|1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Brooklyn, New York boy in his mid-50’s who started out with a passion for comic books way back when my parents operated a candy store which stocked the comics of the day. They had the store from 1946 through 1961, and I came along in 1954, so had I only known that my birth coincided with the birth of the Silver Age I would have wrapped my paws around multiple copies of every significant title from ’54 to ’61. I thought I might become a professional artist and attended the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, but I didn’t have the drive, the discipline, and perhaps not the talent for the field, and so have toiled away in administrative positions, mostly in law firms.
2. Which is your favorite piece in your gallery and why?
The real favorites of my collection, which numbers about 400 pages of both published art and commissions, are the commissions. While I’ve foolishly let slip through my fingers such treasures as a Jack Kirby published page, and a Bill Everett published page, I’ll be admiring the commissions I’ve ordered from the late great Jim Mooney, from Ramona Fradon, from Ernie Chan, from Ron Frenz, from Bob Layton, from Fred Hembeck and others, until cataracts cloud my vision and senility swallows my brain.
Of the few pages I have up on the wonderful Comic Art Fans website (without a computer or scanner at home, I’m limited to posting only those pieces in which the artist or the gallery provides a scan), I find it difficult to choose one favorite. I can’t really compare the supernaturally charming work of Ramona Fradon to the raw power of a piece by Ernie Chan. If I could, I’d choose two pieces: the Superman and Lana Lang color drawing by Ramona Fradon, and the Sub-mariner/Hulk battle royale by Ernie Chan. My admiration for Ms. Fradon’s artwork goes back to very early childhood memories of her Aquaman work, as well as her mid-1960s Brave and Bold art featuring the first Batman team-up, the one with Green Lantern in B&B #59. I enjoyed Ernie Chan’s work first when he was a cover artist at DC in the 1970s, and recently, when I discovered he was doing commissions, the power and the beauty of what I saw on his website spurred my imagination, and I get a real kick out of sending Ernie a paragraph detailing or suggesting what I want in a picture, and getting back a work of art that exceeds my expectations. Since I can only choose one piece for this article, I’m going to choose Ms. Fradon’s Superman and Lana Lang.
3. How long have you been collecting comic art and what prompted you to start?
I continued collecting comics throughout my adult life, no matter what – joblessness, death of family, recessions, wars, 9/11, lack of space to store anything – and about fifteen years ago I became interested in animation art being sold at the Warner Brothers Store which was then located in midtown Manhattan. I have about a dozen framed animation cels, mostly from the popular animated Batman series from the 1990s. Up until the mid-90s, I had no idea that there was such a hobby as collecting comic art, but while surfing eBay one day (the details are a little fuzzy here) I chanced across some original comic art. They were inexpensive pieces – character pages from Superman comics, featuring Lana, Lois, Jimmy, etc., and sold for about $25.00 or $30.00 a page. It wasn’t long before I was bidding on higher-priced items, and discovered art galleries on the web, and soon it wasn’t just my discretionary income going for comic art, it was the money I needed to live on. Yes, for the first time in my life, I got into debt, and thanks to my love for comic art I’ve been in and out of debt ever since!
4. How do you display/store your collection at home?
Most of the art is in Itoya portfolios, some of which I leaf through almost every night. Only two pieces are framed: a Kurt Schaffenberger Superboy splash, and a really terrific Mike Esposito recreation of a Wonder Woman cover, done in super-large size.
5. What are your top five most wanted original pages or commissions?
I have eclectic tastes in comic art – from Archie art (I have 20 Veronica covers!) to a Jim Mooney Sub-mariner splash page, to an entire portfolio of Justice League art with pieces drawn by Dick Dillin, Don Heck, Howard Porter, and a host of other artists. As for what I’m looking for in terms of comic art, some of that has to do with how I collect. I like “companion pieces” – if I have one page of published Daredevil art, I’ll want the facing page in the portfolio to be a Daredevil piece, either a published page or a commission. Mostly, I surf the web when I can for published art, or an idea will come to me for a commission, I’ll let it gestate for a while, and then I’ll contact one of those artist-magicians I’m so fond of to conjure up another pretty picture.
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