Over Labor Day weekend, I attended the second annual San Francisco Comic-Con and found it to be great at some things and lacking at some others. First, I’d like to address that SFCC seems to have listened to fan criticism remarkably well. The two biggest complaints in their first year were the confusing, small venue and the remarkably poor wi-fi and cellular reception at the con. Both these were better this year, with the event having moved to a bigger and more friendly space, and both the wi-fi and cellular reception seem to have improved. If they listen again next year, the biggest logistical problem we had this year was that they issued a single wristband for a three-day pass for general attendees, so you had to keep the wristband on all day. Press was given an exhibitor badge on a lanyard, so that was much preferred to me.
Now, my main draw to comic cons are the comic books themselves. I live to dollar bin dive at conventions. Some cons are great for that, and others are terrible. To my great enjoyment, SFCC was a fantastic dollar bin convention. Not only did they have a couple excellent booths with longbox after longbox of dollar books, they had one booth that was a quarter bin. I wound up getting 70 issues from the various booths, 30 from dollar bins and another 40 from the quarter bin. Included in the dollar bin finds were two issues of Jack Kirby comics, which is a crime, but one I was happy to take advantage of. I also found an issue for my Silver Age Supergirl collection, an issue of World’s Finest that happened to be the second time Neal Adams drew Batman. That one was not in a dollar bin, but I got it for $12, so a fair price I think.
They also had a booth, which we were lucky enough to hit up on Friday before it had been picked over, that was selling trade paperbacks and hardcovers for ridiculously low prices. I mean five trade paperbacks for $20 low. It was first come, first serve and they didn’t restock, so by Sunday after noon they were down to very little remaining stock, but my fiancee and I got the entirety of Age of Apocalypse among some other good trades for $40.
They had a fair assortment of great comic creators in attendance as well. Notable for me were Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Deadman), Joshua Middleton (Supergirl, Aquaman), Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants, Moon Knight), and Mike McKone (Teen Titans, Avengers Academy). I was able to grab convention sketches from Middleton and McKone.
I also sat with Neal Adams for a short interview.
You’ve been a very outspoken proponent for creator’s rights. As a very big fan of the Superman family, I’d like to personally thank you for your efforts to help Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Can you tell me a little about your efforts to get them recognized by DC Comics?
It took me four months, my blood pressure went up, I don’t know why they argued with me. They were wrong, I was right. It was a stupid exercise in psych, it was like dealing with Donald Trump. When you’re dealing with stupidity, it’s very hard to deal with it with common sense and logic, because common sense and logic don’t appeal to people who are being foolish and stupid. You can say “Hey, you got the creators of Superman, and all you have to pay them is what you would pay a good secretary and you’ll be fine.” And they were too stupid to understand that. It took me four months. Big, big pain in the butt.
Another creator that has been at the forefront of creator rights is Jack Kirby. We just passed his 100th birthday last week, and you participated in DC’s year-long celebration of his life and career with a contribution to The Kamandi Challenge. Do you have a favorite Kirby story you would like to share?
Well, I’d like to correct something. I don’t know why you’d insist that Jack Kirby’s been at the forefront of creator’s rights. Creator’s rights came as new news to Jack Kirby, he’d been having his rights taken away from him, ever since he’d started in comic books. And it was a big pain in the ass to try to help Jack, as well as his family. It was late coming in his life. As far as the Kamandi story? It was a lot of fun. Jack was one of those people that makes due, in spite of all the odds. You can’t find a more versatile, intelligent, creative person in the comic book business than Jack Kirby. As far as creator’s rights, he was taken advantage of. Now, things have changed, his family’s doing well. So now it’s just sort of a celebration time. Jack and Roz did fine, they were the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. If you came to their door, they’d welcome you in and they’d feed you. And they’d tell you stories.
You’ve drawn some very iconic covers over your career, including many that have been homaged by other artists. But one you’ve homaged yourself a couple of times, the Superman v Muhammad Ali cover. Recently you did a version with Superman versus Harley Quinn. But at the turn of the century, ESPN commissioned you to do a version with Michael Jordan and Ali. Can you tell me what that process was like compared to normal comics work?
The art director at ESPN the Magazine was a comic fan, and she remembered that book, and she remembered that cover, and she had the assignment of putting the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th Century on that cover. And she didn’t want to put postage stamp photographs on a double page spread, because it’d be boring. So she wanted to do that cover over again, only have the two front-runners, Ali and Jordan fighting in the ring. And the other 98 greatest athletes of the century, voted on by ESPN writers, to be in the audience looking at the fight. It seemed like a good idea, and then they offered me money and that kinda clenched it. I’m not altogether willing to say that it isn’t a better cover than the first one. The first one is a classic comic book cover, the second is a sports cover, they look like the same cover, but they’re clearly not. Same thing when I did the cover with Harley Quinn, it was more for humor that time.
And my last question, is there anything you’re currently working on that you’d like to talk about?
I’m working on Deadman. When I finished my run on Deadman and other people were possibly going to do Deadman, I never told them the story. so they just did Deadman stories. And that’s not what Deadman is about, because guess what, Deadman’s dead. That’s a big deal. I mean I don’t think you, or anybody, has been through that big a deal. I will tell you part of the end story, because I’m doing it now. He has an older brother and sister. He has a mother and father that are still alive. and they have their own circus. They’re trying to get Cleveland Brand, his brother, to join that circus, because now he’s an acrobat. And there’s a conflict between Boston and his parents, and I will tell you the conflict. Before any of the kids were born, Deadman’s mother was going to die. His father went to get the help many places, but finally ended up with Ra’s Al Ghul. And Ra’s Al Ghul promised him he would save his wife’s life, if he would make one little promise. And that promise was to have his first born son train for the League of Assassins. The mother was saved, of course by the Lazarus Pit. When the time came, even though the father tried to prevent it, he tried to escape with his kids. But the son volunteered to go. And Boston’s older sister, followed him. And now Boston Brand sorta hates his parents for losing his brother and sister. Now he’s going to go find them, and find out what the hell is going on. So that’s where our story is going. It’s going to Nanda Parbat, its going to lots of places, but you got a real mystery here. It isn’t your father’s Deadman.
The celebrity lineup for the con was decent, and the lines for the celebrities were managed well, for both their panels and their signings. The most notable attendee was Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), and I managed to attend his Q&A panel, which I live-tweeted.
Gonna tweet the Peter Capaldi panel at #SFCC
— Coroner McCreepy ☠️ (@CoriMarie21) September 2, 2017
My fiancee attended the Sean Astin panel and got him to sign his Lord of the Rings blu-rays. I took a selfie with Austin St. John, the original Red Power Ranger. Other guests in attendance were Cary Elwes, Summer Glau, and Nichelle Nichols.
All in all, it was an enjoyable con, though probably not quite worth the attendance fee yet. Hopefully, continued success will mean better guests next year, and a con more worth the hefty admission fee.