Friday, May 7, 2010

You've Bought the Art...Now What?

A quick post this time around, since my last one got a bit out of hand. I wanted to talk today about original comic book art, a topic I’ve spoken at length about here in the past.

However, whereas those previous posts leaned towards the very basic, introductory topics of what to buy and where to buy it, today I’d like to talk about some “advanced” collecting methodology.

Okay, not really.

I have no idea what an “Advanced Collecting Methodology” is, but I think I might copyright it just in case. For the moment, though, let’s just replace “Advanced Collecting Methodology” with “Framing Your Pretty Picture.”

My earlier posts covered the whole browsing, choosing, and buying parts of the deal, and today we’ll focus on the storing /displaying of an original page. But just to recap those earlier posts, let’s do a ten-second summary:

Buy what you like, don’t spend more than you’ve budgeted for, and always, always, always realize that if you lose that eBay auction or miss out on a page at a convention or from a dealer, there will be (literally, dozens) more pages in the (too near) future.

I know it sounds basic and even condescending, but believe me. The world of original comics art is so…hmmm, what’s a word I can use here…insane…that spending too much, too often is a badge of honor. And foregoing things like food and shelter in favor of that Jim Lee Batman page are all too commonplace.

But never mind that for the moment. Let's pretend you've just purchased that piece of art you've been ogling since you first saw it in the pages of Thor, or Detective Comics, or, in this case, The Goon.
So, you've found the page, spent the money, and brought your new baby home. But, um, then you realize that what you have is a piece of paper. With a wicked awesome drawing, sure, but still a piece of bendable, flammable, crinkle-able paper. The number of ways in which you can ruin your new piece of magic are endless.

And so you turn your thoughts and attention to storing, or framing, your art. Unfortunately, this next, crucial step can be just as expensive--and, in some cases, more so--than the actual art. Framing is the best way to display your piece, but it also happens to be the most expensive. A good frame--one that deflects sunlight and has archival matting and real wood--is going to cost ya.

But when you're dealing with art, certain precautions need to be taken. Sunlight will kill artwork quicker than a Joss Whedon character, slowly but surely fading the black inks of a page until they're a purply and, purple. Like I said, the frame's the thing.

As a fer example, check out this frame for the very first piece of comics art I bought. It's a page from the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Batman epic, Dark Victory, a story that helped get me into the comics medium. So, yeah, this one had the nostalgic factor for me.
When it came time to frame the piece, I wanted something special, something that I could hang on the wall and be proud of. And then Alex went to the framing store, and ordered a custom sized frame, large enough to fit both the original page and the first issue of the series (signed and sketched by artist Tim Sale), with museum glass and matte, with a beautiful cherrywood finish.

Boy, this is gonna cost me, Alex thought.

I bet this sets me back at least a couple hundred bucks.

Uh huh. Yep. Couple hundred bucks. Jeez, sometimes I really am the clueless teenager in the horror movie that gets eaten first.

When the woman behind the counter got everything together and started adding up all the features of my Super Frame, the price was shocking. Shocking. I'm not kidding here--this is the truth. The total cost of the frame was $1,050.

One Thousand.



For a frame for a piece of art that didn't cost much more than $200.

Luckily, as I was running out of the store, knocking women and small children aside as I went, I noticed the sign on the front door. Liquidation Sale. $75-$80 Off All Frames.

Oh, thank goodness.

So I bought the frame. And it's been hanging above my desk ever since. Still, the frame did cost about as much as the art itself, so buying a quality frame for every single piece of art was going to be impossible.

Unless, of course, I devised a genius plan.

Being that I didn't devise a genius plan, I did find a few art supply places that sold big, protective art portfolios. So I got that instead. And now the bulk of my art collection--a couple dozen pieces--sits under a spare bed in a portfolio. This weekend, I got tired of having all of my precious, precious art in a portfolio under a spare bed, so I decided I'd finally need that genius plan.

It involved buying cheap frames, doing the matting myself, and finding places on the wall where there's no chance of direct sunlight hitting the artwork. It sounds so simple, right? The best genius plans are.

Just ask Dr. Doom.

My first victim was the Goon pin-up from the top of this post. I bought it from Eric Powell at the Boston Comic Con, and while it was an awesome piece by itself, looking at it all alone in a giant portfolio was heartbreaking. So I went to Michael's (a craft store), bought a $20, classic, black frame, and picked out a $3.00 matte to go with it. Annnnd...taa-daa!
I think it looks great--a little green makes the piece pop, and seriously, for $23, how could you go wrong?

There's another framing option I'd like to mention before I go. I found this great site online called Frame it Again, Sam. Handmade comics art frames, with a very cool feature built in. One of the major downsides of framing a piece is that, once it's up on the wall, there's a pretty good chance that it's up there for the long haul.

But Frame it Again has a solution to that frequent collector conundrum. The frames allow the collector to swap comics pages in and out whenever you'd like. All you have to do is find a safe place (or two or three) on the wall, and you can rotate your art to your heart's desire.

I bought a frame about a year ago, and I plan to pick up a few more. Currently, I have (what else?) a Goon page in the frame. The piece went from this:
To this:
And here's the magic of it all. The top has an opening that allows for easy access so you can swap out pages quickly, safely, and at any time you want.
See? Pretty cool, huh? Sure it is. And that's my spiel for today. Sure, I could go on, but The Office is new tonight, and it's just about to start. In closing, I hope this was helpful to at least one person out there. But I'm a realist, and while I'm fairly certain that the post wasn't useful to a single soul, at least I got to show some of my art!

So, there.

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Happy Friday, everyone!


Flashman85 said...

See, this is great, 'cuz I've been wondering what to do with my signed FoxTrot strip from PAX East. Good thing I read this before getting it laminated!

AJG said...


Besides, everyone knows that laminating is the framing of the true sophisticates!

Anonymous said...

This makes me think I need to do something with the green arrow headshot I have currently matted, unframed, and resting on the floor by my computer... at least it's not in direct sunlight.

- Neko