1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am the Consignment Director at ComicLink Auctions where I have the opportunity to handle, in some shape or form, all of the original art that comes into our offices here. My personal hobbies are very much in line with my work which makes for a very fun and satisfying day to day. I learn something new about this hobby every day and talking shop with other like-minded collectors is one of my favorite aspects of the job. (So feel free to contact me anytime!)
I have two young kids, a three year-old daughter Alyvia (almost four) and a one year-old son, Ronin. My wife Tiffani collects coins and jewelry and so she can relate (somewhat) to my collector idiosyncrasies.
2. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
I'd say that the finale page to John Romita's Human Robot story in Menace #11 is my favorite piece of comic art that I own.
Pre-Code Horror art in general is scarce but the number of Atlas horror pages that are known to exist today is by definition rare. When I found out this page from Menace #11 existed I had to have it. This is the early work of John Romita Sr. It is the first appearance of a Marvel character that would go on to join the super hero team of Agents of Atlas. It is a scarce, pre-code horror Atlas art from arguably the most popular and consistently good run. In my (biased) mind, this is only second to a page from the classic Zombie Everett story in Menace #5 (which is not known to exist).
The scene on this page features the origin of the Human Robot. The inventor of the Robot is about to finalize a lucrative deal but has one small kink to iron out before he can morally introduce this product into the populace. The Robot can successfully execute a command but its regulator has not been installed and it will repeat the command infinitely. The story's greedy antagonist sneaks into his work area and programs the Robot to “kill the man in the room” and upon completion of this task, he will have the Robot all to himself to sell. Because it was introduced to this command before it's repeat error was fixed, the Robot kills both its creator and the dumfounded antagonist and leaves the room seeking out more “men in rooms” to systematically kill. Classic stuff!
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
Ultimately, collecting comic books evolved into collecting art. This seems to be the way most art collectors start. I still love and collect comics, but the occasional item that I lust over is usually a piece of comic art.
I've been collecting original comic art for about ten years and my deep collecting roots stem from reading comic books. I went from collecting copper comics that I loved to read to gaining an interest and then collecting high grade examples from the classic Jack Kirby Fantastic Four run. My interests slowly evolved over time and I found myself more interested in Golden Age comics, particularly Archie & Suzie Comics and Pre-Code Horror. Bill Everett is my favorite comic creator and his work in Atlas Pre-Code Horror comics is the cream of the crop for me. I sold my Fantastic Four run to acquire rare, high grade copies of books like Menace #5, Strange Tales #8, Journey Into Mystery #6, and others. Not only do I love the gruesome covers that Everett and others crafted, but I absolutely love to read the anthology style stories that often include insanely good art.
It took me a while but eventually I found art and the feeling you get from that “old paper smell” and flipping through a high grade copy pales in comparison to holding a piece of art in your hands, especially when you had previously coveted the story. There is so much history and energy right there at your fingertips. Seeing and touching that piece makes you feel closer to its creation and gives an unexplainable feeling of insight. Margin notes and scribbles are just as cool as the art itself sometimes. Owning the page means that this feeling can be had on a whim. The realization that a creator labored over this piece of paper and created something from nothing and then hundreds of thousands of readers enjoyed it. Even though many of these creators are now gone, the art has survived and it's energy and spirit is stronger than ever.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
A lot of my favorite pieces are framed and displayed in my home. I have one of the earliest splash drawings of the Crow (1981) by James O'Barr in my living room. It's almost always a conversation starter but very rarely is anyone impressed from outside of the hobby. When I was younger, my grandfather and I built a cedar chest that was specifically designed to hold comics. I keep some of my portfolios in there as well. One of the things I love about collecting art is the fact that you can display it and see it every day.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
I'd love to own a nice Bill Everett page. Preferably a page penciled and inked by Everett from Sub-Mariner #57.
A Fantastic Four panel page from the classic Kirby run featuring the Inhumans has always been high on my want list.
I'd love to own an example by Dave Stevens. A nice Rocketeer page featuring Bettie would certainly fit that bill. I'd love to get a nice page from Watchmen someday.
Basil Wolverton is also one of my favorites and a Spacehawk or Horror original would put a spring in my step.
The ultimate dream would be to own a Bill Everett original from his days working at Atlas on titles like Strange Tales, Menace or Journey Into Mystery. I imagine that will continue to be nothing more than a dream, but you never know what might get uncovered someday.
View Jason Crosby's Gallery