Edgar Church: The Artwork Behind the Greatest Comic Collection Ever

In 1977, comic book dealer Chuck Rozanski unearthed the most important comic book collection that the world will ever know. 18,000 comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s — the earliest days of American comic books — in unimaginably high-grade condition.  The collection is so important that researchers have spent considerable effort in unearthing the history behind the collection and the man who assembled it: Edgar Church. Because Church himself was a commercial artist — and possibly even an aspiring comic book artist — his own commercial and advertising original artwork has become the subject of collector interest.  There are several pieces of Edgar Church original artwork in today's Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction from Heritage Auctions.

Edgar Church Banfield's Sweetheart Pure Pork Sausage Advertising Production Materials (Ideal Art Service, 1930s).
Edgar Church Banfield's Sweetheart Pure Pork Sausage Advertising Production Materials (Ideal Art Service, 1930s).

Edgar Church was a commercial artist from Denver, Colorado who did advertising work, playbills, greeting cards, magazine illustrations, and the like. It is generally assumed that he amassed his now-famous comic book collection largely for reference purposes (many of the comics appear unread, or nearly so) and perhaps for market research. It is said that Church made the trek to New York in the early 1940s to attempt to get work as a comic book artist, but failed to do so.

Born in 1888, it would appear that Edgar Church aspired to be a professional artist from a relatively early age.  The earliest extant pieces of his work originate from the 1910-1913 period when he would have been about 22 years old.  Among the magazine cover and illustration examples from that period are some work from the late dime novel weekly era which would appear to be submissions.  The Tip Top Weekly cover examples are of some interest here as the immensely popular nickel weekly series was likely an influence on the foundational comic book creators of the Golden Age.

As a student of the Edgar Church history myself, I find that such material is an important hook into understanding the influence on the creators who developed some of the characters and titles that we still revere today — and on the fans who read them. There are several pieces of Edgar Church original artwork in today's Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction from Heritage Auctions.

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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