I recently read ALTER EGO #63 (December 2006), a special issue dedicated to the life and work of legendary comic book artist Alex Toth. Inker Terry Austin contributed a piece about how he met Toth at a comic book convention in Houston during the summer of 1980. I was at that convention. It was held at the old Shamrock Hilton Hotel.
I must confess, I don't recall Toth being in attendance. I do remember that the longest lines were for Chris Claremont, Terry Austin and George Perez. Claremont and Austin (artist John Byrne was announced but was a no show) were riding high with Marvel's UNCANNY X-MEN while Perez (and writer Marv Wolfman) had just hit pay dirt with the release of DC's NEW TEEN TITANS.
I hovered around the tables where these gentlemen were seated, catching glimpses of them signing and sketching but I didn't feel like standing in line for who knows how long just to get something signed. I admired their collective work but I was in search of something else. Something more vintage. I just didn't know exactly what that would be.
Later, at a dealer's table, I found a copy of ALTER EGO #10, the original fanzine published by Roy Thomas and featuring a Gil Kane cover and interview. I immediately bought it and knew what I had to do.
Gil Kane was also a guest at the con and I immediately headed towards his table with my purchase in hand. I expected to find a long line but there was no one at his table. He was sitting there chatting with a young woman. I asked him if he would please sign my ALTER EGO and he gladly agreed to do so. We exchanged pleasantries and I told him how much I admired his work. While we spoke, my buddy Bob Parker, snapped pictures of us. I used to have those photos but lord knows whatever happened to them.
I couldn't believe that I had just met a comic book legend. It was one of the highlights of a memorable weekend that was stuffed with great pop culture experiences because that Saturday night, Bob and I along with our buddy Jim Robertson went to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at the old Alabama Theater near the Rice University campus. We sat in the balcony and felt it literally shake beneath our feet when the Imperial AT-ATs first rumbled onto the screen. That theater later became a Book Stop store. I don't know what's in the space now.
Oh, and on the Friday night before the con, Bob and I went to see THE ISLAND, a perfectly dreadful film adaptation of Peter Benchley's novel starring Michael Caine.
Well, two out of three's not bad.