Sunday, August 22, 2021

Austin Books and Comics (and Half Price Books) Haul August 2021

It's interesting to look back at how I've grown as a Batman collector. When I was in my teens, I spent a couple of dollars here and there on Batman magnets, stickers, etc. As I started to make my own money, I went on to buy Batman stationery, dolls, t-shirts, some action figures, DVDs, a few graphic novels. Then came the Funko Pop wave which I've since grown out of (thank goodness). As I've grown financially and mentally, I now found myself investing more in Batman art. This includes prints, original art (which I would have never dreamed of affording as a teenager), and even more comic books based on the artist.

I almost never bought individual comic book issues growing up because I didn't want to have to follow release schedules. I thought the entire comic book collecting experience was overwhelming and didn't want to be sucked in. I stuck with tradebacks because they were easy one-and-done experiences. This means that I would miss out on a lot of cover art on the individual issues. To be honest, I still primarily buy tradebacks, but now I find myself buying individual issues mostly to support my favorite artists or, very specifically in this case, Dustin Nguyen. As a Batman fan today, it feels like more and more the best use of my nerd money is on those people who create the content.

All that to say is that I bought a lot of comic books this weekend, all featuring Dustin Nguyen art, across 1 trip to Half Price Books, and 2 to Austin Books and Comics.

We dropped by Half Price Books right before lunch just to browse and I ended up with some great finds, Batman Beyond #39 and Batman: Streets of Gotham #5-6. I'm late to the game on both of these runs, but since I knew Dustin Nguyen worked on them and we were just a block from Austin Books and Comics, we decided to drop by to see what else we could find. At the end of the day, I ended up with Batman: Streets of Gotham #1-16, #20-21, Batman Beyond #39, and Dustin's variant of Super Sons #6. The Super Sons variant was a nice find since I already started buying some, but I'm missing a few. Check out photos of the full haul below and let me know which is your favorite cover.

I also bought the final issue of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's Ascender, issue #18 on a separate trip to ABC. If you haven't already, make sure to pick up both Descender and Ascender (the sequel). They're both wrapped up now so you can binge-read them!

Let me know if you've read any of the above and your thoughts. I'm sure this won't be my last comic book haul or Batman haul in genreal so hopefully be back here again soon!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Redecorating: Hanging Batman Mondo and Dustin Nguyen Art

Mickey and I have acquired A LOT of prints over the years with zero regards for where we would actually display them in the house. I figured buy now and figure it out later. We've had prints piling up and stored away for years which is no fun because we bought them for a reason! They're pretty and other people should see how pretty they are. Given the abundance of time we've had during shelter-in-place and the many empty walls in our house, we decided to finally do something about it. We spent quite a pretty penny on frames, but it was totally worth it.

Here are some of our "before" photos of our empty walls. We've never been much for interior decorating. We're very much just "functional living" people so the empty walls never really bothered us over the last 6 years that we've owned the house.

Here is what the place finally looks like with all the art we put up! It's hard to capture in photos alone, but hopefully this gives you an idea. To be honest, I was initially unsure about covering our walls in Batman art because that's not what "adults" do. They hang family portraits and other types of art like landscapes and cityscapes and abstract art. At the end of the day, though, I realized that's not who I am and I actually love that fact that our house looks like a Batman art gallery now. Also, shout out to my husband for always supporting that nerd life, too. I love that he loves and supports this look for our house. Moral of the story is "screw it, do what makes you happy."

By the entrance, we have 2 of our favorite Batman pieces by Dustin Nguyen, our favorite artist. I had a hard time figuring out where to put these initially because I wanted them somewhere somewhat prominent but we ran out of that prime real estate so much faster than we realized. Apparently, it's not just about filling empty space, but doing it in a cohesive way. Listen, I want my place to look like an art gallery, not like a teenager's room that's plastered from floor to ceiling with faces of that one celebrity they're obsessed with. Personal experience. 🤣 These pieces are behind the door so you can't see them when you initially walk into the house unfortunately, but we wanted something for guests to appreciate as they're putting on their shoes to leave.

