Monday, October 22, 2012


Green Lantern Hal Jordan vs. Doctor Light. Great art by the legendary Gil Kane. Here's my Gil Kane story.
 I attended a comic book convention in Houston, Texas in the summer of 1980 right around the time THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was first released. Among the featured guests at the con were young turks George Perez, Chris Claremont and John Byrne (although, if I recall correctly, Byrne was a no-show). I remember that Frank Brunner was also in attendance. This was during the period when THE X-MEN and THE NEW TEEN TITANS were the bestselling titles for Marvel Comics and DC, respectively. The lines were always long to meet and greet Perez and Claremont and get comic books signed.
I opted not to stand in those lines. It wasn't that I didn't like the work of those men it's just that there were other things I found more interesting. Like the fact that Gil Kane was sitting a table all by himself. There was no one in line to meet him, no cluster of fans eager to shake his hand and his get his autograph. It was just him and the crickets.
This was wrong. Gil Kane was one of the chief artistic architects of the Silver Age of Comics and he deserved more respect and attention than he was receiving at that con. As fate would have it, I had earlier purchased a copy of ALTER EGO #10 from a dealer at the con. This was the first iteration of Jerry Bails/Roy Thomas's legendary fanzine and this issue was entirely devoted to the life and work of one Eli Katz, aka Gil Kane. The zine featured a lengthy interview, unpublished art and a self-portrait cover by the man himself.
I walked over to where Mr. Kane was seated and introduced myself. I told him how much his work meant to me and asked him if he would please sign my copy of ALTER EGO. He hadn't seen the zine in many years and he told me some stories about that issue while he signed the cover for me. I still have this zine in my collection. My buddy Bob Parker snapped a photo of the two of us together and we chatted some more. He was an extremely nice man. Very kind, patient and willing to talk and answer some of my questions. I could have stayed there for quite some time. After all, there was no one behind me clamoring to meet Gil Kane.
I don't know if that situation changed over the course of the convention. I sure hope it did. That night, Bob and I along with our pal Jim Robertson, went to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at the Alabama Theater in Houston (the theater eventually became a BookStop location). We sat in the balcony and felt our seats literally shake when the Imperial Walkers first appeared in the opening battle scene. It was a memorable night, capping off a memorable day, the day I met the one and only Gil Kane.

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