1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I write novels as my day job, as well as essays and memoirs. I'm currently curating the Gene Colan: Visions of a Man Without Fear exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. A couple of times, my hobby and my day job have intersected, such as when I wrote an article for Playboy about the comicart-l and its merry band of neurotic collectors.
2. What is your favorite piece in your gallery and why?
"Favorite" assumes you would want to eat the same burrito every day, if you follow. A piece that means a lot to me is my 1921 Herriman Krazy Kat specialty piece. I was unaware of Herriman or Krazy Kat on my very first day of comic art collecting in 1993. I was buying a Jack Kirby page from Rich Donnelly and he threw in a copy of the Sotheby's catalogue for the auction that was occurring that every day. On the cover was the Herriman piece, and it was like seeing a whole other world. Like: THIS IS COMIC ARTWORK? My response was entirely aesthetic rather than nostalgic. And "What have I been missing?"
Nine years later I bought the piece from the auction winner. Herriman was a genius in composition, color, humor, language, character, conflict, everything, and this piece has it all. Plus the story of its creation (which is on my CAF) is great.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
In 1974, when I was 10, I walked into a con in Berkeley and the first thing I saw was the double splash to Fantastic Four Annual #1, by Kirby. It was $75. I had $75, which I'd earned through months of mowing lawns, and I didn't want to spend it all in one place, so I bought a bunch of one-dollar Hulk comic books to fill in my knowledge of the character. Even then I remember wondering if I hadn't made a mistake. The page haunted me, and a couple years later I thought I wouldn't make the same mistake twice. So I brought $75 to the show and bought, carefully, two Sal Buscema pages for $12 each, knowing I'd made a good purchase since Kirby pages were twice as much.
I bought nothing for years, because I had no money, and because I wasn't interested in comics for a long time. In 1992 I got interested again, and I had a day job where I would finally have a couple hundred bucks of disposable income, which was enough (then) to buy a Kirby Monster page. Which I did.
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Walls and Itoya portfolios. When I first had an office, I packed every square inch with framed stuff, figuring it worked for Gertrude Stein. But me, it just made look like I was insane. So now there are small displays up that I swap around.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
1) A key pre-1965 Marvel cover by Kirby or Ditko
2) A page from Fantastic Four #48-50
3) A page from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2
4) The remaining pages to Daredevil #154 and Howard the Duck #10 (I'm putting the books together)
5) The cover to Hulk #104
And if I might use the pulpit here:
1) Buy what you love
2) Yes, dealers charge a lot. They always have. The whole "capitalism" thing will also work in your favor sometimes
3) Explore stuff outside your immediate interest. Look out for artists you've never heard of and pick up graphic novels in genres you wouldn't normally look at.
4) Make friends in the hobby. Use email and the phone. Share information and build networks. It's never bad.
5) If you have the choice between being a human being and being a collector, err on the side of being a human being. Magically, the art will still find you.
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