Sunday, November 30, 2014

Epic Art Weekend, or "How to Turn 48 in Style, Bitches!"

I had an awesome weekend.

Weekend, the end of the week.

That is as important as the weekend itself, because last week was my 2nd Annual Birthday Sale that ended last night at midnight. I sold four awesome pages and a few smaller things.

But I got rid of about 70 items in the sale.

Huh Wha?

Trades my kind sir, trades.

I contacted a local dealer during the early stages of my sale and expressed a desire to trade with him. He was surprisingly willing but frustratingly vague for the most part. As the week went on I added some items to the sale and dropped prices once or twice while simultaneously engaged in ongoing discussion with the dealer setting trade parameters. At one point he expressed concern that I was trying to sell everything before we met for the trade on my birthday. He said he bought art as well as traded for it. I explained that I was indeed trying to sell the art before we met and that he was welcome to buy the art at stated prices at any time.

He elected to wait for the trade.

In the meantime I sold a few more pieces, including one he professed interest in during our talks. That was good, as it showed I had viable items for sale/trade. I also fortified what I had for sale publicly with some awesome items for trade. And when the weekend came I was ready.

Or so I thought.

We met Saturday as planned and after about two hours I was dizzied, battered and bruised. Not from the dealer, who was just doing business in the exact style I had hoped for and anticipated. But it was a business to him, and I was engaged in the wholesale destruction of an art collection that I had built over the course of 25 years.

It was vicious.

I was vicous.

I was ruthless and I was mercenary. A piece got bent and I had to let it go. It was merchandise, not my collection. It was no longer my collection.

I am choked up typing that. Seriously.

Starman pages were flying out of the portfolio left and right. I had accumulated over 100 at one time and here he was taking some, leaving some, and generally wreaking havok on my collection and my psyche. All dealers hate your stuff as they look at it, trade for it, or even pay cash for it but having some pages dismissed casually regardless of content was rough for me. He never read the book, and no dealer has ever had an inventory of more than 3 Harris Starman pages at one time since Scott Eder 20 years ago. mostly because I was buying them. (I mean, I survived. Trust me in that I survived, but we will get to that.) I mean, you may know already and you may not. You may think it is ego on my part, but if you wanted to buy Harris Starman art you had to deal with me at one point or another. You HAD to go through me.

Unless I feel asleep before a late night auction.

That happened, more than once.

But here I was actively trying to give them to the dealer for far less than I would sell them to you. But then again you didn' t have stuff like this for me in return.

Wonder Woman REAR - pencil layout Dave Bullock / inks Darwyn Cooke

And it wasn't just Jack Knight I turned my back on. Steven Strange forgive me! But the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto was there to guide me and show me the way. The dealer was even heard to tell a friend/spectator in his shop that he was getting out ahead of the movie.

Yeah, me too.

I gave him more Dr.Strange than you can imagine. I condensed and then eliminated three Itoyas to do it. Twenty years plus of paid con sketches -masterpieces and quickies both - and commission after commission. He got at least two of my Darryl Banks commissions. After I went out to the car and got the double secret stash - a painted Starman cover and more Doc beauties (the good ones!) - he managed to procure my Valkyrie commission by Kevin Nowlan. Yeah, the big-ass Bruunhilde. I wouldn't be surprised if he keeps that one for a while or even if I see it onhis wall framed in the future.

And that was just the first day.

HEY NOW! JHW3 / Mick Gray Flash Annual 1996 splash with Grateful Dead motif!
When I got home I realized I had left early and made a bad decision or two when I was there. I did not regret anything and was not at all unsatisfied by the trades we had made; I got 10 pieces, one of which he could not locate and was to be mailed later. But I was overwhelmed losing so much art in such a quick manner that I had to end it after 2.5-3 hours and head on home.

I was so pumped but still had a ton of art left to trade. I know I can always trade or sell it at a later date but felt that I had missed out on capitalizing better on the opportunity.

But then I got an email saying the dealer had located the Mignola piece (oops!) and that he had enjoyed the day as well. I decided I would see if he wanted to do it again Sunday.

With the exact same stuff that he had seen earlier Saturday.

He did.

We made arrangements to meet again and I set out to work. A man with a plan. Now that I knew how he worked I prepared thoroughly and even reviewed his website again. Man oh man,how did I miss all that excellent stuff! Plus, I had seen things. Scary things. Wonderful things. Many many different things. All available for my treasures.

JHW3 / Mick Gray Gambit & Bishop 6 cover

When I got there today I asked if I could spend some time looking through his inventory again. I was looking for a BWS unused cover rough from Valiant days gone by and a Pacheco unused Avengers Forever cover with a lone figure of Kang the Conqueror. After really busting my butt I finally asked and eventually learned they were both long gone. But I found something that I was looking for on Saturday and that was a bonus for sure. I really wanted that goofy 1973 Marvel page (unscanned as yet so don't bother looking in this post for it! Look at this instead!)

