1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I started reading comics at the age of 12 in when I picked up Uncanny X-Men #167 (1983) off the spinner rack at my local Store 24 and I’m still going strong 30+ years later. My love of comics in general and the Marvel Universe in particular has evolved into a passion for collecting, with a particular interest in comics, original art and other collectible ephemera. Aside from collecting, I blog about comics at The Marvel Project, which chronicles Marvel history with focus on the 1980s, and on Tumblr, where I post lots of other nostalgic goodness from the world of comics.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
My favorite piece in my collection is the cover art to New Mutants #21 (1984) by Bill Sienkiewicz. New Mutants was one of my favorite titles when I started actively reading comics and I definitely enjoyed living vicariously through these kids who grappled with the challenges of their teenage years while fighting for their lives against government agencies, rogue headmasters, super villains, etc. “Slumber Party” is a particularly fun and memorable story and I’ve always loved the incredible energy and joy of the characters who look like they are about to burst off the cover. I leapt at the opportunity to buy this cover when Ferran Delgado offered it to me and I actually flew to Madrid to pick it up from him in person.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I’ve been collecting original art since 2001, which is about the time that I discovered eBay and started the fun and fulfilling process of filling the many large gaps in my comic book collection. As I immersed myself in collecting comics after a number of years away from the hobby, I started to wonder “What else is out there?” I was fascinated when I came across original art. I had never really given it thought before and it was amazing to think that I could actually buy the original pages that were drawn by the hands of my favorite creators. I particularly liked pieces that predated the digital era as they have a much more visceral connection to the production process and you can see the pencils, ink, white out, pasted speech bubbles and other indicia.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
I have a few pieces of original art framed and displayed in my home, but almost all of my collection is stored in archival Mylar. I’ve had a longstanding dream of framing and hanging a large number of pieces in my home library, but I’m coming to grips with the fact that some dreams are unlikely to translate into reality. The fact is that one of the greatest joys of collecting comic book art is the opportunity to share it with fellow collectors and fans, so I really view Comic Art Fans as the ideal forum for displaying and viewing my collection and writing about why the pieces are significant to me. I also really like showcasing certain pieces from my collection on my Blog and Tumblr, so that they can be enjoyed by a broader audience.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
My tastes in comic book art are fairly diverse and have definitely evolved over time, but there are a few common themes and are rooted in characters and titles that I came to love while growing up reading comics in the 80s and 90s. In any case, it is very hard to single out five pieces that I really really want, but this question has definitely been helpful in forcing me to focus my attention:
a. The double-page opening splash to Uncanny X-Men #167 (1983) by Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek. This issue is the first comic that really started me reading and ultimately collecting comics and has the added benefit of featuring both the New Mutants and the X-Men.
b. Pages #10-12 of Uncanny X-Men #174 (1983) by Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek. Chris Claremont really channels his soap opera writing skills in “Romance” and I would like to fill in the pages that I am missing in the sequence with Kitty and Peter.
c. The cover art for the Dazzler: The Movie graphic novel (1984) by Bill Sienkiewicz. I’m a huge Bill Sienkiewicz fan and that piece is absolutely beautiful. Dazzler is such a silly artifact of 1980s Marvel, but the character has great sentimental appeal to me and I particularly enjoyed this story.
d. Another set of Kitty Pryde Costume Parade pieces by Kevin Wada. I love Kevin’s work and he has done a fantastic job with eight different Kitty Pryde costumes thus far. I think four more pieces would bring this project to happy conclusion.
e. The “Inside the Baxter Building” schematic drawing by Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky from Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963). I was obsessed with this page when I first saw is it in a Fantastic Four paperback as a kid a I still regret not bidding more aggressively when it was auctioned by Heritage in 2009.
View James Henry's Gallery