Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dear Comic Art Fan, 

This month's Sketchbook theme hearkens back to those halcyon days of the early 90s, before the comic bubble burst and Marvel's Magnificent Seven ventured off on their "X-odus" to create Image Comics. Founded on the principle that creators own the rights to their characters, Image set the standard for the industry for the better part of a decade and launched the careers of comic superstars like Michael Turner, Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch, and Robert Kirkman. While there is sure to be plenty of pictures of the Image characters that have endured through the years, such as Witchblade, Invincible, and the stalwart Savage Dragon, it will be a big disappointment if there isn't a single piece featuring the gloriously giant shoulder pads of a young Rob Liefeld. 

Also, we here at Comic Art Fans would like to humbly announce that this February marks our Quinquennial Anniversary! (That's five years, troglodytes.) This community has grown in leaps and bounds over the past half decade and its all because of you. Currently there are over 350,000 images uploaded to the site, none of which would be there without all of you trawling the Internet, hounding artist reps, and shlepping through convention after convention in order to get another piece of original art. We would also be remiss to not extend a big round of thanks to all of the artists who have joined the site and shared their talent with all of us. We have big plans for the future and look forward to see what comic art it brings to us all. And if you feel like getting us a present, silverware is the traditional gift...

Thanks and see you next week!

Premium Member of the Week :: Chris C
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am 36 years old and have been hooked on collecting and reading comics since I was six. I am married, nine years this October, and have two kids. My youngest is Gracie who is four, and my oldest is Chris Jr. who will be seven this summer. He is already a convention sketch vet and has a nice collection of his own listed on my CAF gallery. I was born and raised and still live in the Chicagoland area. I work in the city. I am probably best known in the hobby now as "The Trophy Wall" guy. People that don't know my name, and have never met me will see me walking around conventions with my binder of past trophy wall pieces (as reference for new artists) and will immediately start talking to me. It has been a great way to meet fellow fans and to strike up conversations with artists.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite and why?  
If I had to pick just one piece my #1A would be my Dave Steven's Rocketeer page featuring an iconic image of Bettie. I am a big fan of the collecting philosophy that you will know the right piece when you see it. I searched high and low and looked at a passed on literally dozens and dozens of Stevens pieces looking for that one singular example that would be perfect. As soon as a I saw this page it struck me like a bolt of lightning. If for some reason I did not have the Stevens piece my #1B would be my Brian Bolland Joker Trophy Wall Commission for several reasons. It was the culmination of years of attempting to have something commissioned from Brian. It started me down the road, now 25+ pieces later, of commissioning "Trophy Walls" from greatly diverse and talented artists covering all genres from comics, to film, to TV, to animation and more. It was personally fulfilling to achieve the goal of the initial commission, but what it has given back to me over the last few years has been immense in its own right.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I have been collecting art for about 15 years. For the first 5 years or so my collecting was passive. By that I mean, the piece I got were by accident. I would get a gift here and trade some comics for a piece there. There was no rhyme or reason to my collecting. I stayed on the periphery enough that "the bug" was not able to bite me deeply until sometime about 1998 or so.
I became disillusioned with the comics grade game. If I got a run of X-Men in VF/NM, I felt I needed NM...etc etc. There was always something "higher grade" to chase. It became pretty silly to me. I started to see something more fulfilling in artwork. Every piece is unique, each one stands on its own fully. The only measuring stick I had to worry about was my own. How personally gratifying was the piece? How much does it speak to me? Was is a title I felt nostalgia for? Was it an artist that sparked my most fond childhood memories? Does he happen to draw a great set on Donna Troy? These are all questions that run through my mind when choosing a piece...and none of them have anything to do with some technical grade of the piece that has little to do with the overall aesthetic enjoyment of it.
In the last 3-4 years the commission bug has bitten me hard. There is none of the uber-competitive struggle you tend to have around any great published piece (DK, KJ, V...and several other titles readily identified by initials) and you get to really collaborate and work with some wonderfully talented people. I get more enjoyment and satisfaction over coming up with a solid idea and then hashing it out with an artist until the piece comes to life in their hands. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the creative members of our hobby. It really is a gift that they share, and when I am working on a commission with them I can pretend I have it too.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
I store my artwork in mylar with boards, then in a zippered portfolio, and then in a safe. I keep the majority of my collection in the dark, in the cold, and dry. I once had a wonderful collection of vintage carded and sealed Star Wars toys. No matter what I did I could not keep the bubble from turning yellow and that forced my sale of the collection. So I don't take any chances with these unique pieces of art.
There are some pieces that are on my walls in my office at home. The wife has some specific rules about what can be seen by the kids... so no bodacious ta-ta's and no severed heads, sadly. When they are older maybe. ;-) I spend a good deal of time appreciating my artwork, it's just not on the walls.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
1) A Frazetta Oil.....oh someday.

2) The Earl Norem Original Painted cover to Rampaging Hulk #16. Sold in July 2002 through Heritage when I was not paying any attention. I read and re-read that magazine until it was literally in pieces when I was eight years old. That cover is burned into my brain permanently. Would love to find it someday.

3) Walt Simonson Norse Themed Trophy Wall Commission.

4) The first eight pages from Uncanny X-Men #177. Another Nostalgia thing. I love Romita Jr.'s first run on X-Men and these pages are grail level for me.

5) I would say a page from Killing Joke, but that has become the drumbeat for everyone it seems, and my commission filled that Bolland Joker void for me... so I have to go with something from Frank Miller from either 300 or Sin City. Both are incredibly striking visually to me and I would love a singular representative example from either one.

View Chris C's Gallery

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