What can I say, I went last year for all three days and loved it. This year, I wasn’t planning on going. With a pregnant wife at home, I had enough going on…
Then we had to hear the news that Stan “Comic God” Lee was going to be there. Upon learning of this, my wife basically said, “Jim… go! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you most likely will never get again.”
So I bought a ticket, but promised that I would just go to see Mr. Lee, and get a couple of cover sketches done. I’ve all but sworn off collecting old and rare comics, opting instead to collect one-of-a-kind art pieces done by the people who draw the comics. So after six months of putting money aside for this, I had enough to fund the day.
Aside from seeing Mr. Lee, I had two other goals; Get a cover done by Norman Lee, and have a sketch cover that had already been done by one of my favorite artists, Chrissie Zullo, inked in. The sketch, while unbelievably incredible, was hard to see from a distance and somewhat faint being just a pencil sketch.
Well… that’s when the trouble started. The worst type of tragedy struck the comic community. Norman Lee went missing and was presumed dead. This hit me hard as I was always a fan of his work and left me kicking myself for not having a cover done by him the previous year when I met him.
I spent some time reflecting on this one. Yet another role model of mine lost in 2015. So I started looking for another known artist who would be at the con. After looking through everyone, Frank Cho seemed to be the best fit. I liked his style and thought he’d do a good Spider Gwen cover… and boy did he… so well it pissed off Robbi Rodriguez, the creator or Spider Gwen, but I still liked his work.
So the day finally came, I had purchased my ticket to Saturday, and purchased my Stan Lee autograph. I had the whole thing planned out. My wife would stay home with my son for a few hours while I went and got everything done. I promptly arrived at 6am and was the second person in line… the first being a very friendly collector who helped make the next 4 hours fly by while we chatted about everything Comic Con.
So after standing out in the sun getting crispy, we finally got inside. At this point, I parted ways with my new friend to get everything I needed to do, done as fast as possible. Yeah… then reality hit. Frank Cho was nowhere to be seen. I remembered last year how some artists tended to arrive at 11 instead of 10, so I decided to come back. I then proceeded over to Chrissie Zullo’s table. As usual, it was adorned with her colorful prints. Chrissie’s artwork has always been impressive and I’ll admit she’s quickly climbed the ranks of my favorite artists. Her style is one that… seems very traditionalist, you don’t see it much anymore, which is a real shame.
Chrissie was in the middle of a sketch and I felt bad about interrupting her, but as usual she was very polite and easy-going. I asked her about the sketch and the possibility of inking it in. Unfortunately, she already had a full list of sketches to do from the previous day and could not take on another unless I was planning on being there tomorrow as well… and I wasn’t.
So that stunk for me, but oh well. It wasn’t her fault, part of me had a feeling something like that would happen. So then I proceeded back over to Frank Cho who had finally arrived. I inquired with him about doing a cover, at which point he also said that he had filled up yesterday and couldn’t take on any more (damn it!). So this was not looking good for me at all. Were all the artists booked?
At this point, I started wandering around artist alley, looking at some of the other works when I began to entertain the idea of having the Zullo sketch colored instead of just inked. I had entertained the idea before, but dismissed it because I didn’t want to risk ruining the sketch by choosing the wrong artist. Then I stumbled on the small table occupied by Brandon Gorski.
He had several different sketches and color works that were beautiful and his style looked like it would mesh really well with Zullo’s. He was very approachable and was happy to do the work. I hesitantly handed the cover over and set off to go see Stan Lee.
At this point I stumbled on another table… Joe Prado. I’d seen, and been impressed by his work before. He was, however a DC artist whereas I am a Marvel Comics fan with only a few exceptions. He looked like he was still taking commissions and my hope was to get at least one this year from a well-known artist. So I handed over my Spider Gwen cover to see what he could do.
Then I ran to the third floor to go see Stan Lee. I got in line and opened my ticket… and my heart sank! I don’t know how it happened, I really don’t, but somehow I had purchased a Sunday autograph instead of a Saturday one… well great, first I wasn’t getting the cover art I wanted… now I might not get the very thing I came for. I immediately spoke to one of the officials. After explaining how much of an idiot I was, he told me to get in line and as long as it scanned, they’d be fine with it. (PHEW!)
So with relief, I finally got to within a row of getting Stan’s Autograph on my X-Men #16, The Supreme Sacrifice.I met up with my friend from outside who revealed that there was a stand where some of Norman Lee’s art was being sold that I would need to check out later. At that moment, the line stopped. Why? Because Mayor Walsh was there to do a photo OP. (UUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGHHH!!!!)
