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 Bookfinders.com and then Amazon.com 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.....