Review by C.J. Bunce
You’ll find yourself quoting Navin Johnson’s “The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!” if you happen to order the new third edition of Jerry Weist’s The Comic Art Price Guide, Illustrated Guide with Price Range Values. This book is huge.
Collecting original comic, newspaper strip, and science fiction and pulp art has come a long way since Jerry Weist published the original price guide back in 1992 with Weist’s Original Comic Art: Identification and Price Guide, and this edition is a triumph over both the original and the 2000 second edition The Comic Art Price Guide. Because tracking and recording sales of original art is far more difficult than collecting comic books themselves even this edition cannot be compared to a comprehensive guide like Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide, but it is a good start. This edition illustrates a real gap in the art collecting hobby: with a book like Overstreet you have hundreds of contributors nationwide. With Weist’s Price Guide you get the impression only a small staff was available and that a lot was drawn from Weist’s own auctions and collection as opposed to spanning a wider source.
Even on the Web you can track sales at great websites like www.romitaman.com, www.splashpageart.com or even eBay. Unfortunately there does not appear to be one repository or collector group of comic art sales prices, at least none that have filtered into this Guide.
The best update to this edition is the many included illustrations of art pages and pulp art covers, and dozens of pages of original newspaper comic strips. It also has interesting preface material including background on Weist and the history of this specialized collecting niche.
The negative is the cumbersome, oversized volume itself, which rivals any big city phone book. The second edition was handier. I also am not a fan of listings by artist as the only way to track values. With computer databases so easily created today you would think a directory by character or title could be included. Also, the price ranges are so broad you can only get an inkling of an artwork’s value. As an entry point to art collecting, the Guide is useful. As an enthusiast or just a reader you just wish it was far more comprehensive.
One glaring chunk missing from the Guide that hopefully will be remedied if someone takes on future guides is contemporary mainstream artists–well known artists whose art fetches hundreds of dollars per page today are just not included. The Guide pretty much sticks to familiar Golden and Silver Age artists and only the biggest of the more recent artists, such as Jim Lee, are included.
Unfortunately you will also learn in the preface material that Mr. Weist passed away earlier this year, so unless the publisher continues under a different name, this third edition is also the last edition of the Weist Price Guide. Weist’s own auctions continue though his original auction house and borg.com will be discussing the Heritage Auctions sale of Weist’s own collection later this week.
The book begins with a nice memorial to the author, followed by the author’s explanations of the philosophy behind this guide and understanding price ranges. The main part of the guide is divided into the three art subjects: newspaper strip art, original comic book art, and science fiction and pulp art. The book is chock full of photos of original art, and you’ll spend hours going through it, even the photos in the several advertisements. Even with its scope missing so much that is out there, the Guide is slowly getting better with each edition.
The Comic Art Price Guide, by Jerry Weist. Third Edition. Softcover Trade Edition $29.95. 574 pp.
Available only from Ivy Press via Heritage Auctions at this link.