Wednesday, February 18, 2015

If There's an Original Art Heaven, This Must Be It - A BAB Book Review


Doug: Wow. Just WOW! If you've been around here for the past week, you know I've discussed my sales of original art and the income said sales netted. You'll also recall that I decided to treat myself to a couple of purchases that ordinarily would fall waaaaaaaayyyy outside my budget. But hey -- when a guy comes into $6000, what's he to do? That's right: scoop up a couple of IDW's Artist Editions, that's what! And I did. Last Saturday I remarked during our conversation about all of the cool John Buscema art with which I've recently parted company that my order from InStock Trades arrived that very afternoon. I was like a kid on Christmas morning! And today I want to tell you and show you (to the best of my ability) what I bought. I'll be using straight photography from my iPhone today, as I did not want to incur a hernia trying to lift these tomes onto a scanner.

Doug: We briefly batted around some ideas about shipping in last weekend's conversation. Let me tell you -- the boys in Memphis who packed my books left no doubt that those babies would get here safe and snug. I've included several photos of the packaging, just because I was so overwhelmed at the care. That photo above to the right is the bottom quarter of the Gil Kane box, and I'd say there was a good 4" of static-free packing peanuts between it and the top of the box. The John Buscema box, resting just below the Kane box, itself sat on an inch of packing peanuts. Soft landings, to be sure!

Doug: Even the interior boxes are reinforced, as you can see a cushion around three sides of each volume. The design guys at IDW just did a fantastic job here. Obviously the labels on the outside tell the warehouse folks what to pull, but it's not an unattractive box to use henceforth for storage. And I am pretty sure that will be necessary, as these books are massive and heavy! Each book's tale of the tape goes like this:
Gil Kane's Amazing Spider-Man (216 pages) - 12.5" x 17.25" x 1.25" (it is seriously a thick book!)
John Buscema's Silver Surfer (144 pages) - 12.5" x 17.25" x 7/8" (looks like a 98 lb. weakling next to the Kane volume!)
Doug: The art directors at IDW really made each of these books seem top-shelf with the outer color schemes on the covers that carry over into the frontispiece and table of contents pages. I've included a couple of looks below:

Doug: Here are the contents of each book:
Gil Kane: Amazing Spider-Man 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 121 (all complete), and pages from 89 (10 pages of Spidey vs. Doc Ock), 92, 103, 104; 96, 101, 131, 149 (covers), John Romita's covers to 121 and 122 are included because of their significance to this compilation, and 122 (pages 1 and 23).
John Buscema: Silver Surfer 5, 6, and 8 (all complete -- issues 5 and 6 were double-sized at 39 pages apiece), and pages from 1 (3 pages, including the transformation sequence from Norrin Radd to the Silver Surfer), 7 (1 page), 9 (3 pages with the Ghost and Mephisto), 12 (1 page), 13 (3 pages), 14 (10 pages with Spider-Man), 15 (5 pages with the FF), and 16 (splash); 1, 2, 2 (unpublished), 9, and 10 (covers).
Doug: You may be asking yourself "How did they get all of this original art, and what happened if they couldn't?" In the Gil Kane book there are a few pages that are photocopied from some other source -- it's clearly noted at the bottom of the page that the original art was unavailable so a scan was used. That thought occurred to me as well, just based on the Avengers page I sold a couple of weeks ago. No one would have had that to photograph. So speaking of photographs, that's what these books are chock full of -- high quality photos of the original art, shot in full color. The blue line shoes up, light pencil lines are there, as are margin notes. Residue from tape is present, and White-Out is, too. The first page I want you to look at (and clicking on it will give you a larger view) is this Spidey page. Check out all the White-Out in Gwen's hair, as well as on her nose:

Doug: I've heard some collectors quibble about such blemishes on the art page, but I LOVE IT!! For me, the attraction of the original page was seeing the process of creation -- erased pencil lines, White-Out, blue line pencil, paste-ups when just a panel needed editing, etc. My excitement level went through the roof whenever I received a page I'd purchased and some of those sorts of "issues" were present. It's still a work of art -- I perceived it to be more dynamic when I could get into the minds of those whose hands had crafted it.

Doug: The choice for paper is perfect. It's a reasonably heavy stock, but with a matte finish. You can tell from my photographs, which were shot with only natural light on a mostly cloudy day that there is no glare. It was a perfect choice for really exposing the nuances of the original pages.

