Grail Pages

Grail Pages

Grail Pages – Original Comic Book Art and The Collectors

by Steven Alan Payne

TwoMorrows Publishing

Some people refuse to keep anything they haven’t used in a year, while others can’t dispose of a gum wrapper. I fall somewhere in between – tools and music and sound effects and puzzles clutter my life, and I sympathize with the Comic Book Art collectors in Grail Pages. They found the task of collecting the entire X-Men series in neatly organized plastic bags too tame, and tackled the bigger challenge of assembling all the original art for a single issue. While the original art was never highly regarded, it lurks out there and with time, money, and luck, you can take a shot at a complete Daredevil #53 or an Astonishing X-Men #34.

Grail Pages interviews a few dozen collectors, and this graphic novel-sized book shows the B&W art that these fanatics seek along with their individual stories. Mixed with effusive praise for the sketchers and inkers, the book settles into its rhythm by chapter three. The stories are nearly all the same: “I loved the books when I was a kid, I bought a sheet for chump change at a convention years ago, and now I’m hooked and spend all my spare cash on it.” The graphics are amazing, even if they do tend to run to men with their underwear outside their pants and the impossibly pneumatic female victims. There’s a lurid quality to comic art, particularly the classic DC and Marvel stuff of the ’70s to ’90s, and getting clean print of them to examine is part of the charm of this book. The downside of Grail Pages is the repetitious stories about needing to network to get the really good stuff and the secretive business of cost coupled with constant mention of what this or that piece might bring at auction. When you have nothing else to brag about, there’s always money and the great deal you got back in 1978.

I came away from this with mixed feelings. I do understand the collecting bug, and while comic art isn’t my thing, the sketches are wonderfully detailed, wonderfully absurd illustrations of a fantasy world. The interviews with inkers and artists offer insight into a cutthroat business that produced what might turn out to be the enduring art of the 20th century. But the collector stories pretty much sound the same after a while, and unlike collecting coins or military memorabilia, I don’t get a sense that this collectible leads to a greater understanding of history or cultural aspects of the era that produced the Golden and Silver age of comics. Buy this book for the pictures, and skim the text. Here, each picture tells much more than 1,000 words of Grail Pages’ text.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Halloween Nuggets
    Halloween Nuggets

    Halloween Nuggets (Liberation Hall). Review by Charles D.J. Deppner.

  • RoboCop Steelbook
    RoboCop Steelbook

    Computerized police work in 1987? What could possibly go wrong? Carl F. Gauze reviews.

  • Memoria

    Winner of the Jury Prize of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria subtly draws viewers into a connective reality shaped by the sounds and images emerging from the unknown. Lily and Generoso share their thoughts on the film, currently touring North America.

  • Say Goodnight, Gracie
    Say Goodnight, Gracie

    Lose a job? Eh, there’s always another one. Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • New Music Now 007: crêpe girl
    New Music Now 007: crêpe girl

    Episode 007 features new music by Jack White, Snail Mail, and crêpe girl, and 2 sweet Yoko Ono covers from Stephin Merritt and Deerhoof. Stick around for joy!

  • Hot Water Music
    Hot Water Music

    Feel The Void (Equal Vision Records). Review by Charles D.J. Deppner.

  • Watcher

    Chloe Okuna’s new thriller Watcher is an immersive journey into fear. Review by Phil Bailey.

  • From Here
    From Here

    A mass shooting changes the world, but not the people in it.

  • True West
    True West

    Two brothers attempt to get into movies without killing each other. It’s a close call.

  • In The Heights
    In The Heights

    A lottery ticket and a blackout shift a man’s life in the New York Hispanic community.

From the Archives