Monday, July 28, 2014

Comic and Illustration Art Catalogues Showcasing Don Mangus Expertise

Here's a Don Mangus biography in an earlier Heritage Auction Comic and Comic Art catalog. Eventually the contributor biographies of the writers would be replaced by a less prestigious name-listing only. Only the employees at the top of the administration and sales hierarchy would be featured this prominently in the later catalogues.

This catalogue of endless Kelly Freas art lots almost did me in. His estate saved everything -- every scrap -- and sent it all in for consideration, without pruning. There was even a painted preliminary, done in acrylic paint on a thin piece of saran wrap-style sheet of food wrap plastic. I couldn't believe it.

This catalogue featured the personal art collection of the Elfquest creators, Richard and Wendy Pini. Their running commentaries about each offering had to be worked into my regular descriptions.

The unfortunate Ben Novack Jr. was murdered in a most cold-blooded fashion, and his wife, who initially tried to sell his collection, was ultimately convicted of the plot. The horrendous events have been chronicled in TV specials and well-known news accounts. It wasn't cutting-edge forensic police detective work that caught her -- as usual, a relative with a conscience turned her in. Novack's obsession with all things Batman approached a near-anxiety disorder, verging on hoarding.

This was a fun catalogue to write. As a young man, Hugh Hefner was an aspiring cartoonist. To this day, he has kept a running comic strip-styled series of autobiographical stories about his exploits. However, these were just the well-known magazine cartoons, all the readers' favorites -- featuring art by the best gag cartoonists in the field.

A group of investors bought the huge Charles Martignette collection of illustrations from his heirs. There was tremendous pressure to recoup their investment quickly, by offering up as many lots as possible in each illustration Art sale. At the time, I was also writing the weekly and Signature Comic Art sales, while these blockbuster sales added to my workload. If I had to do it all over again -- I wouldn't. While Martignette  had collected examples of every type of illustration imaginable, the big auction money was in his Pin-Up art, especially by Gil Elvgren. He was another hoarder.

Over a decade, I wrote Comic Art descriptions for over 50 large Signature Auction catalogs like this one -- which sports an iconic Fred Ray Superman cover. I estimate I handled and described over $62,000,000 worth of original art, using 6.5 million words. Added to that were the weekly online sales and catalogues for other auction venues like Fine Art, Illustration Art, Entertainment and Music, special charity catalogues, etc. It was a never-ending treadmill of deadlines for over a decade.

This was an opulent collection of Carl Barks Walt Disney duck character art. These whimsical paintings clock in with an average auction value of $100,000, or more, each. Wak!

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