Closest to the kitchen, to the right of our entrance, are these super dope Batman: The Animated Series Mondo prints. "Perchance to Dream" and "Harley & Ivy" are from their celebration of Batman's 80th anniversary in 2018. The other 2 are by Dave Perillo released by Mondo in 2016. These 4 just made sense together on the same wall.

In our living room, left of our TV, I put together a "black and white" wall. This includes a Batman: The Animated Series 24x36 print also from the Batman 80th Anniversary celebration by Mondo. I've only ever shared the Batwing print on my Instagram, but this was also released in 2018 by Mondo. The piece is by Craig Drake. The final print on the wall is Todd McFarlane's Batman. Take a closer look at the print on my Instagram (2nd picture in the carousel). This is the print they gave out for free for signing up for the DC Comics Visa at SDCC 2019. Unfortunately, I've been preoccupied and haven't done a full recap of SDCC 2019, but the credit card and this print were a couple of the things that came out of that trip. Hah. I've since canceled the credit card, but this print was worth it.

In the small hallway (left of the "black and white" wall), we did a bit of a "blue" theme. It started because we wanted these 2 Batman 24x36 Mondo prints facing the bathroom door because they both had similar themes of Batman overlooking a city but facing opposite directions! It was just meant to be. We thought it'd be funny/interesting. The left is a print for The Dark Knight and the right is for Batman Beyond. They're from Mondo's celebration of Batman's 75th Anniversary (2014). These prints used to be hanging in our hobby room which you can see in the previous post.

Opposite of the Batman Beyond print is a smaller 18x24 print for Batman Begins. It's actually pretty dope because the mountain is designed to look like the TDK trilogy Batman symbol and you can see what's assumed to be Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne climbing the mountain (zoom in to check it out). This print used to be hanging by our kitchen which you can see in a previous post. This was also from Mondo's celebration of Batman's 75th anniversary in 2014.

The last print in the hallway, hanging across from The Dark Knight print, is NOT a Mondo print from their Batman 75th anniversary celebration. Instead, it's this Dustin Nguyen print of Mr. Freeze and Nora Fries. I really love this print. It's so beautiful and, honestly, emotional given what you know about Victor Fries' history and motives. It's only 11x17 (small compared to the other prints in the area), but I wanted to put it somewhere a bit more prominent than one of our bedrooms. I decided to put it in the hallway to complete the "blue"-ish theme.

Speaking of the bathroom whose door the Batman Beyond and TDK prints were flanking, we hung some cute Dustin Nguyen Batman character collage art in there! I loved the kid-friendly nature of the prints and thought it would give our bathroom some much needed character. I love how it turned out.

In our guest bedroom, since I moved the Mondo Batman: The Animated Series and The New Aventures of Batman character prints to the kitchen/foyer with the other BTAS prints, I moved this pair of Dustin Nguyen prints above the bookshelves. These are super dope collages of the Bat-family (left, black background) and Batman's rogue's gallery (right, white background). Zoom in to see if you can name all of them! I actually don't even know if I can if I'm being honest. Hah.

We've also framed some original art by Dustin Nguyen in smaller frames which we placed on top of the shelves. I included a close-up of those 3 paintings below. If we ever change things up, I may want to have these hanging somewhere, but they helped complete the theme of the room in the meantime which essentially ended up being "Dustin Nguyen art."

On the wall above the guest bed, I used to keep a hodge podge of 11x17 Dustin Nguyen prints (including the Mr. Freeze print from earlier in this post), but decided to put up these 12x18 prints instead since they were a bit more cohesive. On the left are some Batman Beyond prints. The one on the far left is actually signed by Will Friedle who voiced Terry McGinnis in the Batman Beyond animated series. The other print is a play on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Do you recognize the reference?

The rest of the 12x18 prints on the right are some of Dustin Nguyen's variant covers for the Rebirth run of Super Sons. The stories are fun if for nothing else than to see Damian Wayne (Robin) and Jon Kent (Superboy) interact.

