Original Art Stories: Avengers #1; Real Or Recreation, Part II

The posts about the recent Avengers #1 splash page and recreations overall in regards to the Marvel Masterworks line has created a storm in the tea-cup indeed. Gerry Turnbull has informed me that I'm being attacked over at the Masterworks forums, not that I'd know as I don't visit there, nor know where it is. I might though, just to see what's being said. All I've done is ask the question and share some thoughts, but hey, anyone is welcome to post a comment - there's only a few I've not let through and those were personal attacks on other people. With the view of what art has been recreated for the Masterwork volumes my point remains - Marvel should state what pages have been recreated in each volume. Simple transparency is all I'm asking for, and I know I'm not alone there. With the Avengers #1 splash page on eBay, well thoughts are mixed. For all I know it probably is real, certainly the bidding (last time I looked it'd gone past $45,000USD) says as much, so some people believe it's the real deal. I hope it is. I'd be as happy as anyone to know that this page survived down the years. But I'd not shell out that much money without seeing it in my hands and checking out both sides.

In the meantime two emails caught my eye. The first was from my good pal Alan Kupperberg, who said this, "I dunno, boy, if this is a recreation, its the damnedest recreation I've ever seen. The small differences noted can be accounted for in several ways. But the stuff that IS the same is the stuff that I cannot account for. I've done a Kirby/Ayers reproduction and it's a tough thing. And the lettering. That's real Sam Rosen lettering and it seems to be lettered on the page. If it's on the page, not pasted on or photoshopped, the page is real."

The second email came from another good friend of mine, Steven Bove. Bove knows a bit more about company sanctioned recreations than the bulk of us, after all he started out doing such art at DC back in the day. So when he emailed this I thought I'd share it, with Steve's permission. As always, you read it and you decide. Al always Steve offers some very sound advice when it comes to buying vintage art.

Daniel knows that I'm working on something very special right now. But of course he touches on a subject that I just have to chime-in on. This Daredevil page comes from my personal collection and explains a good deal of the process of creating comics work for print.

A skilled restoration artist may be able to recreate a style but you can't recreate the times and practices the work was created in. These points should aid in the purchase of original comic art.

10 things to consider when buying original comic art:

1) Yellowing - All paper tends to yellow with the passage of time.
2) Zip-A-Tone - As with paper Zip-A-Tone will also yellow and become brittle with age.
3) Ink Blips - More often than not if you examine ink work you'll find a slip here and there that wasn't caught and cleaned up. A skilled restoration artist may be able to mimic the style but not the slip.
4) The Company Stamp - Some companies (DC Comics) would stamp their copyright notice on the back of art boards.

5) The Comics Code Authority Stamp - Backs of pages may have this stamp (mostly Marvel Comics).
6) Trimmed Pages - The late Chemical Color in Connecticut would handle separations of color for comics and make the appropriate film. In order to get several pages on the camera plate for film they would gang-up boards and that meant trimming them to fit.
7) Paste-Ups - Some boards might have paste-up art or balloons on them and the rubber cement used will often give the boards a yellowing or burned like appearance
where the art was placed.
8) Blue Lines - Non-Repro blue lines on art board. In the 60's and 70s these would be basic and not as elaborate as comics moved into the 80s.
9) Paper Weight - Usually 2-Ply. Some pages (as in the case of this DD example) feel a little lighter in comparison.
10) Source - A reputable dealer of original comics art will be the most respected and honest about what he sells. Look for personal testimonials and recommendations from industry insiders.
Recreated art is often obvious and shouldn't be sold as original. That's simply a disservice to the creators of the original work and, of course, the customer of such works.

Steven Bove


nsatkinson said…
When sculptures and frescoes are restored the touch-ups, patches, and so forth are often done in different tones so that the viewer knows what's what. It seems to me that a standardized visual "tell" of that sort could solve the problem of both the resale of recreations as originals and confusions about authorship... say a black band around the outer edge of the recreated art or something.
danny boy, I recieved some emails on my post calling attention to your post. I have more than a few people ask my opinion. Unfortunately, closer examination of the jpg still makes it hard to tell.

I will say that I've not seen art of that vintage that has not a) yellowed as a part of the natural aging process or b)got a lot of notations or grease pencil markings on the border.

It seems that Jack would use a large black grease pencil to mark the page numbers and book titles i.e. "Avengers #1") on the margins. It is pretty much the same on the twice up FF page from issue #20 that I have, as on the page that Jack merely laid out for Don Heck on Avengers #11 that I have as well.

Take a look at the guy's other auctions, look at all the markings around the daredevil splash. Most books that are from that time period have all those notes on the splashes.
as well, as previously noted, the code seal on the back!

Danny said…
Charles, I agree with you - as I've outlined on my blog. The scans are too inconclusive to tell if it is the original or a clever fake. As I've said elsewhere, if I'm spending in excess of $50,000 I want proof that it's real, certainly I'm not going to buy it and then take a punt when it arrives.

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