Collector Spotlight – James S
Hi everyone, today we welcome an enthusiastic and discerning collector from Oklahoma, James S! James only started OA collecting a couple of years ago, but has managed to craft a mightily impressive collection in that short time through exercising a keen eye for quality. His collection spans a range of artists and characters, with each piece possessing distinct traits that mark them out as special. To top it all off, James is an extremely engaging chap, who brightens the hobby through his regular interactions with others!
Hi comic art community, my name is James and I’m an original art collector out of Oklahoma City, OK. A lot of OA collectors have storied backgrounds in buying comics as a kid, with large collections and key issues that they can remember. Having a wonderful but financially restrictive upbringing, comics were considered a luxury, and I was only able to read a few that were mainly borrowed from friends.
Most of my interaction with superhero stories came from Saturday morning cartoons, particularly X-Men and Spider-Man. I can still remember the first comic I read however, which was Amazing Spider-Man #317. It was years after it was originally released, but before Venom appeared on TV. I thought Venom was the coolest comic character I’d ever seen up to that point, and he’s been a personal favorite for me ever since.
College is when I really started reading published comics, mostly picking up ASM books and Preacher trade collections. I read them as entertainment and with no collecting focus as all. After finishing collage in 2002, there was an 8-year gap where I can’t say I read more than a half dozen books total; I’d moved on to video games and other media. Then in 2010, a buddy of mine got me hooked on the Chew series from Image, and I’ve been an eclectic comics reader ever since!
I’ve been seriously collecting OA now for about 2.5 years. A great question to ask new (and many older) collectors is when they first realized that OA was even a thing: when did you find out that you can acquire the actual pencil, ink, and painted pieces that were used to create your favorite books and characters? For me it started with the series Chew.
As mentioned above, it was the series that got me back into reading comics after a long hiatus. It wasn’t just the bizarre story, but also the humor and subtle background jokes that kept me interested. One day, I decided to check Chew artist Rob Guillory’s website to see what other work he had done, and it was right there on the shop tab that I saw him selling his original art pages. It caught me completely off guard. After picking out two from a scene that resonated with me, having them arrive, and being able to see the intricate details of the pencil work and brush strokes that went into their creation, I was hooked. This was going to be my next collecting hobby!
While I knew this was going to be the hobby for me, it did take a while to figure out what I was going to buy, and how much I was going to spend. Resources like Original Art Aficionado, the CGC Forums, and Comic Art Fans were indispensable. Given that my first two pages were just a few hundred dollars total, I was completely floored when I started looking at prices for some of my favorite artists such as Steve Dillon and especially Todd McFarlane. It was then that I changed my focus to collecting nice examples of characters first, then artist second. Of course for me, those first characters were Venom, then his hero-nemesis Spider-Man, and finally Wolverine from the X-Men cartoon.
My initial collection consisted almost exclusively of Venom and Spider-Man pieces. When I first invested a significant budget, the majority of my art was from the amazing artist Clayton Crain. I picked up almost a dozen of his paintings depicting Venom and Spider-Man, framed them, and displayed them as the pride of my collection. I didn’t really look too far outside of those characters/artists until a fellow member on CAF reached out to me about a massive trade opportunity. It would significantly diversity my art portfolio as well as allow me to pick up pieces from older artists without crushing my wallet. This also had the effect of breaking me from my Venom/Spider-Man-only tunnel.
While I don’t really have a major focus anymore, I do look for pieces that I feel can stand on their own outside of comics or OA circles, and be appreciated for their artistic merit if a non-hobbyist saw them hanging on my wall. For that reason, I try to look for covers or splashes that bring a different perspective, have unique subject matter, or easily convey an emotion in the image. Now, if Venom or Spider-Man happen to be on the cover too, well that’s a plus!
Favorite Pieces and Stories
Easily the favorite piece in my collection is this page from McFarlane’s Spider-Man run featuring Wolverine. Not only was I thrilled to own something from the legendary Todd-Father himself featuring one of my top three characters, but the scene and dialog convey so much emotion in three short panels. The page feels like a self-contained story in and of itself!
This next one is a guilty pleasure. It has the most guns I’ve ever seen on a Punisher cover and was created by Michael Golden, considered a legend and an artist’s artist.
Here is my second Golden piece. I originally saw it as filler in the large trade mentioned above, but upon finally receiving it, I was captivated by all the fantastical and psychedelic elements that went into this very large work. It quickly shot up to become one of my favorites and a definite keeper, even though I have very little knowledge of the title character.
One of my few (but hopefully increasing) DC pieces. Another example of art that changes up the usual perspectives.
Finally, a piece that is very special to me. It is the last panel page to the last issue of Chew. This is how John Layman and Rob Guillory left their audience after a 60-book, 7-year run, of which I read every issue monthly for 6 of those 7 years. This one has the feels! 😊
Probably the most unexpected and enjoyable aspect I encountered in original art collecting is building friendships with other OA collectors, and even some of the comics artists themselves. I’ve made a few friends overseas, as well as all over the USA. I encourage anyone new or interested in original art collecting to reach out to members on CAF with similar interests as yours. Strike up a direct message conversation – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the friendly and welcoming people you’ll meet!
You can view the rest of James’ collection here in his CAF gallery.