Typing this on the BoltBus to Boston, it was worth every penny and new gray hair. Clem Robins invited me to the Gaspar Saladino love fest (see below) weeks ago. Right after accepting, I forgot about it while getting Inky Stories #4 published in time for MICE 2014. Clem reminded me October 1st (Wednesday night). In two hours, I had to: get a ticket for a sold-out show, make sure my wonderful ex and 13-year-old son could live without me this weekend (surprising how both said "yes" so quickly), get Friday off from work on practically no notice and secure transportation and hotel.
I got everything except the hotel. I worked a full day that Thursday, then got on a 6:00pm BoltBus to New York, not knowing where I'd stay when getting off the bus. That last problem got solved by Chelsea Hostel, a good friend and BoltBus' unreliable wifi.
This all started by Gaspar Saladino told Todd Klein he wanted to go to this year's New York ComicCon, his first convention in over 60 years in the business. Todd told his lettering legend friends (including Tom Orzechowski, Clem Robins and Alex Jay). By the time Clem Robins invited me, it grew to a once-in-a-lifetime event.
I met Tom, Clem and Todd at the con that Friday morning. Gaspar arrived soon after. Our group grew with the addition of Alex Jay, Janice Chiang and Chris Eliopoulos. Gaspar was honored like a visiting dignitary, clowning around with old cohorts (Len Wein, Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Dennis O'Neil).
I thought Gaspar was going to punch Chaykin for talking badly of Alex Toth.
As the posse's blossoming youth of 52 years old, I loved watching my 60-something idols worship their 80-something idol. Clem and Tom were particularly vocal in how and why they loved his work. After a long day, we had dinner and went our separate ways.
I still don't think I belong in this Justice League of dedicated letterers. They've won the quality/quantity battle on a daily basis -- for decades, applying artful intelligence when possible. On the other hand, I only letter my own work. Lettering is an huge part of my work, equally important as drawing, staging and research. Perhaps this dedication, in spite of my many errors, is why this group decided to include me.
Learning From the Best
Tom Orzechowski showed me his method of filing down nib points. Speedball FB6/B6 nibs are a bit too thick right out of the box. Hand letterers used wet stones to make the points thinner. Veteran letters taught this physical skill in person. Communicating this in text only generates more words and less precision. This was another reason I made the trip. Someday I'll put this method up on YouTube.
Chris Eliopoulos offered a free critique of my lettering on "Enter...General Zaq!". In mere minutes, he pointed out inconsistencies, tangents, text wrapping and general placement errors. He also spoke of current industry trends, freelance etiquette and business realities.
I'm extremely grateful for both these free learning sessions, as well as being considered "one of the gang".
New York ComicCon was more crowded than San Diego this year, creating occasional pockets of confusion. In the middle of a hallway, near the panel rooms, I spotted an empty table and extension cord. Needing to charge my near-dead iPhone, I filled the rest of the table with original art and comics. It took only a few seconds to make my squatting look legit. In 15 minutes I sold 2 issues of Inky Stories #4!
Memories from the Real Letterers
- NYCC 2014 with Gaspar Saladino and Friends by Todd Klein
- Kissing the Gaspar Stone by Clem Robins (Facebook)
- Comics: Letterers Lineup by Alex Jay
-- Your Hero, writing this on a Bolt Bus with terrible wifi. And by "terrible", I mean "non existent".