Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Don, the Comic Art Savant: King's Crown or Dunce's Hat?

I admit it -- I've long have an OCD/narrow focus-type indexing gene. I've always loved catalogs, checklists, want lists, artist encyclopedias, and complete cross-indexes about comic art (like the online Grand Comics Database). This is very common for collectors.

My idea of a rollicking good time up in dark, frozen Anchorage, Alaska (in the early seventies) was catching the Fur Rendezvous Dog Sled Race on local TV, while sitting at the dinner table with teetering stacks of my Marvel comic books, blank 3" x 5" index cards, and a pencil -- for creating an ultra-detailed "story/creator credit" index card for each and every issue I owned. This "pre-computer" card catalog absorbed countless hours and I regarded it as a "fun" hobby.

Later, in the nineties, I created, from scratch, a comprehensive checklist of comics featuring my friend Pat Boyette's macabre art work. I had to search-out, discover, buy, and index each comic book for the index. There was no hue and cry for a PB index, I was simply compelled to document my pal's contributions to the field.

After that, I joined apa-I, Jerry Bails' indexing-apa for comic fandom, and contributed to the aforementioned Grand Comics Database. It was my relentless indexing gene at play.

My friend, comics historian Robin Snyder, once decided to pose and definitively answer this question -- "Who is the 'King' of comic book scripters? Who has written the most comic book stories of all?"

Robin didn't half-ass-guess or simply estimate -- he painstakingly counted the scripts from each of the top contenders, and updated this race periodically in his newsletter The Comics. I'm not sure, but I think he's still counting -- although Paul S. Newman long been declared the favorite to win.

I greatly admire this sort of dedicated, near-unbelivable effort -- it's so, so, so satisfying to my indexing gene. I suppose it's the comic book equivalent of a baseball fan's fascination with sabermetrics.

Although I've earned a Master of Fine Arts, I've worked at Heritage Auctions as their Comic and Illustration Art Expert for nearly 10 years. Heritage serves up weekly SICA auctions, and also larger Signature Sales (roughly, four-times-a-year). Collectible comics have proven to be a gigantic "cash cow." Thus, the deadlines have grown unrelenting and ceaseless.

As a result of the demand, surely by now, I can claim the bold yet dubious bragging rights to having written the most descriptions of any original comic art cataloger in history. Someone, anyone, alert the Guinness Book of World Records.

But really, what are my hard numbers? Am I really "King?" I've decided to stake my claim to the tin-plated crown (or is it actually a dunce's hat?) with a tally of my Signature Auctions stats to date.

As of our last Signature Sale #7076 auction, I've written 13,431 Comic Art Signature Sale descriptions. My closest competition no doubt would come from my three co-workers/cubemates, who have been here as long -- really, longer -- than me.

However, Survey Says the number two man has logged only 7,442 (apparently, he's not trying harder). The number three cataloger polished off 2,569 descriptions -- and the fourth place finisher has written a yet more distant 1,635.

Dawg! Excuse me while I "toot my own horn" (cue a blazing Dizzy Gillespie-styled bebop riff). No one else is likely to. I have logged 1,795 more descriptions than all three of my co-workers combined (and that's not even folding in my substantial Illustration Art stats -- which you know I will -- later). Tah -dah! I'm number one! I'm number one!

Indexing my complete numbers will take a lot more obsessive work. I'll have to add in the stats for roughly 500 weekly sales -- 10 years worth.

For anyone still reading (anyone? anyone?) -- here's some other stats regarding my prodigious productivity (Can you tell it's time for my year-end review?).

I saved all my 2012 weekly descriptions in one Word document. While I don't know the number of lots described (yet) -- the word counter reveals I wrote 120,522 words, or 355 pages for these weekly sales.

Then there's the special sales, charity auctions, sundry Fine Art ,and photography lots -- and, and, and ---

Indexing, indexing, always indexing.....

That's how you get to be King -- or Dunce.

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