Who are we?
We are Joe and Nadia Mannarino, and we have been actively involved in the field for nearly 30 years and have been collectors for over 40. We own All Star Auctions LLC and are the same Joe and Nadia who inaugurated the Comic Collectible auctions at Christie’s from 1992 through 1997, the last year Christie’s held the Comic Collectibles Sale. For full resumes http://comicartappraisal.com/about.html

How did Comic Art Appraisal LLC come to be?
Comic Art Appraisal LLC is an extension of the formal appraisal services that we have been administering for over 20 years. We are doing now is formalizing and offering this service in a more public forum and on an individual item basis. We have promoted this service in our literature and on our site since the day we began, and in fact still do at: http://www.allstarauctions.net/apprais.htm Also, http://www.comicartappraisal.com has been an active web site for over five years, it is just being updated.

Is this a price guide or the beginning of a price guide?
Our purpose is not to create a price guide, tell anyone what should be charged or paid for their collectibles. However, collectors should be aware of the factors that determine value in the current market. Keep the actual price out of it, focusing on the factors that affect demand and desirability. In addition, collectors should be interested in the process and criteria an insurance company goes through when and if a claim is filed, or what the IRS, a financial institution or legal system requires when collectibles become an issue.

What is the purpose for a formal appraisal as opposed to a rating?
During the last 20 years we have been involved in numerous insurance, estate, IRS and disbursement appraisals as a service for clients. As such, we have served all sides; clients who require a formal appraisal for insurance coverage; insurance companies in the case of claims; institutions for the purpose of IRS deductible donations/ contributions; the IRS for the purpose of verification, as well as financial institutions which may be issuing credit based on a collectible as collateral. The list can go much further including diverse requests from attorneys. We have provided these services for many if not a majority of the high profile collectors, institutions, artists and estates in recent years who have required it. We are proud to say that to the best of our knowledge, no claim has been successfully contested. In this capacity Nadia is a member of The Appraisers Association of America. We have promoted this service in our literature and on our site since the day we began, and in fact still do at: http://www.allstarauctions.net/apprais.htm Also, http://www.comicartappraisal.com has been an active web site for over five years, it is just being updated.

This portion of our business has been growing steadily. The reason is simple, as the value of collectibles have risen, so has fraud, the fear of loss and the need for insurance. We have been successful in our responsibility for a number of reasons. We have always formally addressed and documented the 3 basic criteria that all of the above require;
Proof of ownership
Proof of authenticity
Objective criteria for establishing value

Charitable Gifts And Donations
Charitable gifts of Comic Books, Original Comic Art and related material, come under the heading of Gift-In-Kind. Rules governing such gifts are covered in The Internal Revenue Service Form 8283 which must be filed by persons claiming the donation of a gift-in-kind valued at more than $500. For more information do a Google search for Internal Revenue Service Form 8283 and download the form with guidelines and instructions. Appraisal requirements are outlined in detail.

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Instructions for Form 8283
(Rev. December 2005)
Noncash Charitable Contributions

How does this service help establish Proof of Ownership?
In the case of an insurance claim or loss the more documentation one maintains the better. In addition to maintaining proper records, having an example of art photographed, described, rated and included in a third parties database, satisfies two of the basic criteria; authenticity and ownership. Regardless of documentation, most institutions will check with a third party before rendering a final decision.

Stolen Art, Statute Of Limitations, Title
"Under United States law, neither a thief nor any purchaser through a thief can take good title “
Ralph E. Lerner and Judith Bresler,   ART LAW 1998  Practising Law Institute

This is subject to a statute of limitations which varies from country to country and state to state. However, NY State and California have the toughest statutes.  A significant point, “ the statute of limitations period on the claim to recover stolen property from a good faith purchaser does not begin to run until the possessor refuses to return the object upon demand”. 

It is estimated that over $100 million in stolen art changes hands each year. If an object of art is reported lost or stolen and a false claim is filed and paid it is considered stolen art. A good article on the subject appears at: http://www.artcellarex.com/artlaw3.html The Art Loss Register Ltd is a tremendous resource. The Mission of the ALR is to recover stolen and missing fine art and antiques and to provide a central clearinghouse for acquirers of art to determine good title thereby deterring theft and the trade in stolen art. http://www.artloss.com “Collectors should consider how to minimize risk BEFORE purchase, DURING ownership and what actions to take in the event of a LOSS.”

How can you be an expert in all segments, eras and categories of comic art?
No one can be an expert in every aspect of a field. In addition to a comprehensive database of “comparables”, we have always contacted and utilized people we feel are experts in particular segments. We will continue to do this and have already engaged a core group of remote experts. The key is for the art to arrive at a central location where it can be examined, scanned and condition documented. The image and data can then be sent to remote consultants for rating as we use a minimum of three graders on each item.

Why not create a price guide?
Presently, a comprehensive price guide that attempts to determine a value for each page of art ever produced, is futile. However, collectors should be aware of the criteria that determines value in the current market. Experienced collectors, dealers and professionals do this almost instinctively through experience and knowledge. All we have done is with the help of professionals, collectors and 20 years of formal experience, document these criteria. We have consulted with insurance professionals, collectors, dealers as well as some of the most prestigious professionals in the field. Each participant signed a confidentiality agreement and subsequently reviewed the elements of the evaluation process, while providing a wealth of input based on their collective experience. The structure and presentation required more than a year to conceive and create.

