Friday, June 14, 2002

It's a Small World

"It's a small world." How often have you heard that cliche and thought, it's really not that small?

In the late 70's up until 1983, I collected and dealt in original comic art. I had an inside track to quite a few artists since John Beatty [who was working in the business] and I had been friends since junior high. My favorite artist at the time was Paul Gulacy [a very talented and very nice guy] who pencilled and sometimes inked a series called "Master of Kung Fu" [written by the equally talented and nice, Doug Moench].

I was fortunate enough to eventually meet both of these guys and even commission some art from Paul... but I digress. Long before I ever met Paul, I was able to get one of my favorite MOKF pages [a panel from it is posted above]. It practically fell into my lap for a great trade. I couldn't believe my luck! I had one of my favorite pages from the series and I had been collecting / dealing in art in less than a year.

Fast forward less than a year. I placed an ad for art that I was selling and offering for trades. A guy called up and wanted to purchase the Gulacy page. Well, at this point I owned other Gulacy pages and was even speaking to Paul via phone on a fairly regular basis so I sold the page.

Fast forward to 1983. I was getting ready to graduate college and get a "real job." I decided to sell off my entire art collection [except for a Stallone piece by Paul - which I still own, thank you very much!] Over the years, I've thought about all of the art I've owned [and that included pieces by Steranko, Byrne, Miller, Zeck, etc.], but it's that MOKF page that I've missed the most.

Fast forward to last week [we're moving through time at a breakneck pace, aren't we?]. Comic art collector Mike Shields posted up some of the art from his collection and guess what page he has in it? "Wow!, [said in a Bill Black-like voice] that's right, Mike Shields now owns the very same Paul Gulacy page!"

I sent him an e-mail telling him how I came to own in back in 1979 and that I had sold it in 1980. In closing I said that I was glad that it had ended up with a big Gulacy fan and that I wondered how many people it had gone through since I had sold it to end up with him.

Mike wrote me back and told me that he checked his records on how he came to purchase it. Seems he saw an ad in 1980 from a guy with the initials CZ! Yep! Mike purchased the piece from me 22 years ago and has had it in his collection ever since! How cool is that?

Sometimes it DOES seem like it's a small world after all!

Friday, June 07, 2002

The Gold Old Wild Wild West

When I was a kid I loved "The Wild, Wild West." Everything about this show was flat out cool. James West [played by Robert Conrad] and Artemus Gordon [Ross Martin] were a team of Secret Service agents protecting our country from all sorts of evil. Think James Bond in the Wild West.

Did I say that everything about the show was cool? Good. Because everything about it was cool. And I mean everything.

Conrad and Martin were perfectly cast as West and Gordon. They had a rapport that seemed real and added an additional element to the show. Although the series was set in the time period following the Civil War, a science fiction element was involved in many of the episodes, but seldom did it go too far "over the top." West was given cool gadgets a la James Bond... and the fight / action scenes were the best on tv.

The show title sequence featured an animated cowboy in four different scenes with great theme music. Each commercial break ended with a cliffhanger and the scene would freeze, change into a line drawing and then replace a drawing on a title card.

The series was definitely ahead of it's time. It spawned two tv movies [not nearly as good] and a big screen movie staring Will Smith and Kevin Kline as West and Gordon which was really bad. I'd like to have seen Tom Cruise as West but the script was so bad, that I doubt that he'd have done much better with the project.

When I decided to do a piece for Zablo's Zone about "The Wild, Wild West," I visited a lot of fan pages. Reading interviews, episode summaries, and looking at pictures of all of the spin offs [comics, novelizations, etc.] brought back a lot of happy memories. When I was a kid, I loved "The Wild, Wild West."

I still do.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

On Saturday, my son, Mike (far left), AC Comics CEO, Bill Black (second from the left), John Beatty (see him?) , and I drove to Tampa for a small comic convention. The main draw was Marty Nodell who created The Green Lantern but John Dell, Rick Magyar, Derek Aucoin and others were also scheduled to attend.

The con was on Sunday, but we went down early to avoid a long drive on the same day. The trip down was a blast. We entertained each other with stories, and literally laughed the whole way.

We went out to dinner... and planned to eat at a Chinese restaraunt called "The Crazy Buffet," but when we found out it was $21.95 per person [what are they? crazy?], we decided to find another place for chow. We ended up at another Chinese buffet and who do you guess was having dinner there? That's right, Marty Nodell who would be Guest of Honor at the convention the next day. We spent a bit of time talking with Marty and his lovely wife and then had a more reasonably priced meal.

The rest of the evening was spent laughing and planning things that will probably never take place [short films, comics, etc.], debating the difference between a farmer and a cowboy [Clint Eastwood vs Roy Rogers for example], watching Evander Hollyfield turn an opponent into the Elephant Man, and basically acting foolish. What a great time... we were up until well after 1 AM and I can't remember laughing so much or so hard in recent years.

We were up early to be on time for the show which was well attended but very hot. A tightly packed room without any place to sit and talk made it seem even hotter. Marty was there and swamped by fans looking for original art, autographs and pictures. The other artists came in, but only one was sketching. I enjoyed talking to John Dell, Derek Aucoin, and Rick Maygar [who may do a Stallone piece!]. I also met Randy Martin who had several really nice sketchbooks full of commissioned sketches of Edward Scissorhands! My son found a few comics for his collection. At around 2PM we decided to head home [after a brief stop at Bill's to check out his autograph collection]

Overall it was a fun experience, but anytime Mike, Bill, John and I get together we have a great time. Oh, and in case you're wondering... John isn't the guy in the Spider-Man suit... John took the picture.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Kelsey's Back, Baby!

Whooo-hooo! Kelsey Shannon's web site is back on line again.

Kelsey is an extremely talented artist [and a really nice guy]. He's probably best known for his work with Mike Avon Oeming and Miles Gunter on Samauri Bastard.

I'm proud to say that Kelsey did some Sly artwork for the StalloneZone Gallery a year ago... well before Samauri Bastard [so don't think that we're jumping on the bandwagon!] Anyway, back to Samauri Bastard, the first issue is out now and I suggest that you give it a look before it sells out.

Then head over to Kelsey's site. You can check out the dozens of sketches that he does before getting down to the business of drawing a page. You can also see other cool pieces that Kelsey created for himself and others. And you'll know why I'm so excited that Kelsey is back on line, baby!