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2010 SKETCHBOOK (60 pages, black/white/tone, print run 100 copies)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The "Holy Grails" of books.....

I was thinking the other day about all of the neat books that have been coming out recently (like the Artist's Editions from IDW and the Warren reprints from Dark Horse) and I started remembering what it was like trying to track down certain books before the internet made it possible to get anything you want...I also realized that a lot of the "Holy Grail" books that I imagined would be fantastic, just sort of turned out OK.

Case in point. On one of my first trips to San Diego Comic Convention I met Alex Nino. He was promoting a book called "Space Pirates" (that never got published) and I was shocked that he was not surrounded by hundreds of people asking for his autograph. I loved his art and I just assumed I would not be able to get any face time with him. As it turned out, I got a chance to hang out with him for maybe 10-15 minutes and ask him a few questions about some of my favorite stories that he illustrated. While we were talking, he mentioned that he illustrated a book about the history of South America for a publisher in Spain. The print run was so low, that even he did not get a copy. I asked him to write down the title, so I can try to track it down someday. He wrote the title on the flier for Space Pirates and signed it in the bargain. "Americo Vespucio".

Years went by and first and then matured on the net. Then Ebay started growing and going internationally. I always checked for a few titles when I had a few minutes and finally after years of looking I found a copy on Spain's equivalent of E-bay. I had to pay for it through Western Union and with the tax and postage the total bill was a bit over $55...ouch.

The book arrived. Hardbound. Over sized. 50 pages of Alex Nino penciling, inking, and coloring his own work with markers. Cool subject matter. Printed 1992. And that is sort of the tricky part. By 1992, Alex Nino moved away from his "tight" rendering style into a more loose approach, mostly inking with ballpoint pens or markers instead of brushes and dip pens, as a result a very uniform line throughout the drawings. And as good as that is, that is not my favorite style of Alex Nino. It's a cool book to have, but it is not as grand as I imagined it being for almost 7-8 years.

You would think I learned my lesson. Nay. I can list a number of "prizes" that I pursued for years across the internet only to be let down a bit when I finally got them.....
Black and white French edition of Steranko's "Red Tide". Check.
Collected edition of Steranko's adaptation of "Outland" (also in French). Check.
William Stout's Conan storyboards reprinted in Metal Hurlant. Check.
John Byrne's "Fear Book". Check.
Al Willaimson's "Empire Strikes Back" printed in Britain in black and white. Check.

And still I search and search and search.....


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

Isn't that the case? And the art books are so damn sexy, and yet somehow they seem to often fall apart. the starlin art and times book was like that wasn't it?

i think that the recolored Red tide will be a miss for me. I am, however, waiting with baited breath for the Martini edition of the Parker books.

The hardcover Local comic didn't disappoint, neither did the Robert Fawcett book, nor the Bama book, nor the Beasts of Burden hardcover.

Alex Sheikman said...

I bought the Robert Fawcett book and enjoyed that (still am enjoying it). I am not familiar with the Beasts of to check it out :)

I just received "Overkill" that I bought based on your write up. Love it.

I saw a couple of pages of re-colored "Red Tide" in the new Dark Horse Presents issue. I wish they would have re-shot the pages from the originals and colored it using the original version as a guide instead of getting "fancy" with digital color. However, Dave Stewart who is doing the new color is very good and I will withhold my opinions until I see the whole thing...sometime in 2020.

norm said...

The big old N.C. Wyeth collection was a grail for me, but since it had so many black and white images...and other, later books had better printing, I passed on it when I finally had the opportunity to get it.

Alex Sheikman said...


I had the same "let down" when the Dean Cornwell book got reprinted. I think I was the first guy in line to buy it. After I got it home and looked at it I remember thinking 2 things:
1- I wish there were more color plates, and
2- I am glad I did not buy it for $500.