Category Archives: Original Comic Art

Comic Art Listing Looks a Bit Sketchy

The market for original comic art, commissioned comic art and sketches by noted professionals in the medium has exploded in recent years. Pieces that were once valued at less than $100 are now selling for hundreds more. Four- and five-figure prices for sought-after art and artists is commonplace these days. With the rise in demand and corresponding rise in prices comes an unfortunate side effect: fraud.

Phony comic art has definitely circulated in the marketplace, so buyers have to be knowledgeable and aware so as to avoid being fleeced. In addition to reading comics, I’m a collector of original art, and as such, I’m always scanning the marketplace for affordable pieces. Ebay has been a great resource to get bargains, so I peruse the original comic art listings on the site almost on a daily basis.

I stumbled across a piece Sunday that caught my eye; well, truth be told, it was the listing title that caught my eye: “BLACK CANARY FULL FIGURE original art commission by DARWYN COOKE (BEAUTIFUL).” I have three sketches from the late artist in my convention sketchbook, and I’ll always treasure them. As a fan of his work, I’m always up for a glance at something else he did.

As I looked at the scan of the sketch included in the auction, I immediately had some questions about it.

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Artful Obsessions: It’s Pronounced Voit-KEV-itch

Everyone has their favorite incarnation of the Justice League, be it the Silver Age original, the JL Detroit team, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s return of the Big Seven, or perhaps (and most definitely in my case) the humor era begun in the late 1980s by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. I don’t think anyone has ever mentioned the two-year stint on Justice League America from the mid-1990s by writer Gerard Jones and artist Chuck Wojtkiewicz, which saw a new lineup launched in the wake of Zero Hour.

I have very few issues from this run on the title, which surprises me a little, since included in the team roster at the time were Infinity Inc. alums Nuklon and Obsidian, characters I’ve loved since they were introduced in All-Star Squadron in the early 1980s. Despite my lack of connection with this era of the JLA, I jumped at the chance to pick up this board from Justice League America #98. The price was right, and there was a lot about the page that appealed to me.

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Artful Obsessions: The Art of War


I’ve never been much for war comics, though there have been occasional exceptions of strong storytelling that really grabbed my attention. But my extensive comic-book collection really includes very few war comics, just the occasional issue here and that was a part of a larger lot I picked up at flea markets or the like over the years. I have several issues of DC’s original Weird War Tales among the many long boxes around my place, but I honestly don’t recall if I’ve read them all (I ought to rectify that, especially given the vintage-comics kick I’ve been on as of late).

Despite that lack of nostalgic connection to war comics, when I spotted a page from Weird War Tales for bid online recently, I definitely wanted to try my hand at winning it. The reason wasn’t due to the content, but rather the era from which it originated and the unusual pairing of artistic talents who crafted it. I was fortunate enough to have landed the board and added to my collection, and when I finally got it in my hands, I realized it was a treasure-trove of classic comics craft details.

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Artful Obsessions: Challengers Accepted!

The Challengers of the Unknown have been with us for 60 years (!), having debuted in Showcase #6 (cover dated February 1957). The characters enjoyed a few more appearances in Showcase before moving onto their own title the following year. It’s noteworthy in that it’s one of the many long-lasting creations of the King, the late Jack Kirby. It’s actually such a beloved DC property, I’m surprised a Challengers one-shot wasn’t listed among the planned comics DC is publishing in August to mark what would have been the legendary writer/artist’s 100th birthday.

Now while a Kirby page (of any description) isn’t with my budget when it comes to comic-art collecting, I did manage to acquire a Challengers page recently for an affordable price on eBay. And it was from my favorite incarnation of the Challengers: the 1997-98, Steven Grant-penned series featuring a new lineup of Challengers. It boasts a cool X-Files vibe, featuring paranormal investigations against the backdrop of the DC Universe.

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Artful Obsessions: Gene Therapy

The late Gene Colan is definitely best remembered and honored for his work on Daredevil, Howard the Duck and, perhaps most notably, Tomb of Dracula. However, because I was exclusively a DC devotee in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I came to discover his work on such books as Batman, Wonder Woman and Night Force. As a kid, I wasn’t all that enamored of his style, to be honest, but over the years, I’ve definitely come to respect and appreciate his craft. His style is incredibly distinctive, and I’m pleased I’ve finally managed to add a sample of his work to my collection of original comic art.

The original comic art board I recently acquired is Page 18 from Jemm, Son of Saturn #6. The 12-part Jemm series is a rather obscure footnote in Colan’s career (though the title character did show up briefly in a villainous role in the first season of the new Supergirl show). A little online research reveals it was originally intended as a Martian Manhunter book before DC editors nixed it (as J’Onn J’Onzz was about to return in the pages of Justice League of America in the early 1980s).

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Artful Obsessions: Gosh Doran It

I was scanning the original comic art listings on eBay several months ago (as I do just about every day) when one in particular caught my eye. A seller had a lot of seven (!) pages from the 2003 Warren Ellis/Colleen Doran graphic novel Orbiter for sale for a surprisingly low opening bid. I marked as an auction I wanted to watch, but I assumed it would end for a price that was beyond my financial reach. A few days later, to my surprise, I noted there had been no bids, and ultimately, the auction ended without anyone taking a single stab at the listing. When I see a plum item such as that one end without bids, I sometimes make something of a Hail Mary pass, contacting the seller of the unsold item and offering to buy it, either for the minimum price or maybe even less. To my elation and surprise, the seller agreed to sell it to me for the minimum opening bid he’d listed!

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Artful Obsessions: Chang of Pace

I’ve been a fan of the artwork of Bernard Chang since I first saw it on Valiant’s original The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, and he’s only improved over the years. I think his strongest effort was on DC Universe Presents, a short-lived title with DC’s New 52 that featured different characters and creative teams with each story arc (Chang illustrated the Deadman and Vandal Savage arcs).