Okay, normally I wouldn’t care, but let’s just say that I am no fan of Marty Walsh. The man pretty much tried to sell Boston to a bunch of billionaires to bring the Olympics to our city. I was part of the opposition and can honestly say that at no time did he ever show any respect to the opposition and was completely dismissive of their concerns. So less than a week after the Olympic bid mercifully collapsed, he’s now holding up the line. Joy…
But I digress…
So finally Mayor Walsh left after his token declaration of August 1st as Stan Lee day in the City, and the line finally began moving again. I got up to the front and stood at the table with the God of comics himself. Stan didn’t say much more than ‘Hi how are you?’ and ‘Thanks’ as was expected given how many people they needed to get through. Mr. Lee appeared to need a break as he mentioned that his hand was starting to ache.
Honestly, being in his presence was a thrill. This was something high on my bucket list that I never thought was possible, but it was one that I was finally able to cross off. So let me take a moment to say Thank You to Stan Lee for gracing Boston with his presence and for giving us decades of adventure and excitement!
So I had my autograph, which I then sent out to the CGC to be graded and preserved. I got to enjoy it for about 20 minutes, but hey it’s only 4 months…
So now it was time to go back down stairs and see what had become of my covers. I met up with another one of my friends and we proceeded over to Brandon’s table. Brandon had finished my cover and had it waiting for me. My hands shook as I waited to see what had become of sketch… Much to my relief and excitement…. IT CAME OUT INCREDIBLE!!!
Okay, so maybe not being able to have Chrissie do the cover wasn’t as bad as I thought. I still had one cover to go though.
It was at this point that my friend and I proceeded over to the Norman Lee table. There were books, prints, and some of his remaining original work up for sale. Knowing that this would probably be my last chance at getting some of his original work… I had to see what was available. As I poked through the panels, a woman came up to me and asked if I was familiar with Norman’s work. I replied that I was a fan of his work. It was at this point she revealed that she was Norman’s wife. I immediately apologized for her loss and told her how highly I thought of Norman. As I continued looking through the art work, I she told me that all of the proceeds were going to his foundation to support the arts for humanity. I didn’t normally collect panels, but in this case, given that this was likely my last chance, I made an exception and purchased a panel from his work on the Exiles.
After wishing Norman’s family the best, I moved on to get the last cover. My feet were killing me and I knew that I really needed to get home. I approached Joe Prado’s table where another fan was getting posters signed… a lot of posters… no, I’m not kidding, it was like 12 posters by the same guy! Oh well, I waited for him to finish, at which point Joe turned to me, “Yes, I have a cover for you. I need to put the final touches on it, do you want to watch?”
I usually left the artists alone to do their work, lord knows I don’t like people looking over my shoulder, but since he offered, heck yes! He pulled out the cover and… well for starters it took up both the back and the front cover, which I hadn’t seen any of the artists do up until then. He quickly added the details and looked up at me for approval…
What can I say, the man did NOT disappoint. This was also apparently his first time doing this character, so needless to say I was absolutely ecstatic! I took my comic, shook his hand and made my way to the exit, NOT forgetting to pick up a little action figure for my son before leaving.
My final thoughts…
Some people will tell you that you can get everything done you want to in one day… LIES!! Especially if you want specific things done and have a laundry list of people you want to meet. Plan things out all you want, but do not be surprised if LITERALLY everything you plan goes to hell. Comic Con is a seat of the pants operation. I should have learned this long ago. Always have backup plans… and always try to attend two days. Preferably Friday and Saturday. Sunday is usually a clean up day with very little going on.
Boston Comic Con is the perfect con for casual and intermediate collectors. It has much of the grandeur of NY or San Diego, but without the day-long lines that lead into other lines. Whether you collect comics, art work, games, or you just like fantasy adventure stories or seeing a bunch of nerds act nerdy, then BCC is the place for you. There is a lot to see, enjoy and yes… buy. Just make sure you save for this in advance… otherwise, if you’re a rabid collector like me, you’ll blow through your checking in seconds. Thankfully that didn’t happen this year as I saved up enough to cover me.
Anyway, even though I didn’t get the artists I wanted, and my own idiocy caused me undue stress in getting to meet Mr. Lee, I actually had an incredible time and, as always, was very happy with the outcome.
Anyway, I hope this gives those of you who have considered going a little more insight. Thanks for listening to me ramble!
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Catch you on the flip side!