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Monday, August 04, 2008

More Triumph than Torment

I've talked about "grails" in the past.The item you want more than anything else, the secret sweetheart of your collector's heart.
The item you haven't bought yet, but would the minute you won the lottery...if you could find it that is. You see even if you can afford your grail, your not always sure to find it, especially when we're talking original art.

I know most of you also have a grail or grails even...me I have a grails list (groan). It's a list I've compiled over the year
s, filled with pieces I just HAVE to own. It used to be a top-10 but then I fell in love with Wally Wood's EC work and now want a piece of that as well (but that's for another blog entry). The list is easy ; there is no time limit it has to be filled one day. The item which is at #1 is the item I'm pining for the most, but that doesn't mean it's the most expensive or the hardest to find, it's just the piece I want the most and spend the most time hunting down.

Now with all my buying, why is there still "a list" ? Well good question, I can afford some items which are on the list right now, b
ut I added a twist. I put a maximum price I'm willing to pay next to each item and I stick to it. Of course I use realistic prices, but I don't want to pay over market or more than I think the page or book is worth. Trouble is that at that particular price more people want it and I end up not getting it more than not. But I guess that's why it's a grail. If it was easy it wouldn't be on the list.

Now comic book g
rails mostly come down to a perfect mix of price and availability and if both pan out you buy the book. But original art ? Oh boy that's a whole different kettle of fish. The biggest problem is of course that original art pages are one-of-a-kind and if you want a certain page, well good luck.
First it has to exist, then if it did survive then you need to find out who's got it. And even if you do track down the seller let's hope he is willing to sell it...at a price you can live with. But even if you broaden your scope and your grail is "a page" out of that book or "a page" featuring "those characters" from "that artist" it's still can be very difficult. Good luck if you want a Frank Miller Dark Knight page or a Watchmen page...there are rarely any for sale.

When I started collecting original art (exactly a year ago today !) My grand plan was to someday own a Dr Doom page from all of the great Silver and Bronze age artists. In fact I don't usually collect anything newer than 1985, but I made one exception...Mike Mignola.
All my favorite
artists are from the 60's and the 70's, some from the 80's but almost none newer than that. I am and always will be a Silver and Bronze Age collector. But Mignola, boy now there's a talent. Alan Moore once described Mignola's work as "German expressionism meets Jack Kirby" and I completely understand what he means. Mignola is one of my top-5 favorite artists of all time and my all-out champion of the last 25 years. So the plan was to also include a Mike Mignola Dr Doom page.

The trouble was that Mignola didn't exactly lea
ve a large body of work when he was still at Marvel in those pre-Hellboy days. In fact the only Doom he did was in that fantastic Graphic Novel he did together with Roger stern "Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment". This was one of the stories that made me the Doom fanatic I am today. It's just the perfect story, Doom gets closure concerning his mother's soul and Dr. Strange is forced to look at Doom in a new light. So the hunt was on to get one of the pages from this book...and not any page, oh no. I wanted a page with Doom on it (of course).

So I searched high and low and talked to a lot of people, figuring, this book is fairly recent (1990) and most Mignola fans will be after Hellboy art, so this should be easy. Well if it had been easy it wouldn't have ended up on my grails list. In fact there are only about 10 pages that I know about in collector's hands (where are the others ?) And nobody was interested in selling or trading. The more I searched the more bad news I got, not only weren't any for sale, worse still there were a bunch of other collectors actively searching for the same pages.

But last week my quest came to an end, I was lucky enough to stumble on this page for sale and my offer was accepted. The wait was long and hard,(especially the last week when the page was in the mail) But I'm now the proud owner of page #73 of one of the best Doom books out there and my grails list is now down to 10 entries.

But after all this you still haven't seen the page ? Well I'm still working on a decent scan as this page is HUGE, the same format as an early Silver Age page (twice-up) and I need to affix some of the speech bubbles that are coming loose. But in the meantime here is a link to a larger scan of the page and a scan of the original (published) color page. Enjoy !

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