The countdown has begun for HeroesCon 2017. This con is held every year in Charlotte, NC. This will be my third year in attendance. I plan to meet up with Mark Sullivan ad Commander Benson again. 

I love this con. It's been a treat every year, for me.

Here's the link to the show.

I'll post my experiences in this thread. 

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What day/days are you going to be there? Tracy and I would love to see Adam Benson again, and we've never met you or Mark. Plus, we have twin nieces in Winston-Salem we've never met. Short notice, but we may be able to put something together by this weekend.

I've been communicating with Jason, so I can answer this. He plans to be here all three days, flying out Sunday evening (so he'll be leaving the show Sunday afternoon). The Commander plans to be at the show on Friday.

That is correct. I'll be there all 3 days. I'll leave the show around 3 to head to the airport.

Neither of us can get off work Friday (due to staffing issues). If we come up Saturday we'll probably skip the show, visit family during the day, and meet up with you guys afterwards. Let me run this by Tracy.

I'll be there on Friday.  Planning to arrive sometime after noon, so I don't have to deal with the thundering herd when the doors first open.

As I told Mr. Marconnet, I'm obligated to an outing with the Good Mrs. Benson on Saturday, but my datebook is open on Sunday.  If you, Jeff, and Tracy can be there on Sunday, I'll make a point of showing up, and maybe I can talk the GMB into accompanying me.

Another Heroes Con has come and gone. As always, it was a great time. 

Day One:

Dropped some books off for Onsite Grading with CBCS. A reason I have not been on the board much is because I've become more of a collector and reading took a back seat. However, have made a great deal of friends through this. They like comics just as much as anyone, they just like them in plastic slabs. Then I made my way around the con to say hi to friends that had tables in artist alley. One artist friend, who I haven't seen in a while, gave me a sketch cover he had done. This guy has done several commissions for me in the past. I was surprised he gave me a piece of art, artists don't usually do that often. He knew I liked Spider-Gwen and has actually done a few Spider-man and Gwen pieces for me. This one was a bit different. This was on a blank for Multiversity #1 for whatever reason he thought it was a Spider-verse book then realized it was DC so changed the character to Bat-Gwen. He figured I would like it, he was right. Then I picked up a commission from another Artist that I had lined up prior to the convention. This was of Deadman. I dropped off a blank cover with him for another commission. 

I then made a lap around and ran into Mark Sullivan who volunteers at the con. We had a brief chat. I moved on then the illustrious Commander Benson arrived. The two of us walked around the convention floor together. Which, after three years is now a tradition. We looked through some of the vendors. The Commander even found a book for an upcoming column. I'll let him discuss that though. During the our browsing I mentioned I was occasionally buying issues of Marvel Team-up. I bemoaned the fact that Mockingbird is now a television star and that her first appearance in Team-up is slightly pricey. Then again not sure why I'm buying issues of Team-up other than it's a Spider-man book and I like to buy stuff. Anyways the Commander mentioned that he had a full run of Team-up and could possibly help me out. More on that later.

We met up with Mark again and attended a panel on Indie comics. I had a headache and went back to the hotel for a minute to get some Advil.  I made a run around the floor and picked up some Deadman appearances, including an issue of Forever People. I then met up with the Commander and Mark for the panel, Visual Storytelling which was led by none other than Jim Shooter. This panel was absolutely fantastic. Mr. Shooter went through the concept of story telling through comics by using a Jack Kirby issue as an example. I know that sometimes Jim Shooter draws criticism. However, he was very knowledgeable and personable. I have met him before and he was very nice to me. I'll let the Commander fill in the blanks on this panel. I will say that all three of us enjoyed it very much. We then said our goodbyes. 

I met up with some friends for dinner then headed to the drink and draw. I chatted with some friends while there then browsed the art being produced. Some neat stuff. Then ended the night in the hotel bar with more friends. This is a comic-centric con, so no movie or TV stars. However, as a comic fan it is neat to see some of my favorite comic creators wandering around after the con. 

i'll post more tomorrow.

I have traditionally written a report every day of the con. So I'm going to play catch-up here. Hopefully Jason will talk about his experiences.

