The DS Collectibles Site by Craig Hamrick

Have you ever wondered what steps go into the production of a comic book? These days, a lot of the process takes place with the aid of computers and scanners. But in the 1970s, when a popular Dark Shadows comic book series was on the market, it was a much less high-tech experience.

Because I've written so much about the DS collectibles, I'm often asked if I have a personal favorite. I actually don't have a huge DS collection -- at least not as large as you might think, given the writing and research I've done. The main thing I collect is original comic book art. (My favorites are Superman/Lois Lane pages by classic artist Kurt Schaffenberger.) But as I shopped for pages at comic conventions and on eBay, for years I saw very little art related to Dark Shadows comics or comic stips.

To this day, I've still never seen even one original page from the Gold Key DS comics (1968 to 1976) offered for sale, but at various times, I have seen several of the covers for sale, and drooled over them, because they were pretty expensive. (Covers are generally more expensive than interior pages, because interiors usually feature five or six small drawings, while covers feature one big image, and thus are more attractive to frame and display.)

I picked up a few less-expensive pieces: a couple of gorgeous painted pages from the Innovation Comics adaptation of the NBC 1991 version of DS, and a page from the Elvira comic book parody of DS.

But I still yearned to add art from the Gold Key series to my collection. Finally in 2004, I traded several valuable pages from my collection for the cover of Issue # 34, "Collinwood Possessed," which was the next-to-last issue. It features a weird, life-size chess game, with Elizabeth and Quentin as chess pieces, plus Angelique and Barnabas.

<<< The first several covers of the DS comics featured photographs. One cover picture is obviously from the same shooting session that produced the photo used for the cover of my Dark Shadows Collectibles Book (1998, Pomegranate Press).

Later covers were illustrated with elaborately painted scenes, like these issues. >>>

But the art for the covers for the final two issues was created in a more traditional comic book style. The basic design was hand-drawn in pencil. Then it was inked over, with solid blacks filled in. (Comic art is usually drawn first in pencil so the artist can redo parts if necessary. Sometimes if you look closely at a piece of original art, you can see where a part of a slightly diifferent design is faintly visible where it was erased.)

<<< Here's the cover art I finally added to my collection in 2004.

<<< Actually, I got a two-piece set: The black-and-white line drawing, and the hand-painted color guide. The black lines of the art are on a clear acetate (thin plastic) overlay.

One thing I love about this cover is that it includes some of my favorite characters: Angelique, Quentin, Elizabeth, and Barnabas.

In the comic series, none of the characters resemble their TV counterparts. Angelique is one of the most different-looking interpretations. Unlike Lara Parker (a beautiful blue-eyed blonde), the comic book Angelique looks more like a sterotypical witch: with wild hair, dark-circled eyes, claw-like hands, and a ghostly glow. Below is the cover as it was published, substantially cropped on all four sides and with some color variations.


Comics aren't the only source of "original art." This painting, which was featured on the first Dark Shadows paperback by Dan "Marilyn" Ross in 1966, has been hanging in the Ross home for decades. A portion of the painting was re-used for the cover of The Curse of Collinwood, in 1968, after Barnabas arrived on the scene.


Craig Hamrick is author of
The Dark Shadows Collectibles Book.

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