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.


  1. Really love your blog Glen. Its nice that someone appreciates the market and the art and realizes discussing the two is no sin.

    I sold the Avengers 51 cover many years ago.

    Now THAT is a gorgeous piece of Buscema art.

  2. Thanks Matthew. I love the 51...wish you had sold it to me. :)

  3. The benchmark soon will be to beat gold.

    If you pull up a compounding interest calculator you will see golf from $305 in 2004 to $1770 in 2012.

    Thats est. 19% compounded growth.

    Silver from $5 - $33 in the same period gives you est. 22% compounded growth.

    The best OA will beat the metals with a higher BETA. I have known this since 2004. Trees dont grow to the sky Deli always said but I dont let my eyes deny an exponential function when I see it.

    Take your collection [presuming it is the bets of the best]...and throw it into a compounding calculator.

    I am thinking when everything is smoothed will be 50% compounding growth.

    But what do I know.....

    Im Krazy!

  4. IMHO, there are some complexities with Big John. First, he's not undervalued, he SHOULD, like everyone, be lower than Kirby. Romita is OVERvalued due to his association with Spidey. The lust for key Spidey art is a juggernaut that rolls over quality considerations. Second, on the other hand, Romita was consistently good, not great, over a long period, whereas JB had a tiny window of stellar greatness, roughly 1967 to 1971, followed by a gentle downward coast through FF, Thor, the Palmer Avengers issues, and then the vast, repetitive wasteland of Conan. That said, I do think some real deals have been had recently on Conan covers inked by John such as 181 and Annual 7, both around 5K. Your 124 was not as good of a deal! -but like you said, the market will catch up soon enough because it's one of the best of its kind. As far as Conan pages not inked by John? Life is too short.

    Always IMHO
    Aaron N.

  5. Some of Aaron N's comments may not be popular and is somewhat generalized, but I find myself agreeing with just about everything he said.


  6. John had different inkers over different periods that changes the nature of some of his pieces but I don't agree that his work detoriated as he got older. Some of the final commissions he did just prior to his death are beautiful. I don't think he lost a step.

  7. With Williams in my corner I can weather any flamestorm! Thanks Scott. Glen, I don't think his drawing ability ever declined-- I'll take a page of sketches from any year-- but I think he lost interest in drawing comics. Compare the dynamic qualities of most Conan pages with most Subby or Surfer pages from around '68. To me, they don't show the same level of ambition.

    Aaron N.

    PS Been wanting to compliment you on picking the perfect graphic for the top of this blog!

  8. Your point on Conan #124 is spot on. I jumped at the opportunity to pay top dollar for Big John's classic Conan #88 cover and was ecstatic when it actually came in the mail. At the time, several collectors laughed at the price I paid and asked why I would pay 2x to 3x what other Buscema Conan covers were currently selling selling for? But for me, the top examples cannot be priced in any sensible way to the medium examples, and it IS only a matter of time before the market will catch up to what you paid for your #124 and I paid for my #88... and like you said, if you LOVE it, the time flies by! :)
    Colorado Kid

  9. Bucema's drawing ability didn't decline, he just started doing more work and leaving more of the finish up to his inkers.In my opinion, when discounting the story quality, his best work was that which he inked.

  10. Hey is this Blog still active? Looking forward to more posts, especially if you have indeed help folks locate some pages they were after


  11. Great comic blog. I hope this is still active.