Friday

I spent the morning volunteering. Fortunately the check-in and ticket buying processes went much more smoothly this year, and I never had to work crowd control, which is exhausting. I was on Information Booth on the con floor to start, which is a bit like my day job in the library: helping people figure out how to find artists and vendors. Jason came by to say hello. After getting lunch, I agreed to help deliver lunch. This year the con took sandwich orders from artists who couldn't leave their booths, so I helped deliver a great big box full of bag lunches. Bringing free food to hungry artists: not a bad gig! I got to meet Cameron Stewart in the process.

2:00 PM 
Room 208
ZDARSKY AHOY! 
HeroesCon’s own Jughead, DOUG MERKLE sits down with CHIP ZDARSKY (Sex Criminals, Jughead, Howard the Duck) and examines Chip’s comic’s career. Warning: the conversation is likely to fall into the TV-MA category.

My first panel. Zdarsky is an absolute hoot: he's actually had a life with things like covering a nudist retreat for a newspaper, so his stories are amazing. Even the "secret origin" of his nom de plume is a bit salacious. The sucess of Sex Criminals completely changed his life, and was a total surprise. Both he and Matt Fraction expected it to last about three issues.

At this point I met up with Jason and Commander Benson, and caught up on recent developments. The Commander had some advice on my impending retirement. We decided to attend two panels together.

3:30 PM 
Room 207D 
THE CRAFT OF COMICS 
Comics isn’t just an art form- it’s a craft. And like any craft, it’s one that has to be continually honed. Join moderator Chris Brennaman (www.atlantageekscene.com) and creators JIM RUGG, ED PISKOR, EVAN DORKIN, MICHEL FIFFE, and NATALIE ANDREWSON as we spend the hour talking about the nitty-gritty of what goes into making a career of creating comics. 

An interesting (and talkative) group of indie cartoonist/writers. Once the conversation got started I think they could have gotten along just fine without a moderator. Evan Dorkin has got some of the loosest lips in comics. He tells stories on indies and majors alike, and sometimes names names. Their careers vary quite a bit. The common elements are following their passions, creatively looking for new audiences, and making the most of opportunities.

5:00 PM 
Room 208 
COMIC BOOK STORYTELLING 
Former Marvel Editor in Chief JIM SHOOTER explains the principles of visual storytelling. Using a slide presentation of Jack Kirby’s work on Captain America, Jim walks you through the cinematography of the graphic story and shows you how to make compelling images that deliver your story with power and precision. Essential knowledge for writers as well as artists.

First chance I've had to hear Jim Shooter. I'm not a fan of the period when he was a writer and editor, but it's always interesting to experience a legend. He's extremely bright and articulate: clearly he's been thinking about this stuff for a long time. While I'm a fan of experimental comics and he is not, I think he made good points about the requirements of effective storytelling.

Jason, one of these years, I am going to get down there. It always seems to take place just around the time that I tend to travel, either through fun or coaching, and so it always gets skipped. But I would love to get down to that convention. From everything I've heard, it's a good one.

Saturday

Spent some time at the Information Booth, then volunteered to help with long signing lines. Wound up keeping order on the lines for Chip Zdarsky and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Matt Fraction was seated at the same table, but he had his own line stretching in the opposite direction). Eventually I had the task of capping Chip Zdarsky's line, because he was sketching for everyone and needed to be done in time for a panel. Surprisingly tiring to stand on a concrete floor and keep order, although fans are generally nice and cooperative.

1:00 PM 
Room 208
HORROR WRITERS 
Jumpy Joe Rauch finds out what it takes to make folks jump and scream and come back for more: PAUL JENKINS, DONNY CATES, EVAN DORKIN, and CHARLES SOULE provide the chills. Don’t look under the skirted table, you’ll be sorry!

Only caught the last half of this panel. Paul Jenkins had lots of good stories: I recommend hearing him if you can. All of the writers agreed that implying was usually far scarier than explicit description: people tend to imagine far worse things than the writer can imagine.

2:30 PM 
Room 207D 
A TRIBUTE TO BERNIE WRIGHTSON
THOMAS YEATES, SCOTT HAMPTON, BILL SIENKIEWICZ, JOE JUSKO, and JOHN TOTLEBEN sit down with Joe Rauch to discuss the legendary work and the life of a great artist and friend, BERNIE WRIGHTSON. Join us won’t you. Here’s to absent friends.

