In these last few years, my comics spending habits have changed dramatically. I buy fewer titles from comic shops and more original art and prints directly from artists, without my annual budget changing that much. I'll blame social media for the shift: Once upon a time, original art sales were the preserve of agencies, and you couldn't help but wonder where your money was really going. Now savvy artists can market themselves for free using Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and then sell their own products with minimum fuss through a number of websites, like Redbubble or Society6, or by setting up their own storefronts using BigCartel or Shopify or a similar broker.
There's a human side to this change, too. First through blogs, and now through Twitter and Facebook, social media means you get to know artists like you couldn't even a decade ago. Barriers are broken; they invite you into their lives, you read as they fret about the day-to-day stuff. I suppose if I followed a load of farmers on Twitter I'd probably stop eating at McDonalds, but I don't. I follow British comic artists. Buying art from ethically sourced, free-range creators now makes more sense to me than buying factory-farmed, battery-cage comics.
Inspired by Brigid's '6 Creators to support on Cyber Monday" piece, here's my version: six U.K. artists selling stuff right now, including some things that could even make decent Christmas presents. They might even arrive in time, if you're quick.
Sometime Top Cow employee Matt Timson is selling an evocative digital print of his painting "The One Who Knocks," perfect for the Breaking Bad fan in your life still pining for the loss of their favorite show after that series' powerful finale. It's available here.
Robert Ball rightly won the Best Comic prize at the British Comic Awards ceremony for Winter's Knight, which I'd describe as Mike Mignola does Geoffrey Chaucer. His web store has a range of prints, and a comic compiling his superhero sketches. And when I say "sketches," I mean 'intensively labored-over vector drawings'. Like this recent commission:
You might know Simon Gane's work from his various assignments at Vertigo, or for producing Godzilla comics for IDW Publishing. Or you might know him for illustrating the pump-clip art for Burning Sky beers. But you should know him as the guy you buy meticulously rendered drawings from.
Simon Gurr sells a range of interesting stuff at his store: You could get the rationalist in your life a signed copy the biography of Charles Darwin he illustrated for Smithsonian Books; for fans of funky French polymaths, a print of his Serge Gainsbourg painting; or for that hard-to-buy-for astronomer, the amazing Star Wars-themed lunar calendar.
James Harvey recently answered a query on Tumblr on the scarce availability of his work by pointing to this Japanese publisher selling Masterplasty along with an offset poster print. For those content to read the online English-language version, Harvey also has quite the bargain to offer you: If you cover the postage costs, you can pay what you like for a magazine featuring an eight-page preview of Harvey's long-awaited graphic novel Zygote, and exclusive news of his upcoming project at Image Comics.