The Boston ComicCon I attended back in July was the first comic book convention I had attended in about fifteen years, so it was, in a lot of ways, a brand new experience, and it shaped how I would view future cons. Like, for example, the one I went to last Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire.
I knew Granite State ComicCon would be a different experience, a much smaller and potentially more intimate affair. There weren't any panels advertised, there weren't any big publisher booths, none of the A-list writers and artists from DC or Marvel. But the writers and artists who were there were incredibly gracious, cool, and best of all--available! I didn't get a chance to talk to art legends like Neal Adams, Tim Sale, and George Perez at Boston because I didn't want to stand in line for an hour. At GSCC, however, I got to annoy the hell out of Ethan Van Sciver as he was setting up his booth.
The first artist I talked to was Aaron Kuder, soon to be the regular artist on Action Comics. As it happened, I had just read the DC Villians Month spotlight issue Superman #23.4: Parasite #1, written and drawn by Kuder. No one else was at his booth when I arrived, so I approached him to tell him how much I enjoyed reading his Parasite special.
I asked him how the opportunity to not only illustrate the issue but script it, too, came about. He said he was talking to his editor about the project and they were throwing out names of possible writers. Feeling bold, Kuder asked if he could take a stab at writing it himself. Because they were far enough ahead of schedule, editorial gave him the go-ahead to write the issue. I asked how much of the story was his and how much came from editorial. He answered diplomatically, "They gave me guidelines."
After that we talked about his upcoming work on Action Comics starting with November's issue #25. He sounded very excited about the issues to come, and considering Greg Pak is writing the book for him, I have to agree. That book should be very, very good, indeed!
I circled around, meeting some of the smaller creators, bought a few indy books, took a picture of the Ghostbusters next to the portrait of Viggo the Carpathian, because my wife would love that; and then I found Billy Tucci, from whom I commissioned the beautiful Black Canary sketch I posted on Monday.
While waiting for my Tucci sketch, I had the opportunity to flip through some of the back issue bins. I happily found a selection of Action Comics Weekly from the late '80s for only fifty cents! Black Canary had a backup strip running eight chapters from issues #609 to 616, and twelve more appearances from #624 to 635. Twenty appearances in all, of which I was able to pick up nine for less than ten dollars. (Sunday night, I ordered the other issues from MyComicShop.com.)
They didn't have issue #609, the famous Brian Bolland cover depicting Black Canary burning her costume from the Justice League International era, but they did have #624, with this sweet Black Canary cover drawn by the great Alan Davis!
For some inexplicable reason, this image had completely slipped under my radar. I had never seen this picture of Black Canary until I pulled the comic out of the fifty-cent bin… and it was like the magic of my earliest childhood experiences in a comic store revisited. "Black Canary Strikes Back!" There she was, on the cover, kicking ass, just trashing three hoods, looking all at once sexy and classy. Yeah, it was an Alan Davis cover.
Once I have the other issues collecting her backup strips, I'll post reviews here on the blog.
I picked up my Tucci commission not long after. I was ready to leave, completely satisfied, but my friend was disappointed that Ethan Van Sciver hadn't arrived after two hours. Right as we were getting ready to leave, though, EVS appeared--as if from a trapdoor in the floor--and began setting up his booth right behind us.
My friend and I talked to Van Sciver briefly as he set up his table and sketchpad. I told him how much I enjoyed his work on Batman: The Dark Knight, and he said he was beginning work on an "event comic" for DC that he was starting the next day (which would have been this past Sunday). He couldn't announce what the project was, but said it will be DC's Free Comic Book Day issue for May.
(I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be a preview for Bronze Tiger: Rebirth #1.)
Van Sciver had two prints from 2011 on his table for ten dollars each. I bought one for my friend, and one for myself, and got them both signed.
The print I got for my friend features Batman and the Damian Wayne Robin attacking the Penguin.
The one for me was a group shot of just about every big DC hero except Black Canary.
As much as I love Batman, I was happy my friend wanted that print more, because I love this ensemble piece of so many heroes. The central character of the group is Firestorm, the character Ethan Van Sciver redefined visually and more for the New 52. I love how EVS has fiery energy coming off of Firestorm's shirt emblem. Awesome touch!
The upper left corner includes Superman, Supergirl, Plastic-Man, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, and Captain Marvel.
The upper right corner includes the Spectre and Green Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Hal Jordan, and Kilowog.
The middle part of the image includes Metamorpho, Catwoman, the Creeper and Wonder Woman.
And the bottom features the Bart Allen Kid Flash and the Flashes Barry Allen and Wally West.
It's an exciting, energetic, and action packed image that I'm happy to have in my admittedly limited connection. But the more I look at it, the more I want Ethan Van Sciver to draw a Metamorpho book. How cool would that be?
All told, I had a great time at GraniteCon. I hope it's just as productive next year!