For most of the later part of 2011, I had stayed away from Comicartfans, that great big time-sink of a site. Last year was fairly decent for my art habit. I streamlined my addiction quite a bit, paring down the collection to minimize the chaff. Yes, that means I sold and traded a bunch of pages that would have never really gone up on the wall, but which I bought just because it seemed like a good idea at that time. This has had the fortunate effect of making me feel contented about the pages that I own right now, being on a plateau of sorts, where I can just relax and not worry about art-related expenses. Pages come and go, and nothing really grabs my attention unless it’s really cheap or truly one-of-a-kind. The former makes me wonder if I really need one more portfolio-warmer, the latter inevitably makes my bank account whimper.
This may sound zen, but the art-habit seems to have settled down from a burning “I-want-this-page-now” feeling to a gentle simmer of a “Do-you-really-belong-in-my-collection?” question.
A Kelley Jones Sandman page and a Dave McKean Sandman commission. ‘Season of Mists’ is one of my favorite Sandman arcs, as I have mentioned before, and I already have a Dringenberg page from it that fills my heart with joy every time I look at it. A bulk of the art from the run though was by Kelley Jones, who does not sell most of his originals. Whatever’s available in the market comes from Jones’ inkers, Malcolm Jones III and John Beatty. This page came up for sale on Scott Eder’s gallery at a mind-numbing high price during Wondercon last year. It did not sell. He put it up on eBay a few weeks later, and I emailed to ask if he would accept time payments. Long story short, I bid on it, won it for a little less than my final bid, and much less than the original asking price.
The Dave McKean commission was bought at San Diego, thanks to my friend Joe’s contacts with McKean’s agent Allen Spiegel. McKean himself did not make it to the con, thereby putting my plans of asking for a personalized commission on hold, but he had sent a few pre-done pieces to Allen’s booth, and I got a chance to select and pick one of them up. This conveys just the right amount of grandeur and melancholy associated with the Lord of Dreams. Also, it did not involve me paying $25000, which is the price that one of McKean’s covers usually go for.
Two Batman pages by Kelley Jones again. One of them was the promotional poster image from a Batman and Dracula crossover, which is one of the most recognizable images of Batman from the nineties, if you were buying comics back then. Jones, in my opinion, is one of the top 5 artists that have worked on Batman, his neo-Gothic, somewhat-surreal style meshing perfectly with the tone of the character. The other one is a cover pencilled and inked by him, and knowing what I just mentioned about him not selling his art, I have no idea how this came into the open market. I saw both of them on a dealer’s page a few days before San Diego Comicon, and jumped on it without hesitation. They were priced well below-market, and also, I fucking love Kelley Jones’ art, man.
Three Preacher pages. I owned a Preacher page before which was a self-proclaimed placeholder – quite cheap, but not really something I would put on the wall. It got traded away this year. One of these came from eBay, from the collection of Albert Moy, dealer extraordinaire. It encapsulates the story of Preacher so far in a single-panel spread that caught my eye. The one with the bar scene from a collector who was, in his own words, cutting himself to the bone to get money for a Bolland Killing Joke page. And the third from a close friend. The three of them represents three different art styles through the series, as Dillon drastically stripped down his line-work as the issues chugged by, sort of evolving as an artist and also increasing his output to meet his deadlines.
The third also has an interesting history – it came up on eBay one fine day a few years ago at a ridiculously low Buy-It-Now price, so ridiculous that most of the usual Preacher-maniacs were wary of pulling the trigger. That ensured that my friend saw it and bid on it, and was deluged with higher offers over the years from the ones that missed it. I had asked him to let me know if he was selling it any time, and he made up his mind recently. Needless to say, I pounced on it.
And finally, something that came in a few days ago. An Adam Hughes painting of Jean Grey as the Black Queen from the Hellfire Club. Now I could give you a manic foaming-at-the-mouth rave about how Adam Hughes’ work combines early 20th century pinup-girl aesthetics with a distinctive art-deco-influenced style and how it is so gosh-darned beautiful and so on and so forth. But I’ll just let you go take a look at his site to decide for yourself. If you collect comic art, getting an Adam Hughes page is a trial in itself. But getting your hands on a good Adam Hughes pinup without breaking the bank? Forget it. He used to do special sketches for fans at conventions – with rates at 200-400$, the pinups would fetch 10 times the amount on eBay when collectors went around to selling them. Due to some “fans” selling their pages a day after a convention was over, Hughes stopped those sketches, causing prices to jump even more.
So I do not exaggerate when I say that this piece fills a very important hole in my collection, and does so in style. It’s 26 inches by 19 inches, and drawn using a combination of crayons, colored dyes and markers. Adam did it as a commission for a collector, and made it extra-large because he made the guy a long time. The collector went on to sell it to someone I know because he was getting married and he needed to raise money quickly, and I bought it from the latter recently. Not cheap, but not that expensive either. And it makes me really, really happy.
So yes, happy happy.