This year's guest of honor was Jim Steranko. I think of Steranko as the Buddy Holly of comics - minimal output with a strong legacy of influence. Steranko (pictured at right) is a delight; a raconteur who carries himself like a former matinee idol. He kindly signed my copies of his "History of Comics" and an issue of "Mediascene", both pioneering efforts in comics scholarship and reportage. His panel was very entertaining, with Steranko spinning tales of his upbringing and tantalizing, perhaps embellished, stories of his early years in comics.
Returning this year was guest Michael Uslan. Uslan is best known as a producer of the Batman movies, having secured the film rights in the late '70s when no one else thought a Batman movie was a feasible or sensible idea. He's had an interesting career, both in and out of comics, which he's put into an autobiography - The Boy Who Loved Batman. Caniffites may know Uslan as the writer/instigator of the updated "Terry & the Pirates" strip from 1995. Uslan told this reporter that he's very close to a deal on a "Terry" movie, with Gong Li in mind to play the Dragon Lady.
It's always good to see artist Chris Sprouse. At last year's Mid-Ohio, he drew a sketch of Steve Canyon for me. I asked him to try out the Dragon Lady, and below are the amazing results!
My pal Ted asked Chris for Dum Dum Dugan of the Howling Commandos.
Nearly every Thursday night, Up Up and Away hosts a comic book trivia contest at Maury's Tiny Cove, a westside landmark. Store owner Kendall Swafford presented a version of the regular game at the Expo. I'm proud to say my team tied for 2nd place!
Also returning this year was Golden Age artist Allen Bellman. Last year, Bellman told me a nice story about how he snuck into a Caniff radio show appearance. This year, he told me about how he attended a National Cartoonists Society dinner. He was there with his lovely date and his rented tux. Caniff entered and was walking by him. "Mr. Caniff," he began, hoping to engage his artistic hero. "Excuse me, I have some people waiting," said Caniff, walking on. "Caniff snubbed me!" Bellman told me, still stinging at the perceived affront.
I didn't meet Archie Comics legend Stan Goldberg, but my pal Ted did and he also got a sketch. Leave it to Ted to bypass the obvious choices and ask for a drawing of Midge, Moose's girlfriend.
There were lots of great costumes this year. Here I am with Wildcat and Power Girl (thank you, Wally Wood)!
All in all, a terrific show from top to bottom. There were some great buys in the dealers room and the whole event was bright with an atmosphere of optimism and camaraderie. Good luck topping this one, fellas!
* Steranko photo by Steven Thompson.