Wonderful stories about an artist who was universally admired as well as being a genuinely nice person. Artist Jason Moore took Bill Sienkiewicz's place (he had to cancel his HeroesCon appearance at the last minute). I loved Wrightson's work, and was fortunate to have met him a few times. He created the HeroesCon limited edition poster a few years back.

2:30 PM 
Room 209 
EISNER AND KIRBY AT 100 (THE 2017 MEGA-PANEL)
Which centenary to celebrate, WILL EISNER’S or JACK KIRBY’S? Ben Towle, Jennie Law, and Craig Fischer—the hosts of this year’s mega-panel—have foolishly decided to tackle BOTH birthdays. 
First is Eisner: Ben will interview HOGAN’S ALLEY publisher TOM HEINTJES, who worked closely with Will at Kitchen Sink Press during the 1980s and ‘90s, particularly on a monthly column that appeared in Kitchen Sink’s comic-book-sized SPIRIT reprints. Expect insights into both Eisner the artist and Eisner the man. Craig will follow by inviting two razor-sharp comics scholars, Drs. DANIEL YEZBICK and ANDREW KUNKA (himself one-half of the COMICS ALTERNATIVE podcast team), to collaborate with the audience on a close reading of an offbeat-yet-representative SPIRIT story.
Then Kirby: Jennie will guide a panel of super-fans—cartoonists JAIME HERNANDEZ, GILBERT HERNANDEZ, and ERIK LARSEN, and Titan Books editor STEVE SAFFEL—through a free-wheeling discussion about King Kirby’s groundbreaking career, multiple reinventions, and lasting influence. Finally, Ben will discuss the sheer oddness of Kirby’s mid-‘70s riff on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY—a fitting place to end, since Eisner and Kirby were monoliths that pushed comics to higher evolutionary achievements.

The Mega-panels (they last twice the length of the usual panel, 2 hours) are always great. I missed the entire Eisner portion due to the Bernie Wrightson panel. But the Kirby portion showed how widely admired he was: you can't get much wider than Erik Larsen and the Hernandez brothers. The 2001 series looks truly crazy. I haven't read it, but I may have to look into it.

Had dinner with Jason at Fuel Pizza, which is kind of a tradition, since it's located across the street from the Charlotte Convention Center. Then we attended:

6:30 PM
WESTIN BALLROOM
ODDBALL COMICS WITH SCOTT SHAW!
Cartoonist SCOTT SHAW! (Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Sonic the Hedgehog, Simpsons Comics, Annoying Orange) once again presents ODDBALL COMICS his uniquely hilarious slideshow of “the craziest comic books ever published!” Once you’ve seen this mind-roasting presentation-which has played to standing-room-only crowds in San Diego for the better part of four decades-you’ll never forget such covers as those of the “crotch-centric” issues of Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane, those with someone getting slapped with a “fish-in-the-face,” and those Silver Age issues of Batman and Detective Comics with “Robin-in-the-corner!” Scott promises, “My hilarious presentation is for everyone who’s enjoyed reading a comic book, whether as an avid collector or as a young patient in a dentist’s office-in fact, even for people who have never read a single comic book in their life. Even if you’ve seen my acclaimed slideshow presentation many times before, when you see their covers blown up to the size of the side of a barn, you’ll be amazed and delighted at the unbelievable imagery that is revealed! See for yourself why Stan Lee calls Scott’s show “the wildest, wackiest exposé of some of the craziest comic books I’ve ever seen!”
AFTER SCOTT’S PROGRAM, AUCTION BIDDING BEGINS AT 8:00 PM, 
CO-HOSTED BY DMC!!!!!!!

I've never seen Scott Shaw's presentation before. It started late, but was frequently hilarious--limited by the inadequate P.A. system in the new, much larger ballroom space. The covers are generally pretty funny on their own, but Shaw's commentary is what really brings it home.

The charity art auction (mostly of pieces created during the con) was entertaining as always. The new slideshow presentation worked well for art that was finished early enough to be photographed, but some still had to be walked around the old-fashioned way. And once again the P.A. was often hard to hear over the crowd noise. I gave up before the end.

