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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Shop for Comic Art This Christmas Season: A Giver's Guide

Today in The Cube:

Yes, it's that time of year - mistletoe, holly, a jolly man in a red suit and, of course, presents. It's the Christmas shopping season, friends!

"But," you may cry, "my significant other really wants an artist's sketchbook or a piece of original art from their favorite comics creator for Christmas. I don't know what to do - where do I turn?" It is with these poor benighted souls in mind that I have penned the following missive:

HOW TO SHOP FOR COMIC ART THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON:



Spidey & Santa by Fred Hembeck


1. Google is your friend!
Odds are, if the target of your gift-giving has a favorite comic artist, that artist has a website or, at least, some place where they sell their art or can be contacted. Google is your friend here.
Many artists also maintain Facebook and Twitter pages where they showcase their work and advertise art deals and sales.

1a. Can't find the artist's site? Check ANOTHER artist's site!
I've learned that the comic artist community is fairly small and many creators will post a list of links on their sites directing you to their friends and artists they admire. If you can't easily find the artist you seek, try this avenue.

2. Beware of eBay.
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE eBay and have gotten many great items there (including original art) that I couldn't find anywhere else. However, there are a couple of caveats that all you emptors out there need to be aware of.
First - not all "original comic art" sold by sellers on that famous auction site is genuine and authentic. Certainly, in my experience, most of the time it is, but you hear horror stories. One in particular sticks out: a guy shelled out hundreds for a supposed Jim Lee sketch on eBay and showed it proudly to the man himself on Twitter, only to have Jim reply, "That's not mine." Ouch. If you have ANY questions at all, contact the seller about the piece, and be sure to check the seller's feedback. If you are looking for original art and can't tell the real stuff from Shinola, stay off of eBay.
Second - remember that eBayers are out to make a profit. As such, I've often seen artist's sketchbooks sold at particularly flagrant markups. Before buying a sketchbook on eBay, make sure that you can't find it anyplace else for cheaper. Nine times out of 10, you'll find it on the actual artist's website for 1/2 to 1/4 of the price, and shipping is usually faster, too.

3. When in Doubt, Email!
Been to the artist's website, but they don't have sketchbooks or original art listed for sale? Shoot them an email. I've found that the artists I've contacted are generally very good about answering back promptly. Same if they're taking commissions or not. Generally, commissions take some time (these are working artists, after all, with other commitments - a lot of artists' commission lists are full, or they just flat-out don't take commissions), but it never hurts to ask. A number of artists, depending on what you're looking for art-wise, charge VERY reasonable rates for commissions. Some, however, are very expensive. Tom Hodges, lead artist on the Start Wars: Clone Wars online comic, is a talented, fast-working, reasonably-priced artist who does take commissions. Check out his SITE HERE for an upcoming commission sale!

4. Comic Art Websites are your friends!
There are a number of great websites out there where artists will sell their work - often at reasonable prices. Here are a few that I've used personally and recommend:
Cadence Comic Artwww.cadencecomicart.com
The Art of Comics: http://theartofcomics.com
Graphic Collectibles: www.graphiccollectibles.com

5. Stuart Ng Books is your friend!
Never heard of Stuart Ng Books? You have now. Based in southern California, this store is THE place for books on comic art and illustration, often reaching back decades. They specialize in the obscure, the hard-hard-hard-to-find, and the wonderful - and also in French comics, called bande dessinee. They attend a number of conventions each year and pick up artists' sketchbooks to sell. Also, some superstar artists, such as Terry Dodson and Adam Hughes, use the store as an authorized dealer of their sketchbooks. I bought my complete collection of Hughes' sketchbooks from them.
Check them out at www.stuartngbooks.com. Great shipping and customer service.

6. Some Artists Offer Different Products to Choose From!
Some artists also offer t-shirts, prints, actual books, and other such items to sell. Adam Hughes, for instance, has a great tutorial DVD available on his website. The Gnomon Workshop, which sells great art tutorial products, sells DVDs by great artists like David Finch and Ed Benitez. Some artists self-publish items on sites like Lulu.com and Etsy.com. All are worth a look in the search for the perfect present!


Hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post and I'll do my best to answer them.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!




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