Neal Adams has HUGE biceps…

…and how I ended up getting a Green Arrow sketch from him at WonderCon 2019.

GA by Neal Adams

I was not planning to get a sketch from Neal this past weekend, though I have admired his art since I was a teenager, but here is the story of how I ended up with one.

Sunday at WonderCon, late in the day, I headed down to the show floor with my friend Trevor.  He had seen a booth with a really good price on the slipcased Green Lantern/Green Arrow run by Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams:

GL-GA Slipcase

It was $60, which is a great deal, less than it cost when it was originally published (which was when I bought my copy of this collection of what are probably my favorite GL/GA stories ever).  We found the booth, he bought the book, and we headed over to Neal Adams’ booth:

Neal Adams booth

Score!  Nobody in line!  Up he walked to Neal and asked about getting the book signed.
“That’ll be $50 for the signature.” Neal informed him.
“You want $50 for an autograph?” Trevor asked.
“No,” Neal replied, “I NEED $50 for an autograph!”… at least he had a sense of humor about it.

Neal explained that he was far cheaper than Stan Lee used to be… Stan had been charging upwards of $100-$130 in the last few years, and that maybe it was time to consider raising the price of his own autographs up beyond $50.  I pointed out that Stan had a lot of “handlers” and hangers-on who were likely inflating the cost of the autographs because there were a LOT of people getting paid and a lot of overhead as his celebrity grew.  Neal admitted that this was true and pointed out that he didn’t need a lot of people doing the heavy lifting for him. “I can bench 300 lbs” he declared.  “Go ahead…feel these biceps.” he added, making a muscle.  Trevor reached out and felt his arm declaring it to be quite impressive.  “You too”, said Neal, motioning to me.  I felt his bicep and it was both massive and steel hard.  Certainly not a guy to mess with, I’m sure he could wipe the floor with me if he was of a mind to.

In any event, Trevor politely declined the $50 autograph, Neal understood, and as we turned to leave there was a guy behind us waiting to have books signed.  It turned out he had 4 to be signed and a CGC witness with him as well.  He was more than happy to plop down $200 for the signatures, so clearly the $50 price tag was not a deterrent to everyone.

As we were leaving, there was an open portfolio of very nice inked original sketches by Neal.  “Hey, these are $200… and they’re signed. That’s like $150 for the sketch and $50 for the signature.” I quipped.  Trevor & I looked through the portfolio and given what we had seen sketches from other artists selling for, plus his ‘just an autograph’, prices, these seemed like a pretty good deal.  Trevor settled on a nice Hal Jordan GL, while I chose the Green Arrow shown at the top of this blog.  This is my absolute favorite Green Arrow costume/look, and it was designed by Neal, so I thought this was a great choice for a sketch.

We brought the sketches back over, paid for them, and chatted a while longer.  I must say that Neal was in a great mood, very chatty, and gave us a superb fan-pro interaction memory.  Ultimately no $50 autographs, but we both walked away with a sketch and a great story to tell.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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That Time Peter Parker Married Gwen Stacy in Mexico…

Hombre Arana 128

Blowing up on the internet today…
Turns out that Publisher La Prensa in Mexico published 45 unique/new Spider-Man comics in the 1970s that ignored Gwen Stacy’s death and documented a parallel Spider-Verse where Gwen not only lived, but she & Peter got married!

There is a good Reddit thread that talks about this, and I’ll summarize the info I found with the relevant links.

La Prensa published 185 issues of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña plus 6 annuals and 3 specials.  A full list noting what US issues were reprinted and which were new “made in Mexico” (Cómic hecho en Mexico) can be found on the Kingdom Comics website. The key bits of info are that the following issues were totally new and according to various accounts NOT authorized by Marvel Comics, and have never been reprinted:

That’s 46 (or maybe 45) unauthorized stories that are new to most fans outside of Latin America (and those who do not read Spanish).  I will note that the Kingdom Comics site says that issue #144 of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña reprints Amazing Spider-Man #114 and sports the cover to #114.  Kingdom Comics then notes that issue #145 of El Sorprendente Hombre Araña is “Made in Mexico”, but it features the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #115.  Since it’s a continuation of the story in ASM #114, it may be the case that El Sorprendente Hombre Araña #145 is a reprint.

Hombre Arana 123

The wonderful site “The Amazing Spider-Mex” has covers of all the La Prensa issues. In particular, though, I was keen to see the covers of these new issue, that started with #123.  Some appear to be homages of existing covers with some new imagery added, others look entirely new.

There are also some pretty interesting covers that are clearly targeting the “likes sexy women” demographic.

In any event, this is a fascinating topic and given the interest, I suspect that the value of these Mexican issues are SKYROCKETING.  They are apparently very difficult to find and the increased awareness and interest with the US audience as of today should equate to some hefty price tags on any issues that surface.

