Ed18 1At the Pulse, Hall of Fame artist Jim Steranko frets about a piece of art he gave to a friend’s academic collection that is now being cold on eBay:

In the 1970s, I gifted the art to the Harry “A” Chesler Collection at Fairleigh-Dickenson University because I was a friend of Harry’s for many years (with many visits to my home or his) and I helped structure the collection at his request.

Most of Harry’s original comics pages were drawn by obscure artists in the 1930-40s and were not particularly impressive by today’s standards. I felt that a major piece of my work would not only bring the collection up to date, but also give it a fundamental cornerstone upon which other material could be added and built. I selected the FOOM Poster because it was large, viewable, well-known, and visualized all the primary Marvel characters, the ONLY such piece I have ever done. To make it even more sensational and valuable, I hand colored the art. Harry seemed touched by the gift and it deepened our friendship significantly.

I assure you that Harry did NOT provide his art collection and a sizable annuity to FD to maintain it so they could sell it off; I say this because I was THERE, every step of the way. Harry had a vision that his collection would grow annually, funded by the interest of the $100K+ gift he had granted the school, into America’s most IMPORTANT comics-related art gallery and reference library on the subject. The FD administration assured him that his dream would be realized. Instead, beyond the initial dedication event, FD has NEVER done a thing of significance with the HAC Collection—until Harry died. Then, they began to sell it off. I protested bitterly with letters and phone calls, but was rebuffed with an explanation that “higher administration” had made the decision to liquidate much of the collection.

The art in question was originally a cover for Marvel’s in-house fan mag FOOM. The eBay listing is here.

[Link via Dirk]


  1. In fourth grade, this poster arrived in the mail as part of the F.O.O.M. membership packet. I used to have it hanging up on my bedroom wall – what a blast from the past. This is sad – Steranko is right to be very peeved.

  2. I remember going to a big comic art exhibit at FDU about 10-12 years ago. I wonder if this was the same collection? I’ll have to try to dig out the program book.

  3. This is sad. I misunderstood and thought the university was the organization selling it now. Apparently, they auctioned it off long ago. It’s now in the hands of someone who didn’t know what they were getting into. Here’s what it says in the eBay listing:

    There has been a campaign launched by the artist against the sale of this art. This should clarify any concerns. However, before we begin, allow us to inform you that this auction was temporarily removed by eBay ONLY because some of the dialogue were not within its guidelines. The dialogue was changed to comply with the parameters established by eBay and was successfully relisted as it is now and has been. Thank you.

    Now, in response to the artist’s smear campaign and pleas.

    1. Steranko gave away his drawing to a friend in the 1970s.

    2. Said friend donated it along with other comic drawings to an institution.

    3. After said friend’s death, institution auctioned, sold, gave away most of the comic drawings, including FOOM.

    4.One of a couple previous owners of the FOOM piece, passed on, leaving it to a friend and current owner.

    5. After the piece decorated the wall of gleeful children’s bedrooms (having previously thought it was a mere a repro poster until it had to be reframed and then discovered it was the original art board), the current owner, realizing its potential value after the boom of Marvel heroes being turned into extremely popular movies, decided to arrange a photo op with and a re-signing of the valuable art by the artist, Jim Steranko.

    6. Steranko, via his agent, now wanted his now valuable art back in his possession and refused to meet or sign until he was assured he could buy/own it again. An attempt for it to be silently and secretly purchased by/via his agent for a non-respectable ten percent of its minimum appraised value was declined by current owner.

    7. No mutual benefit could be struck, no hand-shakes given or cigars passed around; the meeting, signing and photo op was declined. Many subsequent emails were exhanged between artist and owner about it, but to no avail.

    8. Now the art is up for sale to the general public by the current and legal owner.

    9. Steranko launched a selfish (but understandable), shameful smear campaign to discredit the provenance of his own art and to interfere with its sale.

    10. We are sorry he feels this way. We are not a charity organization or an auction house.

    11. After many individual offers to purchase it from us (and lastly being appraised for a minimum of $45k) have been politely declined, we felt the eBay market is where most collectors can be aware of it, view it and have the opportunity to own it thorugh the practice of a fair, capitalist marketplace.

    T. Gautier: credited with being the first to adopt as a slogan, the phrase, “Art For Art’s Sake” or l’art pour l’art”.

  4. If he thinks that ten percent is non-respectable, what’s he going to think about the five percent that the eBay crowd seems willing to give him?

  5. “9. Steranko launched a selfish (but understandable), shameful smear campaign to discredit the provenance of his own art and to interfere with its sale.”

    How can Steranko’s actions be both shameful and understandable?

    If the “provenance” of this art does not include the paperwork about its “auction” by the university, it is not a real provenance. And what happened through the series of “previous owners” in step 4? Is there proof of the claims in point number six?

  6. I contacted this seller PRIOR to his posting what he calls the provenance of the piece. He provides no names to assuage anyone’s worry that this piece was initally procured under less-than-legit means when directly and privately questioned. In fact, he got upset that I questioned the sale in the first place. Sad, but it wouldn’t be the first time a fan made up an ugly reason to cover poor manners and lack of social grace.