In recent years, he’s proven himself to be a reliable resource for DC Comics, illustrating such other titles as Batman Beyond, Wonder Woman, Demon Knights, Superman and Green Lantern Corps. Still, seeing his name and work on a comic title always takes me back to Dr. Mirage and even TV adaptation Sliders: Ultimatum (I think I was one of three people who liked that show). That his early efforts on relatively obscure 1990s titles has stuck with me over the course of two decades is a testament to his craft and skill as a storyteller.

In the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up a couple of pages of Chang’s original comic art — not from Mirage, Sliders or DC Universe Presents, but solid examples of his style, featuring some familiar super-hero characters.

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Artful Obsession: An Infinite Passion

While I’m always on the lookout for a fun, interesting and attractive piece of original comic art (at a price that fits with my limited budget), there are certain categories in which I have a specific interest. Pages that feature journalism in some way, super-hero team-up pieces, Amalgam boards and others really grab my attention. Another category I’m keen on is DC’s Golden Age/Earth-2 characters. I’ve been fascinated by them since I first got into comics as a kid, so any chance to reconnect with them or new ones building on the same legacies is something I eagerly welcome.

As such, I was a huge fan of the original Infinity Inc. series by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway. There was no specialty comic-book store where I lived in the 1980s, so I’d have to wait for trips with my dad to a neighbouring province to get those early issues. My first trip to a comic shop was in 1985 (the year of Crisis on Infinite Earths) when I was in junior high. My father actually dropped me off, telling the store owner before I left, “Yeah, he’s gonna be a while.” I spent three hours in the shop, carefully selecting which comics to buy, focusing on those only available in direct-market stores. A whole lot of the comics in my selected stack were issues of Infinity Inc.

So when DC announced Ordway would be revisiting these 1980s characters as the writer of a two-part Convergence spinoff earlier this year, it was one of the few titles in the event’s lineup that really caught my interest.

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Artful Obsession: A Weakness for Weekly

When I started collecting original comic art on a more active basis a few years ago, there were a number of “categories” I was keen to include in my collection: team-up title art, Amalgam comics and journalism-related subject matter, among others. I’ve also always wanted to acquire pages from Action Comics Weekly. Don’t ask me why; I just have an affection for that limited run of the title from the 1980s as a serial anthology. I recently found just such a page on eBay and struck a deal with the seller — for what turned out unexpectedly to be a lot of two consecutive pages from the same issue of Action Weekly.

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The Thin Bluelines

The world of collecting original comic art is experiencing a boom in recent years, but there’s more going on than increases in interest and prices. The very nature of original art available out there is changing as well, and a lot of it stems from digital advances in the creation of comics. Finding a page of original comic art with lettering right on the board becomes increasing hard when one turns one’s attention to pages created in the past 20 years, given the rise of digital lettering in the mid 1990s. Today, digital lettering is the industry standard and likely won’t be found other than on some pages that are written, illustrated and lettering by a single creator.

But pages of original comic art without lettering are hardly a new development. However, boards featuring only pencil art or only ink art are becoming more and more common, and while a lack of lettering didn’t impact value in any real perceptible way, separate pencils and inks are definitely changing the market. More and more often, thanks to advances in digital scanning, pencillers will send scans of their pencilled boards, and inkers end up working on what’s usually termed as “blueline scans.” In many cases, that creates two boards that go into producing one page of original art. One could argue one of the reasons original comic art is seen as being so collectible and rare is because each piece is (or at least was) one of a kind. But when it comes to blueline scans, are there now two one-of-a-kind pieces of art? Which of the two boards are the original — the pencils, or the inked blueline scan that was actually used in the production of the comic?

Walden Wong, an inker whose work has appeared in innumerable DC and Marvel titles in the past couple of decades, said inking blueline scans of pencils has its advantages, not only for the publishers but the artists as well.

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Artful Dodges

I’ve grown more and more interested in collecting original comic art over the past couple of years, and I’m slowly gathering a collection of original pages. My budget is limited, so I’m always on the lookout for bargains. I’ve managed to land some great deals by keeping a close eye on eBay listings, and I’ve managed to pick up quite a few pages for less than $100 apiece on the auction site. In my quest for those bargains (and as part of my general interest in the hobby and market), I think I’ve managed to develop a general sense of appropriate ranges of values for many kinds of pages by various artists. So when I happened upon a listing for a Captain America page from 1992, pencilled by the late Rik Levins, I was taken aback.

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The Con of the Art

Super-hero comics artist Aaron Lopresti made an interesting and disconcerting discovery late last month when browsing through listings on eBay. He happened upon an online auction for a piece of original comic art he’d crafted — the cover for New X-Men #19 (2005), featuring the characters Magik and Hellion. The seller described the piece as being pencilled and inked by Lopresti and as being “published original art on 11×17 comic art board.”

There was just one problem. Lopresti knew the seller didn’t have the piece in question because he still had it.

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Art Gallery Openings

I’ve been focused on original comic art over the past few days. I’ve been thumbing through my small collection of pages, scanning through websites that sell original comic art and searching through eBay listings. I’m always keeping an eye out for affordable pages (stuff less than $100 US) from comics that I love, especially comics from my childhood years of which I have fond memories and connections.

I try to limit my original comic art purchases only to comics I own and have enjoyed, and most of my art shopping has been done at the few comics conventions I’ve attended. It’s been several years since I made it a con, and therefore, it’s been quite a while since I’ve added to my collection. Today, much more important and enjoyable priorities — namely, my wife and infant son — make it so I keep my comic-art budget at a manageable level, nil (can’t get much more manageable than that).

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