom in Hell
7  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
8  Tony Harris 1994 Starman pinup
9  Bill Sienkiewicz Superman 400 pinup recreation
10  JHW3 Milestone Forever pinup
11  Darwyn Cooke Wonder Woman
12  Dan Adkins Dr Strange 170 page 11
13 JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread
14  Rudy Nebres - Dr. Strange, Dracula & The Scarlet Witch
15  Anna Merli Clea
16  Mitchell Bretweiser Dr. Strange watercolor
17  Jae Lee Dr. Strange

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 Comic Art Collecting Goals - Better Late Than Never!

Okay, last year I did this with a Top Ten type of want list thingee, so I will use that approach again. Although this is not in any particular order, more off the top of my head.

1.  As always I want some Tony Harris Starman, preferably one cover a year. I have already purchased two nice Harris Starman pieces, one of which is cover worthy so that would likely count as having met this goal. But I would still get more is everything aligned correctly.

2.  PCR Dr.Strange double page spread from Ultimate Spider-man Super Stories. This could be my ultimate grail.

3.  Dave Sim Glamourpuss/Death of Alex Raymond brush work piece. Dave was kind enough to mail me a prelim from a published panel in Glamourpuss featuring Alex Raymond and Stan Drake in the car of death and disfigurement, and as wonderful a gesture as that was and as wonderful a pencil piece as irt is, it is not enough. I need to get me some lush brushwork by Dave Sim and the sooner the better.

4.  Alex Raymond. Again, something featuring the brushwork of a master. I would prefer a page / piece / panel that has varied technique.

5.  Winsor McCay. I would love a Nemo but they are out of my price range, as is a Rare Bit Fiend. But his political illustrations are marvelous and I hope to find one that has that "KA-POW" effect on me and falls in my price range. That last statement is actually not as ridiculous as it may seem at first so maybe this year will be the year I get my McCay.

Last year I think I had all the strip artists in one catch-all wanted item. This year I have already purchased a nice, and relatively cheap, Al Capp L'il Abner daily. Here it is -

I haven't gotten around to talking about the content yet, so now is as good a time as any I guess. It is a Sadie Hawkins' Day strip. This strip is from 1940 and Capp invented Sadie Hawkins Day in L'il Abner in 1937. I didn't know it was only the third year at the time I first saw it, but when I saw the content and the faces of the characters I loved it right away. It certainly had that "KA-POW" on first reading. I guess I felt a bit like the guy in that third panel, huh? Anyway, I bought it that Sunday evening. I don't think it is fair to put it on the list or not but the fact remains I have it now and am no longer considering all strip artists as a group but now my wants are much more nuanced and individualized. I will continue to admire Al Capp and will continue to peruse the early Abner strips available for purchase in the possible hopes of acquiring another but having the one I have is enough for now in terms of Top Ten hopeful acquisitions for 2014.

6.  Tony Harris Dr. Strange Flight of Bones art. I consider this the best Harris art out there and am trying to get all of issues 1 and 2 of this miniseries. I would consider some of the Paul Chadwick pages from issues 3 and 4 but 1 and 2 are where it is at collecting-wise for me! This stuff grabs me when I look at it in my portfolios like nothing else, and I really love and appreciate owning some. I would prefer to own more and will even trade Harris Starman art for Harris Dr. Strange Flight of Bones stuff. The painted covers by Harris from this miniseries on CAF are my number 2 and 3 (one painting is actually 2 of the covers if I recall correctly) grail pieces behind the PCR above. having this item so low on this list is testament that it is off the top of my head and not in actual order, because then it would be #2.

7.  Hal Foster Prince Valiant. I would take some Tarzan if it fell into my lap, of course, but my goal in terms of Hal Foster would be Prince Valiant. I would love a whole strip but (un)fortunately many strips have been cut up and are sold as panels or perhaps tiers. These are the pieces I would be able to afford, and I would gladly settle for a cut up panel if it was drawn by Hal Foster! (Or at least I have to hope he drew some/most of it, as I have to do with my Al Capp piece.)

