Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Liberty has its price, this time it’s $3.99 for 32 color pages!

What do Arthur ADAMS, Sergio ARAGONES, J. BONE, Ed BRUBAKER, J. Scott CAMPBELL, Darwyn COOKE, Garth ENNIS, Mark EVANIER, John Paul LEON, Mike MIGNOLA, Mark MILLAR, Sean PHILLIPS, Darick ROBERTSON & Rick VEITCH have in common?


All proceeds raised by this benefit book go directly to the CBLDF. All the writers, artists, colorists, letterers, designers, production people, publisher, etc., have freely donated their time and talents. The book will have ALL NEW material done especially for this comic. No filler stuff!

Stories by:
Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips provide a CRIMINAL tale
Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson bring us THE BOYS
Mark Millar & John Paul Leon give us their take on DRACULA
Darwyn Cooke delivers something entirely new
Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragones take us on a tour of the CBLDF

Additional material by:
Arthur Adams, J. Bone, and Rick Vietch (The return of BRAT PACK!)

Beautiful covers are provided by Mike Mignola & J. Scott Campbell.

Hellboy cover by Mike Mignola

Like many people, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a cause near to my heart. Last year, finding myself with some unaccustomed free time, I offered my services to the CBLDF. Over the years I’ve done a few things for the Fund, mainly putting together some charity art auctions and collecting money from players in a poker game I run every year at the San Diego Comic Con. But I wanted to do something a little more ambitious this time. So I called up my pal Chris Staros, who put me in touch with Charles Brownstein, the driving force behind the CBLDF. I suggested a benefit book.

I spent a few weeks calling up various folks to corral them into participating. It was actually pretty easy, the CBLDF crosses all boundaries, no hard sell required. The book is being solicited in the current issue of Previews, the one that went on sale this week. It’s in the IMAGE Comics section, on page 158. If you are a comic shop owner, please make sure to check out the solicits for it. If you are a comic reader, please bug your local comic shop to carry it. On sale date is July 23rd.

Abbey Chase Danger Girl cover by J. Scott Campbell

$3.99 is a small price to pay for Liberty!

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Editor Who Came In From The Cold

It’s just past midnight here in San Diego, April 1st, 2008. In the morning I’ll be starting as Special Projects Editor at IDW. A very appropriate day to begin a new job, don’t you think? It feels almost like when I came out to WildStorm in April of 1995, but I’m even more excited… and nervous as Hell.

Going to post this and then off to bed, I’ve got a big day ahead of me tomorrow. But I wanted to share something with you before I sleep, a present from my good friend Gene Ha. It showed up quite unexpectedly last week in my e-mail (followed soon after by a package with the original art). Something to commemorate the end of one life and the start of another, the note said. Gene calls it Scott Free. I like the sound of that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dave Stevens

Looking back, remembering the artists whose work I’ve loved, it’s usually very difficult for me to be sure of the first time I saw someone’s work; most blur into a steady haze of images that don’t correspond to time or place. But I very clearly remember the first time I ever saw the art of Dave Stevens. It was in Starslayer #1, back around 1982. The Rocketeer began as a back up series in the second issue of Starslayer, but the first one had this image on the back cover (although this version is from the next issue, with slightly different text):I was floored by it. Here was an artist I had never heard of, one who captured many of the styles that I loved while not aping them. The piece had elements of Frazetta, Eisner, Crandall, and Wood. But it also had its own new twist. And, man, it was just pure excitement! I don’t ever remember buying a comic before only for an ad, but I did with this one.

I didn’t know Dave particularly well but in all our dealings he was a straight shooter and a nice guy. A few years ago I tried to intervene on his behalf to get a Rocketeer/Superman mini-series going after it had stalled out at DC years before. Dave mentioned it to me at a show and then sent along his initial proposal. It was, as you would expect, a fun period piece, involving the Mercury Theater’s famous War of the Worlds broadcast. Dave was going to write it and draw the covers. unfortunately it was not to be, the project fizzled again, this time for good.

