158. NEW YORK COMIC-CON 2007, Three

diary entry: February 23-25, 2007, part three

STERANKO

I poked down to say hello to Jim Steranko. He saw me and said, “Oh, you made it!” I told him we decided last minute that I’d come without the rest of the family. He said how pleased he is I wasn’t wearing my usual ugly tie. I decided not to wear them this trip, because it would just be too much to pack, in addition to all my books that I would have to carry myself this trip.

He said he’d been having a streak of bad luck lately, and I joked, “And then you saw me coming, and it got worse.” He got a kick out of that.

Later in the weekend, I showed him my giant monster book and asked if he might be willing to give me a quote I could use to promote the next issue. He flipped through it and told me, “Gee, I don’t know, Chris. If I give you a quote, then all my friends will say, You gave him a quote, why don’t you give me a quote? I might have to pass.” I told him, what if I quote you, “I was having a streak of bad luck, and then I saw Chris coming, and it got worse.” He laughed and said he just might do that.

Before I left, someone brought up a Nick Fury comic for him to sign, and he said, “Nope. I won’t sign that.” And there was an uncomfortable pause, and then Jim kind of explained, “You don’t treat people like that. You know the story.” The person nodded understandably. I don’t know the story, but it makes me curious to find out.

Then someone opened a Batman Black and White book for him to sign. He said there was an interesting story about this piece. Jim drew his pin-up and sent it to Mark Chiarello, the editor. Mark said it looked great, but Jim felt like it was missing something. He sat on it for a while, and then played with it and added some op-art white silhouettes of bats into the composition. He re-sent the image, and told Mark, now it’s good. Use this version.

Mark told him he didn’t agree, and that he liked the other one better. Jim said no. That’s not the piece. Mark said he liked the other one better, and that’s the one he was going to use. Jim told him, I’ll tell you what. Go ahead and use the old one, and then never call me again, because I will never do any work for you, ever. Mark, of course, said if that’s how it’s going to be, he’ll use the new one. And Jim told him Mark will call him in a couple months and tell him he realizes Jim was right. And Jim added that Mark did call him in a month and tell him Jim was right.

TED McKEEVER

I saw where Ted McKeever was sitting, and I’ve always been intrigued by his art. Often, when I read his stories, they’re so dark and disturbing, I don’t enjoy experiencing them, although I continue to be intrigued and curious. His style of art is fascinating to me.

I finally saw him at his table, but generally he was visiting and had people crowded around him, and I had other people to try looking for, so I continued to wander past him. Also, I felt a little afraid of him in a way. He’s an angular, muscular guy with a shaved head, and frankly, I was a little intimidated by or afraid of meeting him. I didn’t know what someone with art like that would be like.

Finally I saw him with just one person, and it looked like he was drawing a sketch. I poked over and saw he was doing Spider-Man. He’d relatively recently done a Spider-Man story for the “Tangled Web” comic, and he’d done a Batman and a Superman revamp. I asked him how he liked doing mainstream superheroes. He smiled and looked up at me and said he really enjoys it. IF they let him to do what he wants to with them. That got us talking about how lately he’s been having trouble finding work, UNTIL the Marvel Zombies comics came out that sold so well, and now all of a sudden, DC is calling him, trying to do horror comics of their own that they think his style would work nicely for.

He mentioned how strange he thinks it is that companies haven’t been taking chances with any of their comics lately. He pointed out that if you look at all the comics that were revolutionary, they tended to be the dying characters that were about to be canceled. Claremont’s X-Men. Miller’s Daredevil. Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. You could even go back to Lee-Ditko’s Spider-Man, in that it was the last issue of a dying book, or Fantastic Four, which Stan Lee describes as a book he decided he would just do whatever he wanted with, because he was ready to move on to a new profession, so he reasoned the worse that could happen is he could just get fired and move on.

I showed Ted what I’m doing and he seemed really excited about drawing something for me. I asked if he’d have time to do something at the con, and he said he thought so, but to check back with him. He showed me his list of commissions, and it looked moderately long. He told me he’d actually rather do my pin-up, but he had committed to these others. I really enjoyed visiting with him. I felt like we hit it off nicely.

I left him feeling hopeful, but as the con wore on, I began to realize he still had a very big list of sketches still to do ahead of me, and it began to sound increasingly likely he might not be doing any pin-ups for me here. He eventually even said he’d like to do something nice and take his time with it, since my books had so many great, big-name artists involved. I asked if he was at very many other conventions, and he said he barely goes to any. We left with me getting the contact info for his representative, and plans for me to contact him.

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