Don’t give a Million for McDuck: Be a Medici of Modern Days Instead

Scroodge McDuck expensive art ebay
Original Oil 'Another Rainbow' , listed for 1 million $


By setting a price tag of one million US dollars, yesterday’s new listing on eBay, an oil painting depicting Scrooge McDuck by Carl Barks, aims to get into the highest league of comic art regarding assumed value: French auction house Artcurial achieves multi million prices for masters of European comic art, the most expensive being Hergé’s flyleaves for the Adventure of Tintin albums from 1937, which was sold for 3,65 million dollars in 2014. The seller of this piece is really ambitious, for he has set the price 250.000 dollars higher than Herge’s panel from 1937., whose initial lower estimate was 750.000 USD.

To smirk in triumph
Original oil painting “Another Rainbow”, made by Disney artist who invented that character as well, is obviously intended for both nouveau and vieux riche: it depicts a rich miser standing next to a bag full of gold he dug – so surely Donald Trump,  Roman Abramovich and alike are tempted to get into possession of such a descriptive painting, to set it up in their office and smirk in triumph while looking at it on a daily basis?

What a hoax – to take million dollars from some naive rich, for an oil painting of a moneybag duck, to keep it as a trophy, while the painting itself doesn’t hold much of an artistic value.
I mean it is a duck, having a nice fluffy cheeks and a shocked look, as if he just saw another gold mine after all the gold he excavated from a previous find. Okay, maybe it’s meaningful for entertainers always looking to enrich themselves even more, but if you are a rich person and want to – invest – in fine art, better go and search for some exciting new genius, as that is something that can really pay off in the future.

Independents bring more profits

The Woman Trap by Enki Bilal, sold for 400k $ in Hong Kong

For example, people who invested in, at the time “avant garde comic art” of recently deceased artists Jean Giraud aka Moebius (d. 2012), Hugo Pratt (d. 1995) and André Franquin (d. 1997) were the ones who got a better deal – as their work today achieves around half million dollars today.
Also watch out – alive and kicking Enki Bilal is already in the same price range!
But the most exciting artists are new ones: Charlie Hebdo’s artist Joan Sfar (born 1971) got 60.000 dollars for a black and white (!) cover drawing of his “Rabbi’s cat”, and Olivier Ledroit’s chapter was 100% sold and 50% above auctioneer’s estimate in Hong Kong last year, proving the popularity of that new star of comic art even in China.

As American comics achieve usually high price as collectors items or memorabilia – so Todd Mcfarlane’s original art for the cover of Spiderman from 1990. was a suprise by earning 600.000 $ to it’s owners, same as Miller’s original art for Batman which earned more than four hundred thousands. On the other hand – European comic art is normally appreciated with collectors of fine art, and it’s masters are priced the same as let say impressionists or fine cars, antiques or jewelry.
Why is that so? I guess because European artists have the benefit of living in a welfare state, where they can get the status of “an artist” after they have finished their free education and then they have to exhibit regularly to maintain the status. Meaning they don’t have to starve if they concentrate on independently improving their work.

Starving Van Gogh

Paul Johnson aka Otaking live-streams to prove his patrons he is working on anime

On the other hand, in most capitalistic countries and surely in less developed parts of the world as well – the artists have to have a daily job: not to starve, to have health insurance, to feed their kids, care for their parents or pets and so on. Most of them can’t benefit from social housing neither. But I assure you – there are artists from there worth of your attention, which master their art despite being stuck with exhausting rhythm of life. Van Gogh making all that fabulous paintings while starving comes to mind…
The luckiest of them all get hired by industry, and in America that means Batman or some of the newer characters created by “teams” who then commission the artist to work on it. Not much artistic freedom in it. A question comes to mind: is it possible that a character imagined by some “marketing experts” and such reaches the top of tier in art?
As guru of independent art Alejandro Jodorowsky describes the influence of money in Hollywood: “This system makes us slaves without dignity… Movies have heart – boom boom boom boom, have mind, have power, have ambition, I wanted to be something like that, why not!”