Tom Raney / Randy Elliott Stormwatch 48 cover
So after locating just three items we got down to it. I showed him my 9x12 portfolio and hit him with my plan: I had the leftover-from-Saturday stuff in the book and had labeled it by name and trade value and wanted him to take it all then and there. It was almost all $25 and $50 sketches with one $125, one $200 and the occasional $75 piece in there as well. Free sketches from big names, good sketches from no-names, and great pieces by mid-level guys as well. I mean the Dustin Weaver was to-die-for. I had the lot, about half the portfolio, valued at a number between $1000-$1500. Then I told him I also had the larger stuff from the prior day: the demeaned and debased Starman pages, some oddities of high quality, and Doctor Strange galore. It was all labeled and valued.

Whilce Portacio Stormatch Team Achilles issue 6 cover

So then he asked what I wanted and I showed him. He groaned. Three pieces, none of which are in this post. Three pieces and one of which I had tried to get the day before. You know,the day on which he had taken the better of my material available to him. This one was beautiful and I thought pretty special. I had not targeted it on the website even though I had seen it but when I saw it in person I loved it so. So slowly but surely he went through the same process of grudgingly accepting my wares.  But I must emphasize that I do not think it was a sales tactic but a genuine uncertainty as to his ability to move the art in a timely fashion. I eventually came though with enough to make it happen, and at the end of the day I got $3150 for just over $4000 of my collection. And not $4000 worth like when you go through your collection and say "this is worth X" and "this is worth y" but slashing a high quantity of that shit to its' core and tossing it at quality. Small level unpublished quality for published quality is what I was after.

Andy Kubert / Dan Green X-Men 52 page 1 Gambit splash
Because you see this is not the end game. This was the opening bloodbath in a war on my collection. My original art collection will be forged in fire and blood until it shines unlike ever before and will emerge magnificent and wonderful. Unfortunately there are casualties and this will end with the population decimated, but far far stronger from the experience.

Mark Silvestri / Dan Green Wolverine 41 page 2
In other words, everything you see in this post is open for offers. Cold hard cash. Trade. Cash/trade. I will be actively shopping some of this to dealers and/or an auction house at the next comic art con in late March so if you don't want to see if get marked up yet again by those dealer guys, buy it from me instead. But you'd better do it soon, because if you think I don't mean business in this The Fifty deal, you can just ask Jack Knight and Steven Strange (if you can find them at their new home in AC). They'll tell you, but it will cost you.

Wait until you see some of the other stuff I got. Oh boyo did I get some sweet sweet art!

Three published Billy da'Sienk Moon Knight, a Mignola as leaked above, a Vess that will blow your socks off, Colan / Adkins and more! ;-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Second Annual Birthday Sale now live!

This is how I told the rest of the world about it on the CGC boards and the comicart-l yahoo group.

Okay, last year was my first birthday sale. It was a modest failure. Just kidding somewhat, I sold a few pieces and that was great - after all that is the objective of a sale. (If that one boardie had actually followed through and bought his four pieces that I placed on hold it would have gone better. But no harm in the end.) At that time I was envisioning selling only at my birthday sales and foregoing the auction house and ebay routes from then on. Well, my resolve on that part was weak and I sold a good many things this past year through Comiclink (thanks Josh and Doug) and even went back to ebay a little the last few weeks. I ask forgiveness.So now I want to get my birthday sale going. This year I decided on quality over quantity. I had over 100 pieces last year and was a bit all over the place. This year I have 36 pieces ready to go and maybe some more in reserve should the unthinkable happen and I actually sell a bunch. Pricing was hard, I had a Cerebus page 22 years until I sold it in the presale last week. [Saw some active dealer sales I thought were relative comps and then I priced accordingly based on the dealer. (Who prices better than Roger Clark by the way! Roger, get some Flight of Bones for New Year's mister!) Try pricing a BWS Rune page, and then try pricing two! Not many comps there, other than the fact that very little BWS sells for under $1000 anymore. ]So quality over quantity this year, but that doesn't mean expensive. I think I put up a bunch of really nice commissions and sketches for under cost and under $250. Only five pieces over $1000 and nothing more than the Starman cover at $1850. (That may just be on the wall if it doesn't sell this year and then forget it.) Head on over and check them out!

birthday sale hosted on wifey's website design company 

Site will be updated often, so if you see it you can buy it. Not looking to go paypal, but we can talk about that if it is a deal breaker. Time payments possible as well. All terms on the sale site. You can contact me through here PM or this thread as well.

But here on my blog I will go a little deeper. Not that there are any secrets or anything, just fleshing out my reasoning a bit.

I am selling pieces of art here that are among my favorites. But not my absolute favorite. I sold a Cerebus page that I bought in 1992; it should be delivered tomorrow in fact in Canada somewhere. I was going to offer both of my pages, as I have a Dave Sim commission and a wonderful Mars Attacks cover featuring Cerebus as the alien. Lookee here.

Dave Sim IDW Mars Attacks cover featuring Cerebus

So the Cerebus pages became expendable in the new regime that is the pursuit of The Fifty. But when I sold that Cerebus page the buyer asked if I had others; I couldn't sell them both. Not yet. One, yes but not both. So I still have the "checkmate" page with tiny Cerebus and Suentus Po.

Excuse me, just went and sold a BWS page.

