By Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
Attending a comic Con is one of the few events in our culture that offers the opportunity to meet favorite artists and writers. You can purchase a small or large piece of original art most of which is reasonable in price. Without the work of these talented people there would be no comics or conventions.
I spent a good bit of time this year at Artist’s Alley during New York Comic Con helping Danny Fingeroth at his table. (editor at Marvel and writer of numerous books) Thus I had a front row seat to an array of industry folks who came by to say hello.
Bob Layton, best known for his work on Iron Man had the table next to ours and fans flocked to speak to him and get his autograph. My favorite moment was a tiny little boy of around 5 dressed as Iron Man who had his photo taken next to Bob. It was the quintessential adorable moment. Paul Levitz, past president of DC strolled by. Robin Riggs, a prolific and superb artist for both Marvel and DC sat on the other side and was also inundated with fans including small children wanting to have their photo taken with him.
I finally got to meet Tom DeFalco, editor at Marvel and especially noted for his writing for Spider Man. Just so you know how revered he is, a fan came up to have Danny sign a comic and nearly passed out when he realized Tom was also there.
Robert Sikoryak stopped by and it was a treat to meet him. His current work is a witty rendition of some of the classics of literature—Masterpiece Comics.
Joe D’Esposito, a wonderful artist who started his career working for Neal Adams and then ventured into painting came by and showed us his exquisitely drawn book in progress on Bernard Krigstein who wrote an EC story called “Master Race” drawn by Al Feldstein. It was fun to listen in on all the industry inside talk.
I was able to wander the aisles–well push my way through the throng and this is just a small sample of some of the terrific people who were showing their artwork. As far as I’m concerned this is one of the primary reasons to attend any comic con and especially in New York where so many people in the industry from the past and present live.
I ran into Alex Simmons, one of my favorite writers. Alex who has written for Archie and Scooby Doo has created an exciting hero—Blackjack, an African-American soldier of fortune whose exploits take place in Indiana Jones territory. The comics are fun and beautifully drawn.
Allen Bellman, (93 years old) who was at Timely and Marvel during the Golden Age and part of the Captain America team was across the aisle. Allen is a ball of fire and always has a snappy comeback for any situation. He’s holding forth here in classic Allen Bellman fashion explaining the facts of Super Life to a reporter from a French magazine. His wife Roz is a marvel in her own right.
Joe Staton, an artist who drew Dick Tracy for many years and his wife Hilary were just down the alley. Joe worked for both Marvel and DC and was the artist for the super-hero E-Man among a long list of achievements. Besides being a gentleman, Joe is one of the best artists working.
It’s always a pleasure to see Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz, graduates of the Joe Kubert School and artists for Archie Comics. I managed to get artwork from each several years ago at a Mocca event and I’ve been a fan ever since. Dan created the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, Kevin Keller.
I passed by Scott Hanna, a prolific artist for DC and Marvel (are we seeing a theme here) and his gorgeous wife. I snagged a signed piece by Scott of a Batman comic several years ago when he came up to the Berkshires for a comics event and I’ve been following his work ever since.
Gregory Benton, whose work is beautifully outside the box and is part of the exhibit Comics at Columbia: Past, Present, Future was on the scene. Gregory has an impressive resume including DC and the New York Times as well as The Village Voice and his book B+F. Word to the wise–he’s someone to watch as his career moves forward.
Ryan Dunlavey is a terrific artist I just met who has done the artwork for a marvelous book with Fred Van Lente, Action Philosophers from Dark Horse. I interviewed them and will have more to say.
There were also some new to me artists that struck my fancy. My niece Super Quigs loves Mouse Guard and David Petersen’s work is exciting to see. He’s going to be illustrating a version of Wind in the Willows. All of these guys are generous, kind and super fun to talk to besides being great talents.
I always look for someone new who strikes my fancy and I discovered among others, Kristen Gudsnuk and her comic Hench Girl: The Villain with a heart of gold. I love seeing Kristen’s comics and she’s also someone to keep an eye on.
Hunter Fine created Nerd Pimp and did a successful Kickstarter project to self-publish and get his graphic novel out into the world. It’s quirky and fun so keep your eyes open for its appearance.
And last but not least is Easy Pieces by Neil Dvorak who is working way outside the box. He’s a true original and that’s what it’s all about.