There was a 4th landscape-oriented Super Sons print which didn't quite fit on the same wall, but we did hang it nearby in the same room by the entrance. This one is my favorite of the four. Dustin Nguyen painted it as a single image, but Superboy and Robin show up on 2 separate variant covers. I was looking through the variants I own and I wasn't quite on top of it enough so I only own the Robin cover of the two (as well as the left and right Super Sons covers in the previous photos).

In our second guest bedroom (aka previous roommate's bedroom), we have a bit of a hodge podge Marvel type of theme going on or that's what I'm calling it. There is a beautiful print by Dustin Nguyen called "Red Carpet" (hah) which includes various Marvel and DC Comics female redheads. I love the composition of this piece, how seamlessly he got so many characters in the frame. Can you name them all?

We also have 2 Marvel prints of Avengers: Infinity War by Matt Taylor and Guardians of the Galaxy by Rich Kelly from Mondo's celebration of Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years. These were the husband's choices of course since my purchases are almost exclusively Batman-inspired.

Unrelated to comic books, but definitely related to heroes, we have this beautiful print of Serena Williams by Arturo Torres. It's in a really nice 17x22 frame waiting to be hung, but we didn't want to just throw it up anywhere given the themes we had going on. We're hoping a perfect place to hang this will present itself. In the meantime, we have it sitting in the same room with the Marvel prints so at least some guests can see it and it's not just buried underneath other things. Looking forward to finding a place to hang this beauty!

Finally, for those who have been following, you may be familiar with our hobby room where we keep most of our collection for all our fandoms including an ABUNDANCE of Funko Pops (that we're slowly trying to sell). Some of the prints mentioned above used to hang in this room, but since this room has been overrun by Funko Pops, it's in a bit of a transitional state. You'll notice I purposely cut off the floor and couches in the photos here because I was trying to avoid the (organized) PILES of Pops. Our intention is to eventually change up the shelving situation and potentially open up more wall space for prints to hang, but that won't happen for a while. In the meantime, since we love these prints, we wanted to hang them on the hooks we already had in these spaces at least temporarily.

To the left of the window are Dustin Nguyen prints. At the top is a print of silhouettes of the Bat Family and below is a Descender print, a comic book that Dustin Nguyen worked on with Jeff Lemiere. It's a fun read if you haven't picked it up yet. There's a sequel that's wrapping up called Ascender that I would recommed too!

To the right of the window is another Mondo print from their 75th anniversary celebration for Batman. This one is called Black Mirror by Francesco Francavilla and Jock.

All that said, YES, our house absolutely looks like a gallery and we think it looks great. It absolutely works for us. Don't worry, though, we have a few personal touches so that you know a family lives here.

In the kitchen, we've historically hung our wedding guestbook, a frame of wooden hearts with our wedding guests' messages to us, but now we've added our wedding save the date and wedding invitation for posterity as well as wooden initials for our first names. To be honest, I created the invitation and I am NOT a designer so it's not the most well-designed thing, but I worked hard enough on it to at least want to remember it. If you want to know a secret, I think I designed it in Word. 😆 The art on the save the date is actually the engagement painting commissioned by Dustin Nguyen when he was still available for such things. It's a painting of Mickey proposing to me which was presented to me as a gift WHEN he proposed. You can see the full story in a previous post. My friend Amy Hanoa of many talents made it into a save the date for us. Honestly, it's one of the more fun save the dates I've ever seen, but I might be a smidge biased.

The original commissioned painting used to live on the wall where the black and white paintings are now, but we've since moved it to a bit more highlighted space near our kitchen where the Batman Begins Mondo print was hung originally.

It's not necessarily photos of us and our families, but I'd say these 2 areas still give the house a nice personal touch. 

Whew! Okay, that's everything we've hung or re-hung over the last month. It's been a doozy. We have about ~4-5 smaller prints that we couldn't quite find the right space for, but who knows how things will change once we update the hobby room and move more Funko Pops. Let me know what your favorite wall or print is of everything we've hung above! Also, let me know your thoughts on decorating and how you balance your style, hobbies, personal life on your walls.

Support your favorite artists and check out Dustin Nguyen and Arturo Torres' Big Cartel shops for more great art and prints to purchase. See you again here soon!