Original Art Stories: Avengers #1; Real Or Recreation, Part IV
Charles Yoakum recently posted a comment on this very blog about the splash page. Part of what he said was, "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." Now this end page has those markings. But the splash page does not. Curious.
Steven Bove had this to say about the splash page, "The Comics Code Authority Stamp - Backs of pages may have this stamp (mostly Marvel Comics)." Others have all agreed. The seller of this page has included that image in the auction. The splash page does not have that image included.
Steven also commented that most Silver Age pages, indeed a lot of vintage art pages have, "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." This page has such paste-ups, the splash page does not appear to. Part of the description for this current auction states, "It’s large art and the only condition issue is the last panel where the white out has grayed and you can tell Stan Lee could not decide how name the Avengers. There’s also old glue residue for the pasteovers on the last panel - the pasteovers I don’t have. Again, the rest of the page is in excellent, white (for 1963 art board) condition. "
So, faced with all of that, which page would people believe is real and which would you believe isn't? Now I don't know for certain if the splash page is real or not, I have doubts as I've said all along. What I do know is that if it is a recreation then Marvel Masterworks recreationist artist Michael Kelleher didn't do it, nor did he draw the end page that's being offered on eBay right now, so please, no more emails accusing him of being involved in any form of forgery with this, it's upsetting him. So say what you want, but the presentation of the two pages is vastly different. Compare the scan of the following pages from Avengers #1 to that of the first page.
This is the scan of the last page, page 30.
This is the splash page. Now for something interesting. There's two common factors present on the pages, the first being the black number at the bottom right of the page which is on all the pages. The second factor is present on all pages barring the splash page - the red number at the top left. It could be argued that the page has been cropped, or trimmed, if so then that would devalue the page, not increase it as it would rightly be viewed as being damage to the art.
Indeed a quick look at that part of the art shows there is no red number, indeed nothing written at the top left of the page and the art does look trimmed. That constitutes art damage and results in a very misleading description as the art is described as being in 'awesome' condition. It'd the same as buying a high performance car and discovering that the seats had been taken out and were missing. Some people might find it a minor quibble, but to others it'd be vitally important and, in a field (art collecting) where condition is everything, someone misrepresenting art to this degree could raise a lot of questions about the veracity of the art on sale. I doubt that notes and a consistent numbering sequence would have been included on all pages except for the splash. Something else of interest. Here's the bottom part of that page.
I only have reprints available here, I don't have an original issue, but was there any indicia included the first time around? Sorry to say this, but this page looks a bit too neat and clean. And with eight separate images the seller didn't include the Comic Code stamp from the rear of the page, which it must have and which would erase a lot of doubt about it being the real doubt.
For $50,000, I'd want to see the back of that page before I handed over any cash. However I'd feel reasonably safe with the last page as it passes all the criteria of what's expected from art of it's vintage and is consistent with art from the same book that has been sold previously. However the splash page has enough different qualities to raise the question as to it being legitimate - if it's not a recreation (and it might well not be) then it has been damaged in a very serious way, which should affect the overall appeal and value. The next question is, with all of this art out there, has Marvel ever asked any of their recreation artists to redraw any of these pages?
Very curious indeed. I'll ask again, is that Avengers splash page real or recreation? And if it is a recreation, then who did it and why?