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Grailpages: Original Comic Book Art And The Collectors Paperback – April 7, 2009
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"Grailpages" itself is something I've waited a long time to see, a work devoted to a hobby and pastime that's near and dear to my heart, and apparently to those of lots of other people. I found myself reluctant to put this book down and much of it engrossing, in spite of a couple of problems. For one thing, author Payne has an annoying habit of referring to examples of comic book pages in the copy that aren't available for convenient viewing relative to the descriptions. This happens quite a bit, and becomes frustrating.
The writer, himself a collector of original comic book art and a dealer, has interviewed many of the names and personalities I've seen displayed for years on sites like Comicart-L, The Lowry Gallery, and Comicartfans, and shares brief biographies and insights into their collections and thoughts on the hobby. These are the best parts of the text, entertaining and richly threaded with personal anecdotes that shed light on how so many collectors can afford the astronomical costs of these pursuits (and often can't). These are interspersed with the author's observations about collectors and the merits of a couple of the artists whose work is sought avidly and hoarded, sometimes for amounts as high as five figures or more.Read more ›
I do wish that a better and slicker grade of paper had been used, but TwoMorrows obviously opted for mid-quality paper in order to keep the price down. I'd have paid another $10 for better paper, but they presumably know their market.
However, the selection bias in favour of Marvel -- and the two above-named artists in particular - is little short of scandalous.
My quick page count showed that of the 32 full-page reproductions scattered throughout the book, 28 were of Marvel pages, 3 DC, 1 Fantagraphics (detail of a Jaime Hernandez cover), and ZERO from other publishers.\
Counting both full-page and smaller reproductions, I found 29 pieces by John Buscema and 27 by John Romita, Sr. -- both wonderful illustrators, but grossly overrepresented. (Kirby, Byrne and Colan appear to account for about a dozen each). But NO Alex Toth, almost no Ditko or Wood, no Kubert, no Infantino, no Williamson, no Frazetta (!!), no Kurtzman, no Krigstein, no Jack Cole, no Lee Elias, in fact almost no Golden Age art at all, and very little before 1967 -- basically, the first, formative 30 years of comic book art dumped down the memory hole. No romance, Western, funny animal, teen, crime, nothing from MAD or Classics Illustrated or Archie or Little Lulu. Robert Crumb? Forget it. But LOTS of Spider-Man and Conan.
I haven't read the text yet, but skimming through it I can understand what another reviewer meant about 'navel-gazing' ("Though he doesn't consider himself a collector in the technical sense, Steve does harbor original art..."). And there are some embarrassing fanboy passages.Read more ›
He does a great job of starting with an overview of the hobby, then discussing how much money some pieces have been sold for, and then (what I enjoyed the most) leading into the conversations he had and continues to have with fellow collectors. At the heart of it, all collectors have their stories about the "one book," or that "one page." This is what makes collecting fun. This is what Steven understands, the fun behind the hunt, the fun behind the "find," and also the fun behind making the painful decision of selling a page.
I wasn't looking for a "history" on collecting comic book art, I didn't need a lesson as to the how's and why's, what I was looking for was exactly what I found, that being a great collection of thoughts, stories, and interviews with those who found, bought, lost, and penciled these amazing works of art.
Lastly, what I admire about Steven is that he wrote about what he enjoys. He took the time to research and write on a topic that hasn't been extensively written about from which you can see the passion he himself has for this hobby.
Reading the book, I found myself recollecting my first purchase and my first "hunt." I highly recommend this book to the experienced collector and the novice. It will remind you that the reason we're collecting is that we enjoy and still see it as fun.
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GRAILPAGES: ORIGINAL COMIC BOOK ART AND THE COLLECTORS covers comic art from the 60s and 70s and offers a survey of the hobby of comic art collecting overall. Read morePublished on February 21, 2010 by Midwest Book Review