Thursday, June 28, 2018

Superman 13 Cover

Anyone who has read my blog knows what a huge fan I am of the comic work of John Byrne.  If it's not already the consensus, he will go down in history as one of the greatest comic creators of all time.  He had phenomenal success with his work on The X-men, Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, She-Hulk, Avengers, and Superman, to name but a few.  It should be noted that Byrne was almost always the writer and penciler on most of these titles (and sometimes inker and letterer!).  I first saw his work in X-Men 123, which my high school art instructor had in his classroom for some reason.  I was blown away by the art.  Not long after, I immersed myself in the world of comic books.  At that point, Byrne was writing and drawing both the Fantastic Four, and his own creation, Alpha Flight.  He instantly became my favorite writer and artist.

When I first started collecting comic art, I wanted Byrne Fantastic Four art above all else (you can read all about my hunt for that stuff here on my blog).  Over the years I was able to acquire some great Fantastic Four and Alpha Flight art.  A few years ago however, I re-read (again) Byrne's Superman run.  Boy was it fun!  I remember vividly when he moved to DC and took over their biggest character.  He did not disappoint.  I quickly decided that I would like a nice Superman cover for my collection.  I'd seen a few change hands, and I knew there were some good ones floating around.  I recalled seeing one cover sell on ebay for what would now be considered a very modest price - I regretted not getting it.  Saw another for sale on a website, but somehow just missed it.  Finally, I was able to find this one.  It's got a great, large shot of Superman on the cover.  When I got it, it didn't have any of the logos so I added them myself.  Typically, I would put the logos on an overlay as to not disturb the original art, but this time I applied them directly to the art.  I think it came out great.  The cover looks twice as good as it did before! (click for larger image)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Power That Preserves - Original Painting - Darrell K. Sweet

(click for larger image) This is it!!  The biggest score of my collecting life just happened.  I just acquired the original cover painting to Stephen R. Donaldson's book The Power That Preserves by the late Darrell K. Sweet!  This is book three in the original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant trilogy.  One summer in the late 70's, while visiting my dad in Connecticut, I stumbled across these books.  My dad owned the original trilogy, and when I saw the covers I flipped.  I was heavily into Dungeons and Dragons at the time and to me, these images were the best depiction of what that world looked like - brave wizards and warriors in strange, colorful lands.  I had to read these books.  I wanted to know who these people were on the covers and what was happening in each scene depicted.  I ended up reading and re-reading the series many times.  The characters became old friends that I would revisit from time to time.

I started collecting original comic book art back in 2002 or 2003.  At that time, I also started wondering where the original cover paintings to this series were.  I made inquiries to the artist's agent who told me that they were long gone and that Mr. Sweet didn't recall where they ended up.  I hounded other collectors who owned works by Mr. Sweet. I went on message boards of fans of the books.  I posted requests for the art on my blog (see original post HERE), and several other websites.  If I met someone who owned a fantasy or sci-fi book cover, I made inquiries with them.  I spent hours searching the web hoping I'd find some clue as to where these paintings might be.  Eventually, I got to the point that I didn't need to own one, but just wanted to know if they still existed somewhere!  I thought I might die wondering where these paintings were.  Did some collector from Japan or France go to a sci-fi convention back in the early 80's and buy them all and take them overseas never to be seen again?  Where they destroyed in a fire?  Where they thrown in the trash because someone didn't know what they were?  I often wondered all these things.

In 2017, I spoke with a collector who dropped a bombshell on me - he said his friend owned the covers to all three books!  I used to fantasize that I would one day own all three and have them proudly hanging side by side in my home.  To think that someone already had them - It was a mixture of emotions.  On the one hand I was glad that they were still around, but on the other - could I pry one (or all three) from this collector?  I finally got in touch with said collector - he owned three originals to the books, but they were a different edition!  Painted by a different artist!  So close!!  The search continued...

Then, in January 2018, mere weeks after my 50th birthday, what comes up in my saved ebay search for Darrell Sweet?  You guessed it - The Power That Preserves!  I almost couldn't believe it - a surreal moment.  After all that searching, digging, inquiring, dreaming, hoping, building a network of contacts, it suddenly appears on ebay. I had a rough time sleeping all week.  I thought about the painting every day.  Would I win it?  What if the auction ended early?!  What if the seller sold it to someone else? I contacted him and implored him to not end the auction early - or if he did, please discuss it with me. I think he may have sold it directly to me, but there was already a bid and he wanted to let it run its course.  Fair enough.  I had a chance.

