Collector Spotlight – Paul P
Hi everyone, today I’m thrilled to present super collector Paul P! I’ve long admired Paul’s amazing collection, spending much time drooling over his pieces and fantasizing about owning some. What impresses most about Paul’s collection is it’s of staggering size, yet he manages to maintain its sheer quality, continually adding only top-class artwork! In addition to possessing great taste, Paul’s a swell guy to get to know – friendly, sharing, responsible and of course, a true comic art aficionado!
Hi, my name is Paul P. I’m 51 years old and make my living as a piano entertainer/headliner. Up until 1990, I was on track to get a PhD in music in order to teach college, but after I got my Master’s, I felt extremely burnt out, academically and otherwise. In order to get back to simpler times, I decided to walk into my local comic store and see what was on the racks. I had read comics when I was little, but mostly Richie Rich and Archie. And I had never been in an actual comic book store. I was blown away by the enormity of it all! I was drawn mostly to Amazing Spider-Man, as Erik Larsen was the artist on that title at the time, and his quirky interpretation of the character really appealed to me. I also just loved Spidey’s antics! Later would come Mark Bagley’s run, which would solidify my love of the character, as well as my love for Bagley’s artistic style.
My life was very crazy in the early 1990s as I tried to find my place in the world as a professional musician, and comics were always there to keep me from despair. To this day, I still read the new comic books, usually as I munch out at Taco Bell!
How I Got Into Art
Flash forward to 2002-2003. By then my professional life was going swimmingly, and lo and behold, I bought my first CGC professionally graded comic. I was hooked! My collecting took on a new energy. It was also a horrible time to be spending so much money, as I was gathering funds for a down payment on a house. But I did eventually get the house, and I still have many of those comic books.
In 2010, I met an eBay seller named Dan Gallo. Many of you know Dan and how influential he is in this hobby, both as an adviser to the Overstreet Price Guide and as a co-promoter of Comic Art Con. I bought a bunch of books from him, and we struck up a friendship. He was knowledgeable and easy to talk with, so I started going to him for advice a lot. I still do! We are still great friends.
One day, a little later in 2010, out of the blue Dan asked me, “Paul, do you know anything about comic art?” I knew nothing. Less than nothing. Which seems really funny to me, because now, art seems to be EVERYWHERE. How did I miss it? I must have scrolled past all KINDS of original art when I was trolling for books on eBay, but I guess it just didn’t register. Well, my mom always tells me that men are extremely unobservant creatures. I know for a fact we can look around our house and not see the same dust and dirt that a woman sees. But then, that could just be laziness!
Anyway, I remember those early conversations I had with Dan about original art. It was a totally different world, much less structured and much more confusing than comic book collecting. But also very exciting! The Wild Wild West! He introduced me to CAF and showed me his gallery. This aspect of the hobby really appealed to me – the idea that you could share your art with all these other collectors. Even today, I think that is one of my favorite things about this hobby.
In the beginning, I was intimidated by art. I started small. Two of the very first pieces I bought were Betty & Veronica covers for $75 each, from Dan. They are still two of my favorite pieces. I also did a few trades with Dan (my books for his art) to get myself into some more expensive pieces. Another piece that Dan offered to me brought back all KINDS of fond memories from when I was running around collecting the “Death of Superman” comics – a DPS from Superman #82, the official return of Superman in costume!
Then it was like a dam broke. I discovered Heritage Auctions and ComicLink, dealers like Mike Burkey and Anthony Snyder, as well as all that art on eBay that I had somehow missed before. I was meeting other collectors and buying from them… I basically went crazy! The problem is, I loved everything. As long as it was a great image of a main character, I was in. I had no focus; and I didn’t think too hard about it, I just bid. This “shoot first and ask questions later” mentality actually served me well, because sometimes if you think too hard, you get paralyzed and buy nothing. Did I overpay for stuff? Of course I did! I still do! Just not as often. But thankfully the OA market has continued to be strong and forgiving, and for the good stuff, eventually the values seem to catch up to (and surpass) what you pay.
As time went on though, I mellowed out – I knew I had to focus. Also, Dan told me something very valuable: if you like a certain artist/title, find the very best example you can afford. Because then, you won’t be tempted by lesser examples! In other words, there are lots of pretty faces at the dance, but try to go home with the Prom Queen (got that from Dan as well).
I have recently decided that my focus should be covers, especially Spider-Man covers. Especially covers with stats. Love those. I also have a fondness for 1st Appearances and historic events. Here is one of my favorite Marvel events, the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe.