What is the purpose of the microscopic image and the Certificate?
Once a certificate is issued, what prevents an unscrupulous person from attempting to reproduce the art while providing an authentic certificate? How can an item be uniquely identifiable. Our solution is the following;
Provide a certificate with numerous security features
Capture a microscopic image of a tiny detail in the art, down to the fiber pattern that we maintain in our records, and is not made public, that can be used for a comparison in the future.
At all levels of service detailed notes are made about condition that are included on the certificate.
If a person wishes we can take the extra step of placing the art with the certificate in a standard archival Mylar (Melinex) sleeve and seal the majority of the opening. As we note on our site “It is currently the position of Comic Art Appraisals LLC that for the purposes of rating original comic art, encapsulation is not a necessity. Where condition is critical in determining value, as in comic books or other mass produced products, we feel encapsulation and professional inspection for restoration is essential. However, we strongly advise those that consider purchasing a rated example of art to read and compare the notes description on the CAAR Certificate to determine if condition has changed from the time the art was originally rated.”

Is there a potential conflict of interest with All Star Auctions LLC?
Disclaimers:- The first line on the back of each certificate under: DISCLAIMER, LIMITING CONDITIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS reads as follows:

Comic Art Appraisal LLC and/or the employee rating the individual item of art has no financial interest in the items and does not contemplate any such interest in the future. In order to demonstrate the service at San Diego we prepared sample certificates and included them in the art we were exhibiting. This is why they were clearly overprinted with SAMPLE!

How can you compare a cover to an interior page or splash,
or art from different eras?

1. The ratings are relative to their classification of period within the comic book timeline as described in the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. E.g. Golden age to Golden age, Silver age to Silver age, Bronze to Bronze, Modern to Modern, etc. The same holds true for professionals within those time periods. As we progress, we will consider breaking down these categories even further e.g. non-superhero golden age, humor, funny animal, Marvel age, etc.

2. The ratings are relative to their classification as to format in regards to front cover to front cover, chapter splash to chapter splash and interior page to interior page, sketches to sketches, concepts to concepts, roughs to roughs.

Are the 10 factors weighted equally?
1. Although it is a 100 point scale and there are 10 factors they do not bear equal weight of 10 points each, rather the numerical points next to the factors indicate the highest potential number of points for each value factor.

What type of art will we be rating?
We use the term “illustrated narrative art” to describe comic art, illustration and newspaper comic strip art. We represent Frank Frazetta and routinely appraise the top tier of illustration art. We will not be rating sketches or commissions as the market is extremely volatile for these two items.

How can art be rated when it is seemingly so subjective?
Sales among buyers and sellers occur every day. How does a dealer determine a price when they are selling or how does a buyer decide what they will pay when they are ready to make a buying decision? In fact we incorporate objective criteria each time such a decision is made. Again, this is very different than the emotional, nostalgic or aesthetic appeal that initially drew one to the art.

Was anyone within the industry consulted to help validate the criteria and process?
The process was reviewed by two dozen of the most respected groups of professionals, dealers, and collectors in the field, including Steve Geppi, Dan Walker, Jim Steranko, Scott Williams, Jerry Robinson, Albert Moy, Larry Shell (who we eventually came to work with us), Jim Halperin, Dave Mandel, and Steve Borock. Each participant signed a confidentiality agreement and subsequently reviewed the elements of the evaluation process, while providing a wealth of input based on their collective experience. The structure and presentation required more than a year to conceive and create.

Why and how can all the criteria begin with the letter “C”!
The criteria are relatively simple, we always had 10 but we heard from our “panel” that they would be difficult to remember. Since all but 3 of the criteria began with the letter “C” we changed “authenticity” to “confirmation”, “format” to “configuration” and “aesthetics” to “creativity”.

Are the “aesthetics” of an example of art totally subjective?
For our purposes, aesthetics should have little to do with subjective taste, rather it refers to the elements of the art that the market recognizes as important. Below is the definition for that criteria.

Creativity- defined as the aesthetic of the art, (relating to the sense of the beautiful and to heightened sensory perception in general) as well as technical mastery. Think of it as the “how”.
o Action as opposed to static
o Prime (sought-after) period for the artist
o Design
o High contrasts (dark background)
o Subject facing forward
o Quality of inking
o Composition
o Perspective
o Mass
o In the case of a collaborative effort (penciller/inker) the preservation of the penciller’s original vision.
o Modeling
o Proper proportions
o Effective and accurate foreshortening
o Anatomical correctness
o Ability to change the reader’s vantage point
o Control of values
o Use of wash
o Use of color
o Size of characters
o Innovative techniques including breakthroughs
o Uncommon medium for the milieu.

Is a high grade in all the factors always a positive?
Again, the criteria reflect the factors within the current market that affect value. The most volatile factor is likely Cyclical Interest as it addresses outside influences that can change with time, either upward or down. When a high rating appears in Cyclical Interest one should ask further questions.

Cyclical Interest- In all fields of collectibles, cyclical interest can lead to spikes in value within a particular segment. Spikes are usually temporary but in some instances remain on-going. Factors include:

o A collector(s) entering a field and impacting pricing by offering uncharacteristic prices for a very narrow range of items.
o Institutional interest such as an exhibit or academic event.
o A happening such as a character or titles’ anniversary, a movie or TV adaptation may increase (usually temporarily) interest leading to speculation
o In addition, within each collectibles market there are definite segments; in comic book art they may be sectioned by “age” Golden age, silver age, bronze age, or by publisher, Timely, Marvel, DC, Image, Centaur, Fawcett etc.
o Characters and story lines enter in and out of favor as do artists and titles. In determining a value rating , this cyclical interest should be taken into consideration.
o Freshness to the market as defined by the number of times an item has been offered as well as the length of time between offerings.
o A high cyclical rating should encourage further inquires into the basis of the rating.