Collector Spotlight – Drew Cheskin
Hi all, please join me in warmly welcoming Ron Lim/Marvel Cosmic superfan Drew Cheskin to today’s Spotlight! I’m really excited to have Drew share his story and artwork with us, as his stellar collection thoroughly deserves to be celebrated throughout the cosmos! Moreover, Drew’s an extremely friendly and generous guy, exemplifying the type of person and collector I strive towards (along with the mantle of Ron Lim/Marvel Cosmic OA Overlord).
At 43 years old, I still need to have my toys, and original comic art is right there at the top of the want list. I used to love reading Richie Rich comics when I visited my grandparents in Chicago (it was the same old pile of comics every time, but they were great) but didn't really start collecting and reading comic books until high school. I remember Art Adams’ covers to the Classic X-Men title really catching my eye and resulting in my love for the Wein/Cockrum and Claremont/Byrne X-Men. I also picked up an obscure title called The Silver Surfer and have been hooked on Marvel Cosmic ever since! Reading turned to collecting, and collecting turned into a pretty good Silver Age Marvel collection over the years. Of course, when the comic art bug hit in the early 2000s, that entire collection disappeared and turned into much of what you see in my ComicArtFans gallery today. I've rarely purchased anything with the intention of re-selling or flipping, but like most, my desires well outweigh my means, so many pieces have come and gone over the years to either fund a new piece I wanted or when offers made on pieces were too good to pass up. While there are a few pieces I regret having passed on or sold over the years, I can't really complain about what I have!
I suppose I've followed the same path as many collectors. Action figures to statues. Weekly comics to older, collectible comics. Sketches to commissions to original published art. Like many collectors, you eventually get to the point where you want to have a collection that's different than everyone else’s, not just more of the same. Original art fills that desire since no one else can have what you do. Of course, this means you can't have what others have either, so it's a catch-22, LOL. The first “real” piece of art I ever purchased was a commission from Dave Cockrum at one of the old Big Apple Comic Book Conventions at the church in NYC (anyone from the NYC area will know exactly what I'm talking about). This was back in 1999 or 2000 I believe. I collected sketches and convention commissions for a while until I turned to original art in 2002 and picked up my first Ron Lim piece, a page from Infinity War. It was all downhill from there (for my bank accounts, that is)!
A large number of pieces were purchased directly from the artists themselves, but I've purchased on eBay, ComicLink, from dealers, other collectors, traded…. basically anywhere I can find it, I'm not picky, LOL.
Anyone that's seen my collection knows I'm a Ron Lim guy. I always loved his Silver Surfer run, which of course included the Infinity-titles as well. While I've had Ron do numerous commissions for me over the years, from X-Men to Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars to JLA, it's always been about his Cosmic artwork for me. Galactus, Thanos, Warlock and the Silver Surfer have been staples of my collecting focus for a long time. I've always loved all of Ron’s artwork, though my collecting has mainly been from storylines I've read and enjoyed. I guess I like most of the Cosmic artists from the early/mid ’90s (Tom Raney, Angel Medina, Scot Eaton…), and while I have a few examples from them, I could certainly use more!
Something which I feel is a little different in my OA selections versus many other collectors is that I focus just as much on the content of a page, from a storyline or dialogue perspective, as I do on the actual artwork itself. Sometimes there's just a line of dialogue, or something happening in a single panel, which really draws me to a page, even if the artwork itself isn't something which many people would find appealing. Honestly, some of my favorite pieces are these types of pages. It doesn't hurt that they're generally less expensive too!
What am I on the lookout for? It's tough out there now; OA prices in general are skyrocketing. Marvel Cosmic, Thanos, Infinity-whatever. It's gone crazy. Even if I were to locate something I liked, I'd probably be priced out! I'm secretly hoping the Infinity War movie is a complete bust so I can start grabbing my old Thanos artwork back at reasonable prices, LOL.
I've known Ron for about 14 years now and he and his family have become very good friends. For anyone that's met Ron, he's about the friendliest artist you'll meet at a convention. Like any fan, I was excited to meet him at SDCC for the first time in 2003 and stayed in touch with him after the convention to get an at-home commission and some pages he didn't bring to the show. After seeing him in 2004 at SDCC and again in 2005, we started becoming friends, making dinners at SDCC a regular thing and chatting about stuff other than artwork. If you want to know something about really low quality martial arts flicks, Ron's your guy!
My wife and I took a belated honeymoon out to Hawaii last year and it turned out that Ron and his family were going to be out there as well. To this day, my wife still thinks I planned the trip around seeing Ron, LOL. Unfortunately, as we're on opposite ends of the country, we only get to see each other when I travel out West for a show or vacation, though I did manage to get the Lim clan out to NY for my wedding a few years ago! Regardless, we chat on the phone all the time, especially when we need to give our reviews and opinions to one another of the latest comic or sci-fi movie to come out.
Simply put, this page has it all to me: Ron Lim artwork, an Infinity Gauntlet splash page, a pivotal moment in the story, Thanos/Warlock/Silver Surfer & Dr. Strange, and oversized artwork to boot! I know George Perez is considered higher on the ladder than Ron in the industry, but I honestly think this is the best single page from the series.
It seems I have a thing for the last pages from Infinity Gauntlet comics (yeah, I have the last page to issue 6 as well). Ok, who didn't lose their mind when they first read this issue and saw these pages? Thanos and the Gauntlet versus Galactus, Celestials, The Stranger, Lord Chaos & Master Order, Mistress Love & Sire Hate (why is Sire Hate a female??) and Kronos! Even my wife likes this piece!
Simply put, my favorite image of Galactus, period. I actually had Ron do a commission piece of this which is how the original owner of these pages found me. He contacted me through ComicArtFans, said he had the original pages, and would I be interested in trading for something I had in my for sale gallery? Needless to say, I jumped at the chance and the piece has been a favorite of mine ever since. I think I'm one of the few people who also really enjoyed the Tyrant storylines, so this piece really works for me.
Ok, not original published art, but a highlight of my collection nonetheless. A commission from 2003, Ron says this is the largest commission he's ever done in regard to number of characters. This piece is not only the most detailed commission I have from Ron, but was a 30th birthday gift from my parents. As such, it stands above all other pieces, commission or OA, in my collection in terms of sentimental value and has “it's going with me to the grave” status!
Honorable Mention Pieces – These are a few examples of pages where storyline or historical context overshadows the artwork, meaning most people probably don't get why these pages mean so much to me:
This is what started Thanos Quest and led to the Infinity Gauntlet/War/Crusade (though we don't talk about Crusade…). It's what 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been leading up to, simply because “The In-Betweener may not realize that Death will never forget such a heinous transgression…“. And she didn't, which is why Death allowed Thanos to begin his search for the Infinity Gems. Anything special about the artwork? Eh. Does it mean anything in terms of the history of Thanos and the Marvel Universe? It's about as meaningful as it gets!
The Surfer looks kind of funny, huh? Not exactly what you think of when you think Ron Lim Silver Surfer. It must be his earlier stuff, he wasn't quite in his stride yet. You'd be correct, it's his early stuff. Actually, it's his first stuff! With the exception of some pin-ups in the same issue, Ron's first work on the Silver Surfer monthly book was a five page back-up story in Silver Surfer Annual #1. The first four pages of the story had only Nova and Galactus in them, but this fifth and last page brought us our first Surfer by Ron. Full body and close-up shots of the Surfer and Nova, a “Silverado” thrown in the mix and Ron's first Silver Surfer page. ‘Nuff Said!
You can view the rest of Drew’s collection here in his CAF gallery.