1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I've been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since I was a kid. I have my uncle to thank for that; he used to loan me his comics (Kraven's Last Hunt) and fantasy novels (The Chronicles of Narnia, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Now I'm reliving my youth through my son as we share adventures at the local comic shop (Fantastic Comics in Berkeley). My love of comic art goes hand in hand with SFF illustration.
I started working with Michael Whelan in the mid-90s, producing the first several iterations of his website when the internet was just becoming a thing. I helped Michael land his first solo gallery show and launch his fine art career.
Besides running my own web design company, I moonlight as a writer. My first novel is finished, but my daughter (now three and a half years old) sidetracked its publication. I've been juggling the kids while my wife is pursuing her Master’s degree at UC Berkeley. I'm looking forward to devoting more time to writing when she finishes in May.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
Death: The High Cost of Living – Issue 1, Page 28. It was my first big investment and has remained my favorite all these years. But if we're including illustration, it would be Passage: The Landing because Michael Whelan painted it for me.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I started frequenting local comic shops in high school. I had friends in the hobby and we'd travel to stores around Chicago and even hit small conventions on the weekends. Early on the goal was to fill in runs of various Spider-Man titles. I started taking note of writers (Peter David!) and artists (too many to name) and would line up at cons to get books signed. I got so deep into the hobby that I subscribed to Comic Buyer's Guide to keep up.
Original art ads in CBG made me take a second look at the dealer booths at Chicago ComiCon. I'd always found the original art a curiosity, but when I gave it my full attention I was amazed at the art—new and old—and that quickly became my priority every summer at convention time.
I worked full-time managing a bookstore while in college and luckily had discretionary money to spend on the hobby. My first art purchase was a couple of Mark Bagley panel pages from New Warriors and my purchases got bolder from there. It wasn't long before I needed a portfolio to store my growing art collection.
Russ, a friend I worked with at the time, collected animation cels. We found Jerry Weist's Original Comic Art at the store and started talking seriously about investing in original art. "Investment" was a justification for spending the money. We were both really into Sandman. Neil Gaiman toured Chicago regularly, and we stalked him at every event. He was a featured guest at ComiCon a couple years in a row, and he even held midnight readings one year that were amazing.
Russ invested in several Jill Thompson pages from Brief Lives. He was a big Delirium fan. Death was more my jam so when I spotted the ad for Chris Bachalo pages from the first mini-series, I called the dealer to reserve several pieces to pick up at Chicago ComiCon. Curiously the price went up about 20% per page by the time of the convention. I didn't blink at the cost and managed to swing a sweet panel page with Death from the first issue —my first grail —and another of Mad Hettie from the last issue.
I eventually wrote a story for a journalism class about my experiences collecting and the potential for the market. This was about the time of the death of Superman. The piece won the “Pulitzer” for that class. I'd always meant to publish somewhere like Chicago Magazine but never did. I'll have to dig out a copy out of my files.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Most pieces are framed but wall space is at a premium because I have so much illustration art. What I don't have hanging is bagged, boarded and stored in a portfolio.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
J.H. Williams - Sandman Overture #1 B&W Variant Cover
Chris Bachalo - Death: The High Cost of Living #1 page 25 (always loved that splash)
Dave McKean - Sandman #19 Cover
Alan Davis – Uncanny X-Men #213 Cover
A Rich Butler or Mike Zeck Spider-Man cover
View Mike Jackson's Gallery