Saturday, September 22, 2012

OPINION: JOHN BUSCEMA -- Highly Respected -- Undervalued!

I don't suspect I'll get too many arguments when I suggest that John Buscema was one of the true masters of the medium.  He had the dynamics of Kirby crossed with the illustrative prowess of Neal Adams.  He and John Romita were the primary movers of Marvel product after Jack Kirby left the building.  Buscema's runs on Avengers and FF and Thor are legandary now having gone down as absolute classics.
The cover to Silver Surfer 1, Avengers King Size 2 and FF 107--his first cover for that title are perfect examples of his mastery of the form.

But when it comes to valuation in the marketplace it seems that John Bucema's work tends to lag behind some of his contemporaries.  This Avengers 55 page (below) traded hands in 2010 at the 2500 level.  At the same time Romita Spider-Man pages were trading for 10k.  Kirby small size pages on Cap, FF and Thor were between 5-10k as well.  The Buscema pages are still lagging in value today and are a great place for a collector to find value along with quality.
This Avengers 74 page (below) sold in the August 2012 Heritage auction for $4481.  Still lower than the Romitas or Kirbys, but it seems there is a little catch up going on as this is one of the higher sold pages I have seen on record.
The Avengers 78 cover (below) sold for 23k in the November 2011 Heritage auction.  It feels like a bargain once again when we consider that Romita Spider-Man covers from this period are going in the 40-50k range.  Same with the Kirbys.
I bought this Conan 124 cover (below) at the August 2010 Heritage auction.  At the time I felt that the cover should have been 8-10K.  I liked the image a lot, it's one of my favorite Conan covers, so I chased up to 14300 and pulled it down.  I felt like it was such a good cover I could put my money where my mouth was and overpay.  A few people did make fun of me at the time.  I've always felt that if you buy the best of something you may overpay--but not for too very long.  Prices seem to catch up faster on the best pieces.
This cover, Avengers 44 (below), is twice up.  It went for the shocking low price of 19k due I think to the Vince Colletta inks.  Still, it's a truly great cover that was an absolute bargain at the Heritage May auction in 2010.
This Avengers 105 cover below traded not too long ago on Burkey's site for 12k.  12k for a classic Avengers cover from the 70's that rocks.  That's less than you'll pay for panel pages by Romita or Kirby.
Someone got a deal and you can too...if you keep your eye on the Buscema market.  I think there are a lot of bargains to be had keeping your eyes peeled in this arena--even in this apparent market of escalating prices!  Certain Conan pages by Buscema can be had for less than $200, still.  That's the price of pages drawn by some newer artists yesterday.

Monday, September 3, 2012

OPINION: New money and the ComicLink connection.

Wow! 100k for a slightly better than average Ditko 29 page (below) that couldn't do 30k at auction two years ago.  What's behind the price jump?  Quite a number of rumors abound.  Who benefits?  Certainly ComicLink benefits as they can now lay claim to selling the most expensive ASM Ditko panel page to date.
Anyone who owns a Ditko ASM page benefits--if someone were sitting on a pile of Ditko pages turned out to be the buyer, I guess I wouldn't be too surprised.  My current theory is that the market has been influenced by an influx of comic book collectors that are discovering the joys of OA.  I spoke with a high grade collector of CGC comics that made this transition.  One of the things that struck me was his frustration that more CGC book are graded each year.  The high grade books that once were unique are threatened by more high grade books being graded each year--but original art is really one of a kind.
I spoke with the seller of the FF 16 page (above) which went for about 46k--a surprisingly high number--just 3k less than the splash to FF Annual 2 (below) went for last month at Heritage--shocking!  This page did more than double what I expected it to do.  The seller told me that he would have sold the page for less than 20k just two months ago but the art dealer he offered it to passed.  Pretty sure he's over the pain for rejection now.

The DD 16 page by Romita, highlighted in a previous post, did 41,500--over 10k more than I thought.  The FF 112 page by John Buscema/Joe Sinnott was a standout at 15,750.
The Sub-Mariner 26 cover (below) struck me as an interesting cover to highlight.  The Donnelly's had this cover for sale for quite a number of years with no takers--it's a great looking cover, but they were always above market on the price.  I think they were asking between 13-14k.  The cover sold at auction, just hitting the reserve, at 14,750.  The buyer, Joe Shaffer, up until 2010, was a high grade CGC collector.  Now his goal is to get covers from all the series he collected.  I mentioned the recent history of the piece to him and asked Joe what he thought about the price that he paid.  Here's what he said, "Some pieces will speak more to one collector than others.  I think this is a far more interesting cover than the other Subbie offerings out there."  He said he was fine with the price.  He also spoke about a uniqueness in the art you don't get with the CGC books.
I think this is true for a number of comic collectors, recently turned OA collectors, who are now willing to go higher at auction than those who are a bit more seasoned in the hobby--hence the recent market spike.  I think it's telling that the pieces that have spiked are the same type of pieces that the CGC collectors crave--special covers, early key pages, as close to key as possible--names like Kirby and Ditko--the creme de la creme of the early Marvel.