Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Tales from the Marketplace: That Hulk Cover
What the hell is this unpublished Hulk cover by Todd McFarlane doing here? Maybe it's because Dave parodied Todd and his spawn, Spawn, near the end of the Cerebus series. Or maybe not. OK, so here is the story. Ever since 1982, when I bought my first piece of original art (Cerebus #29 p 19, see an earlier post), I had maintained what I claimed at my web site: "Welcome to the Collection. I collect what I like. I like it because it is cool art. I could give a rat's ass about the investment value. It is cool art. I do not trade. I do not sell. I do buy." You see: I'm a collector. A legacy-generator. It's genetic. I spent most of my formative weekends cruising Flea Markets in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts with my parents (back when you could walk through the wooded glens and see actual antiques and other estate sale goodies scattered on the ground). I learned to barter like a Ferengi. There were still treasures to be found (ahhh... a near mint copy of "Tales to Astonish #1" for its 10-cent cover price. And, of course, the ones that got away. Sigh. Oh, right, where was I?) OK, so a few people have tried to talk me into trades over the years, and I just politely said no, I don't do drugs, I mean, trades. Then someone tagged the McFarlane page. I originally picked that piece up because I thought it was quite unique. I really don't much like McFarlane's drawing style, but I loved the composition of this cover. I almost kept the cover just for the upper right panel - that brow-stare is really cool, very "Hulk," it would be a terrific standalone. I originally bought the page from Mike (romitaman.com) Burkey in early 1998 for $1200 (Hi, Mike). So, when someone (sorry, I forget who it was) wanted the McFarlane cover, and asked me what I wanted, particulary if I could have anything out there that was available (but for whatever reason had not already purchased), I did think about it. I don't recall the asking price, but the uber-cool color montage from 1979 was available. It was expensive enough that no one was buying it (not even me, so what does that tell you?). Well, this someone wanted the Hulk cover because, as I recall, someone else had something that he wanted, and he was negotiating one of these wonderful domino deals that original art geeks are so well known for. So he did it. Scored the color piece and the nifty-keen splash page to issue #7, which I also liked quite a bit. And on February 15, 2003, after a couple of days of just staring at the McFarlane page and wondering if I could actually go through with it, I pulled the trigger and did the trade. Here's a great postscript, and why I am talking about it today: the page is back at Mike's site (right now, 04/19/06) listed as "on hold" (thanks for the alert, Jeff aka amazingcomicart.com), for $6000. Jeff wrote later and recalled that Ken monsterscollectibles.com had this at his trade site with a $10,000 value tag on it in 10/2004 ("This unpublished version of the cover is far superior to that ridiculous Larsen cover that was used. I just want to ask- Why??? That being said, this is easily one of the best McFarlane Hulk covers ever done. You certainly will not be able to find a better one."). I guess it's good to recycle. I now have an asterisked note at my web site, attached to the no-longer-true statement that "I do not trade.*" And after seeing this, maybe I'm not that good a Ferengi after all. Ca va. I got what I wanted.