Last week, I attended the Austin Comic Con (aka Wizard World Texas). Oddly, the show ran Thursday through Saturday. No Sunday at all. Since Saturday was Yom Kippur, I only went on Thursday evening, which ran from 4:30-9, and Friday, 2 until sundown.
For me, the proceedings actually started Tuesday night when Brandy and I went to dinner with Alan J. Porter, his wife Gill (the duo is working on the forthcoming James Bond Lexicon), the New York Times bestselling writer/editor/supermodel Paul Benjamin, his wife Lisa, and legendary comics editor and scribe Danny Fingeroth. Porter, Batman/Star Trek/James Bond historian extraordinaire, and Benjamin, formerly of Humanoids and Marvel Adventures Hulk fame and currently Forgotten City, are old friends, but Fingeroth, who helps Wizard World with shows’ programming, was new to me. No worries as he fit right in with the frantic, geek conversations that flowed through out the evening. We hit it off and Fingeroth promised to ask Stan Lee if the Fantastic Four and Black Panther villain Klaw’s (aka The Murderous Master of Sound) name was inspired by my grandfather, Irving Klaw. This possibility first occurred to me while I was reading Blake Bell’s sensational Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko and discovered this on p. 75:
The art direction, set design, lighting, characterizations, plotlines and dialog of movies had been a strong influence on comic-book artists from the beginning, and with its many theaters and ready access to research material, Manhattan was a movie haven. One of the most popular haunts for acquiring 8X10-inch movie still photos was Irving Klaw’s Movie Star News on 18th Street.
“Al Williamson once said he always ran into Ditko at Irving’s,” says artist Batton Lash.
Fingeroth did check with Lee, who reported the name had nothing to do with my grandfather, at least not intentionally.
After negotiating a deceiving long line, I discovered the Thursday convention hall light on attendance. I spent most of the evening getting a lay of the land. Unlike previous times, there was quite a focus on gaming with a significant area of the convention devoted to tables for playing. Game Nite, a board game shop out of St. Louis, supplied an impressive library of games to play.
I stopped by the Steve Jackson Games booth and purchased the recent re-issue of the original pocket edition of the classic wargame Ogre. The facsimile edition of the first plastic bag printing not only contained the identical art but also the same 1977 price of $2.95. Even better, the game actually uses a later, cleaned up version of the rules and the laminated cardboards pieces are of a superior quality.
The extraordinary artist Chet Phillips displayed his wares. We talked business and I oggled his amazing works. I picked up his popular Princess Bride “As You Wish” print for a friend and a Gremlin Speed Demon sticker for myself. Bookcases cover most of the walls at the Nexus Graphica Texas headquarters or I quickly would have spent my entire budget (and probably more) at this one stop.
In between wandering around the con, chatting with old friends, and plotting my plan of attack for Friday, I helped Paige (Ewing) Roberts and Alan Porter with their table. Roberts hawked her anthology The Protectors, a superhero prose anthology which contains the Klaw/Porter collaboration “Nameless Here For Evermore,” and her novel What Is a Hero?: Damson Dragon Diary 1. Porter offered numerous works including Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Volume 6, New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, and Quatermain-The New Adventures, all of which contained either original short fiction or essays from the prolific writer. Also for sale were books solely written by Porter: the fascinating pop culture guides James Bond: The History Of The Illustrated 007, which is sadly out of print so you better order your copy soon of this essential volume before it begins demanding collector prices, and Star Trek: A Comics History. Both entertaining volumes come highly recommended.
A conversation with Coco Lectric and Ruby Joule, performers for The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue, began my Friday. I had approached The Bachelor Pad, a 1950s-style girlie magazine, booth with the hopes of writing for the publication. The girls, who were staffing the table while publisher Jason “Java” Croft was briefly away, got excited when I told them that I hoped to produce some essays for the publication about my famed grandfather. At their request, we took a pic together while Coco and I discussed the possibilities of me guest lecturing at The Austin Academy of Burlesque.
The excited Paul Benjamin spoke effusively about Bogus Books and their cool line of comics, so I had to check it out. Austin Tinius and Robert Salinas co-write every story, employing a stable of quality artists to render the amusing, violent, Heavy Metal-infused tales. I left their table with Doctor Muscles Journal One, a Doctor Muscles t-shirt, and a company tote bag. Not sure if these boys are making any money but they sure know how to promote themselves and their books.
My day ended with another Danny Fingeroth visit. I swung by his table to check things out. Fingeroth, perhaps best known as a longtime Marvel editor, has written several of his own books, ranging from comics to pop culture texts to young adult and nearly everything in-between. His table feature but a mere handful of his intriguing body of his work: Spider-Man: Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, Darkhawk Classic, Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society, The Stan Lee Universe, and Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero.
That about wraps things up from my abbreviated visit. My apologies to anyone I forgot to mention. I spoke with many people and saw a lot of things.
I’ll be back soon with a selection of reviews. They’re starting to pile up here.