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Sunday February 22, 2009 12:29 am

ANTIQUES: J.C. Vaughn, Brendon Fraim & Brian Fraim




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Reviews

Antiques_Cover
The antique business was the second-hand smoke of my childhood. Most of my family continues to be involved in it. I have relatives who can look at a chair and tell you what kind of wood it’s made from and approximately when it was made and its brand name. They can also sniff out ceramics made in Occupied Japan and spot a first edition book from 20 yard sales away. I’m not of the antiques persuasion, but I’ve absorbed a lot of it over the years.

Now my friend J.C. Vaughn (McCandless & Company, Zombie Proof, 24) has created a graphic novel adventure set in the antique world: a behind-the-scenes mystery at the world’s largest collectibles auction. Antiques: The Comic Strip collects the weekly strip he wrote for a newspaper called Antique Trader, and that was illustrated by Brendon and Brian Fraim. Antiques is an idea that J.C. had “rolling around in my head for more years than I care to remember.” His career as Executive Editor at Gemstone Publishing gave him “access to many key players in the vintage pop culture collectibles market.” Through his work with Steve Geppi and John Snyder, “I learned a tremendous amount about different niches.”

As luck would have it, his story fell into place late one night at the office and “I got on the phone and called Catherine Saunders-Watson, who was the editor at Antique Trader.” Fortunately for him, she had just come on board and was looking to turn around the publication. J.C. pitched her the idea of doing a regular comic strip with all sorts of real people and tidbits accompanied by real-sounding people set in the world of auctions. Going once, going twice…Sold! “Without anything on paper she took the idea and we were off and running,” J.C. says. He found the Fraims two days later at the Pittsburgh Comic-Con. “I had met Brendon and Brian a few years earlier through a mutual friend, John Petty, and they had done a fantastic cover for me for Overstreet’s Comic Price Review.” After J.C.’s pitch, within an hour “I had a concept sketch of the main characters. I didn’t even want to give it back to them to allow them to ink it.”

Antiques: The Comic Strip tells the story of two cousins, one British and one American, who compete over the attentions of a sexy security expert at the largest pop culture auction the world has ever seen. According to J.C., “there are all sorts of mysteries surrounding the items in the auction, the auction itself, and the cousins.” Noted Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee even makes an appearance.

Antiques: The Comic Strip is a classy 80-page hardcover with dustjacket collecting the entire first story. It’s a two-time Harvey Award nominee (once as a strip and once as a collection). J.C. and pals have packed the book with plenty of extras including the non-continuity Christmas and New Year’s strips, a character key and index, a step-by-step guide to the one character who keeps appearing in disguise throughout the story, and even one strip that has never previously appeared. And you don’t have to bid for this Antiques – copies are available right now. If you’d like an expert peek into the world of collectibles, mixed with a dash of mystery and deceit, great art by the Fraims and real-life cameos, this is the book for you.

Antiques even has its own MySpace page, so you can check out the first five strips. J.C., Brendon and Brian are also working on something else together, a nifty horror project, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
[In the interest of full disclosure, be aware that J.C. named a character in the strip after little ol’ me.]

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