Sunday

Quickly, since my post suddenly disappeared before I could finish it. I started the day on the floor, since I hadn't found time to shop or visit artist booths before now. I had never had the chance to meet John Totleben before. I loved his stories in the Bernie Wrightson memorial panel. When I found that he wasn't doing sketches any more, I decided to buy a print he could sign. Despite his association with Swamp Thing, I've always liked this pinup of Death of the Endless.

I bought my first sketch commission from Scott Hampton, another participant on the Wrightson panel.

It's a mix of pen & paint, some of which took a long time to dry! I also bought a minicomic from Natalie Andrewson, who I hadn't heard of before the Craft of Comics panel.

Next I attended an excellent panel:

3:00 PM 
Room 206
COMICS CANON—BOOKS ABOUT COMICS 
Last year, we argued for over two hours about the need for a Comics Canon and what comics and creators belong. We got nowhere and it was a blast. This year we are tackling Books ABOUT COMICS. What are the ESSENTIAL—Historical Anthologies, Biographies, Analytical Essays, Histories, How-to, BOOKS on the subject of COMICS? Join moderator Tom Spurgeon (The Comics Reporter) and our resident brain trust: CRAIG FISCHER (Appalachian State) NATHAN FOX (SVA) DANIEL YEZBICK (St. Louis CC), AARON KASHTAN (UNC Charlotte) and MICHAEL KOBRE (Queens). AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION IS A MUST!!! This is a GREAT way to end a weekend filled with Comics love!

Finally, I found not one, but two zombie statues:

They're both porcelain, but the iZombie statue comes with two heads! This is the zombie one. The statue is based on Mike Allred's comic designs, not the TV show (although I suspect the statue only exists because of the TV show).

Day 2

Started the day in line for Jim Steranko. A buddy who was acting as a witness for CBCS (a grading company) really wanted an issue of Spyman signed. He thought it was the first published Steranko Comic art. It's not as it turns out. Anyways, since the grading company was busy they allowed me to be a witness for this one book. The thing about Steranko's line is that it takes forever. He carries on conversations with everyone. I was chatting with some guys in line with me, which is what you do at a con to kill time. Steranko has some great stuff on his table, a lot of stuff from his personal collection. Anyways I mentioned to these guys about Spyman having Jim Steranko art in it and it being his first published comic work. I finally get up to Steranko. He's always standing when a new person walks up to him. He smiles and bumps the table for you to lay down whatever it is your having signed. This guy is almost the personification of cool from his demeanor to the way he dresses. And he does what he always does,puts on a show and tells stories. Turns out this comic was not his first published work. However, he says he created Spyman but was working for Joe Simon at the time.Then raising his voice he says "Joe Simon was a deadbeat". Apparently, Simon would "hire" artists but never pay them. There's a robot hand on the cover that Steranko drew that he claims he was never paid for. Is this true? I have no clue. He signed the book with his classic signature. I also purchased a print from him. For my print he grabbed a red sharpie and waved it in my face with a big smile. He said "how about SHIELD red?" I told him it was my favorite color and he signed the print, addressing it to me. So, a good way to start the day.

I made the rounds again searching for books. What books? I don't remember anymore. I also ran into some familiar faces. I also stopped and talked to Mark for a minute or two. Around noon my books that I submitted for grading onsite at the show were ready. I picked them up then went to the hotel because they are heavy. At the hotel I swung by the bar for lunch. The hotel bartender recognized me from the previous two years I've been there. I think my unusual last name gives me away. So i chatted with her some. Then headed back to the show.

I looked at some more books from vendors. I picked up three Spider-man books from the U.K. They were fairly recent and each one collected 3 or 4 stories. They're presented very nicely in a thin, glossy card stock. They were also $1 a piece. I was also able to get an up and coming artist to sign a few books for me. Naomi Franquiz. She actually lives in my town and is currently the artist on the new series from Boom called Misfit City. 

I shopped around more then went to a panel featuring Lee Weeks and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. This was a sketch duel of sorts. The moderator took questions from the audience while the two artists sketched. They did three sketches a piece. I've been to a few of these before. You always get some good insight as well as seeing some great art. Lee Weeks drew a Captain America, Green Lantern and Elmer Fudd. The Fudd was his take on the character from the upcoming Batman/Elmer Fudd coming. Mr. Garcia-Lopez drew Batgirl, Wonder Woman and the Joker. With all due respect to Mr. Weeks, JLGL knocked his sketches out of the park. This guy is a tremendous talent. They pass out tickets at the door then raffle the sketches. A number one higher and one lower were called out, unfortunately. 

