Monday 6 February 2017

'The Curse of the Ring' Art Portfolio by P. Craig Russell

In 1980 the publishing company Schanes & Schanes released the ‘The Curse of the Ring’, a limited edition portfolio of 1200 copies by American comic book writer, artist, and illustrator, P. Craig Russell. The portfolio, signed by the artist on the first plate, consists of six black-and-white plates based on Richard Wagner’s cycle of four operas ‘The Ring of the Nibelung’. The set is housed within an illustrated folder that measures approximately 12.5" x 18" when closed. P. Craig Russell returned to the operatic themes of ‘The Ring of the Nibelung’ twenty years after this portfolio was released with the mini-series ‘The Ring of the Nibelung: Rhinegold’ through Dark Horse Comics in 2000. Central to the mythology of this operatic cycle is the curse, the fall of man and the consequence of submission to selfish desires. Russell’s elaborate artwork, evocative of Art Nouveau illustration, has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards.

In 1971, the Schanes brothers (Steve, age 17, and Bill, age 13) co-founded Pacific Comics, which started out as a mail-order company selling to consumers via ads in the Comics Buyer's Guide. This ultimately led to tangible retail stores, with the first Pacific Comics outlet opening in Pacific Beach, California, in 1974. In 1979, Pacific dipped its feet into publishing when they released Warriors of Shadow Realm, a John Buscema portfolio of six signed, coloured plates to accompany a three-issue Weirdworld story in Marvel Comics Super Special #11-13 (June-Oct. 1979). Schanes & Schanes was the name Pacific Comics used for their printing of art portfolios and autographed prints. In addition to work by Russell and Buscema, Schanes & Schanes also published portfolios of other popular properties such as Elfquest (1980) and Cerebus the Aardvark (1981). In August, 1981, Pacific Comics launched Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Jack Kirby, the first issue of which sold 110,000 copies! However, by 1984, with the company $740,000 in debt, Pacific Comics was forced to close. 

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