1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a chemistry professor in the United States. At 57 years old, I grew up as a true child of the 1960s Marvel Comics era (and it is so interesting to see the Marvel movie era in full swing). I have been reading comics since those by-gone days when you had to know the location of a bunch of different comics racks in a bunch of different stores around town in order to possibly keep up, and subscriptions were out of the questions because they came through the mail, hard-folded in half and exposed, except for a strip of brown paper. If none of that makes sense to you, count yourself lucky. I have fairly diverse taste in art, so comic art sits alongside sculptures, oil paintings, and watercolors, in my life.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite and why?
This is really tough, but when I think of the strongest emotional charge I get out of owning original comic art, I default to the mid-1960s run of Fantastic Four with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Joe Sinnott. And if I could gather up a bunch of pages on a scavenger hunt, these are the ones I would go for. So: Fantastic Four #65, page 12 is one of only two pages I have from this era.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I have been collecting comic art since late 1982, the month I got my first real paycheck! As a long-time comics reader, I thought it was simply fascinating that one could actually buy the original art from a favorite page. The nostalgia factor was extremely high. Then the collector mentality kicks in, which I see as a form of curating, the sort of competition that takes place between the different museums around the world. In a sea of one-of-a-kind items, like art and antiquities, there is never duplication, only the collective effect of curating. This is a difference from, say, stamps and coins and even comics, where collections can be identical and where it is the oddballs, rarities and errors that stand out. And I think the motivation for curating is legacy, a statement of one’s clever accomplishment.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
A good number of choice pieces are framed and on the walls. Other stuff is safely stored away off-site.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
Sometimes I think about the pages that got away; sometimes it is just wanting a good representative example for a series or a period.
(1) Cerebus #59 has a page in it that I lost out on because I was in the air, on a delayed flight, when the auction ended (a lesson about putting those reserves on). It's a showstopper memorable page for the series, where Cerebus' tail, packed into his Prime Minister pants, rips out the front at just the wrong moment. I wish I had not missed that page.
(2) Years (and years) ago, there was an ad in the Comic Buyers Guide for a Kirby page from the original Hulk series, and back then, you just sent your inquiry or your check (for $400) in the mail and hoped for the best. I think I read that John Byrne ended up getting it.
(3) I would love just a few more nice examples from the core Lee/Kirby/Sinnott era of Fantastic Four. Unfortunately, the prices are just too high when you see them.
(4) Similarly, I do not actually have an example from the John Byrne/Terry Austin Dark Phoenix Saga. I always liked that blank mindscape sequence, or Jean as the Black Queen being Eeeeevil.
(5) I have a soft spot for the Mage “Interlude” story, and it would be great to put that back together.
View Brian Coppola's Gallery