Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Original Art Collection

As a cartoonist, I love looking at original comic book and comic strip art. In addition to finding them personally energizing, seeing the originals—complete with the actual brushstrokes, penlines and whiteout corrections—gives you a sense of the artist's working methods and thought process. For these reasons, I love visiting comic art exhibitions and museums whenever possible (I try to visit the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco whenever I'm in Northern California).

Since many pieces of original art I'd love to own are usually out of my price range, I've never been a major collector of original comic strip/comic book art. Nevertheless, I do own a few original pieces that I thought would be fun to share. (What particularly brought these to mind recently is the fact that I've begun framing and matting the pieces.*)

Though my small collection has admittedly been driven mostly by affordability, of course, I also keep an eye out for work by artists I know and admire, and for pieces I find appealing personally.

My first major acquisition were several original pieces by cartoonist Howard Chaykin that I purchased in 1991. This included two pages from his 1987 Blackhawk mini-series from DC Comics; below is a piece that I was particularly thrilled to score, which was used on the back cover for one of the issues, as well as within the main story (click on any of the images that follow to see them larger and in more detail):

Below is a another Chaykin piece purchased at the same time—I believe it's the original blueline art from a Nick Fury mini-series. Consisting of a black acetate overlay over a backing board on which the original colors are applied, this is the art that is shot and from which the colored printing plates are made:

One of my most personally prized pieces is the 1976 Johnny Hazard daily strip below by Frank Robbins, which I purchased from a dealer at the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con for a surprisingly affordable price—well under $100! (Hazard ran from 1944 to 1977.) Though Robbins is not as well remembered today, he was a disciple of the Caniff/Sickles school of cartooning—but as one can see in the piece below, despite following in their footsteps, he was an immensely naturally gifted artist in his own right, who developed a unique and distinctive style of his own. This piece hangs proudly in the main entryway of my home. You can also see a photo of it framed at the top of this blog.

Over the years, I've had the privilege to become friends with several fellow cartoonists. One is Mike Vozburg, who is not also a terrific cartoonist, but a real student of the history of comics—I've spent time with Mike talking about cartoonists we both like, and I've enjoyed his anecdotes about working in the industry.

One day while visiting his home, Mike generously gave me some original pieces as gifts. Below is one nice representative pieces from his run on American Flagg!:

Around 2002 or 2003 (still trying to track down the correct year!), I purchased the following two pieces from artist Mike Royer at the San Diego Comic-Con. Royer is considered by some to be the best inker that late comic-book legend Jack Kirby ever had. When I met him, Royer had been working for many years for Disney's licensing division, and he was at the show selling some of his original concept pieces. The pieces below are hung in our hallway, appropriately leading to our residence's bedrooms.

Finally, I thought I'd throw in for your enjoyment the piece below—even my wife has picked up the occasional work of original art! This is a piece she purchased from an Archie artist (I believe my wife had it signed by the artist, Don Parent). Somewhere in my collection, I also have a Robin (from Batman and Robin) page purchased by my wife, since he is one of her favorite characters.

In the future, I hope to show off more of my other pieces. I also have a nice collection of movie/promotional posters that I'll likely share at some point here as well!

* While framing and matting can be quite expensive, I just recently discovered that if you buy an off-the-shelf frame that can hold a mat, the price of the mat itself is actually quite affordable, usually under $20—it is the custom-sized frame (and glass) that can make the purchase price quite expensive, usually more than $150-200!!

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