Wow, you guys have been busy since the last time I posted here !
Dave the Wonder Boy :
I envy YOU! You actually met
That is a memory I expect you'll cherish for
as long as you live. Roz sounds like she was a
very special woman. They were quite fortunate
to have been together for all those years.
I did meet Chris Claremont at a Comic convention
in spring of 1983. I wanted to show him a sample
of my work. I brought a story I'd written and drawn
myself. NOT for future employment, but just for
an overall critique.
He glanced at it, then handed it back to me after
only a minute of looking at it.
" it's not up to professional Standards. ", He told me.
" I know that, " I replied.... " I just wanted you to see it
because you write the X Men and I respect you
because you do a great job! " I told him enthusiastically.
" Thanks. " he said, and walked off.
I didn't like him so much after that, though I read the
X Men for several more years, until fall of 1989. That was
when the book lost its "One big X family" type feel and
began to take on a new direction that I had difficulty
I'd rather have shown that multi part story ( Using heroes
of my own making. ) to Jack Kirby. Now THAT would
have been a great memory!
Thanks for your response, Beardguy.
Sorry about the Claremont thing. But take heart, there's as many really kind and supportive creators as there are abrasive egomaniacs in the comics field. Don't let one rude experience discourage you. Lots of others would be glad to look at your stuff and give you feedback.
I've had some similar responses when I've shown my stuff to other creators. Although I mostly submitted stuff to them by mail.
I've gotten nice encouraging letters from Karen Berger, Richard Corben, Sean Deming (a former editor for Eclipse), Will Eisner, and a few others.
Deming sent me a discarded AIRBOY script, with hand written notes on it by Chuck Dixon, warmly welcoming penciller Stan Woch back to the series (AIRBOY # 33). It was the first comic script I'd seen, that by example, showed me how to format a complete script.
I also got responses to submissions with similar guidelines from Randy Stradley (Dark Horse), and Tom DeFalco (Marvel's then-editor-in-chief, in the post-Shooter era).
But I also had an encounter somewhat similar to your experience with Claremont: Jim Starlin
, who I met at a show in Miami in February 1993, similarly wouldn't look at my stuff. He raised his voice a little bit when I pulled out my script for him.
He said that he used to look at scripts, until he published WARLOCK, and some fanboy bitterly accused Starlin of stealing the concepts in that series from a script he'd shown Starlin a year or two prior. So he said since then, he doesn't look at people's work.
Grim business, that.
Conversely, one time, I mailed a script I wrote to Scott Hampton
, to see if he'd want to draw it, a Twilight Zone-type story that partly dealt with runaways and child abuse.
He didn't send me a letter back.
Instead he called
me at home, and spoke to me for an hour on his tab
, offering me suggestions, primarily that I expand it to a graphic novel instead of a 7-page story, and I'd have a better likelihood of selling it. That was about the most encouraging and considerate response I got from a comics creator.
I'd intended to expand my story to a graphic novel as Hampton suggested, but you know... life intervened. And I never got around to it. But I still plan to.
He also suggested that whether you're a writer or an artist, a good way to get your foot in the door is to find a professional who likes your work and can collaborate with you. That way there's a name connected to the project that a publisher already knows, and they're more willing to publish it.
As it turned out, Hampton told me he was working on a similar project at that time, with writer Archie Goodwin, that also dealt with child abuse, so he didn't want to do two similar stories at the same time.
The BATMAN:NIGHT CRIES graphic novel he described was published about 6 months after we spoke.
I've heard Claremont can be rather rude to fans. He has a reputation similar to Harlan Ellison, he can be friendly, or he can be abrasive with fans, depending on his mood.
I met Ellison at the 1987 San Diego Con as well, and was a bit intimidated at first, by stories from friends who'd met him over the years before then.
One told me that when Ellison asked him during a literary discussion if he'd read Gulliver's Travels
and responded to Ellison that no, he hadn't, Ellison had waved his hand in the guy's face in a dismissive gesture and said "Illiterate asshole...", and then Ellison ignored him and turned to others present.
So I was eager but hesitant to meet Ellison.
And I was very surprised how gracious and friendly Ellison was. He signed a few of my books.
And that was one of the highlights of the 1987 San Diego Con, when Ellison spoke in a large auditorium room for over an hour.
Ellison's presentation was part commentary on the industry, and part stand-up comedy. He was very funny. One example:"Spiderman is swinging through the center of Manhattan 70 stories up, and there's not a bathroom in sight... and you thought that was an air conditioner !..."
He ripped on Jim Shooter a bit.
And on DC's censorship plans, to establish ratings, that had caused Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman and others to resign, and to bash DC in the fan press.