I’d love to see Marvel Comics get ahold of these and issue an “official” reprint to satisfy the curiosity of Spider-Man fans everywhere.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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Stan Lee is My Superhero


Stan Lee, the man I credit with inspiring my 48 years (and counting) love of comic books, passed away on November 12, 2018 at the age of 95.  Today, December 28, 2018, would have been his 96th birthday.


I wanted to write a proper article about Stan and what he meant to me, but I also wanted to take some time to let his passing sink in.  The past 6 weeks or so these thoughts have been percolating in my conscious and subconscious.

My whole life, there had always been a Stan Lee.  In a way, he was like an alternate version of my own Dad (who is still going strong at 96 years of age).  While my Father has always been around for me in my “real world” life, he is not big on the unreal worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, and heroic adventure.  For those fantastic worlds Stan was there, in the foreground when my nascent love of comics was setting in, and in the background as I grew older.  Stan was my surrogate Father figure in that world of imagination. The fact that he was pretty much the same age as my own Dad, coupled with being the opposite half that made a combined real world/world of imagination role model was the thing that linked the two very different men closely in my mind.

Armie Hammer originally criticized people for commemorating Stan’s life by posting pictures of themselves with Stan.  He later apologized for his statements, after getting roundly chastised by people pointing out that posting photos of themselves with Stan was a tribute and their way of processing their loss and acknowledging the connection they had with Stan and how much he meant to them.  I’ll be doing the same throughout this Blog… showing various interactions I had personally with Stan, not as a way of aggrandizing myself, but as a way of showing the connections that existed, however slight, and why Stan meant so much to me.

I’ve told the story before of how I got into reading comics.  I had certainly read comics before I started “collecting”.  My older brothers often had comics around the house and I remember as a child reading Uncle Scrooge, Richie Rich, and Hot Stuff comics.  But when I was 8, my older brother Russ gave me a computer keypunch card that was redeemable for 10 comic books.  I could buy whatever comics I wanted, show them to Russ along with the card, and he would reimburse me the cover price, marking off one of the numbers 0-9.  Famously, the first comic I bought myself was Amazing Spider-Man #88 by Stan Lee and John Romita.  The 2nd comic, bought the same month (both issues are cover-dated August 1970) was Detective Comics #402 by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams.

My 1st comics were arguably the 2 most successful super-heroes ever created, one from Marvel, one from DC.  Both illustrated by artists at the top of their game.  Why did I come back for Spider-Man issue #89 (and every issue after that), but did not buy another issue of Batman for at least 5 years?  I believe it was Stan Lee.

In Amazing Spider-Man #88 Spidey fights the disembodied arms of Doc Ock, saves a crowd of people from being crushed by rubble, and has a climactic fight with Doc Ock onboard a plane.  Alongside this, Peter Parker is having trouble keeping his grades up at school (because of being absent when he was needed as Spider-Man), we see Gwen Stacy, the blustery J. Jonah Jameson, check in with Joe Robertson and Betty Brant at the Daily Bugle, and get a cliffhanger ending where Doc Ock appears to be blown up, but Spidey wonders “Can I be sure Doc Ock is dead?” right before the title of the next issue “To Live Again!”.  Given the next issue’s title, I assumed Ock was going to be still alive and kicking to cause more trouble (…and I had to come back to see what happened next!)  All tolled, there are just about as many pages devoted to Peter and his supporting cast as there are to Spider-Man and Doc Ock.  Maybe I was a weird 8-year-old, but this mixture of the super-hero and his alter ego was VERY appealing to me.


I might also point out that this issue also features students protesting against a foreign general who is a “war monger”. Stan also famously published the “Stan’s Soapbox” reproduced above spotlighting that bigotry and racism are wrong.  Some people today say “keep politics out of my comics”, but current events and recognition of politics/injustice have been in Stan’s comics since the very first issue I read 48 years ago (and before that as well)!  Stan never shied away from adding this kind of thing into Marvel Comics, which was another element that made them seem more real to me as a kid, as well as helping set my moral compass about right and wrong. Stan brought that mixture of superheroics, the tribulations of the heroes when they were out of costume,  and real world issues into comics.  It was the hallmark of Marvel comics to spotlight the human elements of the superheroes and give the reader insight into their lives both in and out of costume and also reference issues from the news of the day (sometimes allegorically).   This is Stan Lee’s legacy.