Jeez Louise!

I don't know if I should increase the prices of the 2 remaining BWS pages or decrease them!
I will let them stand and see what transpires.

But the reason I am putting myself through this is because there is no gain without pain. I am forging my collection through the fires of Hell but it is not without purpose. This hellfire will forge a stronger and more formidable collection.

There is nothing like acquiring new pieces. Collecting is an active pursuit and it has been hard for me to go from buying dozens of pieces a year to less than a dozen. But I had hundreds and hundreds of pieces. I always tried to live by a credo I learned 25 years ago - "have a collection and not an accumulation". So I focused on Dr. Strange, Starman, and Grendel. Grendel eventually fell by the wayside, although remnants remain. An awesome JK Snyder commission on cardboard that my wife arranged as a birthday present. Matt Wagner head sketches. But nothing truly substantial, and I owned a lot of Grendel at one point. In fact it was a chance meeting with Bernie Mireault that may have started me in the OA game; he sold me painted color guides from Grendel: Warchild that were just beautiful. I used money I had just acquired by selling my signed copy of Evil Ernie #1 to buy 5 or 6 color guides. I eventually matched one or two up with the original art pages, but I sold them years ago. Sometime before that I had realized that my collection was accumulating at a rapid rate and I think I had over 700 pieces on CAF at one time with a few dozen more not online. that was when I knew I couldn't keep all that sitting in a closet while I had a family and a live to lead. I looked at them online more often than I looked at the real things, so I started my culling. I have about 8-10 empty Itoyas now, and it is hard to see what I have let go but in all reality my finances and collection have never been stronger.

And wait until you see what I get now.

I have two things in mind specifically. One would be my largest purchase ever and one would be in the top five easily, maybe number three. I am hoping to get those sometime next year - maybe one at each comic art con - and in the meantime I think I can swing one additional purchase. So as long as those two things are not sold by their respective dealers I may be good to go. It is always a dangerous game to play when you want something but there is always more art around the corner if these deals do not work out.

In fact, I think there may be some new art for you around the corner! Click the link in the upper left of this blog post and check out my Second Annual Birthday sale.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Fifty - Jack Kirby Captain America

"Hound Dog to Base. I've got a bogie!"

I got this Jack Kirby page years ago. I was extremely happy to pick it up even if it is not the most memorable page. It has so much Kirby in it that the rather pedestrian nature of the page is immaterial;it is a cool Kirby page. It is from an issue of Captain America (1976 I think) and is ably inked by D. Bruce Berry. I was getting a few pieces framed a month or so ago and decided that this page should be on the wall. That is all that needs to be said in the end...welcome to The Fifty to the King of Comics. And I ain't talkin' Johnny Carson here either!

The Fifty is really shaping up now. I have 22 pieces framed and on the walls at this point and really love the way the room looks. I will post a few shots of the room later this weekend but I want the Kirby piece to have its' due for a bit first. When I do post those shots you may notice a few framed pieces not yet announced for The Fifty; I do not frame a piece without believing it part of The Fifty but have made one exception - see if you can spot it when the time comes.

The Fifty
1  Barry Windsor-Smith Storyteller Young Gods page 4 (framed)
2  Tony Harris / Ray Snyder Dr. Strange WIRED Magazine cover  (framed)
3  Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X page  (framed)
4  Gene Colan / Tom Palmer Tomb of Dracula 44 page 22  (framed)
5  Tony Harris Starman 3 cover  (framed)
6  Barry Windsor-Smith Daredevil 236 page (framed)
7  Tony Harris Starman 53 cover  (framed)
8  David Mazzucchelli Daredevil 233 page 19
9  JHW3 Milestone Forever pinup (framed)
10  Simon Bisley Dr. Strange vs The Mindless Ones (framed)
11  Paul Smith Dr. Strange vs Dr.Doom  (framed)
12  Dave Sim Mars Attacks variant cover
13 Jack Kirby / D. Bruce Berry Captain America 196 page 14 (framed)
14  Gene Colan / Tom Palmer Tomb of Dracula 44 page 1 splash  (framed)
15  Dan Green Dr. Strange: Into Shamballa splash (framed)
16  Tony Harris 1994 Starman pinup  (framed)
17  Bill Sienkiewicz Superman 400 pinup recreation (framed)
18  Ted McKeever Dr. Strange vs Dr.Doom in Hell
19  Dean Ormston Dr. Strange & Eternity
20  Bryan Talbot Dr. Strange commission
21  Dan Adkins Dr Strange 170 page 11  (framed)
22  Dan Adkins Dr. Strange 170 page 10 (framed)
23  Ulises Farinas - Dr. Strange in his Sanctum Sanctorum
24  Rudy Nebres - Dr. Strange, Dracula & The Scarlet Witch
25  Mike Allred - Doctor Strange, Clea, The Ancient One, Wong, and Rintrah...A Day Off
26  Anna Merli Clea
27  Mitchell Bretweiser Dr. Strange watercolor
28  Jae Lee Dr. Strange
29  Darwyn Cooke Wonder Woman  (framed)
30  Walt Simonson Alan Moore as Rorschach (framed)