Friday, January 29, 2010

sketchbook: howard and neal!


i met howard porter in detroit. i think. maybe it was chicago. it wasn't in charlotte.
mike had already met him once or twice before and i was certainly a fan of his work on the ray. i'm pretty sure that he was working on jla by this time, but i could be so wrong here...
anyway, i remember mike walking me over to his table at a show, howard hard at work signing comics. john dell was sitting next to howard and mike introduced us and we chatted for a moment or two when howard looked up and saw mike, a big smile on his face, jumped up to say hey, shake his hand, and mike made the intros for us too. and howard beat me to it. "oh, man--i love your stuff!"
i was gonna say that.
we saw howard and his lovely wife, heather, a few other times that weekend, in passing usually, and it wasn't until quitting time on saturday that i asked if he would sketch something for me in my sketchbook. he gladly grabbed it and off they went.

howard is a shy guy, doesn't really like crowds or the craziness of conventions; the usually rushed travel, the insane schedules, and the sometimes long recuperation period over the next week of trying to get back in to the rhythm of working. (it does take a toll on you...) so he doesn't do many shows. but howard and i became friends over the course of the next couple years out of mutual respect and because of our mutual friend, rich faber. i think we had three or four guys weekends at my house back then, the two of them coming up on a thursday or friday and we'd see a lotta movies and eat and drink and tell stories and brainstorm on projects we could do together. it almost came true on a tellos story that howard did an awesome job on, but rich wasn't able to finish it at the time, so we had someone else ink it.
howard and i have had a couple of other crazy adventures over the years--including a memorable drive down to the baltimore comiccon back in '03 with ron garney...memorable for howard, i'm sure, since ron and i were both heartbroken over our recent respective breakups...howard said, i was just glad for the comp[any. what a trooper!

oh, yeah. the sketch!
here's howard's awesome darkseid! a lotta people tell me when they meet me that they'd been pronouncing my name wrong *, and howard was one of them. so he did this to remind himself and have some fun! i love it!

* by the way, it's pronounced "Deh-ZAY-go", something that even my good pal mark waid, even after all these years, still catches himself on from time to time and a favorite teasing point for matt's dad, cecil wieringo, who loves to tell me that it should be "dee-ZAH-go" 'cause he lived in italy for years and that's how they'd say it. that's not how we say it but there is nothing i love more than when cecil calls and says in his thick southern drawl, "hellooo, mistah dee-ZAH-go--"

It's deh-ZAY-go.

when i was a kid, i loved neal adams.
he was amazing--i couldn't get enough!
what he brought to comics in the late 60s/early seventies was just gold and comics would never be the same.
yes, i still loved the other artists too; jim aparo, dick dillin, and my treasured nick cardy--but neal was the showman! the muhammad ali of comics! floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee!

i saw neal at the new york show about 6 or 7 years back. i wanted a sketch and i stood in line. when it was my turn, i started chatting him up a bit and he started telling me about his greatest achievement, a massive, mammoth graphic novel that would explain the true origins of the earth and the universe around it, an illustrated compendium of his own personal theory that was going to stand the scientific community on it's ear!
he had my ear for, i'd say, a good forty-five minutes. i listened intently as he, neal adams!, my hero! described the intricacies of how our planet is actually expanding as we speak!! (or was it contracting--? i don't really remember...), and tried to be patient when, every six minutes or so, neal would remember that he was supposed to be doing a sketch. the batman sketch seemed to take about as long as...well, the nascent earth took to form.
we had a table just the next aisle over, craig and i, and brian was there handing out choopie cards and being our boothboy. i had been away for almost and hour and had a line forming of my own over there and so when brian came by to see if and when i was ever coming back, i took that opportunity to excuse myself to get back to my own table, could i pick the book up later (and hoping that maybe without me there listening he'd get it done in the, like, three minutes it was gonna take anyway...) so he says, neal adams says, "oh? you're a professional? what do you do?" and i said--to neal adams--"oh, i've done some spider-man and some impulse and a lotta other stuff. and these creator-owned books, the perhapanauts and tellos."
"TELLOS?!?" he says--neal adams says--"i love tellos! my kids got me hooked on it! that was a great book!"
and now neal adams is gushing over me...and i have to leave. i'm thinking, he loved it, maybe i could get him to do a cover...or a story...? maybe i could...
but i had to go and he had already put his head down to finish my batman sketch, prodded by his wife or girlfriend or whoever
since he had taken far too long telling me his theory and his line had become longer and longer.

when i went back about twenty minutes later, he was gone, on a break, and a kid handed me my book. when i opened it up he said, "oh, yeah. someone bumped the table and his hand slipped so he made it into some blood...oh, and you're name was todd, right? good. we had him fix that."

neal adams though.

have a great weekend!
smell ya later!


Brian said...

I believe that was the second NYC Comic Con where artists' alley was literally an alley up on the third level.

Neal was in a great mood at that show. Being on his side of the alley with you guys I ended up walking by his table a number of times. I must have been smiling a lot at the show, because Neal mentioned it to me when I walked by once and complimented me on knowing that these shows are supposed to be fun.

Great story and sketch Todd and the Darkside is even better thanks to the pronunciation guide. (It will come in handy because I, like Mr. Waid, got your last name wrong to start with and it is a hard habit to break).

Rich Faber said...

Todd! It was definitely Motor City Con in Detroit. However, Howard was also at that Wizard dinner in San Diego a year or so before that, where you and I first met in person. I'm not surprised you might not remember, as Howard probably was very quiet there too. Traci and Heather were there too.

In any event, I miss those "guys' weekends"! I hope we can do one again someday soon.

I also must say that I have few regrets in my career, but that Tellos story near-miss is one. Maybe we can try again sometime. You're one of the few people for whom I'd go back to doing some ink work.

Talk to you soon, buddy!


Tony Miello said...

Todd, I'm just loving these sketch book post. The art is great, but I really enjoy the stories that accompany them. That's the best part of getting sketch at a con, having it invoke some tale when you look back on it.

todd said...

brian and tony~!
thanks, you guys!

got your message the other day and it was wild because i had already written this post--synchronicity!~

i know that we met at the wizard dinner, but didn't remember howard there. although i did meet howard before he and i went to that jla:world without grown-ups lunch with eddie berganza, dan raspler, grant morrison, and mark millar. howard was the one guy besides eddie i knew and eddie was worried that i was disrespecting grant, but i couldn't understand a fookin' word that guy said. mark became my translator but was laughing so hard at what i THOUGHT grant was saying that he wasn't much help...neither was howard. needless to say, grant told me to do whatever i wanted with the story and howard and i got a free lunch by the harbor, so i guess it all worked out.

Warren said...

Hi, Todd. Check your email. :)

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