Doug: As to choices for content, I can't think of a better package than what made it into the Gil Kane book. That we get to look at two of the best storylines of the early Bronze Age in the Green Goblin drug issues and the six-armed Spidey/intro. of Morbius is just awesome. And that they went that extra mile and included Amazing Spider-Man #121 is a bonus beyond my ability to express gratitude. I paid the MSRP of $125 for the Kane book and I'm not at all going to quibble about it.

Doug: I'd lie if I didn't say the Silver Surfer book would have reached the stratosphere had it included the original art for issues 1 and 4, that fourth installment being among my very favorite comic books. But again, I understand that the major factor in production is accessibility to the art in the first place. So the inclusion of issues 5 and 6 is a fine decision -- I'm not going to scoff at the opportunity to indulge myself with 78 pages of Big John originals. I think the fact that the editors could include the two-page transformation scene from the inaugural issue is some nice icing on this cake.

Doug: So what's next for me? Depending on how my sales continue, I definitely still have my eyes set on the Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition. As of my recent order from InStock Trades, the Tarzan book was still discounted nicely. Also of major interest is the volume that reprints several Marvel covers from the Bronze Age and beyond. Having watched a YouTube review of the book, it's really representative of Marvel's great stable of artists -- Arthur Adams, John Buscema, John Byrne, Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller, George Perez, both Romitas, George Tuska, Mike Zeck, and many more. Take a few minutes to watch that video -- the reviewer does a nice job of showing samples of all of that luscious artwork. NOTE (2/17/15 9:30 PM CST): Well, I had a guy who owed me quite a bit of money pay up -- now I can ship his art out! And I will confess that I gave into the temptations I just discussed. Yep -- the Tarzan and Marvel Covers books will be coming my way very soon.

Doug: Lastly, here's a listing of all of the Artist Editions from IDW. It's a great cross-section of the talent that has brought so much joy to all of us. I know several of our regular readers will see artists on that list whose work you've especially enjoyed. As I've said a few times today, these books aren't for everyone price-wise, but if you have that love of original art as I do, and if resources present themselves such that you can treat yourself, I highly recommend these volumes for your collection/library. I think once you open that outer box, you'll join me in feeling live you've gone to Original Art Heaven.


Martinex1 said...

Wow. That's all I can say I had no idea how cool those IDW books are. Beautiful in every facet. Did you say there is an unpublished cover to Silver Surfer 2? The published purple cover with the Surfer and a Badoon is one of my favorites.

Anonymous said...

Does it matter if they are not in colour as originally presented ? I first read those Spidey stories in black & white in Marvel UK's reprints so it wouldn't make any difference to me but if I'd read them in the original colour comic-books I might feel something was missing by seeing them in b/w (the same thing applies to the Marvel Essentials volumes).

Doug said...

Colin, that's an interesting point about how readers came to the material.

But the very point of these books is that they are in B&W, showing every erased line and re-positioned word balloon. I didn't buy them to have as reading material, as I have all of the issues included in these volumes but in other books I own.

Yes, Martinex -- unpublished. I'm at work now, but if I think about it later this afternoon/evening, I'll try to get a shot and upload it to the blog.


Anonymous said...

Commodity fetishism rules:)

Have to agree that whiteout and stuff like that is part of the appeal of the original art; its a reminder of the circumstances in which it was produced. It always amazes me that John Buscema, Gil Kane and the other first wave Marvel artists did that kind of work day in day out; modern comics lost that vitality once artists started to spend longer and longer on rendering ever more detailed drawings.

The Kubert Tarzan book should be good. Btw, Doug, seeing as you seem really into John Buscema's work, have you thought about a post comparing the Marvel and DC Tarzan? Hard to choose between them...(not that its necessary to choose, of course).


Doug said...

Sean, that's a fabulous idea... and if I had even a single copy of the Marvel series I'd take you up on it! I have the three Archive editions that reprint Kubert's run on the Tarzan revival at DC. I also have three digest volumes from Dark Horse that reprint some Russ Manning Tarzan comics. But although I had maybe a half dozen of the Buscema Marvels back in the 70s they have long since departed. As I've said before, I wish whoever currently holds the ERB license would get those books back in print.


Edo Bosnar said...

I'm really not as much into original art as many fans - so I'd never plunk down the cash for books like these. I'd much rather spend the cash on some nice hardcover or paperback reprints.
Even so, Doug, those certainly look like attractive books, and I can imagine how thrilled you are with them (I just love that feeling when some much-wanted book arrives in the mail).

