So your favorite artist announces he/she is taking commissions, something done so rarely that you begin getting excited. You’ve a few hundred burning a hole in your pocket, and so you decide to drop him/her a line and bag yourself one. But now you have to decide what to get them to draw. Do you go for an iconic pose of the artist’s signature character, or a more obscure choice from an old personal-favorite comic? That old comic character you think the artist is a perfect choice to draw, but will probably never get the opportunity to? Or go crazy and get them to draw some crazy gag only you and your friends are privy to, some in-joke or fetish or shibboleth that’ll make you smile every time you see it?
If you’ve gotten into the expensive habit of buying original art, this may very well be a decision you’ve had to make a few times. I’m very much on the “getting the artist to draw their signature character” side of the fence. In the unlikely event of Mike Mignola ever taking commissions, I’d ask for a Hellboy, rather than going crazy and asking him to draw, I dunno, Speedball. Other artists might mean harder decisions, though: If Brian Bolland made this sort of announcement, sure, it’d be nice to get him to draw me a Dredd, but, hey, a Batman or a Joker would be pretty cool, too. Or a Camelot 3000 piece. Or a Wonder Woman. Or a King Mob.
These are the crazy thoughts that went through my mind after David Lapham announced a while back that he was accepting commissions. Sure, I loved the all-too-short-lived Vertigo title Young Liars, and all the transgressive crazies in its cast, but I’d find it hard not to ask for an Amy Racecar from Stray Bullets. And though I was never a Valiant Comics reader, I know there’s a devoted fanbase for them that knows him pretty exclusively for Harbinger. And any round of commissions will always include a few staples, Spider-Man, an X-man or two, and yeah, Batman and his rogues’ gallery. Lapham has been posting completed drawings at his blog, and there’s some crackerjack work (I love the Stray Bullets last supper) . And yeah, there’s some private jokes there, too: for some reason, Batman is drawn on London’s iconic BT Tower. And Jon Lovitz as the Master Thespian from those mid-’80s SNL sketches. What’s that all about? Anyway, seeing these reminded me mightily of how much I miss Stray Bullets. When’s that coming back again?