For each of the last three years, I’ve looked at the catalog for the Paris Christie’s auction of European comic art. The last one was back in the spring and — surprise — we’re getting a second one this year! It’s happening this Saturday, November 19th. You can download a full PDF of the catalog through that link, as well, and follow along.
Done in conjunction with the Daniel Maghen Gallery once again, there’s a lot of the same featured artists, along with a few new surprises along the way.
And, of course, there are a few pieces with ridiculously high prices that we’ll get to. There’s also some artists I didn’t know before who this auction introduced me to, and some artists whose work looks even better in stark black and white than in its traditional colored and printed version.
Let’s take a look at the auction by some specific artists:
You can never have enough Smurfs, even if it’s not a sequential story page. Can’t go wrong with a “Spirou” cover image, though, can you?
I mean, sure, I’d rather have a panel page, but if I had $40,000 to burn today, this isn’t a bad way to go. I can always trade up later.
I’m not a Tintin guy. I know lots of people adore it, but I couldn’t get into it. I try every few years, but it doesn’t work for me. I know I’m in the minority, though, because any time a Herge piece comes up for bid, people go crazy.
This auction is no different. Above is a single panel drawing that’s expected to go for tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a patch panel. As much as I can understand what the French explanation says, Herge moved some panels around in the story for a reprint, and needed this extra drawing to fill out a space. This one panel is still separated and is now up for sale on its own. It’s about 4.5 x 2.5 inches.
Herge drew it in the late 40s, though, so it’s expected to go for over $15,000.
On the other hand, there’s this whole page.
Not a Tintin fan, like I said, but even I can recognize that the “Destination Moon” story is one of the most popular and famous from the series. I knew this one would sell for a big number. They’re listing it at up to $430,000 dollars. Tintin isn’t even on this page. I bet it goes for over $500,000 by the time it’s done. These Tintin pages always overshoot estimates.
I much prefer Franquin’s earlier work to his later more stylized graphic look he he did for “Spirou.” That’s why I particularly enjoyed his “Gaston” pages here. The catalog reprints them nice and large, so you can look deeply at every fold in the clothing, variation in the ink line, and position of the fingers on each hand. Every detail is interesting, including where he chooses to feather his lines and add little texture marks.
A full page of his work is set to run in the $80,000 range, while a half page is available for a mere $40,000, for those of you on a budget.
That’s Franquin’s work on the front cover of the catalog, as well, from what was once a “Spirou” cover. Yes, the cover that says “Long live the spring!” is in the fall auction. The original art for this piece is estimated to go for more than $50,000 on the low end.
Albert Uderzo: More Than Asterix
It wouldn’t be one of these auctions without Uderzo pieces, and this time around it’s a page from “Asterix in Spain.” As you might expect, that will be a six figure auction. The presumed final price range is upwards of $200,000. Yes, this means Tintin beats Asterix in this particular measurement. Bah!
There are also examples of other works by Uderzo in the auction. I don’t know much about those other books, but the art is filled with life and gesture. The Oumpah-Pah page looks great, and is packed with characters. It’s expected to sell for somewhere in the $40,000s area. The other page from “Jehan Pistolet”, which is kind of a cowboys and Indians page, is less than half that. Still — Uderzo!
He uses two names so he has two different sections in the auction catalog. Under Jean Giraud, you get four different “Blueberry” pages, all of which look beautiful. If all you’ve ever seen are his Moebius pages, check out how different his work could look in this more inky, brushy version. It looks closer to Joe Kubert and Neal Adams. These pages were done in the 1970s, maybe that just makes sense. It was the style of the day.
If I were the type of buyer who was into this work and could spend this kind of money, I’d go with the page that has this panel, though, because I’m a nut for great backgrounds and architecture:
When you get further into the catalogue and you hit the Moebius work, the style is more in line with those crazy designs and thin ink lines you’d expect from his name. I’m surprised the prices aren’t higher for these Incal pages. They’re only going for just over $10,000, in the early estimates. Those “Blueberry” pages are estimated to sell for twice as much.
Over the summer, “Spirou” magazine (“Le Journal de Spirou”) published a multi-part Lucky Luke story written and drawn by Bonhomme. I have to admit that I’ve only read the first couple parts so far, but it’s seriously good stuff. I’m hoping there’s an English translation on its way, because it’s slow for me to read with all the Google Translating work I require. (Though, the more I do, the less I need to do. I must be learning or something.)
That story has become its own “Lucky Luke” volume now, and this is the cover for it. It’s beautiful, and it can be yours if you’ve got a little more than $10,000 to spare.
The thing about the French and their science fiction is that they like to think vertically. Picture the cities in “The Fifth Element” or what we’ve seen in the upcoming “Valerian” movie.
OK, maybe it’s just Luc Besson.
In any case, “Orbital” fits that mold quite nicely. Check out this image from the sixth volume in the series.
The estimates on this one put it under $10,000. If we can go back to playing the game of “What Would Augie Buy If He Had a Spare $10,000,” I think this is the best bet of the auction. I think the “Lucky Luke” cover would be a close second, but I think this one will sell more cheaply. We’ll see in a few days…
You can read my Orbital review here, as well. Highly recommended.
Of course, “Blacksad” makes a return appearance. It is, of course, well known that Guarnido has a Disney background. Never has that been more evident than it has in the page that’s in this auction for $10,000- $12,000. Just check this part of the page out:
It’s been a few years since I read this book, but I’m guessing Cinderella appears on the next page.
The Usual Gang
If you’ve read these auction reports before, you know who else to expect. Yes, there are more “Largo Winch” and “XII” pages in there. Milo Minara has a few pieces. Regis Loisel has more Peter Pan to give the world. A single page from Francois Schuiten is shoe-horned in here, too.
There are also lots of unfamiliar names, some of whom make amazing work and gorgeous images. But that might be a post for another day. I don’t want to go too long here.
Plus, we need to spotlight one more artist, who gets his own book:
There’s a second book in this auction. Last year, it was a Tintin collection they were selling. This year, it’s the works of Jean-Pierre Gibrat, the amazing painter whose work has been a highlight of auctions past, and whose work is being translated by IDW in January.
There are just under 20 pieces up for auction here. The book comes with a short interview with Gibrat, which is helpfully (if not flawlessly) translated into English. Also, Gibrat’s commentary on each piece for sale has been reprinted in the back of the book in English alongside a small reproduction of each image.
The Gibrat catalog is magnificent as an art book all unto itself, and having the extra pages means more larger reproductions of the art for sale. The art starts at $10,000 and goes up into the $40,000 range for the bigger and more detailed pieces.
Gibrat’s eye for detail and light is his strongest asset. He’s doing a period piece here, set in World War II. Everything feels right, from the technology of the time to the fashion and the textures of the clothes that people wore at the time. It’s not “photorealistic,” per se, but it feels real.
Look carefully at the pages in this book and see where the light sources are. That’s what helps things to feel so real, I think.
Window light is always good light for a picture.
More to Come
The auction is this Saturday, and you can bet I’ll be back with an update with the results from some of the pieces you see here.
BleedingCool.com points out that there are two other similar auctions happening this week. I’ve flipped through their catalogues. One is more magazine style with lots of editorial pieces and art broken into genres. The other feels more like the Christie’s catalogue, but with a much more haphazard design style, where lot descriptions are occasionally not even on the same page as the art.
But I’ll give Artcurial credit for having the best Peyo piece of the three: