Collector Spotlight – Raghav V
Hi everyone, please warmly welcome new OA collector Raghav! Raghav kindly agreed to write this article chronicling his story, experiences and advice as someone who recently got into original art. It’s extremely heartening to greet another comic book fan who’s discovered the wonders of OA, especially one as educated, disciplined, yet enthusiastic as Raghav. Enjoy his passionate insights on art, along with the enlightening knowledge that he imparts!
Hello everyone, I’m Raghav, a long-time geek and relatively new collector of original art from New Jersey. I was introduced to comics by my cousin and immediately got hooked. I grew up reading DC comics (primarily Superman and Batman), and European comics such as Tintin and Asterix. When I look back, I really did not think as a comic book collector then. I would just pick up some issues here and there, and exchange books with friends to read the rest of the story.
It wasn’t until 2002-2003 when Jim Lee’s “Hush” came out, that I really began to appreciate the art. I was intrigued by the storytelling. It made me look at comic books in a different light. I started to observe artist styles, design choices, and how panels were being used to progress the story. I began picking up comic books of the artists, story arcs and covers I really loved, and this slowly progressed into a small collection. I realized that I liked certain stories more than others, and remembered some of the panels vividly but not others. Subconsciously, I think those were the days which laid the foundation for the kind of artists/art style I liked. However, I had the misconception that original comic art was really expensive and stayed away from it!
I remember my first commission from Ethan Van Sciver. I was interested in comic art and wanted to get a sketch from an artist. However, I did not know how to approach an artist at a convention and ask for one. I browsed previous work by Ethan and printed the one that I wanted him to draw. He was very cool and took the time to explain the commission rates. I got a Magneto headshot from him and loved it. The whole process of meeting an artist, discussing the commission, and seeing the progression from idea to completion was fantastic.
I started researching commissions online, learning about commission sizes, headshots, busts, and full figure. I discovered ComicArtFans, where I could showcase some of my commissions and look at others commissions. I started picking up commissions at the local comic convention. Each commission made me wiser – I understood artist styles, costs, colored vs inked, sizes and most importantly, what I wanted from a commission. I discovered the comic collecting community on Instagram and it was exciting. I started posting some of my original art and comics, and found like-minded people. That’s where I met John (Collector Spotlight here) and Zubair (owner of PlanetAwesomeCollectibles), who were instrumental in my journey of original art. We discussed commission opportunities, original art, artists, potential buys and bad experiences. They were already into original art and gave me valuable advice; I learnt a lot from them!
I waited several months before purchasing my first piece of published original art. I was clear that if I picked up my first original artwork, it would be something significant. At that time, DC was doing “The Button” crossover, and one of my favorite artists, Jason Fabok, was doing covers for that series. I was closely following Jason’s work from Batman Eternal to “Darkseid War”. I love the way he draws Batman – he is probably one the best Batman artists to ever work on the series! I contacted him to purchase the Batman #21 cover. He was very patient and worked with me. When I saw the artwork in person it was unbelievable: a piece of DC history, a Batman cover in my hands! I was blown away by the details, inks and the art of this magnificent piece.
I have just begun my journey in OA collecting; my focus is to pick up pages or covers that have an impact on the character or story. I feel like collecting art requires discipline – there are so many fantastic artists and great art that it is easy to lose track of what you want. My collection so far has been a mix of favorite comic arcs and favorite artists. I prefer to purchase most of my art directly from the artist, as I believe it helps build a personal rapport with them and in my own way, support the artist directly. As for what I am currently looking out for, Jim Lee’s “Hush” is my absolute favorite and hope to have at least a page from the arc.
My advice to new collectors is start slow. Take your time to learn as much as you can about original art. Dick’s OA Collecting 101 and 102 articles will give you fundamental understanding. It is easy to be an impulsive buyer and buy the first artwork that looks good. However, you will soon be stuck with a piece that you are no longer attached to. Instead, wait for the right piece of artwork that appeals to you. When in doubt, talk to your friends in the hobby. If not, reach out to anyone who is into original art collecting – they will more than likely help you out.