Ellison and Frank Miller are friends, and Ellison sarcastically ripped on Miller's tittilating hint of lesbianism and prostitution surrounding Catwoman in BATMAN:YEAR ONE, that caused Miller to run up on stage and try to take the microphone from Ellison to respond, and Ellison wouldn't let him, and playfully kept the microphone at arm's length while Miller struggled for it.
The audience was doubled over with laughter watching this.
I had an advance registration and wore a nametag, and many of the writers and artists, who I'd never seen, were recognizable to me because of their nametags. And I was similarly recognizable to them.
I initially thought my wearing a nametag was a stupid idea, I mean, who the hell am I?
But it turned out to be a real blessing.
Some others I met at the 1987 San Diego Con were:Sergio Aragones
( the guy is HUGE ! Well over six feet tall, I told him how much I like his MAD magazine and GROO work. He was very pleasant to speak with) , Joe Rubinstein
(one of the best inkers of the late 70's/early 80's, not at all how I pictured him, he was a big bodybuilder type, with short dark hair and glasses. Also very friendly, but I would have guessed he was a cop, rather than a comic book artist), John Muth
(he also later appeared a few years later at a booksigning where I met him again, at Tropic Comics in Fort Lauderdale), Berni Wrightson
(who I also saw later, in December 1995 at a Tropic Comics booksigning, where he wasn't nearly as mobbed, and it was much easier to talk to him), Chris Miller
(who drew several portfolios for Pacific/Schanes&Schanes in the early 80's, and also did several backup stories for Eclipse, in SABRE, if I recall. Very friendly guy), Michael Thibideaux
(also very friendly, he'd been an inker on Kirby's CAPTAIN VICTORY and SILVER STAR, and had just begun publishing a VIKING HEROES series, which was somewhat similar to "the Warriors Three" from THOR. Fun stuff, and he was an absolute pleasure to chat with. ), Peter Sanderson
(Who was a jerk to me. He was one of the first pro's I saw at the convention. I saw his nametag, and said "Hey, Peter Sanderson..." and I started walking over to talk to him, having read many of his letters and articles. And real snotty, he snarls at me and mocks me going "Yeahhh, yeahhh, it's Peter Sanderson... " and walked away with whoever was walking beside him. I have absolutely no idea why he'd react as he did. What an asshole ! I've never given a second look to anything he's done since. ), Kurt Goldzung
(Marketing Director for First Comics, who I knew for years as a comic store owner in Hollywood, Florida, from 1979-1985, before he closed his store to work for First Comics. ),Rick Oliver
(Editorial Director for First Comics, who recognized me from my letters. Again, very friendly, and we talked a long time. I loved what First was publishing at that time, and for four years prior, and lavished unbridled praise on him for the work First was producing. He let on some behind the scenes, of the inner workings of First, and upcoming projects at that time.), Karen Berger
(who also recognized me from my letters to WONDER WOMAN, SWAMP THING, and other books she edited.
And in addition to being very personable, holy geez, what a beautiful woman !!
She showed me a bound folder of xeroxes for the BATMAN:SON OF THE DEMON graphic novel that was released soon after.), Julius Schwartz
(Incredibly friendly and approachable, he reminded me of my own grandfather. Despite his being one of the grandmasters of comics, I had absolutely no competition to speak with him), Peter Gillis
(who actually saw my nametag and approached me before I saw him, having recognized my name from my letters to his books, and spoke to me a long time. He gave me a lot of behind the scenes about SHATTER, that he was working on at the time. ), Mark Evanier
(he was inundated with fans, so we spoke very briefly. ), Robert Silverberg, George Clayton Johnson, Claremont, and Harlan Ellison
, who sat at a table discussion about censorship. A provocative discussion.
The playful bickering between Ellison and Silverberg was priceless.
Ellison was very "free enterprise/anything goes" about editorial control, and Silverberg argued for more editorial responsibility and restraint.
Silverberg brought up a series called "Rapeman" that he said is published in Japan, a storyline that focuses around a thug that anyone can hire to rape and humiliate any woman the person who hires him has a grudge with, and Silverberg said that the series has no redeeming cultural value, that it's just cruel and vicariously sadistic trash, saying that now they wanted to publish this series in the United States, and asked Ellison if they should be allowed to do this. Ellison was stuttering and flabergasted, absolutely tongue-tied, which invoked laughter and wild applause from the audience, that a guy as eloquent as Ellison could be so tongue-tied by such an argument.
At one point during the panel discussion, Byron Preiss
, who was sitting one row in front of me, stood up to make a comment about editorial responsibility, from his own publishing experience. I had no clue it was Preiss, until he stood up with a question and announced himself.
Preiss' own projects, including THE ILLUSTRATED HARLAN ELLISON, published in 1978, which includes a breathtaking version of Ellison's short story "Repent, Harlequin, said the Ticktockman..."
illustrated by Jim Steranko that, along with other material in the anthology book, is a wonderful contribution to the field of comic book art.