Before Stan’s Marvel Comics, the general wisdom of comic book publishers was that they were writing stories primarily for 8-12 year olds.  Stan wrote comics that could be enjoyed by an 8-year-old (my age when I started reading his comics), but the underlying themes that he was working into the stories were capturing the imaginations of college kids too.  Stan did a lot of speaking engagements at Universities in the 1960 and 1970s, and his work had a depth and significance to it that readers appreciated even while many who did not read comics do not understand.  Those who were only observing the bright colors and bombastic super-hero battles from a distance, but not experiencing the storytelling first hand, were understandably ignorant of the nuances picked up on by the dedicated readers.

This plays into how many people say Stan was a “carnival barker”.  I don’t see that as a negative.  At the time he was EXACTLY what the comics industry needed.  Stan’s bombastic outgoing personality is what made Marvel Comics.  It helped grow Marvel and helped the entire industry.  I know that as a kid I felt I was PART of something reading Marvel comics.  The nicknames Stan gave everyone; Jazzy John Romita, Gene “The Dean” Colan, Jack “King” Kirby, made everyone seem fun and friendly.  The style of the letters pages and Stan’s Soapbox column made us feel like he was talking directly to us and we were on the inside of a club.  His catchphrases, from “Make Mine Marvel!” and “Face Front, True Believers!” to the simple “Nuff Said!” and “Excelsior!” were immediately recognizable and created the cult of Marvel.  What Marvel fan can hear any of these and not think of Stan and Marvel Comics?

Stan was a showman as much as a writer in the early days.  The classic Marvel characters we co-creations working with some of the best artists in the business, but what put Marvel on the road to becoming an entertainment juggernaut was Stan’s flash.  He made Marvel “Marvel”.  The feel, the attitude, the connected universe, making the fans feel included.  This is all a part of Stan’s Legacy.

Most people know the rest of Stan’s story… moving to Hollywood and moving away from regularly writing Marvel comics in the early 1980s.  Ultimately moving away from most  responsibilities at Marvel, aside from forever being linked with them as a cultural ambassador, Stan was involved in a string of new companies (most of which were not terribly successful), and ultimately a resurgence in popularity after his long string of cameo appearances that made him a worldwide cultural icon.  I won’t go into all of this, I’m not writing a biography.  What I will concentrate on are his interactions with fans, because this was a key element of his larger than life status with many fans, myself included.

He did a LOT of public appearances at conventions, stores, and more.  He seemed to thrive on the adulation of the fans, and why not?  Every time I met him, he was “on”.  He was very pleasant and giving, fans went away with a smile on their face.  However brief the interaction, he made us feel good having met him.

As I was doing the research for this Blog, I realized I had fogged my first meeting with Stan out of my memory and had been thinking of my second meeting with him as my first.  Let’s look at why:

Meeting #1: San Diego, CA; 1999

At the 1999 San Diego Convention I realized Stan was doing a signing at the Marvel booth.  I had not planned out meeting him in advance, so hadn’t brought anything in particular along to the con to have signed.  I bought Amazing Spider-Man #50 at the con, waited in line with the other fans, snapped a picture of Stan with an actor in a Spider-Man suit, and he signed my ASM #50, probably the 5th or 6th he had signed that day.  I was getting a book signed that LOTS of people got signed.  It was a really popular issue, a classic story, a very cool cover, and while I’m sure I gushed about how I loved his writing, I don’t think I did or said anything that made me any different from the 1000s of other people who had him sign ASM #50 over the years.  It was cool to meet him, but really, this meeting was SO overshadowed by the SECOND time I met Stan, that I had forgotten about it until I found the picture I had taken in a photo album (yes, this was before the days of ubiquitous digital photography, we used film….barbaric!)

Meeting #2: Long Beach, CA; 2004

The NEXT time I met Stan was at the Long Beach Comic Convention in 2004.  This time I knew he was going to be at the show and I chose something to get autographed in advance and brought it with me to the show.  It turns out I made a really good choice, second time was the charm, as they say.  Stan was still not HUGE outside of comic book people at that point in time, and Long Beach was not a really big convention, so there were maybe 50-75 people lined up to see him when he got there, I was around the middle of the line.  Most people in line were getting “key” issues signed.  Avengers #1, Amazing Spider-Man #1 or #50 (hmmm, who would do that? Just like me the 1st time I met him!), etc.

This time, when I made it to the table to see him I laid down Amazing Spider-Man #88 for his signature.  He looked at the comic.  He looked at me.  Instead of just signing it, as he had all the key issues he saw all the time, he picked the comic up and started flipping through it.  He smiled. He chuckled at something he had written in the story.  He looked back up at me and said something like “I don’t think I’ve seen this issue since I wrote it, what made you pick this one for me to sign?”  When I told him that it was the very first comic I had bought off the rack for myself, it made me fall in love with comics, and I’ve been buying comics every month since, for the past 34 years (at that point), he asked if I’d like a picture with him.  He told me to come around the table and sit next to him, had me hand my camera to one of the convention volunteers, and the photo above was the result.