Favorite Pieces and Stories
Jason Fabok is one of my favorite Batman artists and I’m thrilled to add this fantastic cover to my collection. DC hints involvement of Watchmen at the end of this “DC Rebirth” issue. This cover is the first time the Watchmen button and Batman are featured together, and it generated great curiosity among fans. I loved everything about this story, the reference to DC classics Watchmen and Flashpoint, and the art. These two covers were combined digitally to create the lenticular cover effect. The art was used on multiple variants: Batman #21 lenticular cover, regular cover, Diamond retailer variant (featuring only Batman art), C2E2 convention exclusive. The best part about this art is that Jim Lee provided the initial layouts – what more could I ask!
John showed me some of Tyler’s original art pieces and I loved his style. I reached out to Tyler for this commission and told him my concept about an action scene involving multiple Bat-villains. He was extremely busy at that point and said it would take time. I was patient and let Tyler work out his schedule; he kept me in the loop and started chipping away as best as he could. As you can see, it was well worth the wait! The way action flows on the page, and how its circular composition of characters brings your eye back to Batman is fantastic. The credit completely goes to Tyler for choosing a brilliant layout. I love how he incorporates little details like the crowbar in Joker’s hand.
Flashpoint is one of my favorite DC story arcs. The pencils by Andy Kubert and inks from Sandra Hope, with a story by Geoff Johns, were amazing and I loved it. I wanted a piece of history from the story arc that changed DC forever, and am glad I could finally get this piece. Page 24 from issue 3 has it all: Flash, Cyborg, Superman, and Thomas Wayne Batman. After being rescued from captivity, this is the first time Flashpoint Superman realizes his powers!
I got this idea after reading “The Button” series. Jason seamlessly blends Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne) and Bruce Wayne’s Batman into one commission. If you look closely at the art, you will see how difficult it is to draw two characters and still make it look like a complete image. For example, if you look at the face of Thomas Wayne, it’s comparatively darker than Bruce, and the ear is relatively shorter. While this might seem like a simple change, it adds to the character of Thomas Wayne Batman, who is a darker, grittier version of Bruce’s Batman. This is something you might not realize, but adds to the whole image. That’s what makes him special – he really did not have to do that but went out of the way to do it. Jason shows us once again why he is the best Batman artist! Another amazing fact is that he modelled this after the Batman #22 cover art, which I really loved, and missed out on buying its original artwork.
Gab is an artist who’s extremely hard to get. He is based out of Europe and hardly attends any conventions in the US. I got in touch with his rep, who was selling some of his pre-done convention sketches. I liked one of them and wanted to purchase the piece. Unknown to the rep, the sketch I chose was purchased by another collector attending the convention in person. Gab realized what happened and graciously agreed to do a Batman sketch for me. I was beyond thrilled! I wanted to buy a pre-done sketch but ended up with a personalized Batman sketch from the modern master.
I got the idea from Mike (Michael Gowcharan), a collector on CAF. This is my most crazy project yet: Spider-Man vs the Sinister Six, a jam piece in progress. For newer collectors, a jam is an original art piece where multiple artists contribute towards the final image. Jam pieces typically have a concept or theme that each artist works on. I have seen art collectors do a jam without any layouts, however I feel that layouts help with the overall proportions of the image. On this piece, I got the layout done by budding DC artist Minkyu Jung. Spider-Man was done by David Finch, Sandman by Erik Larsen, Dr. Octopus by Humberto Ramos, Kraven by Mike Zeck. I still have 3 characters to go. This piece started last year and I hope to complete it by the end of the year. I must thank my friend Zubair, without whom I would not have achieved this. If you love the challenge of the hunt, then a jam piece is the pinnacle. At the end, you will have an exclusive piece that looks amazing!
You can view the rest of Raghav’s collection here in his CAF gallery.