8.  Bill Everett Dr. Strange. I don't think I can afford it yet, but since I am a firm believer in the fact that visualizing making things happen increases their chance of actually happening (and since I am having a hard time getting to ten here) I will put this here. I love Bill Everett's work on Dr. Strange, it grabs me when I see the original art up close. KA-FREAKIN'-POW!

9.  Art Adams. I may try for that commission still, but I have been loving the New Mutants stuff coming out at auctions recently. There are always wonderful Art Adams pieces coming out, and one of them could easily find its' way to my home this year.

10.  Barry Windsor-Smith. It is always a good year when I get a new BWS piece, and I have plans to do just that this week! So that goal should be met shortly, but like the Tony Harris Starman acquisitions, the goal remains. I am this close to emailing BWS Studios and getting another time payment plan going. Hmmm. that's a freakin' great idea, and since, I am on number ten I guess I can think that over a bit more. (They like you to have your shit together at BWS Studios, at least as far as I can tell.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Original Comic Art Collecting Goals, Part One

Before I make goals for the coming year, I think it wise to reflect on last year's goals. If you look at my goal's for 2013 and add up the amount of money required to buy pieces from each of the ten wants you will see how unrealistic I was. However, I did manage to secure a few of the 10 goals.

I got my first Frank Miller.

I got another page from Tomb of Dracula 44, but failed to acquire the splash to Dr. Strange 14. Still a win.

And last but not least I got the cover to the Cerebus issue of Mars Attacks by Dave Sim. I didn't even realize that I had put that in the want list until re-reading it. I also got a piece of The Strange Death of Alex Raymond for which I owe a "Thank You" letter to Dave Sim. Really gotta write that letter.

So three pieces out of ten. Pretty awesome if you ask me. No, I did not get a Prince Valiant panel or full strip. I did not get an Alex Raymond or a Winsor McKay. I did not get a Starman cover for the first time in years. I did not even get many Harris Starman pages, if any at all. I certainly did not get the PCR Dr. Strange spread of my dreams or any Harris Dr. Strange Flight of Bones pages. But those will probably be on next year's list, which is coming, eventually.

Okay, let's see them all in a row! THE FIFTY!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Fifty - Tony Harris Starman pin-up

Okay, I know I just posted about this piece,but since you all see it down there in the previous post it is kind of obvious that it will be in The Fifty. So why delay the obvious, and without further eloquence, ladies and gentlemen - Tony Harris places Jack Knight in the Fifty.

That won't be the last time I write that last sentence; you'll see it at least once more and likely 3-4 times more. But this one is special.I like it a lot, despite not being overly familiar with the image. I love the raw edge on it that the best early Starman pieces have, before Jack began to look too much like Tony himself! (That is just a joke really, Tony got better but that is maybe why I like the earlier pieces as well, because they contain embryonic Jack and Tony within.) Sentiment aside, the piece speaks strongly to me. I love the attitude that the figure's stance conveys. The colors are used well; it may be black and white but it is not "just" black and white, or "only".

I also own this.

I love it as well. It is from Starman 81, a gimmick issue bred of Green Lantern and the addition of other colors to the GL ring mythos. Well eventually they brought back dead characters, and in this case a dead series, and gave them black rings to wield. Starman 81 was published in 2010 after the series had been finished with issue 80 in 2001 and they brought back James Robinson to write it and Tony Harris to draw the cover.however, Tony had not yet begun painting up the storm he subsequently conjured with his brushes and did this one in pen and ink. it is technically better by far I think, but the early one is in the Fifty right now and ol' Dickie Swift and dead David Knight are on the outside looking in, in my opinion. So far, at least. There is still a lot of room in The Fifty, even if I can count at least 5 spaces reserved for pieces I currently own drawn by Tony without Starman 81 making the cut!

Wow. The Fifty is up to sixteen pieces now. We're getting there. Four are framed and on the wall as we speak. There are also two others from The Fifty not yet unveiled but framed and on the wall as well.