My very favorite pieces are Bagley Spider-Man covers. Again, Dan was so helpful in that regard, because when I met him, he owned four Bagley Amazing Spider-Man covers. The first one I bought was Amazing Spider-Man #403, as I am a HUGE fan of Carnage.
I did a little hunting, and discovered a collector who owned a number of interiors to that issue, so I made a deal for those. I ended up grabbing two more of those Bagley ASM covers from Dan, and since then I have also snagged a few more!
Let The Hobby Come To You
There is so much art, and yes, you can have your focus, but you are also limited to what is available to you. I like to collect pieces that are available. I like bidding in online auctions and buying from collectors and dealers who have specific prices on their stuff. I like to know that at the end of the day, there is a specific price that will get me a piece (even if it turns out to be a HUGE max bid in an auction). I’m not big on shooting in the dark and blindly making offers, though I will do it if necessary. My advice to people making offers: be respectful with your offers, especially if you know the market. Be fair. Don’t try to take advantage. Most collectors are smart, and they know when they are being insulted. They will respect a strong offer, and this can lead to a really nice business relationship.
And as things become available, you can find that maybe the universe is telling you something. It’s like you sometimes don’t realize how much you like something until it is thrust in your face. That happened to me with Venom and Carnage. I knew I liked those characters – after all, their heyday was in the late ’80s and early ’90s, around when I started reading superhero comics. But I didn’t start this hobby thinking that my focus would be symbiotes! It just kind of happened as things became available to me.
Another example: one by one, Marvel Adventures: The Avengers covers by Sean Chen/Sandu Florea just seemed to come out of the woodwork. The collector in me absolutely adores ‘sets,’ and especially sets of sequential covers, and now I have #5-8! Then the Aaron Lopresti cover to Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #4 showed up on Mike Burkey’s site, and of course I had to grab that one too. Five in a row!! Another set of circumstances resulted in my acquiring four Humberto Ramos Amazing Spider-Man covers. That was a crazy roller coaster ride, but I made a great friend because of it.
Web of Spider-Man #65
And sometimes, the universe takes it upon itself to decide which major projects you should undertake. Here’s an example: In 2011, I attended Supercon in Miami and met Alex Saviuk, one of my heroes. I have always loved his work on Web of Spider-Man, and I was pleased to find that he was super friendly and easy-going. He was selling some interiors, and a page from Web of Spider-Man #65 caught my eye, so I bought it. This was the first time I had bought a page, in person(!), from the artist himself(!), so I was extremely jazzed.
A few years later, the cover to that issue became available to me.
Then one by one the other pages started coming out of the woodwork. Some on eBay, some on CAF… I even met some fellow collectors in my south Florida neck of the woods as a result! My intention was never to build the book, but at a certain point, I realized I had a real shot at it. I got back in touch with Alex Saviuk, who still had some more interiors. Another page showed up on a dealer’s site (I missed out on it, but found that the buyer was someone I did business with, so that worked out okay). Now I only need four more pages, so please, anyone out there who owns a Web of Spider-Man #65 interior, do let me know! But please don’t rake me over the coals! Ha ha!
My other main wish list piece is a Rick Leonardi Spider-Man 2099 cover from the original ’90s run. I missed out on one a few years back, and I am still kicking myself (how well we all know THAT feeling)!
For years I resisted selling anything. “How can I sell?? I love everything I own!! You can’t make me!!” But then reality sets in: the money just can’t last forever. You have to sell. And selling also helps define you as a buyer. The things that you don’t mind selling are the things you should probably avoid buying in the future! That’s how I discovered that my focus should be pre-1996 covers with stats, because they are the last things I ever want to put on the chopping block. Thankfully, there are many venues available for selling. I favor ComicLink, as they will give you a fair advance on the pieces you put in their auctions. It’s just a really nice operation with friendly, professional people at the helm.
The Art Community
My favorite thing about this hobby is the art community. I have made so many new friends due to this hobby! My collection also owes a ton of its vitality to the community. Many of my pieces have been recommendations from my friends. They know my collecting preferences by now, so when they are trolling for their wish list pieces, they find things they know will be interesting to me, and let me know about them. It’s actually dangerous, because they know me SO well. I basically want to buy everything they recommend!
This hobby is full of peril and pitfalls, but there is also so much potential joy. My advice is to surround yourself with positive, helpful people in the hobby. Be your own collector, but be open to advice. Because as much as we learn about original art, there is still that much more to learn.
You can view the rest of Paul’s collection here in his CAF gallery.