I then met up with Mark and we went to dinner. We then attended the auction. I think Mark summed up the presentation by Scott Shaw pretty well. It was hard to hear due to the nature of the ball room and subpar pa system. However, it was still quite fun. 

Then the auction started. I tried for a couple of pieces and as always the bidding got way out of my range. I stuck around for a while but soon got tired out. Went to the bar at the hotel was being held. Met up with some friends then ran into some other friends. I had a nice chat with Shagg from the Fire and Water Podcast. He lives in my town as well and this was his first Heroes Con. He was meeting up with some other podcasters from his group so I got to meet a few folks I occasionally listen to. 

Day 3

Picked up my commission of the Scarlet Spider and submitted that and the Bat-Gwen cover I mentioned in a previous post for grading. I then received a message from the Commander. He was in the building. So I met up with him. He didn't stay long. We chatted for a while and he handed me a copy of Marvel Team-up 95! He had some chores to get to, but hopefully we'll met again next year. 

I then went back to do some serious shopping. Found two interesting books at a vendor. One was Gibi which was a newspaper supplement in Brazil. This particular was from 1947! It contained newspaper strips in it including Superman, Donald Duck and Popeye all in Portuguese. The other was a fanzine called Rocket Blast Comicollector. I came across a set of these books with gorgeous covers but no title. I asked the vendor about them. He informed me they were fanzines. So I picked up this one with a great Alan Scott by Don Newton.

Picked up some more books from other vendors, mostly Deadman appearances. Also found a copy of a promo comic featuring Spider-man for Planned Parenthood.

I also had Bob Mcleod and Jim Shooter sign the copy of Marvel Team-up that the Commander gave me. I had a nice chat with Shooter.

Also swung by JLGL's table and talked with him a bit as well.

I then made my way to the airport. I had a nice talk with the Uber driver who is a big comic fan and has a big Batman Collection. So that was cool. 

The flight home I sat next to a friend who had been at the show. We had a good talk about con experiences which made the flight go by very quick.

I just remembered that I had forgotten to log in here with my experiences at this year's Heroes Convention. That's a natural bookend to the fact that I had forgotten about the con in the first place. There had been no chatter on this board about it, until just a few days before the event by Jason Marconnet.  That reminded me that, yes, the Heroes Con was the upcoming week-end.

Unfortunately, I was already committed to an outing with the Good Mrs. Benson on Saturday; the good news was I was free on Friday and at least part of Sunday.  I don't really get much comics-related gain out of the Heroes Con, anymore.  I've plugged all the vital gaps in my collexions; however, I do pick up some nice-to-have issues, and this year, like last year, I found an issue of a title which provided a missing part of information that I needed to finally complete a Deck Log entry I've wanted to write.

No, the real fun for me is getting up with Jason Marconnet and Mark Sullivan.  It's becoming an annual tradition for us, and since they are far more connected to the current comics scene than I am, it's interesting to tag along with them and learn what's going on.  Mr. Marconnet sometimes worries that I'll be bored, but I'm really not.  Sure, I haven't looked at a contemporary comic in over twenty years, but there's always some insight that's worth picking up.

On Friday, at about noon---I've learnt not to show up anytime at or near the hour the convention opens; it's like a herd of cattle trying to pass through a squeeze chute---I met up with Jason on the floor where the restaurant vendors are located.  We got caught up on events since the last con, and talked a bit about what was going on at this one.  Then we went down to the exhibition floor.  We made sporadic stops at dealers' tables, at which Jason looked for some specific issues that featured or guest-starred Deadman.  

I had no real needs to fill, except to locate, if I could, a copy of Action Comics # 399 (Apr., 1971).  I already have the main story in that issue in another format, so I've never looked very hard for the comic in the past.  But it turns out that the back-up story contains a bit of information which I need to finish a Deck Log entry idea, and I had not been able to find on line anything but a synopsis of that tale.  If I found a copy of # 399, it had to be for a reasonable price.  It didn't have to be a mint copy, or even one in good condition; I just wanted it to plug in that gap in my knowledge.