I would suggest all of you click here to read a fine remembrance by Mark Evanier, someone who knew Dave far better than I. And, lastly, here’s a great cover by Dave from the final issue of DNAgents. Its elegant simplicity has always made it one of my favorites by him.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

That Damn Flu

So it turns out that nasty cold I've been battling more than a month now is actually the flu. Went to the doctor a few days ago and got several intense meds that seem to finally be doing the trick, including a very scary cough syrup that warns, "Taking more of this medication than recommended may cause serious breathing problems." So, won't bore you with more of this except to note it is why my blogs have been even more infrequent lately than usual. Should be posting a couple in the next few days and more next week--including some news on a very cool project I've been working on.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wonder Con

Here's a batch of pictures, all taken Friday. For the sake of expediency I’m going to try and keep this briefer than my usual verbose descriptions.

Okay, you know you're in the right hotel when you walk in and see this.

Here's Jim Lee and his art dealer, Albert Moy, caught in the midst of heavy negotiations--gotta keep those art dealer types in line!
Oh, and is it me, or does that hat Jim's wearing look familiar...?
Here's a shot of writer/publisher Richard Starkings. Besides being the driving force behind Elephantmen, Richard also dabbles in lettering.On the left is JG Roshell. JG is the very talented designer who, amongst others, is responsible for the look of Astro City.

The gentleman below is my old buddy Peter Maresca who published the finest Winsor McCay book of all time a couple of years ago, So Many Splendid Sundays. Keep 'em coming, Pete!
Darwyn Cooke on the left, with his sometime collabortor J. Bone. I worked with these two fine gents on The Spirit and it was a pleasure to catch up with them again here. The animated version of Darwyn's The New Frontier will be screened tonight at the show, looking forward to catching it.
A happy Arthur Adams manning his spot in artist's Alley.
A few seats down from Arthur is Jeff Campbell, who was also riding shotgun on the drive up to San Francisco. Jeff's good company on a long drive, he can talk almost as much as me... almost.
Bob Wayne, gazing off dreamily, getting a peck on the cheek from Mimi Cruz of Night Flight Comics in Utah. I asked Mimi if it was okay to post this shot to my blog and she said sure, just not to tell her husband. So, anyone reading this, please keep mum--there are reputations at stake here.
Howard Chaykin, one of my favorite phone pals, and Glen Gold, writer of Carter Beats The Devil as well as a short story in Spirit #13.
I couldn't decide if I should put "The dreaded Wolver-Noto!" on this one or, "Crap, I forgot I owed Phil Noto money!" You decide.
These pictures have been all out of order but this was the last one of the night so I'm ending with it too. My old friends Mike Mignola and Mike Carlin. We didn't close the bar, far from it at our age, but had a lot of fun and much laughter talking and telling stories with them.And, I gotta say, Mike (Mignola) made my day when he told me how much his wife likes my blog--thanks, Christine, this one is dedicated to you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

San Francisco Bound

I’ll be heading to San Francisco first thing in the morning. Driving up with a good friend, hopefully we’ll arrive early enough to meet some other pals and get dinner. This will be my first comic convention in a year; the last was the previous Wonder Con. Looking forward to seeing friends, catching up, sharing some good meals. I’m bringing my camera and will try and post some pics over the weekend. That’s the plan anyway. Only one scheduled thing at the show, the Darwyn Cooke Spotlight on Friday from 4:00 to 5:00, the rest of the time I’ll be enjoying my first con in 20 years without doing booth duty. If you see me wandering the Moscone halls feel free to say hello.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What Do You Mean?

I previously wrote about my odd habit, from bygone art selling days, of flipping coins occasionally to determine the final price of a piece. The original post was about a deadbeat, the only time anyone had ever reneged on a flip, you can read about it by clicking here. Today’s story is also about a flip, and just as unique in the way it transpired, but with a much finer conclusion. Actually, I can’t think of any other flip that was so memorable or as much fun.

