Friday, July 01, 2005

Sometimes, I Wanda

Today's Comic Art Friday is brought to you by Canada. Today is, of course, Canada Day, and we salute our co-continentalists to the north as they celebrate the 138th anniversary of the British North America Act, the Canadian equivalent of our Declaration of Independence. We stand on guard for thee.

In honor of our friends above the border, we present for your viewing pleasure this fine portrait of one of my favorite superheroines — Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch — as imagined by Montreal resident Geof Isherwood. (As Geof is often quick to remind me, he's an American citizen, born in Virginia, though he has lived in Canada for many years. But he's the best I can do for Canada Day, folks. You make do with what you have sometimes.)

There's an interesting backstory to this artwork. At the time I acquired it, Geof had only recently finished another Scarlet Witch drawing for me on commission — this one:

When I saw Geof's second Wanda among his weekly eBay auctions, I fell in love with her instantly, and knew she had to join her counterpart in my Scarlet Witch gallery. There was, however, a problem. Geof had drawn Wanda in her more recent Gypsy-inspired costume with a lace-up bustier, and he had given her — how shall I put this? — more ample feminine attributes (ahem) and a less ample bustier than I felt comfortable displaying in my collection.

I addressed this dilemma to the artist. Mr. Isherwood, accommodating fellow that he is, immediately proposed a solution: If I won the auction for the artwork, he would alter Wanda's form and costuming to better align with my sensibilities. I did, and he did, and you can see the sensational results for yourselves. I own several beautiful depictions of the Scarlet Witch — she's one of a small handful of characters whose images I collect specifically — but Geof's two creations are among my favorites.

Another favorite in my Scarlet Witch gallery is this recent convention sketch, stylishly drawn by the Chicago-based artist who calls himself Franchesco! (with an exclamation point, as in Jeopardy!).

Speaking of interesting backstories — and we were — the Franchesco! Wanda came to me as a purchase from the collector who originally obtained the sketch from the artist at the Wizard World comics convention in Philadelphia. After I posted a scan of the sketch to my Comic Art Fans gallery, I received a very cordial note from Franchesco!, who at first thought I was the person for whom he had drawn the picture. I quickly corrected that misapprehension, but told the artist how delighted I was that the original owner had decided to part with the piece, because I'm thrilled to have it in my collection. In response, I received another very cordial note from Franchesco! along with these two photos that were taken at Wizard World Philly on the day he drew the sketch.

If you look closely, you'll see that the art-in-progress on the table in front of Franchesco (he's the one in the middle) is my Scarlet Witch sketch.

And here is (I presume) the original owner of the drawing with the finished masterpiece:

As Franchesco! noted during our e-mail exchange, the Scarlet Witch is the central figure in Marvel Comics' current blockbuster event House of M, in which the Marvel Universe is turned inside out by Wanda's mutant power to alter the laws of probability. The "M" in House of M stands for Magneto, one of Marvel's key supervillains and the father of Wanda and her brother Pietro (better known as Quicksilver). Wanda's key role is the primary reason I just added House of M and a couple of its related titles to my must-read list.

So much for Comic Art Friday on this lovely Canada Day 2005. If you have the opportunity today, kiss a Canadian.

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