Before the death of Gene Colan (my favorite artist), I guess I thought creators lived forever. I’m not trying to sound foolish, and I’m aware of Jack Kirby, Dave Cockrum, and a myriad of other creators that died before their time. It just didn’t really hit me until he passed away, that if you miss an opportunity to meet someone, it can really eat away at you. Learn from my mistakes, don’t pass up the opportunity to meet these living legends while you still can.
With that in mind, I was on a mission to meet as many “old school” creators as I could at this year’s New York Comic Con! My mission was a success, for the most part, and it had some ups and downs, but in the end, I was elated with the experience!
First up was Thursday night, and that was more than expected. Previously, with only a Saturday under my belt in 2011, the size of the crowd was way bigger than expected. The hopes of half empty hallways was quickly dashed away. Perseverance was the key, though, and after scoping out the main floor, artist alley was in my sights.
Artist Alley – a place where you can get a signature, and also a place where you can get lost among the madness. This con was different than the last, though, and a well laid out plan was about to be hatched. After a quick waltz around Artist Alley, the line for Mr. Chris Claremont (pic above) was incredibly short! Only about fifteen to twenty people stood between he and I. As I jumped in line, I was told, “Hey dude, the end of the line is over there.” Yeah, the line had to break to leave the aisle open. So, about twenty-five people were in front of me. So what!
The line moved slowly, but I endured. Just as I was about to begin getting annoyed at how long it took, my turn was at hand. As I approached this living legend, I handed him my HC edition of God Loves, Man Kills. His eyes widened, and he began to thumb through it, and talk to me about some of Kitty Pryde’s more interesting moments. It was then that I realized that the reason the line took so long was because he was taking time out to talk with every fan about their books that they brought for him to sign. Not just a quick, look, then signature, then a “next” feeling, but a truly great experience with Mr. Claremont telling me about Kitty, his intentions for her, and also about how a certain writer (who’ll remain anonymous) that followed after him totally took her in a never intended direction. Great experience! (Pic below of Moriarty creator, Daniel Corey.)
Next up was another legend, but this one famous for his pencils that have been eye-catching since the 1970s. On Friday, George Perez was the next person on my list, and this one was a bit tougher than the previous. As I neared the table, there was already quite a line, as one would expect. The con had two people assigned to get people under control, but both dudes were super nice. The guy told me that I must get a ticket, because George is doing sketches and signings, and the occasional picture, too, so to keep things under wraps, they only handed out so many tickets each day. I grabbed my ticket anxiously, and waited. After a short wait, the crowd control told a few of us waiting that it might be a while since he was sketching, too, so if we wanted to leave and come back, we could, because when you come back, the lowest ticket number would get to jump to first in line.
At this point, my wife and I headed out to check out more of the talent in that area. We walked around for about an hour or so, and in the meantime, I hit up another old school great, Michael Golden! He was more than gracious, and signed my copy of Marvel Fanfare #1. After that, I made a point to seek out ultra-talented artist, Matteo Scalera (pic below) (Indestructible Hulk)! I’d met him before at Baltimore Comic Con (2012), and he’s one of those guys you can’t help but root for in the comics world. I then decided to head back over to George Perez’s table, and was stunned that only three more people were in line! I was even more stunned to find my ticket that was in my pocket missing…yeah. As I almost went completely insane, my wife tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t being rational at that point. I felt as if I would end up like Murdoch from the A-Team, after this terrorizing experience. I found a place to sit down and sulk for a while.
A quick trip back over to the main floor was next up, and after bumping into a few friends, I hit up the Midtown Comics booth. Typically they aren’t the best place to find deals, offering a discount, but nowhere near other dealers. This year, though, I did find fifty cent bins, so I dove in! As I was neck deep in a short box, my wife wandered off. She then told me that I was in the presence of the one and only Infinitespeech! We had some time to hang with him and his entourage, but eventually the mayhem would have to end, and we parted ways.
Another dealer caught my big blue eyes, so I jumped in some long boxes head first. I found about ten books at a dollar a pop, and felt satisfied. Something grabbed my attention, though, and I quickly peeked into a few more boxes. Being a big Bronze Age fan, and especially the horror explosion from that era, I was absolutely floored when I found eight issues of The Tomb of Dracula at that price! These books aren’t falling off of the spine, either! I quickly grabbed them, and the attendant looked at me as though I was a crack addict getting a fix. That might actually be an astute comparison in this case, but let’s just move on, OK.
