I’m on the mailing list for Heritage Auctions due to the fact that I’d hired them to sell a few items for me back in 2010, sales which paid for my trip to that year’s Melbourne Worldcon. I love getting those emails from them, because it’s always fun to see what others are selling that I could never possibly afford. And what makes me salivate the most is always the original art rather than the comics.
This week I was alerted to a couple of auctions, still ongoing, of the complete originals to two EC Comics stories which, in a sad coincidence, may be more interesting to some than they would have been a couple of weeks ago—because they’re both based on stories written by the late Ray Bradbury.
Over on Facebook, before either of us had looked at the estimated final bid price for that Krigstein tale, Joel Pollack tossed out an extremely high estimate of what he felt the work should go for, and I agreed. We both thought the Krigstein to be the more important work. And according to the Heritage site:
[Bhob] Stewart praised it as the greatest comics story of all time, and Bradbury himself was moved enough to write EC: ”’The Flying Machine’ is the single finest piece of art-drawing I’ve seen in years. Beautiful work; I was so touched and pleased.”
And yet … and yet … the current bid for the Krigstein is running at around half the Wood, and if—by the time the auctions are finished—the Heritage estimates are correct, it will end up selling for around a fifth of the Wood. And I’m wondering … why? Because at one time, I believe, it would have been different. And so I feel a need to ask—
Is the world forgetting Bernard Krigstein?
Is the generation of the ’50s who revered him for “Master Race,” which many consider the greatest of all EC Comics stories, dying off, while Wood’s fans linger on because that artist’s work on the superhero comics of the ’60s is keeping his memory alive? Or does it perhaps have nothing to do with artists themselves, but rather everything to do with the story subjects, and art about Mars and rocket ships will always be more desired than art about Chinese emperors?
Or do people simply like the original Bradbury story “Mars is Heaven!” better? (Personally, I consider “The Flying Machine” to be the greater tale. The only Bradbury story that moves me more is “The Picasso Summer.”)
Or maybe Krigstein has become a “you hadda be there artist,” and if you didn’t live through his time (which I didn’t, but then, I’m strange), it becomes difficult to grasp his importance. (Not that $9,500 is anything to sneeze at, but still … comparisons are odious, as they say.)
What do you think?
In any case, I’ll be watching these two auctions with more than the usual interest. Because I suspect the lopsided Wood/Krigstein prices are indicative of what is waiting for all of us … that we’ll eventually be swallowed up by time.