The Fifty
1  BWS Storyteller Young Gods page 4
2  Tony Harris / Ray Snyder Dr. Strange WIRED Magazine cover
3  Gene Colan / Tom Palmer Tomb of Dracula 44 page 1 splash
4  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones
5  Ted McKeever Dr. Strange vs Dr.Doom in Hell
6  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash
7  Tony Harris 1994 Starman pinup
8  Bill Sienkiewicz Superman 400 pinup recreation
9  JHW3 Milestone Forever pinup
10  Darwyn Cooke Wonder Woman
11  Dan Adkins Dr Strange 170 page 11
12 JH Williams 3rd / Mick Gray Promethea 24 double page spread
13  Rudy Nebres - Dr. Strange, Dracula & The Scarlet Witch
14  Anna Merli Clea
15  Mitchell Bretweiser Dr. Strange watercolor
16  Jae Lee Dr. Strange

Third Original Art Acquisition of the Year! A Tony Harris Starman gem!

TONY HARRIS 1994 Starman pin-up / later DC house ad

I was really excited to see this piece in the Comic Link auction a month or two ago. I saw that a "Starman 0 pinup" was previewed but there was no picture. However, I had a definite idea what piece it was that was likely coming up for sale. First off, I have Starman 0 and there are no pinups in it. But I had seen the term used before more than once in association with a specific piece. And that piece was for sale once in a while. I was intrigued that the piece I had in mind was going to come to auction without reserve.

But I was wrong. When a picture was finally posted sometime around the day of the auction it was the piece above. My piece, now. I had seen the image before but was did not know where it was from. I did not want to draw attention to it publicly so my research was limited to going through my Starman comics. I went through a few of the earliest issues and...nothing. I went through the first Starman Omnibus, which has a lot of extras and prelims (a few of which I own!), and found...nothing like the above piece.

So I just sniped the hell out of it and bought it. It was really as simple as that; I bid a few hundred more than what it cost to buy in the end, and that was good as I waited to really snipe it at the bitter end and there was no time for another attempt.

My thought was that it was probably the rejected first cover for issue 0. Tony Harris did painted covers for all the issues of Starman, at least all the ones he did on his main run.But I have also seen that his earliest attempts were just pen and ink. hence my guess that this was a rejected and early version of Starman 0, with whom it also shares some subject matter.

So after I bought it I was able to ask publicly. Turns out I was wrong again. Actually at first I was contacted by the person who consigned it to ComicLink, and he bought it in 1994 from Tony at Heroes Con and thought it to be a Starman 0 pinup. But I was quickly shown a house ad from a DC comic book published in 1996 in which this art is used as a house ad for the James Robinson / Tony Harris Starman comic. tony also chimed in a said as much.

But that does not really make sense. It has a 1994 date on it, which I think is one of the main factors why  Clink attributed it to Starman 0, which was mid-94. So for now I have to go with the house ad attribution, although I think it is far more than that. It has the angular look for Jack that Tony had very early on and the '94 date is unmistakable. Why would he make art for a DC house ad when the comic started coming out of a 5th week stunt - remember "Zero Hour"? Well, wonders never cease I guess.

ps  I should have my fourth 2014 piece, another Tony Harris original, in hand any day now.Perhaps even today. I also plan on acquiring one piece at the comic art con next Sunday. One is definite, other(s) are possible but unlikely.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Al Capp daily - UH OH!

This is my second acquisition of the year.I got it through Heritage, who have been auctioning a few Capp strips every auction for quite a while now. I have been becoming increasingly fond of old strip art, and that created with a brush especially. There are some obvious masters in the area, and for quite some time Al Capp was among them. As much as I would love a L'il Abner drawn by Frank Frazetta when he was Al's ghost in the 50s on the Sunday strips, I would rather have this genuine article. If I get a Frazetta some day, and I will unless I die first, it will be something genuinely Frank, not Frank ghosting someone else's look. And Frank Frazetta, arguably the greatest artist of the 20th Century, spoke well of Al Capp's drawing ability. That alone says it all to me; I had to get me an Al Capp Abner!

So I had been looking and looking at the ones offered for sale. I was not interested in anything from the 60s or later,mostly because strips from the 40s seemed to be just as plentiful as those from the later years. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Al Capp biography by Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen and trust Kitchen enough to go with the information he provides within those pages when it comes to Capp's assistants and ghosts for L'il Abner. It seems that as much or as little as Al Capp had to do with any one strip, he was adamant and unyielding in that he always drew the faces and hands of every character.

