Two and a half months ago, more or less, my wife and I purchased a page of original art by Gabrielle Bell, author of When I’m Old And Other Stories (Alternative Comics, 2003), Lucky (D&Q, 2006), Cecil and Jordan in New York (D&Q, 2008), The Voyeurs (Uncivilized Books, 2012), and the forthcoming Travelogues (Uncivilized Books, 2014). How did this happen?
Each July for the past three years, Bell has set herself the task to produce a comics page a day, and has funded the project by selling the original art immediately after she has scanned it for book publication at a later date and posted a copy on her blog to enable her fans to follow her progress. As someone who follows Gabrielle Bell on Twitter, I, along with more than three thousand other people, had advance word that “July Diary 2013” was all systems go, and Bell’s daily tweet notifications enabled me to check out each new page very soon after it was posted — so long as I was at my computer at the right time, that is. And since the price per page this year was very reasonable — one hundred dollars, plus shipping and handling — I thought vaguely, pretty much right from the start, that I might attempt to buy one; however, as I watched the first several pages get snapped up by Bell’s fans, I realized I would have to pay attention and act quickly if I was going to be the first to complete the PayPal cart and secure my choice, if the right page should appear…
Well, fortunately for me, everything went just as I (sort of) planned it. I knew the page that I wanted as soon as I saw it on 18 July 2013, I didn’t let second thoughts hold me back, I just laid my money down. And here’s what I have to show for my “effort”:
[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]
Yes, the page is tiny, a mere six inches wide by eight inches tall, and the paper is thin, but according to Bell’s website, the materials are of reasonably good quality — acid-free graph paper and permanent black ink — so I would venture to guess that as long as the artwork is protected from the elements, it will probably disintegrate far more slowly and more gracefully than I will, even if I should live to a grand old age and keep all of the teeth and the lion’s share of the mane that I have left right now.
As you can see, the page is also signed and dated. I don’t know if Bell is in the habit of signing every page before it leaves her hands, but in this instance, I do know that I specifically requested that she sign it, and it arrived with her signature.
As for the content of the piece, well, let’s just say that the theme of ambition waylaid by self-doubt and wishful thinking speaks to me…
You can view a version of the 7-18-13 diary page that Bell has cleaned up with Photoshop on her blog. And if you want to read “July Diary 2013” from the beginning, click here and then simply follow the links just before the comments to browse forward in time.
Finally, Bell yesterday posted page one of her “Columbia Comicumentary” and is (again) selling the original art as she posts each page. The new pages are slightly more expensive than the “July Diary 2013” pages were, but even so, they are probably still under-valued when one considers Gabrielle Bell’s past accomplishments and growing stature in the world of comics.