28th July 2006

Neal Adams: A Ringing Endorsement

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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21st July 2006

That’s What Friends Are For

Every once in a great while, someone does something that catches you completely off guard. And blows you away.

I had a particularly rough week. Who didn’t? But today, I just feel completely drained and exhausted. I need to be up at 5am in order to get over to Rob’s house, so our gaggle of geeks can get on the road to San Diego for Comic-Con. On the way home tonight, I had half-convinced myself to bail out of the road trip. I have a lot of work to do on the book, and feeling like I do… I don’t know. Just wasn’t sure I was up for it.

I got home to find an unexpected package from Scott Arendsen. Scott is a fellow Megohead and good friend. Sadly, he lives in deep south while I live in the extreme west. Consequently, we don’t see each other very often. But Scott is the kind of thoughtful that makes you feel elated and flawed at the same time.

Here’s what I mean: Scott knew, from one of his visits west, that I am a fan of the Batman: The Animated Series line from Kenner/Hasbro (frankly, mostly the Kenner stuff). Scott knew I had a pitifully unfilled “shelf-talker” display box. Out of the proverbial blue, Scott sent me a box filled with the precise, exclusive Batman 2-Packs for which the display box was designed.

Scott Present

In fact, the gi-normous Mego art poster in the background was also a gift from Scott. See what I mean?

Many months later, Scott went on a family vacation. He made the staggering decision to send me a really nice pen, emblazoned with his destination and my own name. How do you keep up with that?! That’s what I mean when I describe elation mixed with an utter sense of self-loathing. I’m not that considerate of my own family!

So back to tonight. I opened the box and found a letter explaining that he had “a little something made” for me. He thought I could wear it anytime I’m out promoting the book.

Scott’s mother-in-law is the responsible seamstress, and this is what I received:

World's Greatest Toys Shirt

Words fail me. I grunted, but didn’t even know what to say to myself (yes, I talk aloud, even when I’m alone). Every once in a great while, someone does something that catches you completely off guard.

I am blown away. And I will be proudly wearing this tomorrow, as I treach through the aisles of Comic-Con and spread the word about the book. If any of you guys are in attendance tomorrow, keep your eyes peeled for a big ol’ dork in an insanely cool, avocado green golf shirt. With a kick-ass, embroidered logo. I’ll have postcards in tow, and would love to give one to any Megohead I can find.

Scott, I raise a glass to you. A cold Cerveza Pacifico, in fact. You, sir, are one of the really really good ones.


posted in Acknowledgements | Comments Off

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