As are many other Byron Preiss books from the late 70's, such as Steranko's CHANDLER illustrated book, THE STARS MY DESTINATION adaptation by Howard Chaykin, WEIRD HEROES anthology, and FICTION ILLUSTRATED series.
Preiss was dressed very professionally in a navy blue suit--so unlike the rest of us !--- and was an impressive individual, even among the likes of Ellison and Silverberg. R.A. Jones
, AMAZING HEROES columnist and sometimes comics scripter. I loved his later 1989 four-issue SINBAD miniseries, illustrated by M.C. Wyman, and a second 1990 oneshot western called PISTOLERO, also illustrated by Wyman.
I complimented him profusely for his "Royal Review" of Kirby's best stories that he did in AMAZING HEROES 100 --Jones' contribution to a book-length tribute to Jack Kirby-- selecting his perceived best from the span of Kirby's entire career.
( full-size image at: )http://fullsize.48.GIF
( full-size image at: )http://fullsize.51.GIFhttp://fullsize.1.GIF http://fullsize.143.GIF
Accompanying R.A. Jones was Tony Isabella
. I let on that some of my favorite stories he's written were some issues of WHAT IF?, for Marvel.
They were just two guys I struck up a conversation with, and it was evening, so we weren't wearing nametags, and about 15 minutes into the conversation, I introduced myself and told them my name. And they told me theirs. I said "Holy crap, I know you guys ! I've read your stuff !"
When I first went in the front entrance the first day at the San Diego Con, there was a guy who looked just like Frank Miller, who was wearing an "I'M NOT FRANK MILLER" t-shirt. After seeing Frank Miller later in the show, I think it actually WAS Frank Miller, wearing the t-shirt so he wouldn't get mobbed.
I first saw Harlan Ellison in one of the dealer rooms, looking for back issues. I turned around, and holy shit, there's Harlan Ellison standing right next to me !!
He turned to the dealer I'd just been talking to, and said he was trying to complete his back issue run of CAPTAIN MARVEL JR. issues.
I couldn't believe that this famous author, who for years I'd admired, and for years struggled to collect all his books, who I'd seen interviewed on television like a Hollywood celebrity (which he is) was suddenly so accessible, standing right there next to me.
I also couldn't believe he was a fanboy, just like me, going through bins looking for back issues. I didn't talk to Ellison at that point, I was too awed and speechless. I had another opportunity later.
I kept unwittingly strolling into places where he was.
I was just amazed thoughout the San Diego Con, that every time I turned around, there was another god of the industry, whose work I've admired for years, that I could just walk up to, and thank for the many hours of great storytelling they provided me, and openly discuss their work, often able to chat at length with them.
Even four days at San Diego Con is not enough. No matter how many creators you talk to, there are dozens of others you wish
you had time to talk with.
I've been to many conventions, but I never saw anything like this one. Usually, at most conventions, there are between 5 and 20 creators, but at this show there were hundreds. Virtually everyone in the field.
But there were two main events of the Convention:
First was Harlan Ellison's one-man-show monologue presentation.
And the other was an appreciation of Jack Kirby, with many panels discussing issues related to Jack and his art.
Another panel discussion I sat in on was a Marvel panel sitting in front of a barely-civil audience that cried out for the return of Kirby's artwork to the artist.
This was the 25th anniversary of Marvel (1961-1986), and despite Marvel's hyping the hell out of the event over the past year, Kirby was still not given any credit anywhere for his massive contribution to Marvel's creation.
There were ads that ran during Marvel's 25th anniversary in many Eclipse comics from that year (1986-1987), with a photo of Jack Kirby, and the caption: "Marvel's 25th Anniversary: WHAT ABOUT JACK ?" Paid for by the friends of Jack Kirby.
And needless to say, during the 1987 San Diego Con panel discussions, the panel of Marvel editors were feeling the heat of barely restrained fanboy rage. You could definitely feel the widespread hostility toward Marvel, for its poor treatment of Marvel's greatest contributor. Second only in contribution to Stan Lee, but even THAT's a point that can be argued, whether Kirby or Lee can be most credited with Marvel's success.
It was a watershed year for giving Kirby his due.
( fullsize version of this image at: http://fullsize.23.GIF
)( This image is TALES TO ASTONISH 23, a pre-Marvel cover by Kirby from September 1961, two months before FANTASTIC FOUR # 1. It demonstrates that many of the conventions of Silver Age Marvel fight scenes by Kirby, terrorizing locals of New York, smashing through buildings, and crowds of people screaming in the streets, were conventions of Kirby's in his pre-Marvel monster stories, from 1958-1963, long before it became the "house style" for Marvel, in the peak Marvel period from 1963-1970 )