A few purchases later, and it was back to Artist Alley. I was determined to get back on track, as this was my last day at the show. My wife was feeling tired, so she sat down for a break from the con, and probably me, too. Now, I didn’t have any specific plans at that very moment, so I took my backpack, and headed into the abyss. I quickly saw that another one of the industry’s unsung heroes wasn’t overly busy. I grabbed my copy of Fantastic Four #157, and nervously walked toward Rich Buckler’s table. He graciously signed my copy, and I felt slightly better about my day. I was going to chat with him, but he seemed really into a sketch he was doing at the time.
Next, I saw Alex Maleev, and he was chatting it up with his table neighbor. He took a few seconds to sign a copy of Spider-Woman #1, and I headed down the aisle for more. There were a couple of peeps in line for Peter David, but I had two issues of Spectacular Spider-Man that needed his signature! I took a minute to tell him that I was glad to hear his health is doing better, and he said jovially that things are great! A moderate line for Jonathan Hickman, and also Nick Dragotta was on the menu, so I jumped in and prepared myself. Hickman signed a copy of Secret Warriors #1, and then he and Dragotta both signed my copy of East of West #1, too! Dragotta even drew a shady looking cowboy on the book! Two stand up dudes, for sure,
Another artist that I’ve been admiring the work of for a few years now was Olivier Coipel. This guy is nothing short of phenomenal, and as I walked up to the line, I noticed some dudes getting a little crazy behind the curtain. I found the culprits to be exactly who I should’ve expected! Another rendezvous with Infinitespeech and his crew was on hand! We chatted it up about the con and everything in-between. I made it through the line and Coipel signed my Thor #1 (2011), and his table definitely had a great vibe to it.
I figured it was time to just try a Hail Mary, and check out Perez’s table once more. There was literally no one in line, and after the crowd control dude told me he still hadn’t left the table (almost five hours at this point, at least), I asked if he was going to be back later, and he told me that I could scoot in line, and as long as nobody with a ticket showed up before George left, I could meet him! As I crept closer, books in hand, I had the same feeling as when I met Claremont. Extreme nervousness was upon me, but after George looked up, smiled, and asked how I was doing, I felt fine. He checked out my books, then signed two singles and a trade, smiling the entire time! What an example of positivity!
So, after rushing back to my wife to tell her the weekend had been saved by George Perez, we grabbed one more visit with the creator of Moriarty. This interesting take on the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes is a must read for any fan. I snatched up volume one and a signature, then headed back to the main floor. Once there, we took in the sights of all the booths and craziness. Cosplayers galore, tons of booths, and a wide range of personalities and ethnic backgrounds are what make this con such a good experience that everyone should try at least once! The main floor also had a creator that I was excited to meet, too, and after chatting with Adi Granov, I can understand why he has such a devoted group of fans that I will say I’m glad to be a part of. As he signed the first two issues of Hunger for me, we talked about cars, cab drivers, and everything else you can imagine!
Lastly, there were three other things I’d like to mention separately. First, the TwoMorrows Publishing booth was offering a sick fifty percent off the entire booth! If you don’t know about these guys, click the link below, and check them out! They spotlight creators from yesterday and today, with interviews, unfinished artwork, pictures, and anything else you might want to know or see about your favorite creators. The second thing I’d like to talk about was a creator that I met in Artist Alley who’s been around for a few years now, and done work for several different companies. Gabriel Hardman’s work caught my eye when I checked out Agents of Atlas a couple of years ago. I spoke with him and his wife for a few minutes, and both of them were awesome! He’s always willing to talk on Twitter, and interact with fans without being snarky or anything like that. Gabe reminds me of when people are talking football, and they use the phrase “throwback” to describe a tough dude that does things the right way. He reminds me of the old school creators I’d met earlier that day. Another guy that fits that mold is Dave Elliott (pic above), for sure. He’s resurrected Atomeka Press, and it seems poised to make a big splash in the indie/creator owned sector, so check them out!
Overall, the con gets an “A” grade. I did like the floor set up better when I was there in 2011, though, as the Artists were part of the main floor, and not tucked away in a separate room that seemed like a long walk. Other than that, another fine job by ReedPop!