Thursday, November 27, 2008

Common sense and buying/selling/trading original comic art

Happy Thanksgiving! I'd like to give thanks for the great art that we are all collecting. Hope everyone has a safe and prosperous new year, and everyone gets that grail original comic book art piece they are seeking. ;)

burton @


Many novice collectors over the years have asked me for suggestions to prevent trouble in their dealings. Here's a short list of things I tend to keep in mind (and come to mind as I ramble). If you have other ideas, please add your comments.

1. Know who you are dealing with as best as you can if you are dealing outside of eBay or your "known source". If you are a collector, ask around with your other art contacts or art collecting friends. If buying from another art collector with their own website, has the collector and site been around a while? Do you know anyone that may have owned the piece(s) that the source is now selling?

2. Get as much specifics as you can down in writing if the deal is a trade or involves time payments. What happens if you can no longer complete payment? What happens if you change your mind? From the dealer perspective, we hate flakey people esp when they say one thing and do another (ie. verbally agree to something, then back out). In most cases, a verbal agreement can be binding in a court of law. If you aren't sure, don't agree yet. Other questions... How soon is payment expected? Are there specific dates that payment needs to be sent? Will I get artwork after the last payment is received? etc.

3. Confirm what exactly you are picking up before you start the deal. Is it all original art or are there stats, paste-ons, zipotone, etc which make this less than what you visually expected? Is it a print or truly original hand drawn artwork? Is this the original published piece? With the advent of artists inking over blue-line copied pages or drawings, make sure it is exactly what you are seeking. Also look out for commissioned pieces. Scans don't always tell the whole story so ask about white out, aging of the paper if the art is not current (many times yellow with aging), type of ink or markers (ie. I've seen some 90s artwork that was inked by magic marker, and guess what, black marker ink can fade to brown or reddish brown ink later on), etc.

4. Confirm your shipping terms and method of packing and shipping. Is it gonna be rolled up in a tube when it shouldn't? Will it be shipped flat so the art isn't mashed? Will the artwork be securely bagged before packed, in case your delivery person leaves it out in the rain? What does the shipping cost include?

5. Use common sense. If it's too good to be true, be skeptical too. But at least ask to get details to be sure you are getting what you want. If you don't ask, you'll never know and maybe you'll regret not asking as you miss out on that grail. :)

Most legitimate dealers and collectors can handle the simple and honest questions so fire away. Have fun collecting and enjoy the hobby. The friends you'll meet along the way will be worth it esp when it comes to adding that "last" piece to your collection. ;)


One more thing. Here's a sad story that I just read and wanted to remind everyone about. Use caution when working out deals, use caution down to the last detail including how you ship your artwork or collectible (valuables). You can't over apply common sense. Read the fine print. I hate hearing about these kind of stories but a lesson can be learned.

Shipping by UPS: In The Wrong Hands

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