Friday, November 12, 2010

Original Art Stories: Jerry Robinson's Art Stash

What can you say when you’re faced with such stunning original art? Not much, well not much without swearing really. Batman artist Jerry Robinson has decided that the time has come to part with some of his favourite, and coveted, pieces of art, including these two beauties.

The Superman #14 cover must surely be one of the earliest Superman covers to come onto the open market for decades. The amount of times that this Fred Ray image, originally appearing in January/February 1942, has been swiped is just too much to count. It must rank up there with Kirby’s iconic Fantastic Four #1 cover for swiping, although John Byrne has lifted the amount of swipes on the latter to new levels. But what would you do if you had a chance to own it? Place it in a museum, on display, where it belongs. Throw out the Lichtenstein copies, here’s a chance to own the real thing, a genuine memory of America during the early days of World War II and the patriotism that was on show back then – life was simpler and the enemies more clearly defined.

Jerry hasn’t stopped there. He’s also decided to part with one of own Detective Comics covers. Dating from November 1942, the description reads, “Known as the double-guns Joker cover, it is one of the greatest Golden Age superhero covers of all time.” What makes both of these covers even more desirable is the utter lack of such artifacts from the Golden Era of comic books. DC Comics would routinely destroy such art, either by simply throwing pages and covers into the bins, cutting them up or burning them. There is precious little of such art that now survives, and thankfully Jerry himself will benefit from the massive amount of money that’ll come in from the sales of these covers, as it should be. For once it won’t be a case of an artist saying, “You know, I never got that art back,” and looking on wistfully as some dealer or collector then makes a six figure sum from the sale. If anyone should benefit it should be the artist, and not the people who stole the art along the way.  As for what it's really worth, well the original art for Batman #11 was sold at auction back in 2005, and that netted around $195,000.  I'd be stunned if these two didn't go well past that amount.

Hopefully there is a museum somewhere that is looking at these pieces and can appreciate both their age and cultural heritage and make a serious run at both covers. They should be preserved, framed and on display for the entire world to see. I’d hate to think that they’ll vanish into a private collection where they won’t be seen for decades more to come.

And just for fun, here's a few more pieces of art from the pen of Jerry Robinson.

1 comment:

Kid said...

I think it should be remembered that, at that time, most artists did not want their art back - they had nowhere to store it and it had no monetary value, so they just weren't interested in it.

Having therfore willingly relinquished the art to the hands of editors to do with as they pleased - whether it be giving pages to readers or simply throwing it away - they really don't have much to complain about as to the way things turned out.

If I throw an old vase out, and the binman rescues it from the garbage - only to be one day offered £20,000 for it by an antique collector - bad luck 'though it may be, I'm really not entitled to a share of the money just because I once owned it. This would also apply to items I had produced myself. "I only threw it out/gave it away/sold it for a pittance because I didn't know it would be worth anything" is no basis for a claim against someone who benefits from something acquiring a value at a later date.

Having said that, yes, it IS nice that Jerry himself will benefit from the sale of the pages - but that's only fitting as he is the owner,(the fact that he produced them is almost superfluous) and has been for a long time.

Nice site you have.