Last Saturday, Rob Chatlin and I drove to San Diego to attend Comic Con for the day. My goal was to promote the book, and hopefully meet up with old friends. It was an amazing show, and we had a great time.
I only managed one complete “walk through” of the venue, as it is vast and uncompromising. Along the way, I encountered Neal Adams, and his son Jason. I have had the pleasure of speaking with them both before, at previous Comic Con shows, and I love the fact that they both have vivid memories of Mego. Jason, an incredible artist in his own right, was a child during Mego’s heyday, and fondly recalls the joys of playing with Mego figures. Jason was partial to Mego’s Planet of the Apes line.
Neal, a vocal and intimidating force, has mixed memories of Mego. Neal did a fair amount of “work-for-hire” for the Mego corporation. We spoke, at great length, about the state of affairs for artists working throughout the 1970s. Hardly a lucrative profession, many of today’s most beloved comic artists subsidized their income by working for the numerous toy companies of the era.
As I mentioned, I have discussed Mego with Neal Adams before. At this exhibition, however, I was able to present the prototype for the book. Peeling open the portfolio, I presented a spread from the Superman chapter, asking for clarification on what he actually illustrated versus what was merely traced by Mego production artists.
It was astonishing.
Without hesitation, he pointed to a photograph of the 2nd Issue, 1979 Superman card. “That’s mine,” he declared while pointing to the Superman bust on the card front. “That’s mine,” he continued. “That’s a bad tracing of one of my drawings,” pointing to another. “I’m not sure who did (Supergirl), but I think I know who originally drew it.”
I was spellbound.
He looked at the packaging artwork of Tarzan and Aquaman. “That’s a tracing by the same guy,” he continued. “See? This guy thought he understood anatomy. He said, “Oh, I’ll just add a muscle here,” not realizing that muscle doesn’t even exist.”
Neal Adams flipped the pages of the book prototype, adding color commentary about the illustrations featured on Mego packaging. Jason edged his seat forward, looking over his father’s shoulder. Both had fascinating smirks on their faces, as if I’d presented a photo album of an Adams’ family Christmas.
Neal continued to flip through the book. He was looking at a spread from the chapter entitled 1972 - 1st Wave Heroes and paused.
He looked up and said, “This book looks better than anything Mego ever did.”
I won’t pretend that I didn’t melt right then and there. I was actually kneeling before his table — or I should say, I was genuflecting before his table — and my knees still buckled.
With a slight heave and a deep sigh, I replied, “Well, thank you. That means so much to me.”
There were a lot of great moments at Comic Con 2006. I even ran into an old girlfriend, which was really cool. I got to touch base with some amazing friends, some of whom are well-known creators (who offered to “blurb” the book upon its release). One of the highlights was sharing a few beers with a veritable “Round Table” of Mego geeks: Mego Museum founder Scott Adams, Mego Museum Curator Brian Heiler and Mego Museum Patriarch Rob Chatlin, not to mention Brian’s uber-cool wife, Michelle, who went “beer-for-beer” with me, as we pounded pints of Boddingtons Pale ale.
But the single greatest moment of the show, without question, was hearing that ringing endorsement from the incomparable Neal Adams. Don’t get me wrong: I realize I will never do anything as special as the folks at Mego were able to accomplish.
But for that brief moment, I was on top of the world.
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