Giving the Gift of Geek: A Holiday Buyers’ Guide for the Comic Art Lover

Salutations, friends! We are now on the very cusp of the holiday season. Tinsel is flying. Mistletoe is being hung. Snowflakes are settling cutely on noses (in some areas.) Thus, I, from my lofty vantage at the North (well… Northern Ohio) Pole want to help those of you with a geek in your life and no idea what to get them.

By inclination, I’m a comic art geek. Have been for years. But there are a lot of folks out there who may not know what to give a person who loves and appreciates comic art. For them, (and for those out there maybe looking to get themselves a festive little something in these cozy times,) I present the following ideas.

1. Be sure you know your geek’s favourite character or artist.

This is a gimme, but still important. Nothing hurts like when your favourite artist is J. Scott Campbell and somebody instead gets you art by Ross Campbell. Still great, but not what you asked for.

2. eBay.

Ebay is absolutely stocked with original comic art; some top artists, including Rob Liefeld (famed Marvel and Image artist, who lately worked for DC on their New 52 reboot) offer original art there for affordable prices. Other less-well-known, but still stellar, artists frequently offer commissions.
There are some issues with eBay.

First, of course, is the fact that many items on the site are for auction, not in the “Buy Me Now” category. This can cause heartache, heartbreak, and possible heartburn if the piece you had your eye on for your loved on is bid up beyond your control.

The second issue: fakery. There have been, unfortunately, a number of instances in which art purportedly created by famous comics creators have been sold on eBay, only later to be found to be fakes. One instance, in which a fan bought a piece they thought was by Jim Lee, and then showed the great man the piece only to have him denounce it as a fraud, sticks out in my mind. Be careful out there.

Third: The price. Buying artists’ convention sketchbooks on eBay can be expensive. Oftentimes, a sketchbook on an artist’s website for less than $20 can be sold for twice that or more on eBay. Plus shipping. Ouch. I’ve been burned more than once on this kind of issue.

3. Stuart Ng Books.

Located in southern California, Stuart Ng Books is perhaps the leading purveyor of comic art books in the world. Better yet, they carry LARGE selections of hard-to-find convention sketchbooks at very decent prices, by the likes of Terry Dodson and Adam Hughes, just to name a few. They also carry fascinating French comics albums, or band dessinee. Their online store is exceptional, with excellent service. Shipping is prompt.

4. BrandStudio Press.

BrandStudio Press is a service that publishes hardbound, often full-color sketchbooks by big-name artists including J. Scott Campbell, Art Adams, Phil Noto, and others. The sketchbooks here are cheaper than the same ones often found at other sites. These, however, are not signed by the authors. Reasonable shipping costs and fast service.

5. DeviantArt.

There are a number of excellent artists – famous and obscure – that set up shop on this, the premier art site on the internet. Many of the artists offer reasonable commissions (though be careful – some of the commissions are digital only, so make sure you know what you’re paying for) and sketchbooks.

6. Cadence Comic Art

Cadence is one of a number of what you might call “comic art clearing houses” that represent a number of artists to sell their original artwork. I’ve bought from several of these in the past, and I’ve found Cadence (which, by the way, features a number of Toronto-based artists) to be a super seller, offering good-quality work at, often, very reasonable prices. Big names like Ryan Stegman, Jeff Lemire, Pia Guerra, and others call this site home.

7. Artists’ Websites.

It’s frequently simple to go straight to the horse’s mouth to get a sketchbook or commission. So many artists these days are entrepreneurs with their own websites and online stores, and are very responsive to being contacted. Their sketchbooks are usually less expensive on their own sites, and negotiations about commissions and pricing is much more straightforward. When ordering a commission, though, be sure that it will still be shipped in time for the holidays.

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