Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dear Comic Art Fan,

This month's Sketchbook is dedicated to the Punisher and the Spirit, both of whom have movie releases this December. I've already seen Punisher: War Zone and frankly it falls even shorter than its predecessors. The filmmakers made the common mistake of trying to humanize Frank Castle and ignoring the simple equation that he should kill at least one gangster about every six minutes. As far as The Spirit goes, I'll withhold judgement till I see the final product but I expect we'll see Frank Miller's interpretation rather than a story faithful to Will Eisner's original strips. However, casting Eva Mendes and Scarlett Johansson buys him a lot of leeway. Dan Lauria from The Wonder Years as Commissioner Dolan, I'm still scratching my head over.

See you next week.

Colin Solan
CAF Editor

Premium Member of the Week :: Jeff Singh

1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jeff Singh and in addition to collecting comic art I am the father of three (Ridley, Ella, and Carsten aged seven, six, and four).  In my spare time I practice Emergency Medicine at a large urban hospital and do some teaching at an academic centre. I was born in the Fiji Islands and immigrated to Canada when I was four. Now at the age of 38, I can look back on collecting comics since I was 14 but it wasn't until nine years ago I started down the dark path of art collecting. I call it the dark path as all the other art fiends know, once you start, there are few that can leave this hobby.

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

My favorite piece would be the 1940's Tintin illustration I have by Herge. The first comics I read were Tintin, Asterix, and Lucky Luke.  I found them at our local library in Calgary when I was growing up.  My mother encouraged me with these comics, she is German and she and her siblings learned English with the help of these books. Other than Saturday morning cartoons, Tintin was my first and still most enduring relationship with a comic character.  Herge works on so many levels and the more you reread the comics and the more experience you bring to the reading the more there is to get out of each book. After Herge, my next comics were Disney and Whitman comics, I didn't read superheroes until much later.  I have many other pieces I love but the most important to me is the Herge. 

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

I have been collecting comic art for about nine years. What prompted me was a bit of a longer path than most others and it had a lot to do with technology and my eclectic interests. When I finally got tired of comics and all the gimmick covers and other things publishers were pulling in the 90's I was down to only a few comics a month.  Then Marvel changed my favorite character, Daredevil, and gave him a bullet proof suit, for me that was more than the last straw and I quit buying comics all together.  It took a little time to find out I missed comics but I had no interest in new comics and so I found the Golden Age. I had found what I had been looking for in comics all along.  I never really cared for superheroes although I tried valiantly to become a fan but in the older comics I found other genres like westerns, romance, war, crime, mystery, horror and my favorite themes science fiction and jungle.  I was in heaven and since this was non-superhero Golden Age I could find these books and reprints in affordable condition. 

Around this time eBay and the internet were starting to become more popular. I joined ebay as a member in 1998 and it is there that I found comic art.  My searches for jungle related comics often took me into the original art categories.  I didn't really understand the appeal of the artwork initially, it was not in color, often had stains on it and other marks and I wasn't sure what I would do with it.  I bought my first piece, a page to a horrible version of Sheena by London Knights as a novelty and when it arrived, I thought it was pretty cool. Then another page from something else and then a few pages from Fiction House, my favorite publisher. Then a few more and the next thing I know I am a collector and before long, a fiend. 

It initially amazed me how I could buy a page from a comic 60 years old for less than a copy of the comic and in many cases you still can. I eventually grew into strip art with the gentle steering of a few local friends. Now what I really enjoy in this hobby is the history of the art and looking at the artists of today and how they evolved and took lessons and ideas from those before them. Seeing and understand a bit of the evolution of Caniff and Sickles to Kirby made me understand the appeal of Bruce Timm who eluded me for a long time. This artistic archaeology as I think of it has added a new layer to the hobby for me and I don't think I could find another hobby I would enjoy as much. 

Another great thing about this hobby is the chance to meet and get to know the creators who you idolize and the great fans this hobby seems to find. I also think the Comic Art Fans site has added a lot to the hobby, bringing us together and also a place to see and showcase art.  I have met other collectors and have seen and found some art I never would have elsewhere.

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

My top five most wanted pieces are unobtainable but would include the Herge cover to Tintin and the Blue Lotus, Frazetta/Williamson Flash Gordon portfolio original, Winsor McCay Little Nemo Sunday, Bill Sienkiewicz Elektra Poster art, and a Wrightson Frankenstein plate original. 

View Jeff Singh's Gallery

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