Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Introduction to Orignal Comics Art Part II: Back from the Dead

Batman rises from the graveBecause we haven't done a "true" Exfanding-type post in a couple of weeks (and because I'm really just not that creative...and probably a little too lazy for my own good), I wanted to revisit a previous introductory post on collecting original comic book art.

You can read that first post right here, if you haven't already, but beware--it's an early post in the grand history of this blog, and it's more than a little but clunky. Uh...I mean "bit."


Which is another reason I wanted to clarify some things, and fix a few (stupid) omissions. I spent so much of that post on the most basic aspects of original art (OA from here on out) that I missed large chunks of important and (hopefully) useful facts that the beginning collector might need.

And after Nathaniel's great, honest, and from-the-heart post yesterday, I feel as though I should make amends, and do a better job of Exfanding comic art collecting to the masses.

So in this Part the Second, I want to address the...let's call them "issues"...of storing one's OA. Then I'd like to provide a far-reaching list of online stores that sell OA, since at this point I've dealt with nearly every one of them in some capacity. I'll try to provide a fairly complete list, including sites for artists who sell their work directly.

The Goon #5, page 10But before I get into that Herculean effort, I wanted to remind anyone out there looking to get into this section of the hobby that it's not cheap. It just isn't. Not even a little bit. And, because of the economy and other things, I am taking a nice, long break from collecting art.

A permanent vacation, you ask? Most likely no, but certainly a rest of the year vacation. And that's another warning I'd like to bestow upon you--OA is pretty addictive, and the quest for pages, while incredibly fun, can also be maddening at times. There's always (always!) going to be someone out there willing to spend more money on something than you, and there will always be collectors who will buy a piece and flip it at a much higher cost.

That goes with the territory and I suppose most hobbies function in that way. So those are the "negatives" but believe me, this is a pretty cool, fun sub section of the comic book hobby.

Okay, enough preamble. Let's get to it...

Your Portfolio, Sir or Madame

Any artist worth his or her salt carries a portfolio filled with all the latest, and greatest, pieces of art that they've created. And OA collectors are the same. (Well, except for the whole "creating" part)

OA is, by nature, incredibly thin--I mean, they're card stock paper for goodness sake. So if you purchase one or two pieces, storage really isn't a problem. But, let me tell you, after some time (and after a few conventions...) those pages really stack up. And it's just not financially feasible to frame all of them. And, if it is financially feasible for some out there...well, everyone runs out of wall space at some point.

So OA collectors buy big 'ol portfolios, just like the ones artists carry around, and they use them to store their art. Problem solved, right?

A little.

Now, I have one portfolio that isn't even half-filled at this point, and it's a nice, sturdy case that fits right under the bed and it protects the art. But it cost me more than some OA pieces that I've bought. Why? Mostly because I'm an idiot, and a glutton for punishment.

You see, I decided to buy my portfolio at an art store. And not an art wholesaler, either. A fancy, stupid art store that was...fancy and stupid.


And since then, I've found several places online that sell portfolios for way (WAY) cheaper. Like Dick Blick, for instance. Next time, I'm buying from there.

Now, if buying art and sticking it in a case and throwing it under the bed sounds insane to you (and why wouldn't it?) then you might prefer to frame your pieces. Again, not cheap, but certainly a nice addition to a room. Professional framing, while costly, will provide your piece with the needed protection of museum glass and other things that will ensure your piece won't fade or deteriorate.

When I started collecting, I framed the very first two pieces I bought. And while they look cool on the wall, I quickly realized that, with the money I spent on them things what hold the art, I could have bought

Or, you know, groceries.

But I've recently found an alternative to high-end framing. There's a store online called Frame it Again, Sam, and every art collector should check it out. Their frames are made-to-order, and the top panel of the wood slides off so you can easily switch out your art so you can rotate what pieces go on the wall. It's a very cool idea, at a very reasonable price. (They also offer frames for single issue comics, so be sure to check that, too!)

OA Link-apalozza

Now that you're ready to store and display your art, let's talk about buying the art. (Sequential storytelling means nothing to me--I read Grant Morrison comics) The following is a handy (and extensive!) list of some of my favorite comic art sites. Even if I have no intention to buy (which is most of the time), I still check many of these sites out weekly just to ogle the great art.

Seriously, check them out. There's some amazing art to be ogled.

First, the big-name dealers, with their exclusive artists and their fancy pants:

--The Artist's Choice represents too many pencillers to count, but Ethan Van Sciver, Steve McNiven, and Joe Quesada are just a few of the big names there. While often over market value (or, at least perceived market value according to Ebay sales and the like) on many pieces, TAC is one of the premier places online to shop for modern art. I've bought several pages from them, and I am quite happy with them. If you do some hunting on the site, I guarantee you'll find some very good deals (like the piece below by Mark Bagley).
Mighty Avengers original art--Anthony Snyder represents Alex Maleev, Esad Ribic, and Damion Scott. He also has tons of art from every age of comics, ranging from the incredibly high-priced to the incredibly low-priced. I've ordered two pieces from them--one online and one in person at a con. Great guys, great art. I bought this Alex Maleev Daredevil from them last summer.
Maleev sketch of Daredevil Yellow--Romitaman is another high end dealer, but the breadth of what they have is pretty awe-inspiring. Again, you could buy a piece that's more expensive than my car, and worth way more than my savings account, or you could buy great art for under a hundred bucks. The owner, Mike Burkey, is one of the greats in the OA world, and he's just a flat-out good guy and incredibly easy to work with.

