1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
By day, I work as the publisher at a leading audio book company. Ironic since I love printed books. But as they say, it's a living. I have been involved in comics as an art publisher in the late 1980s through my company, Avalon Fine Arts, where I represented and sold art and prints by Moebius. I also published work by Michael Kaluta, Charles Vess, and Mark A. Nelson, and imported art prints by Bilal, Schuiten, and even Herge. In 1991, I launched Monsterscene, a classic horror magazine. I like to think of it as a slick fanzine because in the eight years of publication, there were only eleven issues, but they were good! 1993, I became art director and fill-in writer for the fledgling publication, Hero Illustrated. Though the experience was short-lived, it afforded me the opportunity to interview Mike Allred, who was just beginning to get recognized for his Madman comics. Mike and I have remained friends ever since. In 2013, I licensed the rights to François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters' Les Cités Obscure (The Obscure Cities) series, originally brought to America by NBM in the late 80s. In 2014, I translated and published The Leaning Girl, which met with critical success and two Eisner Award nominations in 2015.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
In 1991, I was preparing to launch the magazine, MONSTERSCENE. I had already published the Universal Monsters portfolio featuring contemporary comic artists' renderings of the classic Universal Monsters. I commissioned Jack Davis through his art reps in NYC, to create a color version of his famous 1960s six foot poster. Upon presenting it for approval, Universal Studios shut it down because the resemblance to Boris Karloff was too strong and at the time, Universal was in a legal battle with Bela Lugosi Jr., Sara Karloff and Ron Chaney over the use of their parents' (and grandparents in the case of Ron Chaney) likenesses. But being an important piece, I gave Stabur Graphics a transparency of the art and they produced a limited edition print without involving Universal Studios, something I should have done from the beginning. When I received the art from Jack Davis, I called him because I was truly taken aback by it. I asked him if he would sell me the original. In his southern gentlemanly voice, he said, "Hell, Steve, you already paid me for it!"
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I began collecting art in 1979 when I was 18 years-old. I had been reading Heavy Metal magazine since the first issue hit American shores, so I attended Chicago Comicon where I purchased a ballpoint pen drawing by Berni Wrightson for $20. I also bought the Jeffrey Jones art print, Blind Narcissus at that convention.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
I have most of my art in portfolios, but I do have some key pieces framed and on display throughout my home.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
This is easy. I want to own an original Mark Schultz piece. I have a study drawing of Hannah Dundee but I would eventually like to have one of Mark's pencil pieces that includes his Xenozoic character, Hannah, possibly with Jack Tenrec, along with a dinosaur. Mark's use of the brush is amazing, but in his sketchbooks, and in his book, Carbon, I find myself captivated by his pencil work. My office at home is decorated with Mark Schultz's serigraphs and lithographs.
I want to own a page of comic art by François Schuiten. I have translated three of his books into English, and I am hoping to soon be able to acquire a page from his book, La Douce, which I translated for Casterman as The Beauty.
I would very much like to own a horror splash page by Hilary Barta, because there is no one doing old school EC-style art like Hilary does.
I would like to own a page of Madman art by Mike Allred.
It is ridiculous to even dream of it, but I would love to won an original Alex Raymond Flash Gordon page.
View Steve Smith's Gallery