Friday, August 2, 2013
COMIC-CON 2013: SUNDAY
come to an end. I’ve been writing about Comic-Con for several days
now and here we are at my Sunday report. It’s the last day of this
great convention. I bet I can milk it for at least two more bloggy
I cried on the last morning of Comic-Con. Okay, we’re not talking
the opening of floodgates or anything, but, that morning, standing
in our hotel rooms, surrounded by Barb, Eddie, Kelly, and Giselle,
I got a little emotional. I had wanted to show the better parts of
the comics world to the dear ones who had suffered with me through
so many of the bad times in my career. When I tried to express my
joy at having succeeded in that, I got a little teary.
My family had one of the best vacations ever. I got to reconnect
with my beautiful and powerful and smart goddaughter Vanessa Hudak
and meet her son Josh. I had seen so many old friends and met so
many new friends. I had been honored for my work in comics. So I
got a little teary. I owe more thanks to Comic-Con International,
its organizers, staffers and volunteers than I will ever be able to
adequately express. Thank you.
My Sunday schedule was a busy one. I was appearing on one panel,
but I was also doing two interviews and hoping to squeeze in a very
special side trip with Eddie. The panel was first:
Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
Each year, we set aside time to talk about Comic-Con’s first
superstar guest and the man they call The King of the Comics, Jack
Kirby. Jack left us in 1994, but his influence on comics, film, and
this convention has never been greater. Discussing the man and his
work this year are Neil Gaiman, Tony Isabella, and Kirby family
attorney Paul S. Levine. And, of course, it’s moderated by Mark
I have appeared on several of these Kirby tribute panels all over
the country. When Mark asks me to be on them, I always say “yes”
because Jack was and remains one of the most important creators in
comics history. Anyone who’s serious about their craft, be they an
artist or a writer, has studied and learned from Kirby.
This panel, I prepared something in advance so I wouldn’t come off
as a total blithering idiot next to the esteemed Gaiman. I wrote
about my discovery of how much I enjoyed Jack’s return to Captain
America in the mid-1970s. Though the concept is lost on a few sad
Kirby fans, it’s quite possible to praise Jack without denigrating
other comics creators. That’s a subject for another bloggy thing.
I had a great time chatting, however briefly, with Gaiman. If I’ve
learned anything from this panel, it’s this:
If you sit next to Neil Gaiman on a panel, you will be mentioned in
a lot more Twitter posts and seen in a lot more convention photos
than you normally would.
The Jack Kirby Collector usually runs a transcription of these Jack
Kirby tribute panels in its pages. John Morrow, the publisher of
that magazine as well as Alter Ego, Back Issue, Draw, and some of
the finest books on comics artists and history ever, asked if this
was okay with me. I said “yes” even before I knew if I would say
anything stupid or not. TwoMorrows does important work in comics
history and I’m always delighted to help when I can.
Jason Lethert met me at the conclusion of the Kirby tribute panel
to escort me to our previously-arranged on-camera interview. I’m
thinking Jason might be the world’s greatest Batroc the Leaper fan.
The jury’s out on whether or not that’s a good thing.
The interview touches on a wide range of subjects, including Black
Lightning, Batroc, Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Deadly Hands of Kung
Fu and more. Some of this interview will show up in a documentary
and some in printed matter. Whenever any of it is available, I’ll
let you know.
From there it was back down to the convention floor proper for my
appearance on Comic Outpost TV. Host/producer John Hell had turned
a booth into a mini-studio for live broadcasting from Comic-Con.
I was interviewed for about fifteen minutes or so and all I recall
is that the booth had the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever sat in
while being interviewed. This interview will be or maybe already
is online at the Comic Outpost website.
I had one more bit of Comic-Con fun awaiting me. Barb, Kelly and
Giselle had stood in line on two separate occasions to get passes
for Eddie and me to Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla Encounter. This
was “a walk-through exhibit of the legacy and return of Godzilla.”
It was an off-campus event constructed in a building a few blocks
from the convention center.
The Encounter was worth standing in line for. In fact, standing in
line was fun. I chatted with an enthusiastic Comics Buyer’s Guide
reader and gave him the URL to this bloggy thing of mine. When we
got closer, I talked with one of the Legendary employees and seemed
to amaze her when I told her I had not only seen all the Godzilla
movies, but also owned them.
The Encounter was not unlike a walk-through attraction at Universal
Studios. You walk a Tokyo back alley which shows signs of Godzilla
destruction and holds exhibits of the Big G’s cinema and comic-book
career. Then - emergency - you are directed into a bunker tracking
the coming of Godzilla. Since Eddie and I were the first into the
bunker, we were called upon to press multiple buttons and assist a
pair of beleaguered scientist.
With Godzilla getting closer, we were ushered into an elevator to
be taken to escape helicopters on the roof. However, the elevator
broke down on the 25th floor. Huddled into a dark deserted office,
we watched as Godzilla walked past the large windows. Amazingly,
we were spared his wrath and led to safety. We received a Godzilla
poster as a reward for surviving this encounter.
Eddie and I had a blast at the Godzilla Encounter. It was a great
way to end Comic-Con.
One’s last hour or two at a truly wonderful convention are always
bittersweet. You try to get that one last gift for yourself of a
friend. You try to say goodbye to your friends and wish them safe
journey home. You realize how many friends you never got to talk
with. It doesn’t outweigh all the good times you had, but it does
give you a sinking feeling as you exit the convention for the last
time and hope you’ll be back next year.
Barb and the girls were spending another night in San Diego and a
day in Los Angeles. Eddie had to get back to work by Tuesday, so
he and I had an early Monday morning flight from Los Angeles. As
Bob Ingersoll would be vacationing in Los Angeles after Comic-Con,
we hitched a ride with him.
Bob is a pro at the San Diego to Los Angeles drive. While we hit
a few slow areas, the trip was mostly leisurely and very pleasant
with fun conversation. We stopped at a little restaurant along the
ocean for a good meal.
It was close to 11 pm when we arrived at the Sheraton Gateway hotel
near the Los Angeles airport. Eddie and I would be able to grab a
few hours sleep before boarding the shuttle for a quick ride to the
airport and our flight back to Ohio.
I’ll be back tomorrow with an epilogue to our Comic-Con experience.
See you then.
© 2013 Tony Isabella