Above: A sketch by Dave Stevens
by Arnie Fenner
I had mentioned in a post sometime back about how fanzines were unique collectibles, true "limited editions" that aren't really on most people's radar screens. When compared to prices for out of print (or first edition) titles in the book world, fanzines (with press runs ranging from a few hundred to, at most, a few thousand) are absolute bargains. And they're something of a guerilla history of both the fantasy/comics/science fiction community and of various artists' careers.
I feel the same way about the artist sketchbooks that have become popular convention items in recent years. Some are elaborate productions with full color pages and hardcover bindings, others are b&w and saddlestitched with self-covers. Regardless of which, virtually all of them have something of interest to art fans. With even smaller press runs (on average 500 to 1000 copies) they tend to disappear quickly and escalate in price rapidly on the secondary market (Bruce Timm's early Xeroxed® sketchbooks go for big bucks). But speculation (or avarice) isn't the only reason to snag the sketchbooks when they're available at a show: buying them direct is a great way to support the artists and encourage them to do more. When you also consider that there are many gems to be found in this booklets—everything from pin-ups to SF to monsters to superheroes and everything in between—that most likely can't be found anywhere else, a few bucks is a good investment all the way around.
And, of course, if you can't attend a show where your favorite artists are set up, chances are good that you can visit their websites and still snag copies before prices go crazy on ebay.
Above left: Adam Hughes
(Adam always signs his sketchbooks on the cover with "AH!")
Above right: Chris Sanders
(yup, the director of How to Train Your Dragon
and The Croods
Dave Stevens (Dave, who passed away in 2008, was among the first to do convention sketchbooks; Bud Plant
has the remaining copies of Dave's original series.)
Above right: William Stout
(Bill was also one of the pathfinders when it came to producing sketchbooks to sell during his convention appearances.)