Monday, August 3, 2009

Dear Comic Art Fan,

Noted comic book writer John Ostrander has quietly been battling glaucoma for the past few years. In an effort to assist him with mounting medical bills, several of his friends in the industry have planned an auction to be held this weekend at Chicago Comic Con. Many comic creators have generously donated original art, signed scripts, prints and other memorabilia. Any excess money raised will be given to the Hero Initiative. As fans of the visual medium I'm sure we would all be horrified at the thought of losing our sight, please contribute in whatever way you can. Click here for more details and to view the art up for auction...

See you next week.

Colin Solan
CAF Editor


S. Clay Wilson Benefit Bash August 22 Concludes San Francisco Underground Comix Exhibition

6 to 8 pm, Saturday August 22, 2009

Electric Works
130 8th Street
San Francisco, CA
415 626 5496

Following a packed and rowdy opening night last month, San Francisco's Electric Works gallery has excited and intrigued locals and tourists with "The Cresting Wave: The San Francisco Underground Comix Experience," a group exhibition featuring San Francisco's Underground Comix artists from the Sixties to the Eighties. Although the artwork is available for purchase through November, the show closes Saturday, August 22nd with an All-Star Benefit Bash benefitting local cartooning legend S. Clay Wilson, who faces a long recovery from serious injuries. All are invited to join artists and fans in a raucous celebration featuring music, refreshments, a raffle and a silent auction, from 6 to 8 pm that evening.

Artists included in "The Cresting Wave"are Mark Bode, Vaughn Bode, Guy Colwell, R. Crumb, Jay Kinney, Paul Mavrides, Dan O'Neill, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Larry Todd, Randy Vogel, and S. Clay Wilson. Culling work from private collectors and the artists themselves, guest curator, Underground Comix writer, publisher and historian, Dan Fogel, has amassed important work from each artist that spans personal drawings, well-known comix pieces, including covers and original comps, as well as other rare ephemera from the heyday of the San Francisco scene. An illustrated price list is available for download from the gallery's website.

In addition to offering exclusive signed and numbered prints by many of the exhibition's artists, Electric Works is pleased to announce a new limited edition "jam print" by Mark Bode, Jay Kinney, Paul Mavrides, Spain Rodriguez, Randy Vogel, and S. Clay Wilson. This 24" x 18" piece is printed in an edition of 40, with archival inks on acid-free paper. The price is $100 per print. The original artwork for the print will be auctioned off. All proceeds go to the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust, to benefit Wilson's injuries. The prints may be ordered at this website.

The gallery's bookstore is currently stocked with hundreds of Underground Comix and graphic novels, from rare first printings to the latest editions, merchandise, and memorabilia.

To become a sponsor of the Wilson Benefit Bash and/or the "jam print", please contact Dan Fogel at

Premium Member of the Week :: Ken Fries

1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

A long time ago…no, wait…I grew up in Whitestone, Queens, part of New York City. I lived there until I was 25.  Then after a three year stint living in Long Island, I moved to Henderson, Nevada, where I am still.  I’ve been out here over nine years now, great place to be.  I’ve been a mailman for nearly 14 years now, but also worked in comic book stores (surprise) for about four years, among other jobs.  My girlfriend doesn’t completely understand my hobby, but she supports it fully, which is part of why I love her.  The first comic book I bought new was Amazing Spider-Man #255, when I was 12.  I just realized that marks 25 years of me in this hobby!  I even managed to get into the outskirts of the industry, doing some interviews and reviews for a few publications, most notably interviews with Mike Mignola and Paul Chadwick for the late, great Amazing Heroes, issues 196 and 203/204 respectively.   I enjoy photography as a hobby, and traveling.  Please visit the link on my CAF page to get to my section of the Panoramio website to see some of the photos I’ve posted of my travels!  I’d also just like to thank everybody on CAF for sharing all the great art, and ask that you explain some more about each piece you put up, why you got it, how, etc.  It makes each piece that much more interesting.  Read any Eric Delos Santos entry to see what I mean!