The days dragged on with me watching the ebay timer: "4 days, 16 min remaining", "3 days, 14 hours remaining", and on and on each day.  Finally, the day of the auction closing.  I was home alone.  I set up my laptop ready to bid.  I turned the wifi off on my phone so it would only access the internet via cellular data.  That way, if for some crazy reason my power went out, or my connection got lost, I would have a backup way to bid.  Then I sat, with sweaty palms, and shaking hands, waiting to enter my bid.  Then, just as the auction was about to end, I entered my maximum bid.  I waited for those last ticking seconds to see if I would be outbid at the last second, and then WINNER!!!!!  Mine at last!!

If I could have picked any cover, this probably would have been my second choice after The Illearth War, which is my favorite book in the series.  Morham, depicted on the cover of the Illearth War is also my favorite character.  That said, this cover is probably the best in one regard - it has several of the main characters depicted on it - Saltheart Foamfollower, Bannor of the Bloodguard, High Lord Elena, and it's the only cover in the original trilogy that depicts the protagonist, Thomas Covenant.

I'm still looking for the other two covers - actually, I'm also looking for book one of the second trilogy - The Wounded Land.  I had a chance to buy it years ago but foolishly passed on it because I was so intent on finding one of the original three.  So, if you know where they might be, drop me a line.  I will pay a finder's fee for successful acquisition.  And heck, I'd still love to just find out if they still exist. :)

Original paperback:

One down, three to go:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Raffaello Romanelli 1856 - 1928 - Shepherd Boy 1910

I love museums and can spend hours exploring them.  When I lived in New York, I loved spending time at the Met.  When I lived in San Francisco, I had memberships to the Legion of Honor, and the De Young.  It's great being able to see in person, masterpieces created through the centuries.  At the De Young, there is a room of American artists which features mostly paintings, but also has some nice marble statues.  There is marble statue of Delilah by William Wetmore Story that is very striking.  There's another in the same room - Penelope by Franklin Simmons, also beautiful.  Classic marble statuary is not something you see every day.  So imagine my joy in finding just such an example for my collection!

No, this piece is not of the same caliber as the two masterpieces I mentioned above, but it is a beautiful example from the late Nouveau period.  It's a sculpture of a shepherd boy or goat herder taking a break.  He sits relaxed on a stone, his staff resting beside him, a water jug strapped to his waist, and a piece of food in his hand.  He stares peacefully off into the distance - perhaps keeping an eye on his flock.  The piece is in marble and signed Romanelli 1910.  It is likely the work of Raffaello Romanelli (  The Romanelli's are a multi-generational family of artists and they still have a studio in Firenze, Italy today.

I contacted them to inquire about the piece.  They said it was quite likely that it was carved by Raffaello, or by the gallery at the time.  I'm assuming he had artisans and craftsmen working for him that may have produced pieces like this.  His larger works are typically signed Prof. Raffaello Romanelli.  I don't know if he signed it differently because of the size or because it was produced by his studio.  Regardless, it is a museum quality marble statue that I simply love!  I'm thrilled to add it to my collection. (click for larger images)

UPDATE: I added a picture of me with the statue to show scale - I realized I never mentioned the size!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Alan Davis Fantastic Four

I've been a big fan of Alan Davis for many years, and I buy every comic he draws.  He's always been one of my favorite comic book artists, and over time, he has become one of the best to ever work in the industry.  I think he reached a high point with two different series.  The first was Justice League of America: The Nail, which he wrote and drew.  There was also a terrific follow up several years later (and he was that much better as an artist) called Another Nail. The other series was Fantastic Four: The End.  Davis wrote and drew this as well, and I think it's a great series.  I don't think it's a coincidence that his best artwork was also on the books he wrote himself.  He was clearly more invested in these series and it shows in the art.  And the storytelling is as good or better than any mainstream writer in comics.  He's that good.  I'd always hoped to add a Davis piece to my collection but never found the right one.  I hit upon some good luck recently and was able to acquire a few pieces from Fantastic Four: The End.  I'm posting one of the better pages here, an epic battle between the FF and their longtime foe, Dr. Doom!  I'll let the art speak for itself, but I would be remiss not to mention Mark Farmer who has inked nearly everything Alan has ever drawn.  He's an insanely talented inker, and he really brinks the pencils to life.  (click for larger image)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Richard MacDonald - Flight in Attitude

Here is the second of two Richard MacDonald sculptures I recently purchased.  This is a bronze depicting a graceful ballerina.  After admiring his work for over 20 years, I was so thrilled to add a piece to my collection.  This picture really doesn't do the piece justice.  The patina is exceptional - I've added a close-up picture to show the detail (click for larger image).

