In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
If you could own one piece of original comic-related art, what would it be? Price is no object.
During the opening credits of Spider-Man 2 the whole story of Spider-Man is told via paintings by Alex Ross. No voiceovers, no word bubbles, just the swelling music of Danny Elfman and art. It’s beautiful. Stunning. The very best recap ever. I remember watching that credit sequence for the first time in the theater and being more moved by Peter’s story told in those images than I had been watching the first film. Particularly this one, the one I would choose to own:
I love this picture so much that when I first read “With a miserable gesture, Harry got up, turned his back on Ginny and Dumbledore’s tomb, and walked away around the lake.” (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Chapter 30; J.K. Rowling) I thought of it. To me, this picture represents something much grander than ink on paper and has come to mean much more than the scene or story it depicts. It represents an idea and that is a piece of art worth having.
I don’t really buy comic-book art, not because I don’t like the stuff but because if I started, I’m afraid I’d never stop. I would happily wallpaper my living room with Gabriel Hardman’s Agents of Atlas pages, but I’m not sure I could pick out one piece with special meaning to me.
Although. . .I can tell you the only time I bought two copies of a comic book, just so I could have one to put on the wall above my workspace. It’s the last page of a certain issue of John Cassady and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men (I list the artist first there, but I list the writer as well, because the story has as much to do with why I love the page as the art does.) It involves a certain X-Man who is holding a weapon and is not wearing his trademark eyewear. And if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t — I’m not gonna ruin the reveal.
I had a few answers in mind for this, but most of the pages I love most either depend heavily on the story being told — which necessitates the presence of word balloons — or are only my favorite because of a single panel or two, like this gorgeous Paolo Rivera page of the original 5 X-Men fromMythos: X-Men. (It’s the first art print I ever bought from an artist.) But, ultimately, I think my answer is this page, from the first issue of Young Avengers:
First of all, Jim Cheung’s art is simply gorgeous. But more than that, I love how this page encompasses so much of what I love about the Marvel U. There’s Captain America and Iron Man, so close and intimate that Steve is willing to trust his life to Tony’s boot thrusters. I came into comics around the time of Civil War, but it was comics like this that showed what Steve and Tony’s friendship had been like before that gave that storyline meaning. Then there’s Jessica Jones, perhaps Brian Michael Bendis’ best creation, being asked to take part in a conversation that she doesn’t feel worthy of — a situation symptomatic of her entire life and her low self esteem in the face of others’ admiration. All of this is conveyed in the image without the help of the speech bubbles, and it’s the perfect combination of pinup and story to hang on any wall. If it was available and within my price range, I’d grab it in an instant.
I’m stuck between the things that have emotional meaning for me and the comic art that is the prettiest. I don’t want to give up the photocopy I have of the original two-page story Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, and Todd Klein made up in two hours at the CBLDF Fiddler’s Green convention in 2004. I have that framed and hanging in my room. I was there in the panel when they made it up and I do not want to be parted from it. On the other hand, I would . . . . do a lot, I suspect, give a lot, to have any page of J.H. Williams’s Detective Comics. I’d give more for a page with Batwoman on it, but I’d take any page. I also tried to get a page of John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men, any page with Kitty on it, but that . . . didn’t come through.
At the moment, I think the piece of original comic-related art I am happiest to have in my possession is from Barry Kitson, though. While at Baltimore Comic-Con he offered to let me and Anika look through his sketchbook. In the sketchbook he had a small drawing of a female figure I have decided is Red Riding Hood. Mr. Kitson was extremely generous and that sketch is now in my room, framed. This makes me the happiest not only because it is good art, and not only because it is of Red Riding Hood, but because the entire experience reminds me of the generosity and friendliness I’ve encountered from comics professionals.
So what about you? If you could own one piece of original comic-related art, what would it be? Price is no object.