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

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's best work.

The art Chiaramonte was offering for issue #99 was no less spectacular as it included the very last page of that issue, which can see here. There's not a person on the planet who'd not buy that original for $20 and this is pure proof that comic book art was a better investment than stocks. If that page came up for auction now I expect it would fetch well into five, if not six, figures.

The days of buying such art for dirt cheap prices are now long gone, so don't expect to find a bargain like that anymore.

$20? I'll take a dozen.

Just for fun, here's the type of pages that Frank was offering for sale, pencils by Dave Cockrum.


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