Richard MacDonald - Angelic Crystal

I've been really busy lately and have not had time to update my blog, but that doesn't mean I have not been buying more art!  I first saw Richard MacDonald's sculptures over 20 years ago in Las Vegas and I was immediately struck by them.  They have great proportion, balance, and grace.  His mastery of anatomy is incredible.  I always dreamed of owning one and now I have two!  This is a bust of a dancer done in "marble dust".  I found out that Richard imported some marble from Italy to do some sculptures, and used the remaining marble fragments to make these busts.  It's very lovely and graceful, and I'm thrilled to add it to my collection (click for larger image).

Friday, December 4, 2015

Leonard Starr 1925-2015

I was saddened by the passing of Leonard Starr in August of 2015. I started buying his artwork a few years ago and only recently read his great Mary Perkins - On Stage series which has been reprinted by Charles Pelto of Classic Comics Press. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and buy the reprints. Leonard was not only one of the all time great draftsmen from the photo-realistic strip art era, but was also one of its greatest writers. Though the series originally began almost 60 years ago, it holds up remarkably well today - a testament to Starr's great talent. If you search the web or read the introductions to the reprints, written by many top talents of the industry, you will see similar accolades for his work. He was one of the greats.

Featured here are three consecutive dailies from 1965. Notice how each daily works as a stand-alone piece, and yet they also flow together smoothly and move the story forward. The beautiful inking speaks for itself. (Click for larger image)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Alias - Bendis/Gaydos

One of the best comic series I've read in the last decade was Alias by Brian Michael Bendis, and artist Michael Gaydos.  It's been collected in a big, hardcover omnibus edition, which I recently re-read.  The main character is Jessica Jones, a former Avenger and superhero, now a private investigator who avoids the superhero world whenever possible.  Bendis has become my favorite mainstream comic book author.  He writes a good story, and his dialogue is second to none.

In the pages featured here, Jessica has found out that her number one enemy, the Purple Man, has escaped from prison, and she is freaking out.  The Purple Man has mind control powers, and Jessica is still traumatized from her prior experience with him.  A young man named Malcom, who has a fanboy crush on Jessica and thinks he works for her (though she's never really hired him) answers the phone when she calls from across the street.  This page is loaded with tension, and classic Bendis dialog.  Michael Gaydos' style really suits this book and he does a great job.  It should be noted that some of the panels on the page are photcopies of other panels. (click for larger image)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Love and Rockets - Wigwam Bam - Jaime Hernandez

Love and Rockets was a series that I kept meaning to read for years but never did.  I finally got around to it and picked up the very nicely packaged Fantagraphics reprints that were published in the last couple of years.  This time around, the publisher decided to separate Jaime's work from his brother Beto's work resulting in a neat collection of nearly all of Jaime's L&R stories in five volumes.  For those who don't know, when L&R started out way back in the 1980's, it was sort of a semi-futuristic sci-fi story about a female rocket mechanic named Maggie.  As the series progressed, Jaime dropped the rockets and sci-fi stuff and focused what he is best at - stories about people.

Once I got passed the rockets stuff, I was hooked and couldn't put the books down.  Jaime is one of the greatest American comic book artists of all time.  His characters are so real and well written, that you can't help but think they're all based on real people.  His artwork is no less amazing - a clean, cartoony style bordering on realism with the ability to convey an incredible range of emotion and expression. He is truly a master of the medium.

My favorite story in the collection is probably Wigwam Bam, which focuses in part on the love triangle (or quadrangle if you coun't Hopey) between Ray, Maggie, and Danita.  I looked around for a nice example and found this great page from the story.  In it, Danita hears that Ray's old flame Maggie is back in town and begins to wonder what that means for her and Ray.  Her emotional flip from elation to devastation is executed so well and with so few words.  I especially love panel five with the passenger of the car yelling at Danita for not watching where she's going.  I also recall being blown away the first time I saw the final panel on the page - so subtle and just incredible.  I'm really happy to add this one to my collection and hope to add more in the future. (click for larger image)

UPDATE 12/3/2015!!!

By sheer chance, I was sufing the web and I came across an interview with Jaime Hernandez.  On the website were examples of his work, and a couple of photos of him.  I was amazed when I looked at this photo of him from Emerald City Con in 2009.  Take a look at what is on the table in front of him - my page!!  He must have liked it to have it on display like that.  So cool!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cisco Kid 1952-07-26

Picked up this wonderful Cisco Kid daily by the great Jose Luis-Salinas.  Salinas was from Argentina and drew the Cisco Kid from 1951-1968.  I obtained this strip from a family member who was good friends with Salinas.  He told me Salinas gave some strips to his father when he was a boy.  This is a great example, and you'll note how Salinas painstakingly painted the floral pattern on Cisco's shirt each and every time!  I especially love the last panel featuring Cisco.  One of the greats of the strip art era. (click for larger image)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Maximilian Spilhaczek 1876-1961

Just picked up this wonderful, museum-quality watercolor by Max Spilhaczek.  It's a portrait of a priest and is about 8 x 10 inches, and signed "98 MS".  I don't know much about the artist, but got this biography info from the seller:

Maximilian (Max) Spilhaczek (1876 Vienna - 1961 Kaltenleutgeben, Lower Austria) was a well-known Austrian artist who studied at the Vienna Academy under Professors Griepenkerl, Rumpler and Lichtenfels. He exhibited regularly at the Vienna "Kuenstlerhaus" - the largest exhibition hall of the time, and "Secession".

