As a kid, comic books were a form of entertainment and escape. The ideal of future monetary value in these objects was far from my kid mind. I'd crease the pages, handle the covers with Hawkins Cheesie encrusted fingers and had a carefree attitude towards dollops of fallen Miracle Whip from my bologna sandwiches. These books fuelled my imagination and spurred on my early creative pursuits. As I grew older, the importance of collecting started to take hold. No longer could I roll these things up and whack my cousins over the head or eat sloppily near the pulp pages. Once read, they were “bag-and-boarded” and placed in a Comic Saver long-box.
I recall, vividly, during what has become known in the comic industry as the “Speculator Boom” that the first issue of Marvel's X-Force was the talk of the comic collecting world. Issue #1 came pre-poly bagged with one of ten different trading cards. Which meant, if you wanted all 10 cards, you needed to buy ten copies of the same issue. I ended up buying 20 copies: one set to get all the cards and one set to remain sealed, "bag and boarded". When the “Ultra-Rare” second printing was released, I had to get that one too. In the end, I bought 21 of the same issue.
I was led to believe that this $42 investment would pay out in the future. Turns out, most of the comics from the "Speculator Boom" era are fairly worthless.
As a painting and collage series, the Speculator Boom forms a deeper investigation of the importance of comic books in my life and in my work, which is not uncommon to my practice. The Challenging Tradition series (2001-2007), paired a specific moment in time when I uncovered my Liǥwildaʼx̱w heritage. This series I melded pop and consumer icongraphy of that era with Kwakwaka’wakw art, mythos and social stuctures.
While I naturally progressed away from that series, I've recently returned to an exploration of pop-culture as a way to not only express my identity as a purveyor of pop, a watcher of sci-fi, and a collector of nerdy things, but as a way to find a cathartic experience in the breaking of my childhood memorabilia. Through this, I’m finding a new understanding of the attribution wealth by the deconstruction of something sacred to create something new.
Speculator Boom is featured in the touring exhibit Ready Player Two: Brendan Tang and Sonny Assu