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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Monday, July 13, 2009

Grail Pages

One of the more pleasant surprises to cross my desk of late was Grailpages: Original Comic Book Art And The Collectors by Steven Alan Payne [TwoMorrows; $15.95]. Though it contains useful info for those comics fans beginning their own collection of original art, it's not a guide to that segment of our community. But it is a fascinating look at the more prominent players and some prize pieces from their collections.

When I was more actively involved with the making of comic books, many original art pages likely could have been mine for the asking. Indeed, in the 1970s, Marvel was returning pages to the writers of their comic books as well as the artists. I credit a conversation with Neal Adams to convincing me it was an unjust system and, from that point on, I asked the office to distribute "my" pages to the artists. I've never regretted that decision. The few pages that I have from that time were given to me by the artists.

I never caught the original art bug. I bought a few pages here and there at charity auctions and often donated them to other charity auctions. The only regret I have there is donating a pair of Frank Miller pages (Daredevil) to an organization whose managers proved manifestly unworthy of my trust. Selling those pages today could probably pay for a year of college tuition for one or maybe both of my kids. Sigh.

My only other regret is that I never tried to acquire pages by the artists who were friends of mine and are sadly no longer with us. As Payne makes clear in this book, the work of those great storytellers is now well out of my price range. If, in fact, I had the funds to have a price range. Double sigh.

But I digress.

Getting back to the book, while it concentrates on interviews with collectors, both fans and a few professionals, it also gives a decent compact history of original comics art collecting and how the market and prices have grown over the years. I enjoyed reading how his interview subjects got into this part of the hobby and how they regard their treasure troves. They seem like a great bunch of guys - no women collectors are included - and they would probably be interesting and fun to talk to at conventions.

Grailpages includes several dozen pages and sketches in exploring the world of original art collecting. It's a terrific book and earns an impressive four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony



Here's a sort of new segment of TOT, drawn from the threads on Rick Veitch and Steve Conley's message boards. Posters there ask me questions and I try to answer them, just as I do here.

My good buddy Alex Ness expressed his fondness for the Living Mummy series I wrote for Marvel back in the 1970s and asked if I would like writing it again.

My response:

I actually came up with one more Living Mummy story I would like to write. Before pitching it, though, I'd have to see what's been done with the character since I came up with the idea for this one more story.

What do you think? Should I add "Living Mummy research" to my already extensive "to do" list?

Look for more questions and answers in this week's TOTs. And feel free to ask your own questions at:



Wendy and Richard Pini are two of my oldest comics friends; we met in the pages of the CAPA-Alpha amateur press association years before we began working in comics professionally. I even used them as supporting characters when I was writing Ghost Rider for Marvel in the 1970s.

Besides those reasons for loving them, their Elfquest comics are among my favorites. They have a very spiffy website for fans of the world they've created and, recently, Richard sent out a note alerting us to an improvement to that site.

He wrote:
At long last, today I tackled a project I've been putting off (it seems) forever. And that is, gathering up every news item and posting I could find, wherever they might lurk on the site, and putting them all into chronological order on one page.


Because people have been asking (begging, pleading, hounding) for news about the EQ movie project ever since we first announced its first incarnation in 1981. Now, with the option at Warner Bros. and the development further than it's ever been, I realized that many people STILL aren't nearly aware of the long path the elves have been on, getting to the big screen. All the puzzle pieces of information have been on the Elfquest site, but some have been in "news", some in "editorials," and others scattered who knows where.

Now they are all in one place, from oldest to newest. Which also makes it easy to update the one page whenever we DO have something to add!

The reformatted page is here:

and is also accessible from the home page by simply clicking on the "EQ Got Movie!" image top and center.
If you haven't yet read Elfquest, oh, man, do you have a lot of great comics to catch up on. If you have read Elfquest, you're as anxious for the movie as I am.

Thanks to Richard for the alert and to all you loyal legions of TOT readers for spending part of your day with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 07/10/2009 | 07/13/2009 | 07/14/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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