Collector Spotlight – John Nguyen

Hi all, please join me today in welcoming John, a new OA collector who’s quickly built up an impressive collection! John is testament that passion, focus and discipline in OA collecting lead to spectacular results. With sophisticated collectors like John entering the hobby, the future of OA collecting looks bright indeed!

My Story

Hello everyone, my name is John and I’m a long time comic book collector, recently turned original art collector in my 30s. I’ve been reading comics since the late 1980s, when I would borrow my older brothers’ comics (mainly X-Men, Spider-Man, and Alpha Flight). I started collecting comics on my own in the early ’90s, mainly Marvel titles with the exception of Batman from DC. The cartoons around that time – Batman the Animated Series, X-Men the Animated Series, and Spider-Man the Animated Series, definitely influenced my collecting habits. I took a break from comics towards the late ’90s, during the end of high school, through college and grad school. I would only occasionally visit comic book shops for back issues in the late 2000s. It wasn’t until 2010 when Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and 2011 when DC’s New 52 Snyder and Capullo Batman: The Court of Owls were released, that I was drawn back to comics consistently.

Collecting Journey

As my passion for the hobby was renewed, I started going to local comic conventions where I focused on artist alleys and getting sketch commissions. It was great to witness some of my ideas fleshed out by artists, and to see the stages of a commission through to completion – from penciling to inking to coloring. Below are three of my favorite commissions by Karl Alstaetter, Peter Nguyen and Francesco Mattina!

Batman Rogues Gallery, commission by Karl Alstaetter

The Wolverine, commission by Peter Nguyen

Batman and the Joker, commission by Francesco Mattina

Since most of my coworkers and friends are not big into the comic hobby, it was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled onto the YouTube Comic Book Community in 2013. I met a great group of people who shared the same passion and one of the members, Jimmy C, was showcasing original art in his videos, which got me looking into it more. I had always stayed away from original art in the past, because I was under the common misconception that all OA was super expensive! It wasn’t until about over a year ago that I decided to take the jump and buy my first OA piece.

I was reading the New 52 Deathstroke series when one of my favorite artists, Tyler Kirkham, had taken over the series and would be doing art on some of my favorite characters: Red Hood and Deathstroke. Tyler’s art style pulled me in, with his unique balance/blend of Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and J. Scott Campbell. I then contacted Tyler for the final page of Deathstroke issue 15 (the first meeting between Deathstroke and Red Hood); when I received the piece in hand, it was unbelievable to behold in person! To see the fine details of the penciling and inking on a large 11”x17” piece, and know it is one-of-a-kind art and a published piece in comic history, made me a full blown OA addict. Over the past year, while I still pick up new comics to read most Wednesdays and an occasional back issue, my focus has definitely shifted from comic books to OA.

Deathstroke #15, final page splash by Tyler Kirkham

Collecting Focus

I have only been collecting OA for about a year or so, but my main message for those potentially interested in the hobby is to not be intimidated by it. While there isn’t as much information on OA collecting readily available as there is for comic books, Dick’s OA Collecting 101 and 102 articles on CBSI are very well written and break down the basics. As with comic books, OA can be very affordable – with some pieces less than one hundred dollars; or very expensive – where it will take discipline to save up, just as if you were going after that Silver/Golden Age comic book grail.

My focus is on published superhero art with a commission every now and then. Much like my comic book collection where there is a wide variety of titles, I think my OA collection is diverse, but does heavily focus on Batman and X-Men. Much of my collection is nostalgic buys and related to some of my favorite artists (Jim Lee, Tyler Kirkham) or my favorite comic arcs (Batman: The Court of Owls). My white whale is to eventually get an OA piece by John Byrne from his classic X-Men run with Chris Claremont. Most of my OA buys have been through direct contact with the artists, or direct deals with fellow members on CAF.

Favorite Pieces

Ever since Batman the Animated Series, I have always been intrigued with the Batman rogues gallery. The Court of Owls story arc ranks among my top 3 favorite Batman arcs of all time, and to own the OA to the first appearance of a classic modern day Batman rogue is one of the highlights of my collecting experience! It is important to point out like Dick mentioned in his OA Collecting 101 and 102 articles, that some of the more recent OA pieces do not have pencils and inks done on one piece. Here Greg Capullo did pencils, and on a separate piece Jonathan Glapion did his inks over blue lines.

Jim Lee is perhaps my all-time favorite artist along with John Byrne, and X-Men have always been my passion in comics. This piece is my most expensive OA purchase to date. I bought it for several reasons – my favorite artist’s first ever work on my favorite character in my favorite title, with decent investment potential, made this a no-brainer to me! This DPS has the traditional inks over pencils all on the same piece.

It was picking up a Tyler Kirkham OA that initially got me into this hobby. My friend Kris is the owner of KRSCOMICS, and we both felt Tyler has amazing talent and decided to collaborate with him on this store variant, which sold extremely well. To have Tyler do the cover to some of my favorite characters – Deadpool and Venom – was a blessing! This OA has a more personal feel, as it was great to see behind the scenes, the step-by-step process of different concepts being fleshed out, the final OA produced and then the published cover on the market.

David Finch is one of my favorite modern artists. This piece features my two all-time favorite mutants – Wolverine (partially) and Magneto!

Along with many other comic fans, I am a huge fan of Venom. The Todd McFarlane OA pieces are rarely available, and command a hefty price tag if they appear. Joe St. Pierre is an underrated artist in my opinion, and his beautiful splash captures that classic Venom feel at a reasonable price. I also want to point out, like Dick mentioned in a past article, that on this OA page the inks are done over non-photo blue pencils, which is different from blue line inks like in the Court of Owls piece.

This is my most recent OA pickup by Tyler Kirkham. In March 2017, Marvel gave the special “venomized” treatment to most of their mainstream titles. This KRSCOMICS variant gives the classic X-Men villains that venomized treatment; Venom plus X-Men was a no-brainer pick up for me!


You can view the rest of John’s collection here in his CAF gallery.

Original Art Aficionado archive


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