This is how I remember Stan Lee.  Having made a connection, he took that extra moment with me as a fan, putting his arm around my shoulder, and posing for that picture.  I’m sure he did tens of thousands of photos over the years but I think he realized that every one of them was special for the fan he was taking them with.

Meeting #3: San Diego, CA; 2005

The next year, at the San Diego Comic Con, Stan was signing for his new company POW! Entertainment.

The people organizing this signing were VERY clear that Stan was not signing any comics or memorabilia except things from POW!, and went so far as to hold fans bags before they were allowed to approach Stan, so fans could not pull out a comic for him to sign (because Stan would sign it if you put it in front of him).  They handed out promo slicks for Mosaic and Condor, 2 comics being produced for POW!, that was all Stan was signing.  I flipped mine over and had Stan sign the blank white back, as you can see in the photo above).  I’ve always meant to trim this down and use the autograph as a signature plate in my Fantastic Four or Spider-Man Omnibus, but I still just have that sheet, signed by Stan, just as it was handed back to me in 2005.

John Romita, San Diego, CA; 2006

At the 2006 San Diego Comic Convention I was able to meet John Romita, Sr. and add his signature to Stan’s on my copy of Amazing Spider-Man #88.

Meeting #4: San Diego, CA; 2006

Later at that same convention, a booth was selling the “Stan Lee is my Superhero” t-shirts (featuring the image you see at the very top of this blog).  If you bought a t-shirt, you could get a comic book signed.  I had my son with me, we each got a t-shirt, which allowed me to get 2 autographs from Stan.   I chose typical fan-favorite comic Avengers #1 (which I had purchased at he show, and also Fantastic Four #97, which had some personal meaning to me.  However, the people organizing this signing were keeping the line moving and actively discouraged any interaction with Stan, so I was not able to tell him why FF #97 was significant.  Put it in front of Stan, get it signed, move along…. no posing for pictures (thus me just being in the photo from my mustache down as the guy behind me in line snapped an impromptu picture).

Fantastic Four #97 – CREDIT: Marvel Comics

FF #97 was an issue I remember reading as a kid (a copy belonging to one of my brothers). I always remembered and loved how Johnny was playing with a young Franklin, who was, in one panel, mimicking his Uncle’s battle cry, saying “Fwamm Omm”.  Combined with the other familiar interactions of the characters, this page has stuck in my head to this day.  Read the page.  Pure Stan Lee… not “just dialogue”, it breathed life into the characters.

Meeting #5: Golden Apple, Los Angeles, CA; 2006

A few months later, November 1, 2006, Stan was at the grand opening / ribbon cutting ceremony for a new Golden Apple Comics location on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles.  This was a media circus, with local news and radio stations and LOTS of fans.  No signings at this appearance, just some handshakes for fortunate fans up at the front of the crowd (I was one of these). After a short speech punctuated with an exuberant “EXCELSIOR!”, he was whisked off to some other engagement by a group of people escorting him.  This was characteristic of meeting Stan from 2005 onward. He was always accompanied by security and assistants that seemed very motivated to prevent Stan from unsupervised interactions with fans, though he would break away and have short interactions on occasion.

Stan Lee’s Comikaze Convention – Los Angeles; 2014

For the next 8 years I’d see Stan up on stage at various conventions, but no “close encounters”…  Until the 2014 Comikaze convention where I would have personal exchange #6 with Stan.  At first, I saw him up on the stage, at a distance, along with hundreds of other fans, regaling the fans with the standard stories about creating heroes and writing stories, but I never tired of hearing these tales no matter how many times Stan told them.

Meeting #6: Stan & Herb Trimpe – Los Angeles Comikaze; 2014

In the early afternoon I had waited in a short line to get a sketch of The Hulk from Herb Trimpe.  While Herb was working on the sketch, Stan walked by on his way out of the hall after doing one of his stage appearances.  Stan saw Herb (his table was at the end of an aisle) and he broke away from his handlers and came over to say “Hi” to Herb.  They chatted a bit, Stan addressed the fans in the area letting them know what a great artist he thought Herb was, and generally complementing how Herb’s art enhanced the stories.  I was right at the front, since I had been “up” talking to Herb while he did my sketch, and Stan stayed for 5 minutes or so chatting with the close up fans, posing for pictures with Herb, and generally getting energized from the attention.  But it was a two-way street, the fans (myself included) were loving the opportunity to interact with Stan.  This is another example of Stan “The Man”.  He broke away from his handlers who just wanted to get him out of the building so he could say hello to Herb, and while he was there, he took extra time to chat with the fans in the area.  While he didn’t sign any autographs (though people were asking), I thought the conversation was far more precious.

