Friday, July 10, 2009

When Coins and Fireballs Collide

July 10, 2009
Posted by John Dale

February 20, 2009: the Heritage blog had been up for a little less than a month and a half. At the invitation of Noah Fleisher, Keeper of the Blog, I dashed off a few hundred words about what it’s like to be a coin cataloger. As the first guest blogger, I opened with a bit of snark: “The Noah Fleisher monopoly on the Heritage blog has ended!”

Just over three months later, when Noah told me he was going on vacation for a week, he extended another invitation to me: to take over blogging duties for the whole stretch. It seemed like an awesome challenge in every sense of the word, and I accepted. I knew I would have to push beyond coins, so I took a trip through the various auctions and previews on the Heritage site; rather than letting Noah make the discoveries and deliver them to me, I had to seek them out myself.

Looking back at that first blog post, I ended it with “I’m a firm believer that no collector has only one hobby!” I spoke from personal experience. While I appreciate the inherent awesomeness of the Thomas Nast political cartoon and the program from the first Masters, neither inspires me to pursue more of their kind. My second collection, small but growing, is of fantasy art. It’s an offshoot of my other big hobby: I’m a gamer, passionate about tabletop role-playing and card games as well as video games. (Obligatory Q&A: Have I played Dungeons & Dragons? Yes, and chances are pretty good I own more 20-sided dice than you do.)

Here at work, everyone knows I am a gamer. On the wall of my workspace is a poster of an impressionistic wheat field, not wrought in the 19th century by Pissarro or Monet to hang on a wall forever, but by a gifted contemporary fantasy illustrator, John Avon, to appear on thousands of one of the most common Magic: the Gathering cards, the Plains; it is no less beautiful in its ubiquity. The wallpaper on my computer is a black-and-white screenshot from an online game I play, Final Fantasy XI, of a hushed snowscape with a moon rising over a tree-lined cliff, a scene as serenely elegant as an Ansel Adams photograph.

When a Comics and Comic Art auction is coming up, like the one scheduled for August, I devour the previews; when there isn’t an image of the Fred Fields TSR module cover “Mind Flayer” up, I beg and plead with the cataloger for a taste of how it looks, and when I see a J.P. Targete painting of an orc, posed in his savage regalia against a backdrop of war-tents, only one word comes to mind: Cool.

Mr. Targete is a wildly talented illustrator of both science fiction and fantasy; I highly recommend checking out his official gallery. (Content caution: contains images of dragon-on-dragon violence and mild female nudity. I know several of our Illustration Art customers just thought, “What’s wrong with that?!”) He’s one of my more recent “discoveries,” if you will, an artist I vaguely knew about but didn’t fully appreciate since he spent some time as a concept artist working on projects I never encountered.

Nowadays, however, I am officially a full-on fanboy. Also falling in the recent-discovery camp is the family Froud; two of Brian Froud’s illustrations, “Dawn Fairy” and Goblin, are part of Heritage’s July 15 Illustration Art auction. Keep checking Heritage’s auctions and previews for more fine fantasy art and other treats for a diverse array of collecting tastes!

-John Dale

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