--Albert Moy is the rep for luminaries such as Jim Lee (!!!), John Cassaday, and Darwyn Cooke. Lately, he has Eric Powell as a featured artist on his site, so you know the man has good taste! Anyway, this is another high end to low end site, with some stunning pieces available.

--Fanfare is run by a great guy, Tom Fleming, and serves as the rep for Greg Land, J.G. Jones, and Stuart Immonen, among others. Fanfare's selection is diverse and very affordable. Some of the best deals in OA can be found there. I've bought several pages from them, and each time I came away happy as can be. The Kelley Jones piece below is a favorite of said purchases.

Kelley Jones original comic art--Will's Comic Art is run by another staple in the OA community, and features a vast array of work by innumerable artists from every era. I've purchased from Will in the past (actually, see the image just below), and it was easy and the shipping was quick and secure. Another great dealer.

Flash original art of Iron Heights--ComiCon Art represents several rising stars in the industry, including two of DC's best, Ed Benes and Shane Davis. The companion site, Ed Benes Art has many pages by the superstar up for sale. ComiCon specializes in pin up art and they are always taking commissions. There are some unknown (for now) artists there, so prices are low, but expect to hear good things from many on the roster there in the near future.

--James Meeley's CAF page, where you can find art for sale by Richard Moore (one of my all time personal favorites), Randy Kintz, and more! The link takes you directly to Richard Moore's cover gallery, with some stunning pieces from the great (GREAT!!) indy series, Boneyard, from NBM Publishing. A warning, though, some of the other galleries include nudity, so it's definitely NSFW. I bought from James last year, and he is a great guy and incredibly passionate about the work of the artists he represents. Check it out!

--Comic-art-ink has a great selection of artists, including the incredible Adrianno Melo, Paolo Siqueira, and Renato Guedes. Great selection, great prices, easy to work with.

--Splash Page Art reps many of today's best, cutting edge artists, including Tim Bradstreet, Marko Djurdjevic, Ben Templesmith, and Marcelo Frusin. There's tons of great stuff there, including the addition of Mauro Cascioli to the site. His stuff is killer (as seen in the James Robinson-penned Justice League: Cry for Justice a couple of weeks back).

--Comic Book Art Gallery is the home of Mike Perkins and Mel Rubi, among others. The site is run by a very cool guy, and they are incredibly easy to deal with.

--Comic Art Links is a great site, for two reasons. First, there's a bunch of links to OA sale sites. And second, because they rep several artists, including a favorite of mine, Francis Manapul.

--Catskill Comics reps Mike Grell and Tom Mandrake, among a nice variety of others, and offers plenty of commission work.

--And for you Indie fans out there, The Beguiling is one-stop shopping for some of the best in the field, including Becky Cloonan, Gabriel Ba, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Joe Matt, and Paul Pope!! Check it out!

Now, on to a few artist sites:

--First up, of course, is the Official Goon Store, on Ebay. There's always something good up for bid (or Buy It Now), and Eric occasionally sells his pages directly there. I've dealt with them several times now, online and in person, and they are the best.

--Marvel superstar David Finch's site has originals as well as sketchbooks and how-to DVDs for sale. I ordered one of my very first pages directly from them, and I couldn't be happier with the experience.

--Aaron Lopresti has just recently started selling interior pages (along with covers and sketchbooks) and his stuff is beautiful.

--Another place to scour is Comic Art Fans (and their sister site, Comic Art Shop), as many artists have their own online portfolios, and they sell their work directly from there. Just do a search for the artist you're looking for. Either you'll find that person's gallery, or you might stumble across other members with pages for sale.

--- --- ---

This is not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination, but one that I hope can give someone who might be interested in OA a good start. It's something I wish I had when I got started, that's for sure.

As I discover more sites (and as I recall all the sites I managed to leave off), I will update the list as often as possible.

If you're a collector, and you'd like to add some of your favorite sites, please just leave the link in the comments section of this post, and we'll be sure to add them to the list!

And, on a final note, I'd like to mention that, so far for me at least, I have not had a single negative experience with dealers or artists, either online or in person, or with sellers on Comic Art Fans/Shop. Everyone I've dealt with truly could not have been nicer, and it's pretty cool to be able to say what's up to them at various conventions.

The OA community online is a pretty tight one--sure, there are scuffles now and then--but it's a very fun place to be. Anyway, I hope this was helpful, and I apologize for trying to break the Internet in half with the word count of this post...

1 comment:

AJG said...

So, I put up a link to this post on an OA fan board, and asked for any more recommendations. As I get them, I will copy them here to keep a running list.

From James Meeley: Kwan is the official rep for Leinil Yu and Clayton Henry. Although he has a lot of art by many other available to purchase. While not as flush with product as others, he has a good mix of stuff in what he does have. I've only bought from him off eBay once or twice, but the experiences were positive and he was a total professional in how things were handled.

Serendipity Art Sales: Bob Shaw officially reps for almost 60 artists, including Rich Buckler, Mike DeCarlo, Everette Hartsoe and many more. While not having any "superstars" on the list right now, Serendipity is one of the most comprehensive places to find smaller, indie talent on the net. Again, my experiences are limited to just eBay with him, but Bob is one of the true nice guys in this hobby and a complete pro at making a customer feel like gold.

Thanks for the additions and the info, James!

Everyone please keep them coming!