Meeting #7: Taschen Beverly Hills; Dec 2014

I met Stan again in December 2014 at the Taschen store in Beverly Hills.  I had been collaborating with Taschen for several years, lending them comics and other ephemera from my collection to photograph for their various DC and Marvel Comics related projects.  The largest project I had worked with them on was the “75 Years of Marvel” book.  Ultimately, I had provided close to 3 long boxes of comics and numerous other items, including my collection of 1970s 7-11 Marvel Slurpee cups, menus from the Marvelmania restaurant, and various toys.

When the book debuted, they did a signing with both Stan and Roy Thomas at their store in Beverly Hills and I was invited to the event.  While standing in line before Stan & Roy arrived, the people from Stan’s office went along the line briefing people on interactions with Stan.  He was only signing the 75 Years of Marvel book (no comics or other things people may have brought along with them).  Keep the line moving. No conversations with Stan.  No pictures with Stan.  Pretty standard for any organized autograph session I had seen with Stan since 2005.  On the plus side, autographs on the book were free (autographs from Stan at conventions had been running from $50 – $100 and up for many years at this point).

We’d get the standard walk by while Stan was chatting with Roy (they were sitting next to each other signing the massive books) which is better than nothing for super Stan fans.  However, when I got up to Stan & Roy, the books editor/designer, Josh Baker, who I had been interacting with while providing many of the materials for the book stepped forward and introduced me to Stan & Roy, telling them that I had allowed access to my collection and had provided the bulk of the comics from the Silver Age onward for the book.  He also pointed out to them that I held the Guinness World Record for largest comic book collection.  This prompted 2 things: Getting Stan and Roy to engage me in conversation about my collection for a few minutes AND a tremendously dirty look from one of Stan’s handlers who had laid down the rule of “no conversations with Stan”.  It was a treat to once again be able to chat with Stan (and my 1st time talking with Roy) about how much the stories they had written had meant to me.  It was also an indication of how willing Stan was to interact with his fans when he was not actively prevented from doing so.

This 7th meeting would be the last time I met and interacted with Stan personally, but there would be one more significant virtual interaction I would have.

As I said before, I had been contributing items for comic book related projects Taschen was working on for years, and the latest thing they were working on was a doozy for Stan Lee fans: The Stan Lee Story.  Written by Roy Thomas, who has written all of Taschen’s Marvel offerings so far. A massive 13″ x 19″  limited edition that comes in a thick acrylic slipcase accompanied by a separately bound reprinting of Stan Lee’s 1947 “Secrets Behind the Comics” (which, I might add, was reproduced from my own copy of this book!)  Certainly a specialized item for mega-fans, but Taschen pulled out all the stops.  Another long box of comics and other miscellaneous items were loaned out and the final product is impressive!


The book was completed and shown to Stan by Benedikt Taschen himself just 10 days before Stan’s passing.  Stan LOVED it.

There are 1000 signed and numbered regular copies, plus 200 signed and numbered Artist’s Proof copies.  My own comp copy was AP 92.  These books must be among the last things Stan signed.

Throughout the book there are reproductions of comics bound in (see the story from Amazing Spider-Man #50 above… does the signature on the reproduced cover look familiar?  It should, it’s my copy, signed the 1st time I met Stan in 1997, shown higher up in this Blog).

Photo CREDIT: Bob Bretall

I feel privileged to have been able to contribute items to this project honoring Stan.  To be able to share things I have been collecting for most of my life with other fans.  The book itself has taken on an honored place in my comic book room (I still need to get the Glenn Fabry Spider-Man painting framed so I can display it properly… soon!).

The Stan Lee Story sold out of its limited run the day after Stan passed away, but fear not True Believers!  Taschen is putting together a non-limited and less expensive version that will be available in 2019.  It will likely not be quite as large and will also not include all the bells & whistles like the bound-in comics and acrylic slipcase, but the bulk of the material paying tribute to Stan Lee, his legacy, and his amazing body of work will still be there.

This brings the walk down my own personal Stan Lee memory lane to an end.

Happy 96th Birthday, Stan!  I’ll never forget you and I’m sure I will continue to think of you often.  I’m glad to have had you and your creations in my life.  As I say in the blog title, Stan Lee is my Superhero!


Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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SDCC 2018: Sunday July 22

SDCC Escalator

One of my favorite views at Comic Con!

Last day of Comic Con is typically an easy-going day for me.  There aren’t as many panels to choose from and there are “last day deals” down on the convention floor.  But, even “less panels” for Comic Con entails far more panels than are available at most other conventions….. and I LOVE interacting with comics creators at panels!


(Left to Right) Andrew Farago (moderator), Jason Lutes, Terry Moore, Scott McCloud, Lynn Johnstone

Panel #18: Life’s Work: Long Term Comics Projects
Jason Lutes (Jar of Fools, Berlin), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo, Rachel Rising), Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Zot!, The Sculptor), Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse)
Another group of creators I admire. It’s so wonderful that a con that “isn’t about comics any more” has such a VAST amount of programming about comics and their creators.

