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Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #91 is set for Thursday, December 10, 2009, and “The Old Professor” is really pulling out all the stops for this one. Comic art masters George Herriman, Frank Frazetta, Hank Porter and Hal Foster are just some of the artists whose work is featured this time around.

They are represented by a 1937 Krazy Kat Sunday, a 1965 “Loathsome Lore” page from Creepy (the first of only two of these pages done by Frazetta for the magazine), a beautiful Disney Christmas piece, and the sixth Prince Valiant Sunday page (dated 3/20/1937), respectively.

Of the Frazetta piece, Cochran said, “This is a significant pen and ink original from right around the same time period as his Canaveral Press Burroughs illos. From this point forward, Frazetta concentrated on oil paintings more than ink drawings.”

He described the Porter piece, a 1938 illustration, as “the greatest black-and-white Disney drawing of all time,” and offered details to back up that claim.

“I have been collecting, buying, and selling original comic art for more than 40 years now. I have seen many fine examples of original Disney strip art, including the very first Mickey Mouse daily strip (as well as #3 and #10). I have seen Donald Duck originals by Taliaferro (in the Sunday comics) and Carl Barks (in the comic books). I have seen the wonderful Snow White newspaper strip originals from 1938. The artist for the Snow White Sunday pages was Disney artist Hank Porter. Only two examples of original 1938 Snow White Sunday pages are known to exist; they are much rarer than the many known examples of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and they are, in my opinion, some of the very best art ever done for the comics,” Cochran said.

“The reason that the animals in this drawing look exactly like the animals in the movie is simple...it's the same artist. This masterpiece...and I do not use that word lightly...was created by Hank Porter in 1938 and was published with color added in a Christmas season issue of one of the weekly Sunday newspaper magazine sections, probably a Hearst paper like American Weekly, which came with the Sunday Hearst paper with the greatest lineup of comic strips at that time...Flash Gordon, Krazy Kat, Prince Valiant, Mandrake, The Phantom...the list goes on and on...Drawn and inked by Hank Porter in 1938, the inking of this page is simply perfect, stunning, and all other adjectives you can think of. This large (20"x16") ink drawing contains every technique known to comic art. Fine lines, cross-hatching, use of both black and white ink, use of scratching through lines (a la Herriman and DeBeck). This is it. I have spent weeks inside the Disney Archives when I was under contract to Disney in the 1980s. I've seen it all, and nothing matches this. If you want to own the single greatest piece of Disney black-and-white art of all time, this is the one. It is beautifully framed and ready to hang on your wall,” he said.

He also noted the historic importance of the Prince Valiant piece by Foster.

“This very important, historic original is the sixth Prince Valiant original. The young Val leaves his father and his home in the fens and ventures out on his first adventure, and is about to meet Horrit, the witch,” he said.

“Students of comic art have noted that around 1935, the quality of Hal Foster's Tarzan Sunday pages was a few notches below the extremely high standards he had set for himself with his masterful Tarzans of 1932 and 1933. His Tarzans were still great in 1934-1936, just not as wonderful as the earlier pages...and the reason for this was that in 1935 Foster decided to create an adventure character of his own, rather than continuing to illustrate someone else's character, like Edgar Rice Burroughs's character, possibly the most successful fictional character of all time, Tarzan of the Apes,” he said.

 

“So while this page is dated in March, 1937, it is safe to surmise that it was actually drawn by Foster in 1935 or 1936, as he prepared the first pages to show to his bosses at King Features. In my opinion, the first three years of Prince Valiant contained Foster's greatest work on the strip, and this page is an excellent example of that. Personally, I still prefer the 1932 and 1933 Tarzan pages for their originality and naivete; he has been quoted as thinking of his Tarzan pages as "making a living", and he sort of "knocked them out", not considering the comics as an important medium. When he started Prince Valiant, he obviously set out to create something grander than anything he had done previously. He got more serious about it...now it was his character and his story, not someone else's. And in that process his pages became more static, more "posed", and less free than his earlier work on Tarzan,” he said.

“His mastery of foliage and animals was evident in this page. His witch, Horrit, preceded the definitive witch in Snow White, and definitely influenced Graham Ingels' Old Witch for EC Comics. Here is Prince Valiant, starting on his first adventure!” Cochran said.

“This is the largest of all comic art originals, a huge 34" by 26", impressively matted and framed, a treasure for any collector of comic art,” he said.

Russ Cochran’s Comic Art Auction #91 closes Thursday, December 10, 2009.