Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dear Comic Art Fan,

One of the most recognizable female icons in the world, Wonder Woman debuted in American comic books during World War II, and was the super-heroic star of a popular television series in the 1970s. Now, for the third year in a row, the heroine brandishes her Amazon bracelets and golden lasso as a star-spangled symbol for a charity benefit for Portland’s most protective domestic violence shelters - Raphael House and Bradley-Angle House - and the Portland Women’s Crisis Line. Excalibur Comics hosts Wonder Woman Day on Sunday, October 26th from 12noon to 6pm. The free all-ages event will include comic book creators Adam Hughes, Allison Sohn, Aaron Lopresti, and Gail Simone signing Wonder Woman comics and special art prints, as well as a silent art auction with over 150 of the world’s top artists contributing original art, plus costumed super-heroes on-site, raffles and prizes, rare memorabilia, and more!


Additionally, a second “Wonder Woman Day” benefit will take place on Sunday, October 26th, in Flemington, NJ, at Comic Fusion, as part of their “Super-Hero Weekend.” This East Coast event will benefit Safe in Hunterdon, a domestic violence shelter in New Jersey with special guests Neil Vokes, James Fiorentino, Rob Kramer, and Chris Muller.


See you next week!

Premium Member of the Week :: jack juka
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jack Juka and I have been involved with collecting over fifty years.


I am a 52-year-old retired television photojournalist and author currently residing with my Wife and Standard Poodle in Drums, Pennsylvania. I have a son and daughter who are both attending college.

You asked for a little history. OK, I will do my best. As a kid I haunted every old candy store and smoke shop within a five mile vicinity of Kingston, Pennsylvania looking for comics I didn't have.

In 1968, I walked past a paperback rack while visiting my Aunt Verona and discovered Doc Savage. The James Bama covers thrilled me to no end and I was soon reading my first novel. It is funny how a painting can get a twelve year old boy reading a book for pleasure. 


My Father had read Doc Savage as a boy as had my Uncle Joe. My Dad encouraged my collecting hobby. In fact, shortly after I discovered that first Doc Savage he lent me two hundred dollars to buy a high grade Golden Age comic collection I found in New Jersey. It contained Batman numbers 3 to 60, Superman numbers 3 to 60 and about two hundred others all in Fine or better condition. When I was in college, I traded most of them away and spent the proceeds on wine, women and song. OK, maybe not so much wine as I was never a big drinker but women and song definitely.

Years later, my Dad developed Alzheimer disease. One day while we were sitting in the car he looked me straight in the eye. In a moment of clarity he asked, "Do you still have those comics I bought you?" I didn't have the heart to tell him they were long gone. 


Regret is a bad thing. I soon fiercely threw myself back into collecting again. Doc Savage pulps, The Shadow, and GI Joe (at one point I had 250 of them). I was spending 25 dollars on plastic shoes for GI Joe while my wife shopped at Kmart trying to save money. 


Several years ago, in an attempt to make up for selling my comics, I invested our life savings in a 3,000 book original-owner Golden Age comic book collection from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Talk about the kid who went to the store with the family cow and traded it for magic beans. That was me. Luckily, it worked out and over 50 copies of Superman and Batman became the highest graded copies by CGC. Most were from the early 1950's. Mark Haspel, President of CGC, recommended the collection be included in Steve Ritter and Matt Nelson's upcoming book in the 45 Greatest Golden Age Collections Ever. That was quite an honor to think that I had somewhat redeemed myself with my Late Father's original intentions. Even better, the story would be told in a hobby book.

Two years ago, I began collecting original Doc Savage paintings. Jane and Howard Frank sold me "The Gold Ogre" out of their cherished collection. Since then, I have been aggressively searching out Doc Savage paintings and now have a total of six. How does any of this relate to my growing comic art collection? I'll tell you.

At this year's San Diego Comic Con, I bumped into an art dealer I had contacted several times about Doc Savage paintings. "Did you bring me a Doc Savage," I asked jokingly. His reply made me sick. "Oh, I just sold one," he laughed, "I lost your number." I felt like going back to the hotel and jumping off the roof. Being that this was our annual family vacation, my wife Julie talked me off the ledge. "Don't ruin it for the kids," she warned. I was soon on the phone contacting the buyer and paying an enormous premium to buy it back from him.            

Acquiring the lost Doc Savage took a few days. In between, I still had an intense feeling of loss. As I was looking through art folders to console myself, I noticed a page from "Superman for all Seasons" by Tim Sale. "My favorite comic of all time," I thought to myself. A voice inside me warned, "But you don't collect comic art."


Before I knew it, I was aggressively buying Tim Sale art. It seemed that each page had a special meaning to me. It didn't matter if it was Clark Kent and his Dad in a corn field, or the Hulk crying because he accidentally punched Betty in "Hulk Gray." I was a rabid art collector. Each week seemed to bring three or more pieces in the mail. I was like a little kid again.             

More importantly I was now a big fan of Tim Sale. "How could you go wrong if you like what you buy?" I endlessly rationalized to my wife. I have close to forty pages of Tim's art now including six or seven from his new Captain America issue.             

To make things even better, I became friendly with Tim and Jeph Loeb. And, I made many new friends who felt the same way I did about Tim's art. When several grown men confess to getting tears in their eyes when Clark leaves the farm you know something's good somewhere.


And that's all I have to say about that. Next question.


2. What is your favorite piece in your gallery and why?

Number one would have to be James Bama's Doc Savage painting The Maji. Besides reading it as a 13 year old, Bama's art is so realistic that it's amazing. I have many years of fond memories of reading Doc Savage to back that up. Recently, Doc Savage artist Joe DeVito, Author Will Murray and I became involved in a new Doc Savage project. On a lark, a day before a museum was to clean out Bama's house, he sent us the original negatives of Doc Savage model Steve Holland from his files. This included several unpublished images. What a great guy. Talk about getting lucky. Jim loves Doc Savage. 

3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start? 


Let's see.... San Diego was in July. It's almost October. What's that, four months? It went by so fast. I probably should seek professional help at this point.  

4. How do you display/store your collection at home? 


I have six paintings in our bedroom. They are all about ten feet high on a wall so as not to overwhelm Julie, my bride of 27 years. "If you look straight ahead and don't look up, you won't even see them," I pleaded. Good thing she's a good sport. Several of my Tim Sale pieces are in a display at another home of mine. The others are in art folders where I infrequently take them out and gloat over them.


5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?


I would like to get more Doc Savage paintings. These bring back fond memories from my youth. There are MANY Tim Sale Superman For All Seasons pages I would like to get. I also want Hulk Gray, especially the page where Hulk cradles the Bunny Rabbit. Then, there is Tim again. I wouldn't mind some more of his Spider-Man Blue. Finally, God Bless you Tim. I'll probably rationalize buying ANYTHING you do. You're the best.

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