Wouldn't you know?  I had barely mentioned that to Mr. Marconnet when I found a copy of # 399 at the next dealer stand at which we stopped.  The mag was in very good condition and the dealer wanted only three dollars for it.  

Sold!  Thus, I completed my only purchase of the con.

As we walked about, Jason pointed out a table with a long line of attendees standing at, and around, it, and he told me that was Jim Shooter's table.  That got my attention. I hadn't even known Shooter was scheduled to be there.

Let me digress for a moment on the topic of Jim Shooter.  Yes, us Legionnaires of . . . shall we say, a certain age . . . best remember Jim Shooter for being a wunderkind who started writing for DC comics when he was thirteen years old.  But the rest of you are probably more aware of him because of his often-contentious term as Marvel Comics' editor-in chief from 1978 to 1987.

I've read Shooter's blog, including his own lengthy and detailed commentaries on his time as Marvel's editor-in-chief.  I've also read accounts by his detractors of that period, as well as commentary by neutral parties.  The chief complaint among the anti-Editor Shooter camp is that his strict requirements drove off the great talent that was writing and drawing Marvel comics at the time.

The opposing argument is that, before Shooter took over, the position of editor-in-chief was little more than a figurehead.  There were a certain number of "writer-editors", which essentially meant that no-one was guarding the hen house at all.  The result being that, while there were some good stories, a great deal of what Marvel was putting out in the mid-1970's was drek.

There's some validity to that.  If one examines Marvel's output from c. 1973 to 1976, much of it is self-indulgent, directionless, writer's whimsy.  The writers were much more impressed with their brilliance than the readers were, and the sales figures reflected it.

As editor-in-chief, Shooter took charge.  He laid down rules and requirements for stories, according the guidelines for good storytelling that he had learnt in the past twenty-odd years.  And he didn't bend. That's what created the animosity between him and some of the talent.  They weren't allowed to play unsupervised in the sandbox, anymore.

Despite this, Shooter instituted some groundbreaking benefits for writers and artists.

I took this little side-trip of explanation so my opinion on this would be clear:  Shooter was right.  As editor-in-chief, he bore the ultimate responsibility for the sales of Marvel Comics, and with ultimate responsibility, there must come ultimate authority.  The writers and artists were hired to work for Shooter and follow his dictates.  It's no different than any other job; the employees are supposed to do the job the way that the boss wants it done (as long as it's not illegal or immoral, of course).  It doesn't even matter if the writer has a really does have a great idea for a story and the editor steps all over it.  For good or for ill, the final onus for making Marvel comics sell was on Shooter, nobody else.

As you can guess, from the silver oak leave I used to wear on my collar, I was in firm agreement with Shooter's authoritarian leadership style.  And after reading his thoughts and decision-making process in his blog, I developed great respect for his leadership.

Also, in his blog, I read of his youth and discovered that writing for DC did not make his teen-age years the enviable life I had assumed it was, 'way back when.  From an early age, Shooter's work-ethic and ability to deal with stress was impressive.

But, no, I didn't get in line at Shooter's table and wait thirty or forty minutes to tell him this. Why not? Because it's next to impossible to say anything meaningful, when you've got only thirty-to-sixty seconds, with a huge line of people behind you, and the object of your remarks having heard a steady drone of comments.

A bit later, Mr. Marconnet and I took some seats, and he mentioned that Shooter had a lecture on the craft of writing comics scheduled for 5 p.m.  I hadn't planned on staying quite that late that first day, but the more we talked about it, and talked about with Mark Sullivan, when we got up with him, I decided that I couldn't miss it.

As Mr. Sullivan mentioned in his remarks above, he's on the verge of retirement, and I had plenty of advice for him about that.  Mark was being polite, above.  I probably droned on about the topic and he was gracious about it.

After sitting in on another lecture that Mark and Jason wanted to attend, we went to the room where Shooter's event was scheduled.  We got there about fifteen minutes early, so the three of us were chatting idly when this tall man came down the aisle next to us, using a cane for support.