Comic-Con museum

Site where the Comic Con Museum will be built

Panel #19: Inside Comic Con Museum
The room was packed for this panel, and by the end of it I was very excited about the museum. I’m now a “Founding Member”, and I look forward to what the team will build. They have LOTS of museum experience and will learn the rest as they go along. People will crow about it “not being about comics”, much as they do about Comic Con itself, but guess what? They want it to be successful. I want it to be successful. You do that by pulling people in with the general pop culture they love and then expose them to the comics stuff along the way. I talked to Executive Director Adam Smith and Director of Public Programs Keegan Chetwynd after the panel and I have every confidence they will do a great job.


Favorite cover shown by William Stout

Panel #20: Cover Story: The Art of the Cover
This is a panel I try to attend every year. There are 4 or 5 artists, Mark Evanier shows each 4 covers they drew, selected randomly. Then they talk about what they do or do not like about the covers and also share a bit about some of their process in creating them. A consistently great panel year after year.  This Year: William Stout, Veronica Fish, Matt Taylor, Joelle Jones, and Joe Jusko.


Favorite cover shown by Veronica Fish


Favorite cover shown by Matt Taylor


Favorite cover shown by Joelle Jones



Favorite cover shown by Joe Jusko


Panel #21: Len Wein Memorial Pro/Fan Trivia Panel
In 1994, Len Wein, captain of the Purple Pros, challenged Tom Galloway, captain of the Black Ink Irregulars, to a comics pros vs. comics fans trivia match. It happened almost every year since. With Len’s passing last year, it’s a final match with all questions on Len’s least favorite topic: the work of Len Wein. Len rarely managed to correctly answer questions about his work; when he did, he got a standing ovation.
Len’s wife Christine read the questions (and did a GREAT job…she was quite salty and took no prisoners), Len managed to score 40 point from “beyond the veil”, and Paul Levitz led the pros to victory!

Sunday dinner

And that brought the con to a conclusion, followed by our end of con tradition…. by the few of us who made it to the end of the day (several people leave early to beat the traffic back up to the LA area)… a trip to the downtown Hodad’s for a great hamburger!

I’m looking forward to the 50th Anniversary of Comic Con!!  Cross your fingers for me… I hope my Press qualifications are in order to get me in again!

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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SDCC 2018: Saturday July 21

SDCC Downtown

Traditionally the busiest day of the convention, I generally try to stay up at panels as much as possible and avoid the super-crowded convention floor.  Above is a view of downtown San Diego across from the convention center (taken from the panels level of the convention center).  You can see the masses of people in the street.  LOTS of people have fun experiencing SDCC, and you can even do that without a badge just seeing what is offered in downtown San Diego!


Panel #13: Jack Kirby Artwork Extravaganza
IDW publisher Greg Goldstein and Joe Jusko talk about Kirby’s influence on comics, with Jusko focusing on how Kirby influenced his art and design, and how much fun he has when doing “homage” pieces to Kirby art (as seen below).


A key factor of the magic was what Jusko called the “motion inherent in Kirby’s work”. That dynamism is what he tries to capture so his work doesn’t look static (when he does it right).


(Left to right) Charles Brownstein, Robert Williams, Joyce Farmer, Ron Turner

Panel #14: Outlaw Art: Trials of Underground Comix
Early underground creators Robert Williams artist, founding creator on Zap Comix), Joyce Farmer (artist, co-founder of Tits & Clits), and Ron Turner (Underground Comix publisher)
Hearing these octogenarians talking about run-ins with police & the FBI, censorship, and repression strikes home one point:
young people, you will get old (if you’re lucky). Don’t forget that older people were your age once. People have been fighting the good fight a long time. You are picking up the torch and are the newest in a long line of people who fight for intellectual freedom.


Panel #15: Ray Bradbury and the World of Comics
Bradbury was a big fan of comics and loved interaction with fans. He was at the very 1st SDCC and attended for more than 15 years until his health no longer allowed it.
In comics, his stories we first swiped by EC comics, then after a tactfully worded letter to Bill Gaines paid for, credited and adapted.
Later he would have other associations with comics from DC to Topps comics.


(from left to right): Dave Gibbons, Raphael Albuquerque, Wendy Pini, Joelle Jones, Frank Miller

Panel #16: Artists Who Write
This room was half full. I think a lot of people didn’t bother to read the panel description to see the lineup of talent on the dias. All the creators were very forthcoming in talking about their work, and their interactions with one another brought out lots of fascinating insights on their process of both working solo and with other creators.