After doing a little more research, it seems the artist worked for Hitler at some point and even drew a picture of him.  Don't know if he was a supporter or forced to do the work.  Either way, this is an exceptional piece and I'm really excited to have acquired it. (click for larger image)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

John Byrne Superman 5 Page

(click for larger image)  Really excited about this one!  Back in 1986 John Byrne was the king of comics.  He had just completed a successful stint on the Fantastic Four over at Marvel Comics, his long-time employer.  He had written and drawn a whopping 60+ consecutive issues on the title!  Not only that, but he also launched his own series, Alpha Flight, through Marvel and both wrote and drew that title as well.  Just as Byrne was finishing up the Fantastic Four, the big brains at DC approached and said they had an idea to "re-boot" their most iconic character - Superman.

Byrne was given a lot of leeway, and like his previous books at Marvel, he would both write and draw the new series.  First up was "Man of Steel", a six-issue limited series that would retell the origin of Krypton's most famous son, as well as "clean up" some of his complex history.  It was a smash success, and slated for follow up were the newly minted Superman book (starting with issue # 1), and a run on the Action Comics title - the birth place of Superman way back in issue # 1 in 1938.  This re-launch met with a lot of "hoopla" and it was all over the news and press at the time.  In 1988, Byrne would even illustrate the Man of Steel for the cover of Time Magazine.

Anyone who has ever read my blog will know of my high regard for both the Fantastic Four series and the Alpha Flight series.  My sole desire as a new collector of original comic art was to acquire a nice example from the Fantastic Four.  I have chronicled my pursuit of these pages both in my blog and in articles during my tenure as a contributor to the CFA-APA (links on right ->).  In the back of my mind, I had also wanted to get a nice Superman example, and actually owned some minor pages which I eventually parted with.

After re-reading Byrne's Superman work recently, I was compelled to finally pick up a nice example.  I don't think I could have done much better than this page.  Not only does it have Clark Kent changing into Superman and flying up from the Daily Planet, but it has a last panel that could be a poster or comic book cover.  Very iconic!  You might be scratching your head and wondering why the stubble - older readers will recall the popularity of the t.v. series Miami Vice.  Everybody had stubble in the late 80's!  The other thing I really like about this page is the inks.  Byrne inking himself is my favorite and I own no other examples.  The only inker who, in my mind, comes close to making Byrne's pencils look the way they are supposed to look is Karl Kesel.  He did a great job on this series.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Byrne Fantastic Four 248 Pages

(click for larger image - pencils and inks by John Byrne)  My first love in comic art has always been John Byrne Fantastic Four art.  I've been lucky to have found some great pieces over the years, and I was stoked to find another couple of great pages recently.  I actually saw these a couple of years ago at a convention in San Jose, CA.  I wish I had bought them then because they were quite a bit cheaper!  At any rate, I decided to grab them anyway - I've been hunting down stuff like this for the last 10 years and if there's one thing I've learned - you only regret the stuff you DON'T buy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rusty Riley - Halloween 1956

Frank Godwin was one of the all time great illustrators and I love his work on the comic strip Rusty Riley; an adventure strip about a boy and horse racing.  Godwin had a very distinctive style and was a master with the brush. Most collectors desire strips featuring horses and good shots of Rusty. I like those as well but also love Godwin's portraits and the way he renders water - so this strip is right in my sweet spot since it features both. It is also from the castle/raft storyline which collectors prize above all others. It does have some staining, but this 10/31/1956 daily is a great example nonetheless. Pencils and inks by Frank Godwin (click for larger image).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rip Kirby 1949-10-10

Alex Raymond is considered by many to be the greatest strip artist of all time. This is the third Rip Kirby strip I've owned, and none have had Rip himself in them. That doesn't bother me at all because - look at this strip!  So much going on - dramatic lighting with lush inks. I love the inking effect Raymond gives for showing the light outside the car window in panel one. And I love the one simple shadow line on the woman's face in panel three cast by her eyeglass frame. I could go on... Pencils and inks Alex Raymond (click for larger image)