I had the most enlightening email conversation with my buddy today. I spent a few hours this morning researching original comic art, but I felt this urge to share some of my thoughts with someone else. So I asked Jason—a fellow collector who has the oddest predilection toward buying DVDs—what he thought of the style Richard Friend is toying with on his blog.
Jason seemed a little hesitant, but it was obvious he didn’t dig it that much. So I emailed him a link to Friend’s Padme piece, telling him that the artist has a more traditional style too. I was even considering getting him do a commission for me of Dejah Thoris.
That’s when Jason admitted to not being a fan of most of the art I’ve shown him in the last year. “Honestly, most of what you send isn't very interesting to me because (don't take this the wrong way) I'm not interested in comic art outside the comic page. I can appreciate good sequential art in a comic as I read, but displayed on a wall or gallery...naaah, just doesn't do it for me. I like my art to evoke a certain response and a standalone idea. It should be self-contained rather than feeling as if it's yanked from a whole.”
Jason told me he likes darker imagery, often with a blend of the erotic and the horrific. Sure, he likes beautiful women as much as the next guy, but he wants his art to be a standalone image that really speaks to him, and comic art doesn’t do it. He shared an image by John Bolton (above) that is particularly powerful for him.
That’s when I began to realize why I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Frazetta. For me, his imagery evokes the feeling of adventure. Of heroes and villains and damsels in distress. Those are the same feelings a good piece of comic art will give me.
Jason was right when he mentioned that the art needs to do more than just look good. You have to feel something. It has to work for you on a deeper level, not just on the surface. Sure, some comic art has touched me emotionally, but most has done so only in the context of the story. Maybe having that piece on my wall won’t have the same meaning.
Granted, a lot of the art I’ve purchased in the last year means something to me on a totally different level because I met the artist or have interacted with him for an interview or whatever. So that aspect will always be important to me. And you can bet that I’ll buy art from any graphic novel I’m a part of, either as an editor or as a writer.
But when I buy art just to buy art, my conversation with Jason will be a very important key for me. Am I considering this piece just because I like the style? Or the artist? Or the subject matter? If so, I should reconsider. Because if there’s no emotional attachment, I don’t think it’ll be important to me years down the line. I would never buy art I didn’t like, but now, maybe it’s time to step it up a notch and only buy those pieces that really have an emotional impact for me.
Sure, this new thinking might just be my brain’s way of tricking me into spending more money on my next piece, but even so, I’m glad to be thinking along this line. It might keep me from buying some art in the near future, but that’s okay. As far as collecting goes, quality is always more important than quantity.
For those interested, I've posted a thread on this subject in the Collector's Society forums.