Karl Kesel has published a story on his FB page about a 10 page Challengers of the Unknown story that he and Art Adams did back in 2000. Kesel has the whole account but the short version is that neither he nor Adams ever got the art back from DC. However it was found for sale on a dealer’s website. While the dealer took the art down for sale when contacted by Kesel, he said he had gotten it from another dealer and didn’t return it.

So the art remains in a gray area. Kesel would like it returned but it’s provenance remains unknown. DC is very scrupulous about art returns so the whole story is a bit of a mystery. But there it is.


  1. If DC didn’t pay the artists for the lost art (“It must be around here somewhere!”) then they should buy it back from the dealer and find out where he got it from. If someone at DC is stealing art and selling it under the table then I should think that DC would want to know about that. IF DC never reported it stolen then they can’t just say give it back if the dealer acquired it in good faith from someone else. Unfortunately this happens. Back in the 1960s Al Williamson drew 3 issues of the King Features Flash Gordon comic under the condition that all of he art would be returned to him. The art for issue #1 disappeared and in the 1980s resurfaced in Italy. When Al contacted the collector he was told that he would return the art to Al only if Al would trade for it with one of his original Alex Raymond Flash Gordon pages. Al refused and he never got the art back but much of it was sold or traded to collectors in the US.

  2. James, I agree that this is DC’s problem, and they need to own it ( own the problem, not the art of course). And it would be a great PR move for DC to be seen doing the right thing, admitting mucking up, and buying/returning the art to the artist. It would reassure DC’s current and potential shining star artists, for one… they are watching this situation

  3. If the writer and artist were never paid for the work, then they still own the copyright on it. They can charge anyone who reproduces the art with copyright infringement. If the dealer is posting pictures of the art, he’s guilty of that and should be threatened with a letter from a lawyer.

  4. To be clear, they were paid for the work, and then paid again when DC lost it (equal to their original page rate, which for some art is more than it would sell for, but for this story is probably a lot less). To me, that means DC should take the lead on recovering it, since they have documentation that it didn’t go through the normal art return process, and should be interested in finding the source and any other work that was stolen at that time.

  5. And if, as Kesel indicates, this was a regular problem then, not an isolated incident, then DC should probably have some sort of list, either public or circulated privately to major “reputable” art dealers and auction houses, of stolen art so that honest people can avoid dealing in stolen goods and pass along leads to DC if they’re offered those pages.

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