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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Travis Ellisor shares his favorite commission pieces with DC in the 80s

Just in case you missed part 1 of this article: Travis Ellisor, curator of the Mostly Comic Art tumblr blog, told us his history of collecting original comic book art and artist commissions, the DOs and DON'Ts of shopping for original comic book art/commissions and the importance of crediting artists when posting comic book art on online. This was the second part of our conversation...

DC in the 80s: Can you pick a few of your personal favorite commissions you own and tell us the significance?

Travis Ellisor: Picking my favorites is really difficult to do, because I love them all for different reasons. But some that I’m really loving today:

Karate Kid vs Batman - illustrated by Norm Breyfogle and colored by Simon Gough
Norm is my all-time favorite Batman artist and I was lucky enough to get this from him at a show a few years ago. Norm was super-nice and a pleasure to talk to. When I first made my wish list of artists and characters I wanted for my “Karate Kid vs.” collection, this was at the top of my list and I couldn’t have been happier when I received it.


The Legion of Substitute Heroes by Tom Fowler
Tom is one of the best artists in the world, and he honestly gets the appeal of the Subs. This one started out as a piece for a Heroes Con auction, but Tom didn’t finish it in time and so I paid him to finish it for me.



Batman Family - illustrated by Nate Stockman and colored by Simon Gough (this image is HUGE: see it all at http://www.comicartfans.com/gallerypiece.asp?piece=1137256)
This one started as a commission of all of the Robins, but kept expanding until it included all of the Batgirls, Batwomen and Batmen. It is the largest commission I own and it measures almost seven feet long! Nate and Simon went above and beyond on this piece.


'Batsman' by Daniel Govar
'Batsman' is an obscure future version of Batman who has a unique design that I love. Daniel is an incredibly talented artist. Put them together and you get this beauty!



Thor vs Kalibak - illustrated by Ron Salas
This is part of my "Asgard Meets the Fourth World" theme and showcases the incredible talents of Ron Salas. With this commission I went from being a fan of Ron’s work to being a mega-super-fan of his work!


Superwoman (Laurel Kent) illustrated by Gene Gonzales and colored by Simon Gough
I have many commissions from Gene, but this is probably my favorite, with him drawing Laurel Kent in her rarely-seen Superwoman costume.


Legion of Super-Pets by Joel Carroll
Joel has been drawing the entire universe of Legion characters for me, and this may be my favorite from him. The Super-Pets team is a silly idea but I think that comics needs silly ideas!



Karate Kid vs Karate Kid vs Karate Kid - illustrated by Derec Donovan
Since there have been three main versions of Val Armorr, I wanted to see them all having the best martial arts match of all time, and Derec delivered!


Karate Kid vs Captain Marvel - illustrated by Evan Shaner and colored by Ryan Cody
Years before DC would hire Evan to draw Billy Batson, I paid him to draw the good Captain going at it with the Kid. Ryan Cody colored this one, and he is one heck of an artist himself.


Asgardian & Fourth World villains pencilled by Brendon Fraim, inked by Brian Friam and colored by Simon Gough
Brendon and Brian are two of the most professional artists you could ever commission. They are great at communicating, offer excellent rates, and always deliver high quality commissions. I mean, look that this piece! It’s amazing! And Simon did a perfect job with the colors, adding just the right feel to it.

I could go on and on, and eventually might list everything in my collection, so just go browse it for yourself at Comic Art Fans. [and yes, Travis owns all of these pieces. Truly a lucky lucky guy. -J]

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[Travis has a huge collection of commissioned art that is mostly DC characters. Because I'm a nosy curious person, I just HAD to ask Travis about his history with DC comics. -J] 

DC80s: Can you tell us about your favorite DC books and your history with DC comics in general? 

Ellisor: My comics reading was very sporadic when I was a kid, mostly reading other people’s comics.

I’m not 100% sure what my first DC comic was, but the first one I distinctly remember reading is Adventure Comics #501 (1983). This comic introduced me to many DC characters that I would come to love, especially the Legion of Super-Heroes!



There were two Legion stories in that comic. One had Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy having their minds taken over by Adolph Hitler, Nero and John Dillinger. That was interesting, for sure, but I think that I was most intrigued by Ultra Boy, who basically had all of Superman’s powers, though he could only use one of them at a time. I spent some time thinking what I’d do with those kinds of powers.

The second Legion story in that comic is still one of my favorites: “The Legionnaires’ Super-Contest!” It introduced me to one of my favorite concepts in comics – The Legion of Substitute Heroes! In that story, all of the Subs got to try out for Legion membership by being tested in various challenges. Stone Boy won the offer of membership, but ultimately decided to stay with the Subs. I love this team of misfits, and to his day I get a thrill whenever they appear.

Years later when I started to actually have a little money of my own; I started buying lots of comics, beginning with Marvel's Transformers, because I loved the toys. Then I expanded into other Marvel books, mostly X-books, then on to DC stuff such as the Bat-books and the Legion.

The Legion at that time was in the middle of the “Five Years Later” period, so it was very odd to me. The first issue I remember picking up was Legion of Superheroes v4 #23 (1991), which had a Lobo appearance and was part 3 of “The Quiet Darkness”. Not a great starting point! Nevertheless, I kept checking it out and then Zero Hour happened and the Legion books had a crossover called “End of an Era” which featured characters and plot points from their entire history and though I was unfamiliar with most of it, I was intrigued and wanted to know more!



Also around this time I got into Starman, The Spectre and The Sandman. These three comics were some of the best written stories I had ever read, and made me big fans of the creators. So I started looking for more books by them.

Looking for more books by John Ostrander lead me to Suicide Squad. Now I had decided to begin looking for back issues of the Squad at some point, and right around then I went on a family vacation. While on vacation, we stopped in some little town for my mom to check out an arts and crafts fair. I noticed a used book store near there and when I went in, I found an almost complete collection of Ostrander’s run on Suicide Squad! The owner sold me the whole set for $10. That, my friends, is getting lucky.

Suicide Squad v1 #2 (1987)
I devoured those Suicide Squad comics and fell in love with the characters. Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Boomerbutt and the Wall are still some of my all-time favorite comics characters.

Since then I have read so many amazing DC comics. One time I read Alan Moore/Dave Gibbon's Watchmen, Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Crisis on Infinite Earths all in one week. That blew my mind. I eventually read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga, Grant Morrison’s everything, Wolfman/Perez’s Teen Titans, and so many other great runs.

I also went back and tracked down every single Legion of Super-Heroes story. Now, I don’t own every individual Silver Age issue, but I at least own the reprints in the Legion Archives volumes.

DC80s: Thank you for chatting with us today, Travis. We're looking forward to any other DC-centric commissions you pick in the future and we plan on keeping an eye on your Comic Art Gallery.

-Justin

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