I made a last-minute decision to attend this year’s New York Comic Book Marketplace show organized by Mike Carbonaro & Allen Rosenberg. I wish I had decided a few days earlier when I could have bought an advance ticket cheaper, but what are you going to do? I also wish I’d been able to take photos while I was there, but my camera went kaput a few months ago.
In any case, my main reason for going was that George Perez was the guest of honor. I have an Avengers theme sketchbook that I’ve had going since 2007, and I’ve always hoped I’d be able to get a piece by Perez in it. Well, I got to the show at a little after 10:00 AM, and already the line was really long. It was also moving very slowly, because everyone else was also getting sketches from Perez. I decided I’d try and get something from him some other time, because I really did not want to spend a couple of hours waiting.
The other guest I really wanted to see was Chris Claremont, one of my all time favorite writers. I’ve met Claremont a few times before, but it’s always nice to see him again, because he has written so many great stories over the years. In addition to having him autograph a few X-Men trade paperbacks, I asked him to sign a pair of issues of Uncanny X-Men, specifically #s 204 & 205, which are favorites of mine. They came out in early 1986, when I was nine years old, and were some of the first issues of that series I ever read. Uncanny X-Men #204 features Nightcrawler, one of my favorite X-Men, and it was penciled by Power Pack co-creator June Brigman, whose artwork I love. Issue #205 is a spotlight on Wolverine in a dark story illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith. What I really like about this one is that Claremont tells this very gritty, violent story from the point of view of five year old Katie Power, aka Energizer from Power Pack (yep, them again) and he really makes it work. It enables Claremont to so effectively explore the very disparate aspects of Wolverine, how he is this extremely nasty berserker warrior, yet also have the capacity to be a kind, paternal figure to Katie.
It is a real shame that Marvel does not want to give Claremont any work nowadays. I mean, he wrote Uncanny X-Men and most of its spin-off titles for a period of 17 years, playing a significant role in building a gigantic franchise (and I certainly don’t mean to overlook the parts that Len Wein, Dave Cockrum or John Byrne also played). When Claremont returned to Marvel a decade ago, he did very solid, entertaining work on X-Treme X-Men and X-Men Forever (the later was my favorite Marvel title during the time it was being published). Marvel is very happy to endlessly reprint Claremont’s old stories and to have their newer writers base their stories on the classic arcs he co-created. But the company seems uninterested in giving him any new writing gigs.
Anyway, Claremont is currently working on prose fiction, and I definitely wish him the very best of luck with his new efforts. I’m looking forward to picking up his novels.
Getting back to the show, I did not buy too many comic books, because I already have so much stuff. In fact, I’m looking to get rid of a lot of comic books in the near future. One of the few books I did pick up was the hardcover collection of Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff. That’s one of Peter David’s early works. I’ve wanted to read that one for a while now. Also, Rich Buckler, who penciled that storyline, was a guest at the show. I went over to his table, and he remembered me from our e-mail correspondence. When I gave Buckler the book to autograph, he was genuinely surprised to see it, because he had no idea it had been published. Which means that, yep, Marvel did not bother to send him a copy. Again with the lack of respect by Marvel! In any case, it was a good read, with nice artwork by both Bucker and another favorite of mine, Sal Buscema.
One artist I was very surprised to see at the show was Paris Cullins. I’ve wanted to meet him for years. I like his work a lot. Back in 1988, Cullins penciled a six issue Forever People miniseries written by J.M. DeMatteis and inked by Karl Kesel. He did really nice art for it, and so for some time I had been hoping to get a drawing by him in my Beautiful Dreamer theme sketchbook. I even corresponded with him about it on Facebook in the recent past. So there he was, and this was his first appearance at a NYC show in quite a number of years. Only one problem: his coming was a last minute decision, so I had no idea he was going to be there, and I hadn’t brought along the Beautiful Dreamer book. I was mentally kicking myself. Cullins really wanted to do a piece for me, and suggested that he could draw it on a loose piece of paper to paste into my book. But I felt it just would not have been the same. So I left the show feeling pretty disappointed. No Avengers sketch by Perez, and no Beautiful Dreamer drawing by Cullins.
About an hour later I got back it Queens, and I told Michele what happened. Her suggestion was that I should take my sketchbook and go back to the convention. At first I thought that was a crazy idea, but then I realized I had nothing to do all day, so I shrugged and rushed back into Manhattan. As soon as I got there, I went directly to Cullins’ table and half out of breath said something like “Good, you’re still here. If you had left, I’d be feeling very silly right about now.” Cullins ended up working on my sketch right away, which was good for me but probably didn’t especially thrill everyone else waiting for a sketch! I think he could tell from my Beautiful Dreamer tattoo that I was a huge fan of the character, and that I’d really appreciate what he was drawing.
In addition to the piece by Paris Cullins, I also got some very nice sketches from Dave Fox, Jim Salicrup, and Billy Tucci in my Avengers book. I’ve posted scans on Comic Art Fans:
It was a pretty good show but, between this and Mocca Fest, I’m pretty worn out when it comes to comic book conventions. Think I’ll wait until the New York Comic Con rolls around in October before I go to another one.