It happened maybe 13 or 14 years ago. I was set up at a comic convention, don’t recall which one but probably a Great Eastern show at the Javits Center, on the far West Side of Manhattan. Klaus Janson stopped by my booth as he was making his rounds, checking out the dealer’s wares. It was always nice to see Klaus; we were friendly acquaintances who used to run into each other on line at movie theaters, usually to see the new Woody Allen picture.

As Klaus and I exchanged pleasantries and caught up he checked out my display of original art. Hanging in the center was a drop dead gorgeous Jack Kirby pencil drawing of Dr. Doom. It was big, about 17 x 22 inches, and with a sticker price to match: $5000. Klaus liked the piece very much but at five grand he wanted to think it over. Who wouldn’t? He asked me to give him a call in a few days if I still had it so we could discuss.

The drawing didn’t sell at the show so early the following week I phoned Klaus. He said he’d like to buy it but the price was a bit steep; could I do any better? Sure, I’d knock off ten percent, making it $4500. Klaus laughed and said what he’d like to pay is $4000. I thought for a second and posed a question: was he a gambling man? “Why?” he asked.

I said to Klaus, “You can have the piece for $4500. Or we can flip for it, $4000 if you win, $5000 if you lose.” I can’t describe with any degree of justice the response I got back. Simply put, he said, “What do you mean?” But that doesn’t begin to convey the excited glee behind those four little words. If you know Klaus you know he has a great laugh. This was a hybrid of that; half laugh, half scream: “WHATTAYOU MEAANNN??” I explained it to him one more time, in greater detail. Once again, and in the same manner, “What do you mean?” was his response.

When he wrapped his head around the concept he said, “So when would we do this?” I told him we could do it right now. He said, “On the phone?” I said, “Yeah.” Then Klaus offered, a bit sarcastically, “And I suppose you’ll flip it!” I said, and probably with a certain degree of flamboyance, “No, you flip it, I’ll call.” For the third and final time, and just as before, Klaus said, “What do you mean?” “Go ahead,” I said, “I trust you!”

Klaus thought about it. I think it was a feeling of outlandish adventure, coupled with the sheer, unabashed idiocy of the proposal that pushed him over the edge; he agreed to the flip. So, with me sitting in my Upper East Side apartment and Klaus in his Greenwich Village one, we decided to go for it. The ground rules were simple, same as every flip; the coin goes up and lands on the floor, it’s legal no matter what it hits or where it lands. Klaus had a quarter in his hand and told me he was ready. All at once he yelled, “Call it!” I shouted back, “Tails!” There was a moment of incredible anticipation as I waited to hear the outcome. Suddenly a shrill scream came over the line: “SHIT!!”Dr. Doom as drawn by Jack Kirby. From the collection of Klaus Janson.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Who Is This Really?

One day in the early 90s I came home to find my answering machine blinking. Not unexpectedly as an original art ad had just broken in the Comic Buyers Guide and calls would be starting to roll in. I hit the play button and heard, “Hi Scott, this is Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, & Nash and I want to buy some art from your ad. I can’t leave a number because I’m on tour. I’ll call back later.”

The next message came on, “Hi Scott, this is Graham Nash again, from Crosby, Stills, & Nash. I’ll call back later.” The following two messages were pretty much the same, and in each he said “Crosby, Stills, & Nash.” I had just finished listening to the final one when the phone rang. The voice coming over the line asked for me and then said, “Scott, this is Graham Nash, from Crosby, Stills, & Nash, I want to buy some art from you.”

It was one of those moments when you just have to look at the phone. I said, “Okay, who is this really?” The voice came back, “Really, this is Graham Nash!” I asked him which band he had been in before CSN and he replied, “The Hollies." I told him everybody knew that. I said if you’re Graham Nash sing something. I was actually pretty sure at this point it was Graham Nash but I thought it would be funny to have him do a few lines of “Our House."

