A few weeks back I did a review of the Valkyrie miniseries by Chuck Dixon, Paul Gulacy & Will Blyberg that Eclipse Comics published in 1987. In short, I’d really enjoyed “Prisoners of the Past,” which had both an exciting & thoughtful story and superb artwork.
While I was putting together that post, I came across the official website of Paul Gulacy. I’ve been a fan of Gulacy’s work ever since high school. I discovered his art through the Coldblood-7 and Shanna the She-Devil serials he drew in Marvel Comics Presents, as well as his amazing work on the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight arc “Prey” with writer Doug Moench and inker Terry Austin.
As someone who collects original comic book artwork, I’d long hoped to one day get something by Gulacy, be it a page of published art or a convention sketch. I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to obtain a commission, though. I just assumed that Gulacy was such a popular, busy artist that he’d have a long list of commission requests, and that he’d be charging a significant amount to do them. But looking over his website back in late April, I saw that he was currently between projects and available for a short time to do commissions. There were several examples of recent pieces he’d done for other fans & collectors, and they looked great. I figured I had nothing to lose by asking, so I e-mailed Gulacy for his prices.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gulacy’s commission rates were very reasonable. So I decided to go for it, because I had no idea when he’d be free again. I sold off a few pieces of published artwork that had been in my collection for several years to raise the funds, and mailed off a check to Paul. I requested that he draw Valkyrie.
Well, this is what arrived in the mail this week. It looks amazing. Gulacy decided to improvise a bit, tweak Val’s appearance, give her a slightly more modern look. I was surprised, but pleasantly so. It’s a very beautiful, sexy illustration with lots of energy to it.
I had a good experience with this. Having heard plenty of horror stories from other people about artists who took years to finish a commission, this was effortless. From the time that Gulacy received my check in the mail to the time that he shipped out the finished artwork it must have been a little over a month. And it probably would have been even quicker, but Gulacy already had two other commissions to do ahead mine, and he also was a guest at Comicpalooza in Texas. So, yeah, very quick turn-around. I definitely recommend getting something done by him.
I’d actually ended up raising extra money in my art sale, and so I took the opportunity to pick up something else. It turned out that comic art dealer Anthony Snyder had a number of older pages by Gulacy for sale, including several from Valkyrie #3. And, again, they were reasonably priced. I purchased the next to last page of the issue. It has Val returning home after her trial in the Soviet Union, her thoughts turning to Davy Nelson III, the son of the original Airboy, with whom she has fallen in love.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I love about Paul Gulacy’s work is that, yes, he draws incredibly sexy woman, but he never lets that get in the way of telling the story. He doesn’t just toss in a bunch of gratuitous pin-up shots. Instead, he concentrates on creating solid, effective, dramatic layouts. Gulacy did nice work on this very character-driven page, giving Val a wishful, contemplative expression. His pencils are effectively inked by Will Blyberg.
Fun fact: I showed a picture of this page to Chuck Dixon on Facebook. He responded by telling me that when Gulacy originally handed in the uninked pencils, instead of drawing an image of Airboy on the right side among the clouds, he drew the Three Stooges. Nyuck nyuck!
Gulacy is, as of this writing, still available for commissions. If you are interested, he can be contacted through his website.
Fine print section: The character of Valkyrie is in the public domain. The above commission artwork is trademarked (® or TM) and copyrighted (©) 2014 by Paul Gulacy.