In the Limelight

In advance of the gala opening of the exhibit Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture & Beyond at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (GEM) in Baltimore on Friday, December 13, 2013, artist Denys Cowan packed and shipped 29 pieces of art in one package via UPS on Thursday, December 5.

At the same time, exhibit curator Michael Davis shipped another set of pieces to be shown in the exhibit.

As they were preparing their shipments, Cowan and Davis were aware of the winter storms hitting the east coast, so they took this into account. The art was wrapped in plastic, sealed with tape, then placed in oversized cardboard boxes, and again sealed with at least three layers of packing tape.

Neither gentleman is a stranger to shipping original comic book artwork.

Both packages were shipped for overnight delivery. As it turned out, they had been given the wrong cut-off time for the UPS location they had chosen, but the work would still arrive by Saturday, leaving enough time to have the pieces readied for presentation.

Both arrived at UPS in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday, December 6. At that point, though, their destinies diverge.

The artwork shipped by Davis left the Louisville hub and was delivered to GEM on Saturday, December 7.

Cowan’s package sat at the Louisville location for two more days, and to date UPS has not explained why.

When the package was delivered to GEM on Tuesday, December 10, it contained only one of the 29 pages of original comic art that had been packaged by Cowan (UPS did try to deliver the package on Monday, December 9, but GEM is closed on Mondays).

Only an 11” x 17” pen and Ink Wolverine #125 interior page by Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz was still in the package, and even it was partially sticking out.

Missing were covers and pages and concept pieces, impossible to replace items ranging from character turnarounds for Static, Rocket and Hardware to covers and interior pages from Hardware to pieces featuring Batman, Steel and more.

According to Davis, UPS has offered no explanation as to why the shipment sat in Louisville for two extra days, but they have suggested that poor packaging was to blame for the missing pages.

“So, the packing tape (used by professional movers, among others, to keep boxes sealed, hence the name packing tape) somehow came loose, every layer simply came apart, the plastic-sealed art then fell out, the plastic opened 28 pieces of art with it, but one somehow crawled back in the box and was able to make the trip from Kentucky to Baltimore?” Davis posted in a column on ComicMix.com.

“While UPS might not realize what they’re dealing with, the comic book and original art communities clearly do. We’ve already seen the story in Michael’s column picked up by Robot 6, Comics Alliance, The Nerds of Color, and it’s been popping up all over Facebook,” said Steve Geppi, founder of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.

Geppi is also President and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Comic Distributors, which some may remember is also a UPS customer.

“Over the next few days, we will be reaching out to as many people as possible. Our goals are to let people know exactly what art is missing. The pieces are listed below and pictured with this article. Not only will be using our various email newsletters and social media, we’ll be personally contacting comic art collectors and dealers and asking them to help spread the word,” Geppi said. “In fact, that effort is well under way.”

Another goal of this will be to make people aware that UPS has basically been unresponsive to this situation.

“The last thing I was told was nothing could be done to expedite the ‘process’ because UPS treats every single ‘lost’ package the same. They are all of equal importance,” Davis said on Monday.

“I’ve placed numerous calls to UPS and have made it crystal clear what was missing was the art of the man whose idea it was and from which the Milestones show sprung. I made it extremely clear that if this was a show on cubism they had ‘lost’ Picasso’s art,” he said.

“The woman I said that to didn’t get it. ‘The Jackson Five exhibit without Michael.’ That she got. Didn’t matter,” he said.

“I spoke to 11 different people during the week. All were extremely nice; all were as useless as a condom worn on an ear,” he said.

In addition to the two-day delay at Louisville, there has been no explanation of the different tape apparently used to reseal the package in transit.

“Although Denys Cowan’s art was insured, he would much rather have the pieces back, and we would love to be able to add them to the wonderful exhibit they were intended to be a part of,” Geppi said. “Any assistance anyone can offer in tracking them down will be greatly appreciated.”

Among the pages missing are the following:

Batman Ultimate Evil #1 Cover
Denys Cowan & Kent Williams
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Fight For Tomorrow #1 Page 6
Denys Cowan & Kent Williams
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Flags of Our Fathers #1
Denys Cowan & Klaus Janson
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Hardware #2 Page 7
Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Hardware #2 Page 9
Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Hardware #3 Cover
Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Hardware #3 Page 7
Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Hardware #5 Page 4
Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Steel #35 Page 8
Denys Cowan & Tom Palmer
11” x 17” Pen and Ink

Additionally, there are concept pieces such as "turnarounds" for Hardware, Rocket, and Static, more Hardware pages, more Flags of Our Fathers pages, and other material also missing.

Anyone having information about the artwork listed below may contact Melissa Bowersox, President of Geppi's Entertainment Museum, by phone at (410) 458-4290 or by email at bmissy@geppismuseum.com.