So the person who was apparently Graham Nash tells me he wants to buy a number of originals from my ad. But there’s a catch: he won’t be home for a couple of months because of the tour. And he’s anxious to get the pages. He tells me that CSN will be playing in New Jersey in a couple of weeks and asks if I could deliver the art to him there. He’d arrange for tickets and back stage passes to be left at the Will Call window and we’d complete our transaction before the concert. Oh, and he wanted me to bring along more art.

I hung up the phone and started to get a nagging feeling. Maybe this wasn’t what it appeared to be; maybe one of my friends was playing an elaborate prank on me. I had no number for him (in those dawning days of cellular) and no payment was en route to me. But, what the Hell, the worst that could happen was I schlep a portfolio out to New Jersey for a few hours.

So on the appointed day my girlfriend and I take a cab down to the Port Authority and are herded onto a bus bound for Holmdel, New Jersey, home of the Garden State Arts Center. When we arrived it was still a couple of hours before the concert and the crowd wasn’t too bad yet. We found our way to the Will Call window where…my name wasn’t on the list.

I was stunned. All I could think of was that depressing bus ride back to the city, what a drag it was going to be. We started to walk away and then I stopped. Screw it, they were going to have another look. This time the lady checked a different list, the one that had backstage passes. VoilĂ , we’re on the sheet. Guess we didn’t fit the standard VIP type.

So we headed down towards the stage, showed our passes, and were escorted to a waiting area inside. There were a lot of people standing around; some who I presumed were with the band, some with the Arts Center, and some who looked out of place (just like us). They had won a radio station promotion. The guy who ushered us in goes to tell Graham we’d arrived and a few minutes later Graham Nash comes out to meet us. He says hello and tells me he has to take care of something before we can talk art. He walked over to the contest winners and introduced himself. He’s a charming fellow, polite and funny, and he treated them like people. It was a nice sight. When he’s done he walks over and says, “Okay, Whattaya got to show me?”

I heft a large portfolio onto a table and open it for him. First he looked at the pages he called about and then puts them aside. Next he scrutinizes the three-inch stack of art he requested I bring. He started separating art into two stacks, one short, the other tall. When he was done he looked at me and asked, motioning to the larger stack, “How much for these?”

After adding it up I gave him a number. He asked if I could do any better. Soon we had a deal and he wrote me a check. In the background there was a guy who had been leaning over now and then to check out what was going on, he seemed very interested. When Graham and I were done he stepped up and pulled out one of the pieces that remained, a Beetle Bailey comic book cover. He asked how much it was. I told him $90. He said, “I’ll give you $75 bucks, cash!” I laughed and said sure. He was positively giddy as he walked away.

We said our goodbyes and walked out to be with the paying customers. The Garden State Arts Center is an open-air venue and it was a pleasant evening. We enjoyed the concert, it was my first time seeing CSN, and then headed out towards the parking lot when the show was over. Buoyed by a lighter portfolio and a fat check, I decided to spring for a cab back to New York and home…paid for courtesy of Stephen Stills’ $75 bucks, cash.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Shell Game

Years ago I used to sell Brian Bolland’s art. Brian, besides being a very fine and meticulous artist, has a wry sense of humor. He’s also quite the Badminton player. Anyway, years ago we were talking and I complimented an Animal Man painting he had done, one that featured a beautiful portrait of a lobster. Brian thanked me for the compliment, as well as giving credit to his wife Rachel for assisting him on it; she excels at painting animals.

Brian went on to tell me that the comic the cover appeared on had a missive in the letters column (remember those?) from an irate reader. The fan was upset by acts of cruelty perpetrated on some creatures in an earlier issue. Apparently, from what Brian said, the editor replied a bit cheekily, “No animal was harmed in the production of this comic.” Brian then revealed, “That’s not entirely true. I went down to my local market, picked out a lobster, and they killed it for me.” Brian then took his newly acquired model home and set about to immortalize it. The cover took Brian a week to complete, at the end of which he had a lovely piece of art…and a rather rank crustacean.The cover in question--hopefully Brian didn’t go to similar lengths to ensure realism with all elements of the piece.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who Was Frank Godwin?

