Saturday evening at the Chicago Comic-Con, Comix 4 Sight held an auction to benefit comics industry veteran John Ostrander. Ostrander, who created “Grimjack” for First Comics (and now published by IDW) and had legendary runs on DC’s “Suicide Squad” and “The Spectre,” has been struggling with glaucoma for 25 years and has recently become allergic to his medication. He recently underwent an expensive surgery to save his eyesight, a procedure that will also require follow-up visits. But in recent weeks the comics community has rallied behind him in support, with “Wonder Woman” and “Secret Six” writer Gail Simone playing a large role in soliciting items for the auction.
First Comics founder and longtime Ostrander friend Mike Gold led the auction, assisted by Glen Hauman of Comic Mix, WGN Radio’s Charlie Meyerson (who was killed in an issue of “Hawkworld”), and program coordinator Adrian Nash. A barefooted Zatanna showed each item around the room.
In total, approximately 50 items were sold Saturday night for a total of just over $13,250. The organization has also raised more than $15,000 in cash donations. More items will be auctioned online at comix4sight.com. If proceeds exceed what is needed for Ostrander’s surgery, the remaining funds will be donated to the Hero Initiative.
The first few items sold for fairly low bids, with a signed set of Dave McKean UK postage stamps going for $43 and a Roger Langridge “Gonzo as Davros” sketch sold – to this reporter – for $90. A t-shirt of “Munden’s Bar,” the anthology series in the back of “Grimjack,” signed and sketched upon by many creators including Brian Bolland, Jill Thompson, Joe Staton, and Jim Valentino went for $50.
There was considerable interest in a sketch of Green Lantern Hal Jordan by George Perez, which was donated by “Blackest Night” writer Geoff Johns. It sold for $175.
Mike Grell’s promotional art for a Jon Sable/Batman crossover that never quite materialized sold for $450, becoming the first big ticket item of the evening. The next lot, Phil Hester’s cover to “Nightwing” #111, sold for $300, making it the second-highest item at that time.
Kenneth F. Levin, who helped negotiate Marvel Comics’ recent acquisition of Marvelman (previously called Miracleman in the US), came to the stage to auction an artists’ proof of Randy Bowen’s Miracleman statue that was given to Alan Moore. The winning bidder would also get a personalized inscription of his or her choice by Neil Gaiman. This item sold for $1225.
There were also several pieces of artwork created for the auction, including a Hillary Barta sketch of Foodie the Majicker from Munden’s Bar ($150), a Neal Adams Captain America sketch ($250), and a Jim Lee sketch of Batman and Wolverine ($400). Jill Thompson offered a watercolor commission of the winning bidder’s choice, which sold for $275.
Gene Ha’s cover to “The Spirit” #32, a signed copy of the finished issue, and an additional sketch by Ha created during the auction sold for $750. The cover of “Starslayer” #14, Tim Truman’s first cover art, also sold for $750.
When an unpublished watercolor of Concrete by Paul Chadwick came up, Ostrander examined it and then danced out of the room with it. “If you don’t bid on this, you’re INSANE!” he shouted upon returning. The painting sold for $325.
Mark Bagley’s pencil cover to “Ultimate Spider-Man” #106 and Terry Dodson’s cover to “Countdown” #40 each sold for $500. Terry Moore’s cover to “Echo” #8 netted $400, and Francis Manapul’s “Wonder Woman” #32 cover sold for $800.
The highest winning bid was $1300 for an original Batman vs. Hawkman piece pencilled by Andy Kubert and inked by Joe Kubert in one of the last lots to be auctioned Saturday evening.
To close out the event, Ostrander came to the front of the room to give a few words of thanks. “A fan came up to me today and apologized that he could only give $20 to the Paypal account,” Ostrander said. “The only thing I’ve ever expected [by way of support from fans] was when they buy the book and they like it. When someone gives $20, that’s amazing.” He added, “I feel like George Bailey at the end of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.'”
A full list and photos for all auction items can be found at comix4sight.com, and new online auctions will be posted soon.