1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I first became interested in comics during the early 1960s, before entering high school (graduated in 1969). My earliest favorites were fantasy and sci-fi by various publishers. Although reading comics wasn’t “cool” among my high school classmates, I actually got several of them very interested after bringing some of my favorite issues to school and pointing out that not only were the stories interesting, but the ART was amazing - not what they would see in the Sunday funnies!
Although my brothers enjoyed comics about World War II (especially Joe Kubert's Sgt. Rock) and D.C.’s superhero characters (The Justice League had most of their favorites), I was spellbound by Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The first issue I remember buying off the newsstand was #6, featuring the Lizard. In those days, we didn’t rush to the comic store on the first day the new issue appeared. We didn’t have comic stores where I grew up, just “Five and Dime” or drugstores which had racks of different comics. Therefore, I really wasn’t a collector; just an avid reader. I will admit that I started hiding my Spidey comics after reading issues #30–33. I was mesmerized by the storyline that ran through those issues.
One day in 1966, when I walked into the drug store and saw the cover of Flash Gordon #1 (King Comics) on that comics rack, the artwork knocked me off my feet! I’d never heard of Flash Gordon (it wasn’t in our newspaper's Sunday comics), nor the creator of the original series, Alex Raymond. I surely hadn’t seen Al Williamson's work….at least, I didn’t think so. It wasn’t long before I realized he was one of the several “Masters of Comic Art” who drew for the old fantasy and sci-fi (EC) comics I’d read years earlier! Artwork by Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Mike Kaluta, and - of course - Jeffrey Jones was among the most sought after by some collectors. In the meanwhile, I learned about Raymond’s Flash Gordon from a gentleman who lived in New York. He had seen my letter to the editors which was published in issue #5, and was kind enough to send me a photocopy of artwork by Raymond along with the background story. From then on, I became a “comic collector” – although not in the sense it is understood today.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
This commission by Paul Renaud and the original page from Flash Gordon #13 by Jeffrey Jones tie for my favorite pieces of artwork in my galleries. Please note that the Flash Gordon #1 page by Al Williamson would have been at the top of this list, by far, but due to financial hardship, I had to sell it - one of my biggest regrets!
In addition, I was interested in collecting work by certain artists whose art appeared in comics I enjoyed reading when I was young: Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, and others. During the decade 2000 – 2010, I bought more artwork, but unfortunately, had to sell some of my favorite piece due to financial hardship.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
In the late 1980s, when I attended my first comic convention (in Atlanta), I discovered a lot about this wonderful NEW universe of comics, original art, collectible action figures, etc. In addition to being overwhelmed by thousands of back issues offered by professional dealers, for the very first time, I was amazed to see a lot of original comic art for sale from comics I had read! This was the reason I was motivated to begin buying original art. The first piece I bought was a page from Tales of Suspense #75 (1966), featuring Iron Man - drawn by Gene Colan.
Due to changes in my job requirements, which included re-locating to another state, I wasn’t able to continue my hobby of collecting comic art. It wasn’t until 1995, when I began receiving issues of Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auctions magazine did I re-enter the market. My goal was to search for and buy as much Flash Gordon artwork as possible – hopefully, by various artists. My galleries include some of the many pieces I collected. During the late 90s through the mid-2000s, I came to know Ray Cuthbert (who is well known in the world of comic art). Thanks to Ray, I was able to collect the one piece of artwork I’d always wanted: a page from King Comics Flash Gordon #1. Although I had previously obtained the original proofs (from King Features) of each page of that issue, my greatest hope was to one day own an original page. Ray also introduced me about 10 years ago to an amazingly gifted young artist, Paul Renaud, who was kind enough to draw a wonderful portrayal of Flash Gordon and Dale Arden, which I treasure.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
All my comic art is stored on or between archival acid-free boards. All of my artwork is covered (a lot of it is matted and framed) with UV, acrylic instead of glass as a protective cover. This has prevented any damage to my collection during the several moves my family and I have made over the years.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
An original piece of Flash Gordon artwork by Alex Raymond (would not have to be full page)
Any original artwork (not a sketch – a published piece) by Al Williamson
Original page from original 1960’s Amazing Spider-Man (any issue) by Steve Ditko
Original artwork from any issue of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents by Wally Wood
Any original artwork by Dave Stevens
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