Last comics standing

By Bill Castanier

Local comic book collector to showcase collection at weekend event

Dan Frazier has long been drawn to comic books. The Lansing native, 52, has been collecting comics since he was young, and throughout his life he’s accumulated more than 30,000 — about a third of which are signed. He also owns a collection of one-of-a-kind book art, including work by Silver Age artists Dick Ayers, John Buscema, George Perez, Jerry Robinson and George Tuska, most of which was custom drawn for him.

This weekend, Frazier will display a selection of 70 to 80 of his most prized collectibles in a gallery at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi. It will be the first public showing of his artwork. Frazier said attendees will be able to tour his gallery for a small donation, which will go toward Dan’s Dream, a charity he and his friends have established. The charity supports literacy, helps comic book artists in need and provides legal defense for censorship cases. The name is borrowed from an article written by Perez for his fan magazine.

Douglas Laurion, a local collector and one of the charity’s board members, said that the art just “seems to find” Frazier. And while it may have been hidden for many years, he said that Frazier is eager to unveil his prize collection.

He doesn’t keep it as a treasure to be locked away,” Laurion said. “He wants to share something he loves. He’s pure of heart and that inspired me to work with him.”

Laurion said what makes the comic art collection so unique is the artists are drawing something they may have never drawn before. For example, Alex Ross, who is best known for his Superman art, drew an original Darth Vader piece for Frazier. There are also mashups in the collection featuring superheroes from competing comic book companies.

Pete Ryan, owner of Capital City Collectibles and another board member of Dan’s Dream, said he hopes that the collection can one day be used to showcase comic art locally in galleries and museums, such as the Broad Art Museum.

Dan’s Dream also plans to digitize specific pieces of art to sell individually. He will also raffle off a Perez drawing of Batman. Not many collectors of Frazier’s caliber are willing to give up art for charity, but Frazier was rather cavalier about the sudden gush of giving.

“Why not?” he shrugged. “It’s going for a good cause.”

Pieces in Frazier’s comic art collection vary in size from 8 %u2001by-11 inches to 2 feet by 3 feet. The artists have worked in a variety of mediums, including airbrush, watercolors and even Wite-Out.

Dan’s Dream is working closely with another local charity — Creating Heroes Steve’s Way — which was established following the death of Stephen Jahner, who was the previous owner of Capital City Collectibles. Creating Heroes promotes literacy and math by using comic books as teaching tools.

Frazier said his goal is to give back and inspire youth.

“I want people to be inspired by all this and have people enjoy it,” he said. “I want kids to know they can do it.”

Laurion estimates that there are about 2,000 comic collectors in Greater Lansing and said it’s likely that many of them will travel to Novi this weekend. The event will draw more 100 comic book artists — including the legendary Stan Lee — and over 50 actors, models and pop culture icons who will pose for pictures and sign autographs, including Lou Ferrigno, Margot Kidder, Cary Elwes and Micky Dolenz.

Michigan author bus tour

On the way to Novi, collectors may pass the Made in Michigan Writers Series Bus Tour going in the other direction on I-96. The two-day, four-stop bus tour will travel from Detroit to Grand Rapids with a cargo of writers, stopping for an appearance at Schuler Books in Okemos at 3 p.m. Saturday. Authors Michael Delp, Janet Kauffman, Andy Mozina, Ron Riekki, Phillip Sterling and National Book Award Winner Gloria Whelan will read excerpts from their work and discuss their favorite Michigan authors and do readings from those works as well. Expect to hear from the works of Jim Harrison, Theodore Roethke, Ernest Hemingway and Bonnie Jo Campbell.

The authors are all published by Wayne State Press, and the tour is sponsored by the Meijer Foundation, the Historical Society of Michigan and the Michigan Women’s Historical Center.

“My Favorite Michigan Author”
part of the Made in Michigan Writer Series Bus Tour
3 p.m. Saturday
Schuler Books & Music
1982 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos
(517) 349-8840