1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a middle-aged American comic book fan who, with one short break, has lived in Japan since 1990. I am currently a part-time instructor of English at a couple of nearby universities and I also teach conversation lessons privately to various age levels. Before coming to Japan, I was a newspaper reporter in North Carolina and had initially intended to use my time in Japan to gather experience for when I returned to my home country. However, I met my wife, who is Japanese, and, after all this time, it looks like I’m here to stay.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite and why?
I would say that my Sandman # 75 page 22 piece by Charles Vess and Bryan Talbot is my favorite as it features both Morpheus and William Shakespeare. Hey, I am an English major and the plays of Shakespeare hold a special place in my heart. Also, Neil Gaiman’s two Sandman stories based “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Tempest,” are two of my all-time favorite comics.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
My dad, who was also a comic book reader, got me reading comics when I was very young. Still reading them when I was in high school, I used to go to the local mini-conventions in Charlotte, NC and I was able to buy a few convention sketches when I had a bit of extra money (I think my first one was a Batman sketch by Bob McLeod). Later, when I was in university, I was able to acquire a Stephen Bissette and John Totleben Saga of the Swamp Thing page which I have since traded and a Gil Kane DC Comics Presents page that I still have in my collection (I don’t remember which one I bought first). Following my move to Japan, however, my collecting came to a halt for several years, and, after I got married and became a permanent resident here, I decided to sell my entire comic book collection in the States to a dealer in Charlotte. To bridge the gap between what I wanted to sell it for and what the dealer wanted to pay, he added three very nice original art pages from his personal collection to seal the deal. My collection has been growing ever since.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Originally, I liked to frame all of my art using archival materials, however, as my collection grew, it became unmanageable to continue that so, these days, I mostly store my new acquisitions in Itoya art portfolios. I still frame some of the art I continue to acquire, especially the larger commissions.
5. What would be your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
Well, considering my finances, some or all of these might not be realistic, but if I am allowed to dream a little, some of the artists I would love to add to my original art collection include:
1. Frank Frazetta. I’ve wanted a real Frazetta on my wall since I was a kid looking at those old Art of Frank Frazetta books.
2. Tezuka Osamu. While his heirs own most of his works, there are a few pages from his early days in private collections, including some very nice Astro Boy pages. As you can imagine, they are very difficult to find, much less acquire.
3. Will Eisner. The Spirit was my dad’s favorite character.
4. Wally Wood.
5. Not any particular artist, but I would love to get a Sunday comic strip from a series that I like which is dated May 24, 1964, the day I was born.
As for commissions, I have an art theme I call “The Shakespeare Project” where I ask artists to pose comic book characters as if they were actors in a Shakespearean play. Just to give you an idea, I have one commission where the artist posed the Silver Surfer and Shalla-Bal as Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene. I don’t really have a top five list, but some of my ideas (of varying feasibility) include:
1. John Byrne or Bob Layton drawing Doctor Doom as Richard III.
2. Marc Hempel or Alex Niño drawing the Kindly Ones as the three witches from MacBeth.
3. Herb Trimpe or Alan Davis drawing Captain Britain as Henry V.
4. Steve Rude or Mike Vosburg drawing Isis as Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra.
5. Scott McDaniel drawing Superman as Coriolanus.
View Timothy Finney's Gallery