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)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alpha Flight 12, Page 32























I parted with a great three page sequence from this issue a while back, so I am glad to add this page to my collection.  Lots of good action and a great image of Guardian!  (click for larger image)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alpha Flight 6, pages 6 and 7

Earlier this year, I sold a great three page sequence from Alpha Flight 12 (click here to view) that I had for many years.  It was a great sequence leading up to the death of Guardian (or Vindicator as he is sometimes called), but didn't actually have Guardian on any of the pages.  So I was thrilled to find these pages which do feature him.  Page six with him in flight is my favorite, but it's always fun to have sequential pages.  (click for larger image)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Big Ben Bolt 1968-05-10

(click for larger image. pencils and inks by John Cullen Murphy)

I had never heard of John Cullen Murphy before I started collecting comic book and strip art, but once I discovered his work on Big Ben Bolt, I was smitten.  In my opinion, he is one of the greats of the medium. He had a very unique style which employed fine scratchy lines, yet the work still managed to look clean and realistic.  I used to own four examples which I picked up for a song, but regretfully sold them off (save one).  Since the strip is about a boxer/detective character, I'd always wanted one of him boxing and when I saw this one come up, I couldn't resist.  This is quite a bit later than my other example (from 1961), and I actually prefer the early one, but this one has some great line work, so I can't complain.  Murphy later went on to work with Hal Foster on the Prince Valiant newspaper strip in 1970, and eventually took it over completely in 1979.  He continued on the strip all the way up until 2004 and died shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fantastic Four 235, p 05























Another one for my Byrne obsession… (click for larger image) As a collector of original comic book art, few things are higher up on my want list than originals from John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four. Once I discovered you could actually buy this stuff, I thought "I want some Byrne FF!" It's what started me down that long, terrible road of addiction. I've been looking for great examples for almost ten years, and when I see something special, I do my best to acquire it. I have some pages that I really like, but this one is exceptional. I think if I had been able to find a page of this quality from the start, I might not have looked so hard for others. This one has it all - some great action, a good self-contained page, and all four members of the team. It's also from the early part of the run (only Byrne's fourth issue of his 61 issue run!), which features traditional inking tools (i.e., pen and brush rather than magic marker - a trademark of later issues). These early pages tend to have tighter inks and more detail, and this one has some really cool detail. In this particular story, the FF go up against Ego - "The Living Planet!" The last panel shows some really cool "Daliesque" (as Byrne puts it) details of the surface of this massive monster!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alpha Flight 12, Page 28























(click for larger image or click HERE for triptych)

SOLD!! 2013

Back in the 1980's, I became a full-fledged comic book addict. I just loved the stuff and couldn't get enough. I would buy any title that caught my interest, in hopes that it would be worth my while. Some stuff was great, and some stuff not so great. I soon found that the current monthly books were not enough, and began backtracking to find previously published issues of things I liked, or other titles that I'd never heard of. If memory serves, the first John Byrne comic book I purchased off the newsstand was Fantastic Four 272. I was instantly smitten. I loved both the writing, and especially, the artwork (Byrne was doing both). It wasn't long before I was tracking down back-issues to get up to speed on what I'd missed (he began his run with issue 232). I was also happy to discover another title that Byrne was writing and drawing at the same time - his own creation, the Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight.

Alpha Flight wasn't as "cosmic" as the Fantastic Four, and it certainly didn't have the history (having been created in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby). It was also not a favorite of Byrne himself as he has stated repeatedly in interviews. Nonetheless, I loved it simply because it was Byrne. The book may not have been Byrne's personal favorite, but it did have a strong fan following. Byrne only ended up doing the first 28 issues, but some might argue that his initial run climaxed with issue 12 - the death of Guardian. Fans were shocked and devastated. If most fans were like me, they were probably thinking "he'll be back". Surely it was just some stunt or trick to boost sales? But, unlike today's superhero comics, he was dead. Really dead. Forever.

When I got introduced to the world of original comic art, my first thought was to obtain some nice Byrne Fantastic Four art. It turned out that that wouldn't be so easy (as chronicled in my CFA-APA article for issue 62 link HERE). So in conjunction with my search for Fantastic Four pages, I happily added Alpha Flight pages to my collection. And not just any Alpha Flight pages, but pages from the famed issue 12! Here is the first one I obtained. I've posted it on this blog before, but always in a group with the other two pages in the sequence (see them together HERE). I thought these pages deserved their own post, so here is the last. (Pencils and inks by John Byrne. Click for larger image.)

Alpha Flight 12, Page 27























(click for larger image or click HERE for triptych)

SOLD!! 2013

Back in the 1980's, I became a full-fledged comic book addict. I just loved the stuff and couldn't get enough. I would buy any title that caught my interest, in hopes that it would be worth my while. Some stuff was great, and some stuff not so great. I soon found that the current monthly books were not enough, and began backtracking to find previously published issues of things I liked, or other titles that I'd never heard of. If memory serves, the first John Byrne comic book I purchased off the newsstand was Fantastic Four 272. I was instantly smitten. I loved both the writing, and especially, the artwork (Byrne was doing both). It wasn't long before I was tracking down back-issues to get up to speed on what I'd missed (he began his run with issue 232). I was also happy to discover another title that Byrne was writing and drawing at the same time - his own creation, the Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight.

Alpha Flight wasn't as "cosmic" as the Fantastic Four, and it certainly didn't have the history (having been created in 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby). It was also not a favorite of Byrne himself as he has stated repeatedly in interviews. Nonetheless, I loved it simply because it was Byrne. The book may not have been Byrne's personal favorite, but it did have a strong fan following. Byrne only ended up doing the first 28 issues, but some might argue that his initial run climaxed with issue 12 - the death of Guardian. Fans were shocked and devastated. If most fans were like me, they were probably thinking "he'll be back". Surely it was just some stunt or trick to boost sales? But, unlike today's superhero comics, he was dead. Really dead. Forever.

When I got introduced to the world of original comic art, my first thought was to obtain some nice Byrne Fantastic Four art. It turned out that that wouldn't be so easy (as chronicled in my CFA-APA article for issue 62 link HERE). So in conjunction with my search for Fantastic Four pages, I happily added Alpha Flight pages to my collection. And not just any Alpha Flight pages, but pages from the famed issue 12! Here is the first one I obtained. I've posted it on this blog before, but always in a group with the other two pages in the sequence (see them together HERE). I thought these pages deserved their own post, so here is the second. (Pencils and inks by John Byrne. Click for larger image.)