I know about canes.  My bad knee sometimes forces me to use one, and though I had awakened that morning with my knee feeling pretty good, the hard floor of the exhibition hall is murder on it.  So I had brought my own cane and was glad I had.

I'm tall, but Shooter---and it was Shooter coming down the aisle---is two inches taller than me, maybe a little better.  Allowing for our difference in height, we're about the same degree of overweight.  His hair is whiter than mine, but he's got more of it, so it kind of balances out.

In other words, he and I are clearly of the same vintage.  If we had been wine bottles, you would have had to wipe an inch of dust off of both of us to read the labels.

There were two fairly low steps to the platform where the speaker's desk sat.  I watched Shooter take them gingerly, one at a time, with a moment's pause between them, and I recognised that gait immediately.  I knew then that he suffered from the same thing I did:  arthritis in his knees.  I'm a little luckier in that, in my right knee it's rarely an issue.  Shooter appeared to be inflicted by pain in both of his.

I will tell you this right now.  If you've never heard Jim Shooter's lecture on the craft of writing comics, or if you haven't read it on line, as I had before I heard him speak, then you absolutely must take it in.  It's more interesting in person.  Shooter is one of the most natural speakers and storytellers I've ever heard. So much so that even his digressions with anecdotes on persons of whom I had no interest were fascinating.

The principles of comics storytelling, which he illustrates in a slideshow of the lead story from Strange Tales # 114 (Nov., 1963), are cogent and straightforward.  Nor do they limit an artist's creativity; they simply provide a basis from which that creativity can launch, if done progressively.

If you've never heard Shooter speak on this, do so, if you get the chance to.  You'll be surprised what an old Silver-Age writer has to offer to modern comics storytellers.

There was a decent-sized crowd in attendance, and when the field opened up to Q&A, I was pleased to see that not only were there a fair number of questions for Shooter, they were all intelligent ones. Shooter tended to wax at length in his answers, so the hour set aside for his talk turned into ninety minutes before the moderator finally brought things to a halt.

As Jason and Mark and I got out of our chairs, I noticed that all the lecture's other attendees were filing out of the hall, except one.  This fellow approached the speaker's desk and said briefly said something to Shooter.  I also observed that there were no staff handlers to bar the public or usher Shooter to his next venue.  He wasn't being given the Stan Lee treatment.

So I thought, "What the hell?  Why not?"

The last thing Shooter said to the man who had stopped to talk with him was that he was no longer making active entries in his blog.  I stepped forward, extended my hand, and told Shooter, "I've read your blog, and I have profound respect for your work ethic and for your leadership style and philosophy."

As he shook my hand, he seemed to be pleasantly surprised at what I had said.  As I watched him descend those two steps from dais in the same fashion in which I go down stairs, I said, "I suspect that we have something in common," and told him about the arthritis in my knees and indicated my cane.

We stood there for a couple of minutes, talking about our relative arthritic conditions.  I mentioned to him a treatment that I'm undergoing, of having an organic lubricant injected into my knees to replace my knee joints' original lubrication which was no longer there.  Shooter replied that he had heard of that treatment. He told me that he was trying hard to knee replacement surgery.  I told him that I was trying to avoid a hospital stay, too.

"Somewhere," I said, "there's a floor of nurses who are very glad that I am not their patient."  That coaxed a laugh out of Shooter.  "Worse than me?" he replied.

We walked out of the hall, side by side, still talking about our various aches and pains. After I got home, it occurred to me:  there we were, two veterans of the Silver Age, and did we talk about the Legion of Super-Heroes, or Mort Weisinger, or comics in general?  No.  We were just two grey-haired geezers, limping down the aisle on our canes, talking about how it sucks to get old.

As it turned out, we were both headed for the elevator.  I made quick good-byes to Jason and Mark, who had more to do at the convention; I was headed home.  Shooter and I got into the elevator, now talking about our early lives.  Not that it went on forever; only about two or three minutes more.  The elevator stopped at my level, and we shook hands again and said again how much I enjoyed his talk.

Now, let's talk real life here.  Jim Shooter probably forgot about me two minutes after I got off the elevator.  That's only natural.   On the other hand, I will never forget my encounter with him.  That's only natural, too.

Still, that encounter was more meaningful---for us both---than if I had stood in line for forty minutes at his exhibition-floor table.

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