Jamie has collected original comic book art since the 70s. The luxury of living in San Diego during the early San Diego Comic Con years provided ample collecting opportunity. One of his most pronounced art pieces is a pre-code horror cover from 1952. Purchased at the SD Con in the late 70s, Jamie has retained it in his collection to the present day. He paid $35.00 for the cover! Now, comic art in the 70s was not held in the same regard as the art market holds art in the new millenium. Jamie collected Atlas horror comics in the 70s-80s and saw the Astonishing cover as a cool supplement to his comics. $35 was a fair price for something collectors seemed less interested in back then.
The art was stored or displayed in Jamie’s apartment at various times. Unfortunately, and this is where the story gets interesting, the art was targeted by a pet bird and suffered chew damage before Jamie discovered it. He rescued the page from further damage, but he almost tossed it because it appeared worthless, certainly less valuble than the $35 investment. But he kept it. Instead, he stored it in an old suitcase along with other memorabilia for years.
Jamie and Gino opened their store in the late 90s. Some of the start-up money came from their own collections going up for sale. Jamie dug around his storage containers and found the long-forgotten Astonishing #9 cover art. Opting not to sell it he kept it around intending to do something with it eventually. Skip forward to the year 2002, Jamie drove up to art dealer Tom Horvitz’s home to discuss an art deal. While there, he and his two accompanying friends got a chance to see much of Tom’s art. Pretty impressive! Included in his selections was some Russ heath stuff. Jaime had always been a fan of Russ’s art. Tom said he represented Heath as an art agent. He even offered to let them meet him! He made a phone call to Russ and Russ was at Tom’s apartment in less than 15 minutes! COOL! They were hanging out with Russ Heath! But it gets better! After some conversation and and a display of Heath art for sale he recalled he already owned some Heath art. He told Russ and Tom about the damaged Astonishing cover. Heath said he could probably redraw the missing corner the bird chewed off. Jaime made a call to home to his wife and she e-mailed a quick photo of the cover to Tom’s computer. He and Russ looked it over and made a quick business decision. For $300 Russ would draw a replacement corner. Then, Tom would ship the art and Russ’s drawing to the midwest to Roger Hill. Roger set a price to affix the replacement corner to the original cover. He also set a cost for creating and mounting all the missing stats. Referring to the 2 photos above you can see the older, darker cover paper. Notice the newer, whiter cover paper at the bottom, right corner? That’s the new art that Russ drew to fix the cover. Compare it to the xerox of the original, undamaged art in the bottom photo and you can see how accurate Russ was–50 years later! Now, for those of you still paying attention you may have realized that the same artist had now worked on the same page of art twice–50 years apart! How cool is that!? The art took about 1 year to return from Roger. To paraphrase the title of the cover, Jaime was “astonished” to see the finished product. Below is a xerox of the cover as it existed before the corner damage
Jaime still has the cover. It has to be one of the coolest pages around.