Frank Godwin died nearly 50 years ago and is virtually unknown today. He was an illustrator who segued into comic strips and occasionally comic books. He is best known for his work on Connie, followed by Rusty Riley, which he drew until his death. Dave Karlen does a nice write up on Godwin over at his well-researched and informative art blog, which you can go to by clicking here. The article is accompanied by some lovely scans, worth looking at. It should be noted that Godwin maintained an incredible level of consistency throughout his long career, on a par with that of Hal Foster; the daily reproduced above was drawn when the artist was 66 years old.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Flip Of A Coin

When I used to deal in original comic art I had a certain eccentricity. If a person showed interest in a piece but was unsure, I would offer to flip a coin to determine the final price. For example, if a page was $100 I might suggest flipping with a $20 spread, making it either $90 or $110, depending on the outcome of the flip. The amount would always be the same distance in either direction from the asking price, whether a few bucks or double or nothing. Before you ask--yes, on rare occasions I’ve done double or nothing flips. I think the oddness of the offer enticed some people into pulling the trigger on a page they were otherwise on the fence about. And, really, it was just fun.

Almost all the flips were pleasant and went off without incident, but there was one time (and one time only) when someone reneged. It was at the Chicago Con in the mid 90s. As usual, I had a couple of booths with lots of art for sale. There was one particularly nice Jack Kirby Thor page on display, with a beautiful panel of Donald Blake transforming into the Thunder God. The price was $600, a reasonable sum at the time.

A collector stopped by early on the first day of the show and spotted the page. He looked at it for a while and then asked if I would take $550 for it. I told him no, I had just gotten the piece a few days earlier and felt it was fairly priced. He really wanted the page but also really didn’t want to pay $600. As he stood there and pondered I offered an alternative; he could either buy the page for the regular price or flip for it, $550 or $650.

He was a bit taken aback by my proposal, didn’t understand why I wouldn’t sell it to him for the $550, especially since I was willing to do so if we flipped for it. I explained that this was a bit of fun, as well as a gamble for both of us; we each had an equal risk at stake. He could always buy the page at the asking price, flipping just afforded him the chance of paying the lower price he coveted…but with the distinct possibility of paying more if he lost.

After hemming and hawing for a while the guy eventually decided to go for it, the price would be determined by the flip of a coin. A fair bit of time had gone by and a few people who had overheard us talking were milling about in anticipation of the brief show. I flipped the quarter and he called heads as it arced in the air. The coin bounced a few times before coming to a rest, tail side up.

He looked at me for a minute and then said, “I’ll give you $600 for the page.” I laughed, thinking at first he was kidding. I told him the price was $650, as we agreed. He said, “You wanted $600 for the page, that’s what I’ll pay you for it.” He pulled out his wallet and tried to give me $600, which I refused to accept.

I told him that if he had won I would have had no problem letting him have it for the lower price. But he didn’t see it that way. He was holding the money in his hand and had an expression on his face like I was being unreasonable. I told him he had two choices; he could either buy the art under the terms we agreed or he could walk away. But, if he chose the latter, he could come back in 10 minutes and I wouldn’t sell him the page for $1000. He laughed and once again said he’d pay $600. I shrugged and put the page back up for sale.

He hung around for a few more minutes and then walked away. I noticed him a couple of times passing by to see if the page was still available. Then, maybe an hour or so later, he walked up to me and said, “Okay, I’ll pay you the $650 for the page.” I said I was sorry but the page wasn’t for sale, not to him. I think he was actually shocked that I refused to let him buy it.

Once or twice more he hovered on the periphery of my booth, never actually coming in again. The last time I noticed him was when I was pulling the page down for the gentleman who was buying it for $600. He had seen the page and said he would take it; I never had a chance to offer him a flip. I think it would have been funny if the eventual buyer and I flipped and I had lost, with me selling the page for $550…as my former flipping partner looked on.