In the last 21st Century Da Vinci, I focused on Greg Capullo. Today, I spotlight Identity Crisis artist Rags Morales. Just as Leonardo Da Vinci shaped the future with his scientific thinking and master artistry, I seek comic book artists whose works will be long revered.
What are the criteria for a #FutureShaper on the order of Da Vinci? Last time we discussed some relevant characteristics. A modern-day Da Vinci boasts a solid track record of notable works. Huge events and long runs on a series both stand out. Preferably, the artist holds credits on leading, grade A characters for the top publishers. Also, market demand paints an encouraging picture. Are collectors buying comics and original art produced by our illustrious candidate? Finally, fans prop up their favorites–who wants to speak up for Rags Morales when the spotlight is on?
Identity in Crisis: Who is Rags Morales?
First, let’s explore Rags’ body of work. He started in the early 1990s on the Dungeons and Dragons related series Forgotten Realms. From there, Morales moved on to Valiant Comics where his credits include Archer and Armstrong. Aside from the fact that the series was created by legend Barry Windsor-Smith, it doesn’t move the excitement meter for most. Fortunately, for Rags and my post, his artistic canvas was about to change. Soon, Morales landed regular duties on Hourman. Later, he filled in on JSA before his popular collaboration with Geoff Johns and Michael Bair on Hawkman.
Morales shined in the 2004 DC mini-series Identity Crisis. Certainly, that series challenged Morales. It featured a plethora of characters befitting a DC Universe event. Further, little known or forgotten characters starred as well. Each needed to be distinct among the masses.
In contrast, Morales carved his name on the cornerstone of DC’s most recognized character. Morales penciled the Action Comics reboot featuring Superman. So, Morales meets the criteria with memorable works on the DC event series Identity Crisis and regular duties on a signature character, Superman.
Spotlight on Market Demand
While there is still time for Morales to build an even stronger body of work, overall, he checks the box. Does market demand for his comics and original art also measure up? Starting with Identity Crisis, the series is not groundbreaking. However, the series did get some critical acclaim from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). The series does not boast extraordinary CGC sales yet. In fact, Identity Crisis 1 GoCollect FMV is only $34 in 9.8 at present. Interestingly, issue 4 sold for $299 for grade 9.8 through eBay in April. The graded 9.8 FMV for that issue is $130. I can’t say WHY it is in demand, but when I see a pop like that compared to other similar items, I anticipate SPECTACULAR SALES GROWTH for the original art that went into the issue.
Morales Art on Display
Morales’ original art is still affordable. Forgotten Realms 19 cover art sold for just over $2,000 through Heritage Auctions in May. In my grading system, it scores C1 (lowest cover score). That said, covers usually command a premium. Interior art by Morales including works on Hourman and The Crusaders sold for well under $200 in 2020. One of the best recent sales for Morales through HA.com came on a Hawkman splash page that sold for $456 last year. I believe that page will appreciate significantly because Hawkman is a signature character for Morales. In addition, the splash is dynamic with a lot of across-the-room eye appeal.
Other Morales art that caught my eye includes sales of pages from the Identity Crisis series. Four individual page sales ranged in price from $53 to $311 with an average price of $194 in 2014. Two years earlier, all 29 pages of Issue 7 sold as a group for $4,780, roughly $165 per page. I’ll be curious to see what similar Identity Crisis pages could fetch now. Again, the pop on prices for issue 4 suggests that some art within issue 4 may also enjoy great demand.
Rags Morales: 21st Century Da Vinci
I want to see more from Rags, but he has plenty of time to add to his portfolio. Fans of his work should investigate opportunities to snag his original artwork before prices escalate. In the end, collectors like you will determine if Rags Morales is a 21st Century Da Vinci.