The Emerald City ComicCon fast approaches, only days away. I have been busy in preparation, selecting my comics to bring and get signed: The first ten issues of Starman for James Robinson that I had signed by Tony Harris back in 2001. The first ten or so issues of Justice League International for Kevin Maguire. Kingdome Come for Mark Waid. Astro City for Kurt Busiek. Incredible Hulk #181 for Len Wein. And yes, my battered old copy of X-Men #1 that I will grudgingly pay Stan Lee $40 to sign.
Meeting creators, getting a signature on a treasured book—it’s a pretty simple thing at face value, but the experience is so much more than the finished product. Getting face-to-face contact with creators can make amazing memories.
Some of my favorites are chatting Japanese monsters with Mike Mignola, Paul Smith’s rant about storytelling in comics that was my first “Grind and Re-Wind” article, James O’Barr being slightly shell-shocked at all the attention he was receiving for his new comic The Crow, Sheldon Moldoff and his wife Shirley dishing dirt on Batman-creator Bob Kane, Marie Severin being thrilled that someone my age was so excited about meeting her, actually physically running into Julius Schwartz while wandering around the San Diego ComicCon and his witty response (“Oh my God! You’re Julius Schwartz!” “I know who I am but who the hell are you?”), and Will Eisner taking the time to chat with each fan rather than just signing their comics assembly-line style
There are many.
Digging through my collection made me think of all those creators I haven’t had a chance to meet, and those who have passed away so that the chance will never come. People like C.C. Beck, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, and Gil Kane would top my list, but unfortunately it is too late. So here instead is my “Top 5 Convention Wishlist” of living creators who I would be thrilled at the chance to meet, get a signature and make some new memories with. (Along with what I would have them sign!)
1. Alan Moore–At the top of my list is the eccentric genius himself. Really Alan Moore is the modern equivalent of Will Eisner, a guy who created the very language of comics. Pre-Moore and post-Moore, the comics world was forever changed. Unfortunately, I think the chance of this is pretty slim, as I really can’t see Alan Moore with his giant beard sitting at a convention table signing endless copies of The Watchmen for gushing fan boys and speculators. I would have a better chance of meeting him by flying to Northampton and hanging around in strange bars for awhile hoping he would wander in.
It would be rough choosing just what Moore comic I would have him sign, but I would probably go with my hardbound copy of The Watchmen that Dave Gibbons signed many years ago, complete with its little drawing of Rorschach saying “Hurm..Zack.”
2. Jerry Ordway–My all-time favorite superhero is Captain Marvel, and no one alive does the Big Red Cheese like Jerry Ordway. On top of that, this man’s inks have gone over the pencils of pretty much every great comic artist, from Jack Kirby and Gil Kane to John Byrne and Walt Simonson. Jerry is no stranger to the convention circuit, but he seems to stay on the west coast so I don’t know if this one will ever happen. But the chances aren’t too bad.
For Ordway, it would definitely be my Power of Shazam! hardcover and as many of The Power of Shazam! ongoing series that he would be willing to sign. And I would happily fork over some cash for an original drawing of Captain Marvel.
3. Frank Miller–Frank has gotten a little weird lately, and his skills have definitely gone a bit off, but like Alan Moore, Frank Miller is one of those guys who just exploded my little brain with series like Ronin and The Dark Knight Returns. I was a serious Miller-collector for awhile, and even though there isn’t much variation in Sin City, if he puts out a new one, I am sure to pick it up. Frank seems to have gone all Hollywood recently, but he still makes an occasional appearance if he has something to promote. But I would probably have to go to San Diego.
This would be one of the toughest choices. Dark Knight Returns? His amazing Daredevil work? The Wolverine mini-series? Ronin? Ultimately, I think I would go with The Dark Knight Returns because it is the most ground-breaking of the lot.
4. Roy Thomas–Roy Thomas seems to have written pretty much every Marvel comic at one time or the other, but I will always think of him as the modern caretaker of Robert E. Howard’s most famous character Conan. In fact, the Conan that most people know is more Roy Thomas’s Conan than Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Roy Thomas makes regular appearances at the San Diego ComicCon, but here’s hoping he will make the trip up to Seattle one day.
My first choice for Roy Thomas would be his fantastic early run on Conan the Barbarian with artist Barry Windsor-Smith, but the problem is…I don’t own very many of these. I do however have The Avengers #57 with the first appearance of Thomas-creation The Vision, so that would probably make it on the list. And I recently acquired Dark Horse’s fantastic Archive collection of the Thomas/Windsor-Smith run on Conan, so I would want a signature on that too.
5. John Byrne–Like Frank Miller, John Byrne’s glory days seem to be behind him, but what glory days they were! His runs on Fantastic Four and The X-Men are just some of the best comics every made. Beautiful art and epic stories. They wowed me when I first read them, and they wow me know. Having John Byrne appear at the Emerald City Comic Con doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch, so maybe someday…
For Byrne, it would be no contest. The “Dark Phoenix Saga” from The X-Men. One of the few comics stories to actually make me cry.
Whew! Narrowing that down to five was tougher than I thought! George Perez, Barry Windsor-Smith, Sergio Aragonés, Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Marv Wolfman, Dennis O’Neill, Jerry Robinson and Bob Burden all belong on that list somewhere! Not to mention those that I excluded, like Mike Mignola and Mizugi Shigeru because I have already met them, but would love to do so again. Here’s hoping!