Sean, as to to question of DC vs. Marvel Tarzan, for me it's no contest: Marvel's all the way. The first half was all beautifully drawn by Big John, and the second by kid brother Sal, with a number of fantastic inkers. I know I'm an outlier in this, but to me Tarzan as drawn by the Buscema brothers is the definitive comic Tarzan - better than Kubert, or even Hogarth and Heath.

Edo Bosnar said...

Ooops - after reading Doug's comment I realized I mixed up Russ Manning with Russ Heath. Sorry.

And Doug, re: a Marvel Tarzan reprint. Yes, a thousand times over, preferably in an omnibus like that wonderful Warlord of Mars volume published a few years back that collects the entirety of Marvel's John Carter series.

Anonymous said...

Doug - Some of the Buscema Marvel Tarzan's are posted on Diversions of the Groovy Kind. Don't think theres enough to do a real assessment of the series, but if you just want to see them.... Some of Gil Kane's John Carter too. Buscema and Kane with various Phillipino inkers - great stuff!

Liked Russ Manning too, but for me the best Tarzan of the 70s was definitely by Burne Hogarth. And apologies for going a bit off topic.


david_b said...

I'd love that Kane book.

Serious, serious love.

Dr. Oyola said...

Like Edo, I doubt I'd ever plunk down serious money for these (but if I found them used for cheap I might do it), but they do look amazing and I do like the idea of the artifacts of creation being reproduced (or kept) on the page. . . I'd love time to page through these sometime.

P.S. I started on my first BAB guest post last night - doing a little at a time each night when my other work is done for the evening.

Karen said...

I had a chance to see some of this coming together behind the scenes, and I am so pleased for my blog partner! You deserve it pal! Those books look just fantastic. In fact, now you have me thinking about getting one!

Doug said...

I don't know what Karen and I expected concerning guest posts, but I did think that we'd have run one by now.

So if you're reading this and have an idea, write it up and send it to us at the BAB Yahoo email address. Include some images and we'll get you published.

And everyone should know that Osvaldo has picked two nice series to inspect, and you'll be seeing his work here over the next several months.


Edo Bosnar said...

On the topic of guest posts, I have a few in mind, but as both Karen and Doug know very well, it's not just something that can be whipped up in an instant.
Anyway, I was thinking of sending in a few short reviews in the coming weeks, but I also have to scan the material I have in mind...

Doug said...

Edo (and others) --

In the "new and revised" method of doing our partner reviews, we now take as long as a week to write. In the past, as you know, one of us would frame the post with plot synopsis and a few minor observations. Then the partner would come in to embellish and create some interplay. A revisit by the original author, and we were usually good to go. That process would take 2-3 days, and then the art would go in.

Now we're relaxed to the point that "it's in there when you get to it -- let me know when it's my turn again". It's been liberating to not write the lengthy synopses. Now we each read the issue, create a short list of things we want to talk about, and then one of us just starts it. It's really become a system now where the post gets written 2-3 paragraphs at a time. It fits better into our busy schedules this way.

So I definitely feel your qualms about finding the time to write -- and of course you want to do it well.

I am looking forward to reading the work of our readers, whenever it arrives. And another "thanks" just for entertaining the idea!


Redartz said...

Doug, those books look magnificent! Always love poring over original art, marvelling (or DCing, nyuk nyuk) at the detail. A clean ink line is a thing of beauty...

Also, I too have a little review in mind; hope to forward it soon. How you two do it consistantly, I'll never know...

Doug said...

I'll be honest, Redartz -- now that we've scaled back a bit, I don't know how I did it, either! Just a couple of days ago I was typing away and my wife asked what I was doing. I said writing on the blog... and then "I don't do that as much any more."

I still love coming here every day throughout the day, though!


Dr. Oyola said...

My own blog posts usually take me 3 to 5 days to write, plus a day of getting the art together - then I let it sit for a day and proofread, and then I have a buddy proofread and then some last minute changes and then live.

For BAB I imagine it would take me less time overall, but since I a getting in a little at a time, it will take longer than usual in terms of overall number of days between start and finish.

Anonymous said...

Doug, that is some SWEET Buscema and Gil Kane artwork! Man, I've never been into the original artwork with all the pencil lines and whiteout, but looking at those samples from these two masters makes me want to plunk down some cash for them too!

Dunno about the guest posts; been considering doing a Youtube channel for comics blogging. One of my smart aleck friends said I have a face made for radio! :)

- Mike 'saving 25 cents each day from my piggy bank' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Garett said...

These look great Doug! It may be hard to get the full impact of these giant pages by just seeing them in the photos here. These IDW books are gorgeous! I also like the white corrections and other aspects of original art pages.

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