One of the highlights of my trip to New York recently (aside from, you know, family, friends and Niagara Falls) was getting to the Bridgeport ComiConn. I didn’t go because I have any particular connection to Bridgeport or Connecticut, but simply because it was not too far away for me, and I wanted to take the opportunity to go to a comic book / science fiction event of some sort that had more than two comic book people that I am familiar with (which is sort of standard for the events that come to Perth each year). It was good fun, all the more so because I was more-or-less at the last moment accompanied by my friend and former workmate Jane.
I have realized that I am a bit of autograph hound, and have at the few conventions I have attended more or less forsaken panels and the rest if it means that I can get in a few signings. That’s what happened here.
For panels, actually, there wasn’t that much on offer, but I missed all of the one on Charlton Comics (featuring Paul Kupperberg, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and others) and most of the one on Bill Finger as an equal co-creator of Batman for the sake my autographs. I also missed most of the one on inker Klaus Janson because it was early in the morning and we arrived a bit late, but actually that was nearly unattended and as a result not all that interesting.
Anyway, it was a good time, and I was able to add a few pages to my autograph book and say hello and thank you to some creators who have given me a lot of enjoyment over the years.
A highlight took place on line to see George Perez, one of the “superstars” of the event. It had been a reasonably long wait but just before I got up there, the woman managing the line asked if a man with some squirming kids who was only after a single signature could step to the front. It turned out that the man’s little girl – maybe just 5 or 6 years old – was the one who was after a signing for some book (I couldn’t catch what it was). George Perez was charmed by this nervous little girl and unbidden (and unpaid for – I think his sketches normally went for $40) quickly drew her a headshot of Starfire. It was a sweet moment, which caused the dad to tear up.
George Perez was one of four creators that I got to sign what was definitely the most obscure item that I brought – a copy of #27 of Marvel Adventures, a black and white magazine that, in this case, featured stories about the X-Men. There were three stories inside, and amongst the credited creators were Mr. Perez, Bob Layton, and Klaus Janson. All three were a bit surprised to see the book, as was Denny O’Neil, who edited the thing.
Another fun moment came when I was getting Herb Trimpe’s autograph. Herb Trimpe is one of those comic book legends that I actually know almost nothing about. He is known by many (including one older fan in front of me) as the definitive artist for the Incredible Hulk, but I never read that book during his run. However, I do have a strange connection with the man, in that his mother was actually a cafeteria lady at my elementary school! I shared this with him and his wife (who was with him), and they were delighted. They asked if I had any stories about her. I have to admit that I don’t really remember her very well, but I shared a story that my brother told me where she slammed down a tray and yelled at everyone to be quiet. The Trimpes (as I presume they are known) thought this was hilarious, and as a result the artist doodled a picture of Wolverine in my book (a retro-Wolverine, as Herb Trimpe drew him in his first appearance back in Incredible Hulk #181.)
One of my last autorgraphs for the day was artist Rich Buckler, who was one of the few who charged for them, although it was a modest $3.00. I had him sign an issue of Justice League of America which I had also signed by inker Frank McLaughlin. I gave him my customary “Thank you for your work,” comment, and he responded by thanking me for my patronage. He went on to say that perhaps I didn’t hear that from creators very much, but that it was thanks to fans like me that he had a career.
My other main activity at a convention is shopping, even though I didn’t really have a lot of money to spend. (Most of my disposable income goes toward other, more family-focused needs, but I did have some available-for-comics money that I had made by selling all my New Krypton trade paperbacks) Of course, even something as obscure as the Bridgeport ComiConn is a pretty crowded affair, so it took a while to make my way through the whole room. Unlike the shows in Perth, there were lots of things going for very good deals. I thought I had picked up quite a bit, but I was actually pretty frugal about it all. There were a few things I had picked up for my kids – a very nice looking Molly Danger book by Jamal Igle, and an issue of something called Power Kid that I had never heard of.
On top of that, I had bought, on impulse, a trade paperback of World Without A Superman, collecting the post-Doomsday Funeral for a Friend arc. I have those issues, but as I’ve mentioned, more and more I want to sell off my comics. However, I like my 90’s Superman run so where I can replace issues with collections, I will do that. I also picked up a black & white “Showcase Presents“ collection of Super-Friends, and a trade paperback featuring Marvel’s ersatz Justice League, the Squadron Supreme, that I’ve wanted to check out.
And that’s about it.
I didn’t buy any of the other inexpensive Superman trades that I saw – like Doomsday or The Return of Superman or Panic in the Sky or Time and Time Again. I didn’t buy any of the Flash trades that I saw that would have also liked for the same reasons. I didn’t buy the Showcase Presents the Trial of the Flash which was going for the same price as the Super Friends one. I didn’t buy Green Lantern Rebirth which was being sold for the absurdly low price of $5.00. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how limited a “haul” I had brought in, which I felt pretty disappointed by. (Fortunately lots of other comic-acquiring opportunities arose while I was in the States, so I should have plenty to keep me busy).
What I did buy was an impractical slightly-oversized print of the cover of the Green Lantern / Green Arrow reprint series from the 80’s, by Neal Adams, for $20. I bought it just so that I get the guy’s autograph. Actually, I had brought some things for Neal Adams to sign if the opportunity presented itself, including the very book that that cover was originally for (which is also the issue that introduced me to Adams as an artist). But a Neal Adams autograph on an item you bring yourself costs you $20, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – pay $20 for someone to put their signature on a book I already own, even one I’ve loved. So instead, I bought something that I do like, but didn’t really want to own, for the same price, which gave me a “free” autograph. And I hemmed and hawed about it for quite a while before I made that decision.
When I got home, my wife said I should have just gotten my book signed. I think she was right. So I do regret, to a degree, buying this print, but it’s more of an example of wishing I had spent my money on something that seemed even more extravagant instead.
So a good time, but punctuated by several examples of things that I wish I had spent money on, but didn’t
But who knows? If I had, maybe I’d have the opposite position now.
Either way, I had a fun time with my friend, including a friendly argument about the degree of sexism in an episode of Star Trek.