2.  Which is your favorite piece in your gallery and why?

Although I enjoy every piece of art I have, I do have some special ones (my Paul Smith commission, my Rick Leonardi commission).  But if I were forced to pick out just one, I’d have to go with my Michael Golden ‘Nam commission.  Golden, like most of my favorite artists, is someone whose work started to mean something to me in the mid to late 80s.  The Reclusive One never made public appearances until late 2006, so having never had the chance to meet him, as I’d met many other of my favorites at conventions in New York, I knew this was someone I’d have to see.  I made a trip to New York Comic-Con in February 2007 because he was going to be there, and I’d get to visit with my parents for a while.  I spent a great deal of time at Michael’s table, and got on his LOOOONG sketch list.  He became way overbooked,  so there was no chance of getting my pieces at the show.  At the time, pencil-only pieces were what he was producing.  Fast-forward to the following January, and I get a package in the mail from him containing the three pieces I’d asked for, fully finished in ink and marker, and far exceeding my expectations.  The ‘Nam piece in particular became an instant favorite, as the Vietnam War has been a topic of interest of mine since I first saw Apocalypse Now when I was about nine or ten.  The 'Nam was also the first comic featuring Michael’s art that I was able to buy new issues of off the stands.  So for many reasons, that is my favorite piece of art that I own.

3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?

I probably first started buying comic art in 1989.  I would go to cons in New York City, and I have a very vivid memory of seeing Mike Mignola put the finishing touches on a Dr. Strange & Dr. Doom sketch for someone else, and saying, “I want one of those!”  I don’t believe that was the first sketch I ever got, but it was a pretty early one.  Working at comic book stores at the time, I was able to see Comic Buyers Guide every week, so I would scour the ads looking for anything interesting.  I was (and still am) a huge Frank Miller fan, and saw someone selling pages from Dark Knight Returns.  There must have been at least 20 listed in the ad, from both the first and fourth issues.  I thought it would be really special to own some originals to a book I enjoyed so much from my favorite creator.  I wrestled with how much to spend, then what to get, and finally made a phone call that led to me getting two pages for an amount that most people would hate me for.  I’ve since sold those pages, but not until after owning and thoroughly enjoying each for 15 or so years.  I don’t regret selling them, as the price I was able to get for them financed many other art purchases, and both have gone to good homes.

4.  How do you display/store your collection at home?

Everything I have is framed and hung on the walls of my home, scattered all thru the house.  You can’t go anywhere in the home without seeing something, which is just what I want.  I much prefer to have all of it out on display where I can enjoy it at any given time.  Just sitting here typing this at my home office I can look up and see the Golden ‘Nam piece, a Leonardi Cloak & Dagger page, my Paul Smith commission, and a Frank Quitely Superman page written by Grant Morrison.  And I put acid-free colored paper underneath each piece in its frame, making them pop out a little more.  I love to see all the notes, markings, and other things in the borders of an original page…that’s part of what makes them interesting!  Plus, probably half of them I’ve gotten signed, so I can’t cover the edges with a matte, it’ll cover the autographs!

5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions? 

Well, I’m a big fan of commissions, because it gives you a bit of a connection with the artist.  It allows you to let them know how much you truly appreciate their work, while getting a great piece of art to both enjoy and remind you of the time that you were able to connect with them a little bit.  Having said that, I know many artists are too far behind on work, or unable to do commissions, so pages are the only route to go.  I’ll just rattle off artists whose work I love that I’d like to get originals from, either commissions or pages, that I don’t currently own anything by.  In no particular order, that would include Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Byrne, Mike Allred, Jon J Muth, Scott Hampton, Dave Sim, Jon J Muth, John Romita Jr, Dave Stevens, H. R. Giger, Alan Davis, P. Craig Russell, Charles Vess…I could go on for a long time.  I will mention that I am looking for the cover to Amazing Heroes #196 by Mike Mignola, the cover to the issue that has the interview with him I did.  And thanks to all on CAF for sharing and Bill Cox for hosting!

View Ken Fries's Gallery

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