So that was that then. I needed an early strip, the earlier the better as Capp drew everything himself in the first years of the strip supposedly, which started in 1934. And I needed a strip with faces and hands,faces and hands. This was not as easily attained as I had hoped. There are quite a few strips of wild abandon and chicanery that featured elongated figures, scenery - streets and buildings and outdoor locations, and maybe little else. So when the strip above came along I remember saying out loud "I love it!", and I knew a little too late that I was in for a penny, in for a pound. Fortunately it was not that expensive and I was able to buy it.

It's freakin' huge! 23x7!

I didn't measure it but it is in my oversize portfolio as it is too big for an 11x17. By far.

It is also in excellent condition for something drawn in 1940. It really is a wonder to behold.

And I haven't even mentioned the content. We'll do that next time maybe, but for now it is potatoes and The Quiet Man and St. Patrick's Day! Erin go braugh! I am a lucky man, Thank the Lord!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

First new art of the year...Tony Harris! Surprised? NOPE!

I used to get new artwork on a regular basis. I am in fact expecting another package tonight FEDEX that may or may not come. But after a three day game of tag with my local post office, including a day when he had my art but no electronic thingamajig for me to sign so he would not give me my package.

I remained calm as he drove away into the night. Yesterday.

Today I went there three times but in the end came home with my package. Here it is, Starman 3 page 1. 1994 James Robinson writer with Tony Harris art inked by Wade von Grawbadger.

Starman 3 page 1 James Robinson writer, Tony Harris penciller; Wade von Grawbadger inker 1995 DC Comics

It is interesting how I got this page. This is my version of reality and some conjecture, so it may not reflect the seller's reality but here goes...

I am selling off a ton of my original art collection, including some Starman stuff as well. I have been somewhat shocked at the lack of a market for Starman pages not drawn by Tony Harris. Many pages from key issues in the series - whether Steve Yeowell in the memorable Christmas/Santa issue or even the early Sins of the Child story arc that used different artists like Amanda Conner or Stuart Immomen on different story parts for a few pages each - can be had for less than $150 and more often than not less than $100. That is, if I am not in the market buying them apparently! (I will still buy pages from the Matt Smith Showcase issues with The Shade and The Flash for $100 each - 2x market - or more, but I digress.)

So after watching pages by Gene Ha, or Immomen or Conner or Yeowell or Matt Smith or Peter Snejgjerg, go for less than I was comfortable with I listed a page or two of Harris Starman art as well. Not at low starting price but listed for sale all the same. A page sold by Scott Eder of Harris art from the 30s or 40s went for over $500, so I listed a sweet splash from early in the run at $450 and waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing.

But something else strange happened then as well. Another great Starman collector and enthusiast listed a nice circle page from issue 3 with a BIN of $675 (if I recall correctly). And no one bought his either. Now I liked that page right away when I saw it and wondered if it being up for sale was at all a reaction to the pages I was selling in the weeks just prior. But like me that seller was only willing to sell at a conservative price, one near the top of the market. And he didn't get more bids than mine either. We both still had our pages.

So I listed mine at $9.99 start and no reserve. A few hours later I regained my senses and ended the auction. If I am going to sell (some of) my art in order to better my life circumstances and also buy more new art I am going to keep those Harris pages until the bitter end. I don't mind letting other things go at ridiculous prices, not too much at least, because I enjoyed owning them and am happy to watch the paypal balance grow without worrying too much about the bloodshed necessary to get it there. (I just yesterday made two ebay sales, both starting prices of $9.99 with one bid each, and one of those pieces cost me fiddy (Shane Davis) and the other may even have been a hunnert originally (Elvin Hernandez, although 75 is possible as well). But I'll be damned if I am going to use my Harris pages that way.

But perhaps not everyone felt that way because the other page appeared again around this time as well. Not at a low starting bid but at a BIN I found reasonable. Just barely but definitely fair. It lasted a few hours overall and only a minute or so once I saw it.

So I started out trying to sell my Harris Starman art and ended up with one more page and a few hundred dollars poorer. It took a nice Cheung page from Illuminati 2 and a few other pieces to cover the cash but heck yeah I came out ahead. A double circle page from issue 3? Forgetaboutit!