Friday, September 28, 2012

Martian Manhunter figure sketch by Kevin Maguire

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The oldest piece of original Martian Manhunter art that I own has had the longest wait to making it onto the blog. In the early days of eBay, you could get comic art for a song, because no one understood the market back then. It probably didn't help the selling price when pieces like this came along-- a supposed, unverified full figure sketch attributed to Justice League International's Kevin Maguire, selling for somewhere between $20-40 by auctions end. I won it, scanned it, and it held a prominent place on my Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA WebTV site for most of its life.

A major factor in the lengthy holdout is that the years have not been kind to the art. Drawn on cheap sketch paper, which was probably never better than off-white to begin with, faded to gray and on to yellow-brown. The pencils were always light, but are now practically invisible at a distance. If it is a legitimate Maguire, the style employed here would date it in the late '80s/early '90s, before Maguire followed the popular trend of giving J'Onn an enormous brow, elaborate cape clamps, and a bulkier body type. I bought it sometime around '98 or '99, and it has spent most of that time in a discount store frame exposed to all manner of unhealthy lighting and low quality cardboard backing that have degenerated it further. The flimsy paper responds poorly to scanning, and I've given up on dolling it up to the usual standards for posting on the blog.

While I'm fond of the piece, I've basically been waiting for the right inker to come to town to embellish it, hopefully with a can of one of those sprays that helps reduce acidity. I don't have the balls or the skill to attempt any sort of chemical preservation of my own. I did photocopy the sketch way back when, using it as a base while I cycled through dozens of attempted costume revisions I will likely bore you folks with in the future, now that posting the original art has "unlocked" that option. There's a sense of closure to finally getting this published and on the internet again that's really swell to find in the course of an anniversary celebration. If there are any fans from way back when who missed this being present on the web, I'm sorry to return it in such a state. I really like that this is my Martian Manhunter, bearing the likeness I was introduced to in toy form by Kenner, though he looks as downcast as I am about his current state.

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