1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am 46 years old. I was raised in Kansas and now live in Washington, DC. I have worked as a manager at NOAA Fisheries for 16 years, mostly focusing on the reduction and estimation of bycatch. I have a wife and two teenage children. I play fiddle in a bluegrass band, Hollertown for fun. I also am obsessed with old comic art ads and have created a searchable website to share all of my art ads called ComicArtAds.com.
2. What piece in your gallery is your favorite?
My favorite piece is page 1 to Amazing Spider-Man #140. When I began to be obsessed with comics in third grade, I found a beat-up copy of Amazing Spider-Man #140 in my school library. I asked the librarian if I could have it, and she asked me to wait until the end of the day to see whether anyone claimed it. No one did, and I am sure I pored over ever page of that comics for weeks afterward.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art, and what prompted you to start?
After I graduated from college in New York City (where I had a 1990 internship at the Spider-Man office at Marvel Comics), I moved to Chicago, where I ended up working as an editor. My office was close to a Borders bookstore, and I started going there a lot to break up long days on the job. I started to read something called the Comic Buyer’s Guide at Borders and became interested in the ads for comic art in the periodical.
One ad touted a “Calgary Collection” of art featuring John Byrne art from the X-Men, Marvel Team-Up, and Captain America. John Byrne was one of my favorite artists from childhood, and because I was taking a trip to San Francisco soon with my wife to visit her sister, I decided to call up this shop in San Mateo and make a visit. My wife and her sister drove me to the store (this must have been around 1994) and sat in the car while I talked to the owner (Steve or Rich Donnelly, not sure which), who showed me very nice pages from Iron Fist, Captain America, and Marvel Team-Up. The prices were a little high, so I just settled on a panel page by John Byrne and Dave Hunt from Marvel Team Up #60, with Spider-Man and the Wasp battling Equinox. That page cost me $125, and I sold it in 2001 to a collector who still has the page, for $400. The profit I made on that sale helped convince me that comic art could be fun and a good investment. I picked up a few other pages here or there in the 1990s and then started collecting heavily in the early 2000s thanks to eBay.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
I have several pieces framed, but most of my collection is stored in portolios in a closet. I do try to look at the art as much as I can, and I like to share it in person with other art collectors.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
Fantastic Four #173, page 1
Fantastic Four #174, page 1
Just about any page from Avengers #147
A page from Marvel Team-Up #61 or #62 with a nice shot of the Super Skrull
A nice Jim Starlin Captain Marvel page
View Lee Benaka's Gallery