Be a Medici
Instead of accusing them of being basement dwellers, understand that artists at beginning

Cyberpunk film noir Iron City Chronicles would cost 60 mil in LA

of their careers do not have a revenue stream and these are the critical formative years when they develop their style.

It is nothing new: surely you remember that Medici banking family from Renaissance Florence were art patrons: they supported Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli and many others, who otherwise would not have worked exclusively as artists.
Same as back then, when most artists had to have a second job because most people didn’t have enough money to buy their art, and needed patrons to enrich the culture of their time – today’s aspiring and talented artists need you to help them with art supplies, food, rooms and access to the libraries to educate themselves as well.

For example, on Patreon there are many artists who are asking for donations, a pledge of $1 per month, to quote “Otaking7707” Paul Johnson who does high budged production value anime (with Daleks!), works on it alone and with no financial backing:  “My goal is minimal wage, so I can pay the rent and have for cheese sandwiches, so I can work on the movie full time”. Author of this blog pledged $10 per month, ten dollars that I can ill afford. Patronage of arts and sciences is nothing shameful, and I’m proud to have helped an artist make ends meet, as it moved me from being a professional appreciator to join the creative circle. Not having artistic talent to enrich the culture of our time myself, I pledged a modest sum. Hopefully I will be able to pledge more, as soon as this blog starts generating revenue stream of its own. I am proud to take my place, in a modest way, with patrons of arts like Cosimo de Medici, who kick started the renaissance.

Awarded crowd funded movie Iron Sky
Zombie With a Shotgun needs $5000 to finish


If I can do it, as stay-at-home mom with three kids, daycare bills and mortgage, surely any millionaire can do better. To see how crowd-funded movies can be a quality ones, check the Iron Sky (2012), and it’s follow up which comes out next year. As you can see – it was also crowd- funded via Indiegogo.

So rather then paying one million dollars for Scrooge McDuck, a vulgar display of wealth to show off, for the same sum a millionaire can pledge $1000 to a thousand artists… Then sit back and watch how a new renaissance takes place.

Enjoy the search

Charles S Dowd:empowering girls

Sure, most of those who call themselves artists are poseurs, but there are quite a lot of very talented young people out there, and they are not hard to find. The searching process is also fun, so you can laugh when scrolling the ones who are struggling with their technique, or laugh even more when you see some inventive ten years old creating “comic art” – and decide to back that kids in their effort. With just ten minutes of browsing on DeviantArt , I discovered four very talented young comic book artists! Sadly, if they are lucky they get a commission to design a tattoo here and there, and work as baristas so they won’t starve to death, youngest of them being a high school kid who draws better manga (on school notebook paper) then many published mangakas.

If they are very lucky, some day they will get a job working as graphic or UI/UX designers, if they are very very lucky – they’ll get to draw superheroes developed by Marvel’s “character development group”, based on market research and fashionable politically correct cause d’jour.
If they are unlucky, they get to ask you “do you want fries with that?”

Thomas Romain‘s illustration
Romain’s son design for the illustration

If you can’t tell good from a bad art – invite a more artistic friend for a hangout…
And over a glass of wine discuss the entries to filter the wheat from the chaff on DeviantartPatreonGofundme or Kickstarter for example.
It is not that hard, on the contrary – it can be very entertaining, and I’m positive it would be more beneficial for your mental health than reading all the business and political news which surely takes a big part of your day.
Check out Thomas Romain’s  “father & sons’ design workshop” for example, where his children are free to draw whatever they want, and then Romain  draws an illustration based on their ideas. Also check it on Youtube and Twitter.
Support them, let them do what they are best at, buy their art, donate to them, and let their vision blossom.
They are satisfied with minimum wage, as long as they can create.

NanoMortis gives his art for all to enjoy/ dowload/ print for free, disagrees with commercial use of his work, but everyone can donate