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Original Art Stories: Frank Chiaramonte's $20 X-Men Pages

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Frank Chiaramonte might not a household name amongst comic book fans, but he should be. Much like Don Newton and Gene Day, Chiaramonte had a relatively short career and he passed away far too early. He did do good, solid, work at Marvel and DC, and managed to ink luminaries such as Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Bob Brown, Gene Colan, Curt Swan and many more. All in all, not a bad resume to have.

Chiaramonte passed away in January, 1983, but before he did, he decided to sell some of his art. This short letter, to an art dealer, describes how Chiaramonte was willing to sell all of his remaining X-Men pages, from issue #99 and #101, for $20 per page, or $120 the lot. Anyone will tell you that issue #101 is of particular interest as it introduced the character Phoenix, who would eventually become Dark Phoenix and spawn at least two X-Men movies and countless stories and comic books, variations and retellings. Those books also feature what is arguably Dave Cockrum…

Original Art Stories: The $50 Jim Aparo Cover vs the $10 Jim Starlin Page

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It’s enough to make you break down and weep, that is if you’re a collector of original comic book art. I came into possession of a series of letters from artists to a collector/dealer, all written in the early to mid 1980s. As an archive it's amazing, letters and cards from Jim Aparo, Don Heck, Sal Buscema, Don Lomax, Murphy Anderson - it's a Who's Who of American comic book art. Also included in the archive were dozens of cancelled cheques showing how much those artists were often paid for their original art pages. John Buscema, Steve Bissette, Dick Ayers, Mark Bode, Frank Thorne - the list goes on and on.

There’s the usual letters detailing pages for the standard ‘Make an offer’ through to a series of letters from Jim Aparo to the dealer as they established a rapport and art, and money, began to exchange hands.

 While it’s amazing how cheaply art could be bought back in the day, what is more incredible, and heartbreaking in its own way, is Aparo’s admission that he “…a…

Siegel & Shuster's Funnyman in Australia

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Funnyman is a largely forgotten strip created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman.  Originally intended to be the next big thing in comic books and designed to pick up the mantle from Superman and show DC Comics what they’d missed, the strip itself lasted just over a year before it folded.  The strip also spawned a line of comics, but, sadly, that didn’t last long either and Funnyman never became the highly sought after hit that Siegel and Shuster desired.  Lightning struck once for the duo, and in their attempts to recreate the blast, they fell somewhat short.

The sadness is that the strip wasn’t that bad, certainly not as bad as people might imagine.  However the concept – Danny Kaye dressed as a clown fighting crime with comedy – was always going to be a hard sell and it’s possible ton theorise that the duo were just a little bit too burnt out from their trials and tribulations with DC Comics over Superman.  The comic was published by one other than Vin Sulliva…

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