1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Greetings fellow comic book art enthusiasts, my name is Tom and I'm a 39 year old tradesman in Hawaii. I spent the first thirteen years of my life on Long Island, NY before moving to Hawaii. I have a big extended family to which I'm very close. I don't remember a time when I wasn't steeped in comic books. I'm told that I was copying drawings of Marvel and DC characters from the time I could hold a crayon so my dad was always bringing home new comics to draw.
I inherited collections of comics from the late 60s through the early 80s from older cousins too but the first book I bought was Fantastic Four #259 by John Byrne. I remember looking on the rack and Byrne's FF and John Buscema's Conan the Barbarian. They inspired me to start writing and drawing my own comics. My parents were very encouraging. Each summer my mom would enroll me in art courses taught by local comic book artists and animators like John Tartaglione and Walter Storozuk. I was fortunate to meet artists like Dick Giordano, John Buscema, and John Romita who stopped by to visit, they were so gracious with their time and encouragement. I even got to spot a few blacks on a John Buscema Conan job that surely deepened my love and appreciation of the art form.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
My favorite piece of art in my collection right now is the variant cover to Invincible #100 by Marc Silvestri. I think Silvestri has been doing some of his most focused art over the last few years since he started inking himself. Marc's work is not fine art and it is not going to make you contemplate the meaning of life, it is old fashioned comic book goodness for the 21st century comic art fan. I can't get enough of his covers that have a 70s creepy/eerie vibe to them like this one.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
Although I didn't buy my first original until 1994 I was first bitten by the original art bug back during a summer art class in 1989, where I was exposed to original art by Jack Kirby, John Buscema, John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr., Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Joe Kubert, Al Williamson and others. John Tartaglione and various guest speakers would lead our little class through these great pages explaining why and how the artists did what they did. How artists used the "invisible" art of design and composition beneath the surface of these drawing to evoke emotional responses in the viewer and create images in our head that weren’t on the page as we were reading through sequential narrative really opened my mind and appreciation of all kinds of art. Holding these originals, running my fingers over the raised ink, and looking for pencil lines indicating how it was done...well you all know that feeling I'm sure.
On Long Island I got all my books off the spinner racks at 7-11 or Shane's party stores but when I moved to Hawaii I discovered this place called Jelly's which was a music store/comic book shop. At the time the energy in this place was electric; classic issues hung all over the walls, along with giant art posters, hundreds of thousands of comics in the back issue bins. Original art by Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee hung on the walls. After some pestering the clerk told me they'd been there for signings earlier that year and brought art to sell. John Romita Jr. was coming in for a signing soon and he'd have art with him. I saved up my money but didn't come close to being able to afford a nice page of art that day. Romita Jr. is a great guy though and let me sit there with a stack of art and pepper him with questions while he signed. Undeterred on my quest to own some original art and advertisements on the back of a few comics I called stores like the Spider’s Web and Bowe & Board trying to buy some art by Todd McFarlane and Dale Keown. Unfortunately they only took credit cards or check and my parents for some unfathomable reason were not about to allow a 14 year old to spend hundreds of dollars on comic book drawings.
When I went to Arizona for college in 1994 one of the first things I did was go to Bowe and Board and buy a page from the Incredible Hulk by Dale Keown. Mission Accomplished! Since then I've picked up originals periodically. I don't add art to my collection as often as I'd like but I've been more active than ever trying to acquire art at auction sites these past few years and will continue to be into 2016. Hopefully a few will pan out soon. Wish me luck!
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Due to the tropical climate I keep my art in archival storage portfolios.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
Top five most wanted pages? Hmmm, I've learned not to get too hung up on a specific piece of art anymore partly because there's so many great artists and history out there that my “favorites" change constantly, depending on whether I'm feeling nostalgic or just appreciating some great art. I guess I'll have to go with nostalgia from the late 80s to early 90s stuff here. In no particular order:
1. I'd love a nice page from What If #7: What If Wolverine was an Agent of SHIELD by Rob Liefeld and Scott Williams
2. Originals from Conan #170 by John Buscema
3. Nearly any page from Uncanny X-Men #271 by Jim Lee and Scott Williams
4. A pillow book style watercolor by Frank Frazetta
5. A Biz painting from 1990-1994
View Thomas V's Gallery