Frank Miller, in particular, was very animated, recounting his work in comics and the pros and cons he had encountered in the adaption of his work to the screen.


Panel #17: Oddball Comics
An annual tradition, lots of laughs as Scott Shaw! shows crazy comic covers and adds humorous commentary. Lots of laughs.
He announced that by next year TwoMorrows will have published his book on this topic. It will be an automatic buy for me!

And, of course, there are the covers…. It’s always fun to see some favorites hit the screen accompanied by Shaw’s commentary.

Saturday dinner

Saturday dinner is traditionally spent with my “Comic Con friends” who I see at least every year at con (if not a few times in between).  There were a few who dropped off this year, declaring SDCC “too big”, preferring to concentrate on other cons.  Always sad to see people go.  Of course, it’s VERY challenging to get tickets, so I can understand letting attendance go.

I’m going to attend myself until I am unable to get tickets, SDCC is pretty much the highlight of my year.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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SDCC 2018: Friday July 20

This Blog is LONG overdue.  The last few months have been a real “overcome by events of life” and my attention to ComicSpectrum have not been at the top of the stack.  I’ve been posting to the Facebook page and putting up the monthly sales Blog, but other blogs and reviews have not been kept up with.  Hopefully I’ll be getting that back on track…starting with the rest of the trip reports from this year’s Comic Con International: San Diego (lovingly still called SDCC by long-time con-goers).

Friday was a great day capped off by one of the better after-hours events I have ever attended at con.  Here is an account of the day:


(left to right) Mark Evanier (moderator), Richard Pini, Wendy Pini, Marv Wolfman, Rick Hoburg, Steve Leialoha, Elliot S! Maggin

Panel #7: That 70s Panel
Always one of my favorites every con (and its predecessors the Silver Age and Golden Age panels). I love hearing creators dish lots of behind the scenes comic stuff.
This year Mark Evanier said: “Tell people about this panel when they say there’s nothing about comics at Comic Con”


Joe Quesada & Jimmy Palmiotti

Panel #8: Cup of Joe: 20th Anniversary of Marvel Knights
After a few random questions from the fans Joe Quesada & Jimmy Palmiotti got to some really great stories about the creation of the Marvel Knights books.

IMO this was the turning point when Marvel got back on track after quite a long period of mediocrity. MK laid the groundwork for more creator driven books that put Marvel squarely back in my wheelhouse after I almost completely stopped reading Marvel in the 90s.


Panel #9: Spotlight on Mike Mignola
Nice to see Mignola graciously fielding questions from fans and turning answers into interesting anecdotes like this one:
When asked about Hellboy liking cats, Mignola said “That’s all del Toro. Hellboy in the comics is a dog person.” He added that on the set of the movie in Prague the 30 cats produced a terrific stench, and a veterinarian surmised they must have been sick because “Cats are not supposed to smell like this.”


Panel #10: 2000ad Spotlight on Simon Bisley
Mike Molcher of 2000AD sat down for a conversation with Biz and we got to listen in and learn about his creative process, Lobo, and how to pick up a bass guitar and start playing with no training….
Bisley is quite entertaining.

Panel #11: IDW Publishing Artist’s Edition panel
Very short this year, only talked about a 2nd print of last year’s Bernie Wrightson AE that sold out quickly plus announcing a new Bernie Wrightson Frankenstein AE.


(Left to right): Scott Dunbier, Steve Leialoha, Paul Levitz, Nick Lowe, David Schwartz

Panel #12: Remembering Steve Ditko
An influential artist/creator but a very private person. Very few, if any, people felt like they really knew him. Paul Levitz worked with Ditko on 13 stories. A fan who had corresponded with him for 40 years and met him once at his apartment for 3 hours. Scott Dunbier had talked to him on the phone. Steve Leialoha had inked a few of his projects and said “Hi” once in the Marvel offices. He never liked to talk about his superhero work, but was making new comics that we self-published continuously from about 1968 until his passing.

No one knows if more will come to light when relatives claim his belongings and perhaps attempt to monetize them.
Many wish they knew more about the man, but Ditko himself did not seem to want to be known personally. He let his work speak for him.


Dinner w/Joe Jusko
Hosted by IDW Publishing was an awesome event. In addition to Joe’s company for about 3 hours (and some other great fans/collectors) we got a copy of Joe’s new IDW book: Marvel Masterpieces (highly recommended), a Daredevil print, and the crown jewel: an 11×17 full figure inked commission.


Joe was extremely engaging with everyone in attendance.  He & his wife moved around and had in-depth conversations with every part of the table over the course of the 3-4 hours we were there!  Of course, the highlight was the amazing 11×17 commission he did for each attendee (we had indicated the character we would like about a month before the con).  I asked for Doctor Strange and he went out of his way to emulate very
Ditko-esque elements in the background!


Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comic

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SDCC 2018: Thursday July 19

Across the tracks

Dropped off by the bus across the tracks from the Convention Center

With Preview night behind me, it was time to dive into the convention proper, and what I was REALLY interested in was attending a lot of panels.  As I’ve said before, there are numerous convention experiences that can be tailored to each person. I’ve mostly had my fill of wandering the crowded show floor and I really love seeing creators talking about their experiences in and around the comics industry.  They’re something that is not provided at many conventions, at least not in anywhere near the quantity and diversity of SDCC, so I like taking advantage of the opportunity.


L to R: Mark Evanier, Maggie Thompson, RC Harvey, Scott Brick

Panel #1: Spotlight on Maggie Thompson
Maggie’s spotlight this year consisted of talking about the late lamented Comics Buyer’s Guide, which is where I was first exposed to her work and in those pre-internet days the CBG was an invaluable news source about the world of comics..
Scott Brick wrote what Maggie calls the most popular article ever in CBG, the one on (spoiler alert) who REALLY killed Gwen Stacy…
(Spoiler spoiler alert… it was Gerry Conway. He never really liked Gwen.)
Long time fans may recall that CBG was cancelled by Krause and last issue was 1699, I
learned in this panel that Alter Ego #122 (from TwoMorrows) was what WOULD have been CBG #1700…. I’m going to have to track that issue down!


L to R: Scott Dunbier, Joe Jusko


Panel #2: Spotlight on Joe Jusko
I learned that Jusko sold one of the 1st 3 paintings he ever did when he was 18 to Heavy Metal and it was the cover to Heavy Metal #15.  I also never knew that he was a New York City police officer for 3 years in the early 80s. He would take overtime as time off and spend his couple of days off to paint a cover for Marvel.
Joe co-wrote the series “Cops: The Job” with Larry Hama (who was also NYPD). It’s based on stuff that really happened to him on the job. He got letters from police officers around the world praising its realism.


L to R: Graeme McMillan, ???, Ben Smith, ???, Mike Molcher


Panel #3: Treasury of British Comics
Fascinating to hear about how British comics were split into “Boys comics” & “Girls comics” but each had all kinds of genres, girls comics were not all romance and flowers.
Mike Molcher also pointed out when they got the bound weeklies after acquiring Fleetway, he ended up with 90 linear meters of shelving to hold all the comics many of which have not been seen since the week they were published.

Based on recommendations at this panel I later got Face Ache and Summer Magic at the 2000ad booth!


L to R: Jose Villarrubia, Jeff Lemire, Will Dennis

Panel #4: Spotlight on Jeff Lemire
One of my favorite current creators, I’ll get anything he does that’s creator owned. From writer/artist on very unique creator owned projects to a prolific writer teaming with others to produce popular corporate superhero comics to a writer teaming with other artists on creator own projects while working for so many different publishers. Lemire has done so much in a career that is only about 12 years old, it keeps me guessing about what we’ll see from him next.


Scott Hampton

Panel #5: Drawing with Scott Hampton
Last year there were only about 12 people in the room and Scott passed pages of his art around to those of us in the audience.
This year, there was a Jim Lee panel in the room after his, so room was packed with panel campers just there to get a seat for Jim Lee panel.

He did put a bunch of fully painted pages on the stage for an upcoming Neil Gaiman story adaptation “October in the Chair” (a story I love, BTW) so I was able to walk up and get a close look at those (see above).

For his drawing demo, loaded with tips for aspiring artists, he did The Joker.


L to R: Jessica Tseang, Aminder Dhaliwal, Emil Ferris, Jen Wang, Tillie Walden, Thi Bui, Larry Marder

Panel #6: OGNs: From Concept to Creation
Aminder Dhaliwal (Woman World), Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing is Monsters), Jen Wang (The Prince and the Dressmaker), Tillie Walden (Spinning), Thi Bui (The Best We Can Do), Larry Marder (Beanworld)
Fascinating to hear these creators talk. I’ve read the work Emil Ferris & Larry Marder. I have Thi Bui’s book but have not read it yet. Since the convention I have also picked up  Tillie Walden’s “Spinning”.
Ferris had a great story on how she kept going on producing her massive time, “The Derrick Factor”, Derrick being a guy who works at her local market and who she told about the graphic novel she was working on. Every few weeks he would ask her how she was doing on it and she never wanted to tell the guy she had given up, so it kept her plugging away!

That ended my first day of the convention….6 hours in panels with a couple of forays down onto the show floor to meet some creators and grab autographs or just say “Hi” and catch up. At the end of the day I bumped into a friend and we jumped on the trolley and headed up to Old Town for some great Mexican food!

In the next installment of the Blog we’ll go over my Friday at the con.

Bob Bretall: By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

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