1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
In a nut-shell, here is my life: I was born in San Diego, California in 1967 and raised in beautiful Pacific Beach and La Jolla. In 1974, at the age of seven, I was bitten by the "comic book bug" when my father started buying me and my younger brother comics at the local 7/11 store, along with those really cool Superhero Slurpee cups. Remember them? The classic DC and Marvel Comics action figures, offered at Toys-R-Us, cemented a life-long love for superheroes within me and I soon graduated to collecting Golden-Age, Silver-Age and Bronze-Age comic books after discovering Pacific Comics on Cass Street in Pacific Beach. This was sometime in 1977 – I was a big fan of Spider-Man and the Hulk at the time. This is where I bought my very first Overstreet Price Guide - #8 with the Torchy cover by Bill Ward. One of my fondest memories of that time is when I walked into Pacific Comics one day and they had Incredible Hulk #1-6 for sale in the showcase. I was so excited that I called my dad up and asked him to come and look at them with me. He bought the set for me and I read them over and over again.
And then in August of 1978, at the age of 11, I met the man who would change my collecting interests forever. My parents took me to my very first San Diego Comic Convention, which was being held at the El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego. There we met and befriended the dealer’s room coordinator, Tom French and purchased some great Golden-Age books from him - Batman #3, #13 and 19. I was also a Dr. Fate fan and so my dad also bought me More Fun Comics #61 and #67. At the very same time, the Old Town Circle Gallery was hosting a one man showing of Bob Kane's artwork. We went down to the gallery where we met and befriended Kane himself, who ending up staying with us at our home for a whole week after the Comic Con. I was instantly transformed into huge and hopeless Batman fan and collector - especially the first year of Batman’s adventures, spanning from Detective Comics #27-#37 (1939-1940). Kane did many commission pieces for us, ranging from full paintings to blue washes to pen and ink sketches. But, my absolute favorite one is the re-creation of Batman’s very first appearance from a panel in Detective Comics #27 he drew right in front of me at our kitchen counter. Man, could he draw Batman! This is my favorite piece in my entire art collection, bar none.
I started my collectibles business, ARCHANGELS in 1988, while I was still in college and have basically been at it ever since. I’ve worked as an auction consultant for 10 years for such companies as Executive Investments, Greg Manning Auctions, The Mint and Heritage Auctions. I am also a writer with several feature cover articles as, "When the Bat Flew Alone," "Genesis, the Dawn of the Golden-Age," "The Avenger of Blood," and “Giants of Gotham – The Legacy of Batman Son of the Demon,” all which have been published in various industry magazines as the Comic Book Marketplace, Collectors Showcase, and the Overstreet Price Guide.
In the summer of 2003, I began writing the epic screenplay duology "The Outlaw Prince", a 13th century medieval tale about a noble English outlaw who fights against the corrupt ruling elite class with plenty of great swordplay, majestic castles, epic battles and beautiful damsels in distress, much in the tradition of the Robin Hood and King Arthur legends. I turned this project into my first graphic novel, illustrated by industry greats Thomas Yeates and Michael Wm. Kaluta, which was published by Dark Horse Books in 2011. Luna Moon-Hunter marks my second epic saga project, which took me 8 full years to complete and was published in 2014. Luna is a Judeo-Christian faith-based epic saga that revolves around a beautiful female Scythian archer, Alany-El de Tany (a.k.a. Luna), who battles the giant Nephilim (the hybrid off-spring of fallen angels and human women) in near future apocalyptic London as the Anti-Christ rises to power. This is a fictional story with a great deal of Biblical themes, ideas and history interwoven throughout the tale.
To sum up, I remain an idealistic boy at heart, who still likes to stay up late, read comic books and watch movies.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
As I mentioned above, my one favorite piece in my collection is the re-creation of the very first appearance of Batman from Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) that Bob Kane drew for me. Of course, it is not the most elaborate or detailed, nor is it the most valuable piece of art in my collection, but it is my favorite. Batman is my favorite character (along with The Spectre and Luna who was creatively inspired by both), especially the first year of his adventures before Robin was introduced into the stories. I’ve always been drawn to the dark, moody and brooding laconic loners who had so much cool alluring atmosphere in their tales – a heavy dose of mystery and intrigue. “Uncle Bob,” as he asked me to refer to him, was very kind to me, even nicknaming me, “Batman Jr.” There is just a great deal of fond memories associated with the piece – obviously, this is nostalgia at its best.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I’m a bit of a latecomer to collecting original published artwork. For years, my friend and art dealer Bechara Maalouf keep advising me to start collecting art, but early on the black and white “only” aspect turned me off since I was so into color art. But eventually I relented and came to my senses and have been collecting comic art since around 1999 or so. I have really come to admire and respect the talent that is required to illustrate the panel-to-panel format in a quality and timely manner. It’s a very rare and specialized skill that can render such remarkable images in such an unforgettable way so that these wonderful illustrated stories remain in our minds for the rest of lives. Again, nostalgia at its finest!
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Since my home gets flooded with natural light, there is only a very select few wall spaces where I can display artwork that will be safe from sunlight. I only have two pieces on my walls right now – my Alex Raymond piece of a gorgeous co-ed girl that he did way back in 1942 and my Phantom Lady #17 re-creation painting by artist Ralph Hughes. The rest is put away in cool, dark and dry rooms and closets. If I ever want to look at my art, I just go to my CAF gallery.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
Well, if we’re going to dream, then let’s dream BIG! So, here goes:
#1: A nice Batman cover or page from the pre-Robin Detective Comics run, issues #27-37. I especially like the interior art for Detective Comics #30, which I think was Kane’s very best work ever on Batman - those long ears are just so cool! Bob told me that most of that art was destroyed a long time ago, but hey, we’re dreaming here, right?
#2: A Golden-Age Spectre More Fun Comics cover or interior page by Bernard Baily.
#3: A vintage Golden-Age or 1950’s Sub-Mariner cover or page by Bill Everett.
#4: Cover or nice page from Batman #255 by Neal Adams for the story, “Moon of the Wolf.” My favorite Neal Adams Batman story.
#5: A Spectre cover and interior pages by Jim Aparo from Adventure Comics #431-440.
View Rob Hughes's Gallery