Sunday, December 10, 2006

Original Comic Art Commissions

Back in my days of robustly collecting original comic book artwork, I specialized in pages and covers from American comics. There were exceptions. I did own a British Marvel splash page, and some beautiful splash pages from the comics of the Phillipines, and one unpublished presentation piece, and a couple of originals from newspaper comic strips. But the vast majority of the pieces in my collection were pages that had been published in American comic books.

Well, there's a whole different realm of art collecting in which the collector commissions a professional artist to draw something specifically for him. The collector's intention has nothing to do with print-publication, although a modern-day website like affords the commissioner a convenient opportunity to cyber-publish their holdings if they so desire.
Luckily for us fans of comic art many of those commission-collectors do choose to display their prized possessions, and it is my pleasure at this time to show you some of the fine commissioned artwork I've stumbled across while navigating through ComicArtFans.

One type of commission involves having an artist re-interpret a classic cover or interior page in the artist's own style. Collector David Mandel seems to favor having the great artist Arthur Adams re-do vintage covers for him. Click here to see the Art Adams version of The Brave and the Bold #68's cover, and click here to see the original Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson cover as published by DC Comics in 1966. Then click here to see the Art Adams version of Justice League of America #60's cover, and click here to see the original 1968 DC cover.

Another type of commission involves having an artist draw a scene that was never published in an actual comic book (but the commissioner wishes it had been). Collector Randy Saitta seems to really like the idea of Batman and the Shadow teaming up, because he appears to have commissioned at least eleven (or maybe sixteen) different faux covers on simulated 1972 DC cover boards and labelled with the faux logo The Shadow and the Bat. Click here to see some great artwork by the likes of Michael Kaluta and Kevin Nowlan and Gene Colan and Howard Chaykin that you really wouldn't get to see anyplace but in Randy Saitta's ComicArtFans gallery. I might go to the extent of awarding Mr. Saitta the title of Prize Commissioner in honor of how far he has gone in his singular pursuit.

Even I, your humble host in the hayfamzone, have dabbled in the world of commissions. Back when I was a teenager, a couple of buddies and I banded together and called ourselves the Comic Art Entrepreneurs (and you're right as rain if you smell me all over that title because yes, it was I who coined the name). We would buy a table at the monthly YMCA comic book meetings and sell off our old and unwanted comics. Then one fine day we got the idea (okay, I got the idea) to publish a fanzine. We sent out letters to see who might produce drawings that we could publish in our fanzine, and it was our (okay, my) pleasure to receive a response from the superb Superman and Captain Marvel artist Kurt Schaffenberger. We worked out the details, and if you click here you can inspect the beautiful drawing that Mr. Schaffenberger drew at my request. By the way and unfortunately, the proposed fanzine never got published (sniff).

I have also had a more recent experience in the world of commissions. The duly famous Fred Hembeck drew his interpretations of two latter-day classic Jack Kirby covers for me. Click here to see the published version of the 1974 DC Comics cover of Sandman #1 and click here for a black-and-white view, then click here for the Hembeck version. Next click here to see the published version of 1970's Forever People #1, then click here for the Hembeck version. Aren't they just great?! I invite you to visit to see many more Hembeck-reinterpreted covers. And will you tell him you got your ticket to the Hembeck Zone while you were deeply embedded in the hayfamzone? I hope so.

If you know of links to any excellent commissioned artwork that you'd like to share, please do!


At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the Batman and Shadow teaming was real...

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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