The three of us spent a little over two hours at the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con. For me, it was basically a little over two hours of getting my mind blown. Many of the artists in attendance were on titles I read during my first run with comics. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to see those artists just sitting there, sketching away.
Many have been critical of Rob Liefeld’s work over the years, and any objective reader would find it difficult to reasonably argue for the questionable anatomy, all those pouches, and WTF guns. Still, he gets a pass with me because it was through him that I found comics in the first place. Sometime in the early ’90s, Pearlridge hosted one of those craft fairs right in the center of the mall. A vendor sold comic books. I had never purchased one before. X-Force #1 caught my eye because it rested in a vacuum-sealed bag and came with a collector’s edition trading card. This was right at the front of the gimmick-riddled ’90s. So I bought one because #1 seemed like a good starting point. I broke the vacuum seal as soon as I got home, read the comic, and so began my love affair with comic books. As kind of an aside, Rob Liefeld created Deadpool. If there was a way for me to buy stock in Deadpool, I would spend all the money available to me. There were over 10 Deadpool costumes. I bumped into my friend Chris and he was wearing a Deadpool t-shirt. Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop” is in the Deadpool movie trailer. Only one thing stands in the way of Deadpool’s world domination: this guy.
My first introduction to Greg Capullo’s work came when he took over on X-Force after Liefeld left to help start Image Comics. I didn’t understand the creative side of the industry then; all I knew was all of a sudden X-Force looked much different (especially Shatterstar’s swords which more or less became daggers on Capullo’s run). Capullo also took over for Todd McFarlane on Spawn. Capullo was the regular artist on that title when I stopped reading regularly the first time (went to college) and I learned today that he’s been more recently working on Batman. Good for him. Capullo was indirectly the cause of one of craziest moments of my day. A file of humans lined the wall of the convention center. It was pretty long and probably 2-3 people wide in some places. The front of the line stood opposite of an empty table. The sign on the table bore Capullo’s name. I walked up to one of the first guys in the line. “Is this the line for Greg Capullo?” I asked. “Yeah, he’s running late,” the guys said. I couldn’t believe it. What the hell did all these local people want with Greg Capullo? Nerd culture is the mainstream.
His work on Amazing Spider-Man shot Todd McFarlane to stardom. McFarlane became so popular, Marvel created an entirely new Spidey title, Spider-Man. Eventually, he left that title to start up Image Comics. Erik Larson took over for McFarlane, first on Amazing, then on Adjective-less. But Larson would soon leave for Image too, starting The Savage Dragon. Mark Bagley was the first artist on the Amazing Spider-Man to lend the title stability after the tumult. The most specific memory I have of his work was the story that introduced Carnage, a Spider-Man villain who was Venom-adjace. During this episode, Spider-Man realizes that he can’t beat Carnage on his own, so he enlists the aid of Venom. The problem is, Venom’s been living on an island under the impression that Spider-Man’s been dead. Venom agrees to help Spider-Man capture Carnage (Venom hates when innocent people are harmed), but only if Spider-Man agrees to let Venom walk once they’ve caught him. Spider-Man agrees. Well, once they do catch Carnage, we learn that Spidey arranged for Mr. Fantastic (I think) to show up and take Venom into captivity. He broke his word. J. Jonah Jameson called Spidey on it, saying something like “Captain America would have kept his word.” Spider-Man snapped back at Jameson. He said something along the lines of “No, Captain America’s a legend, he would have found another way. But me, I’m just a man. And men make choices. Yeah, make choices and live with them.” All that’s from memory, so I apologize if it’s inaccurate. But I always thought Spidey was kind of a dick for breaking a promise like that, not in principle, but because I thought he was a “good guy”. It wasn’t until much later that I understood what he meant. First, Captain American would never have given his word. He would have found another way to win, because that’s what Captain America does. Second, that last sentence of the quote is adult life summed up perfectly.
George Perez was the first artist I saw this morning. Like Capullo, I saw Perez’s line before I actually saw him. I traced the line across the far wall, followed where it pulled a 90 degree left into the walkway and pointed at Perez’s table. “It’s really him,” I said. “Oh, yeah?” Lynnette asked in that weird way she does when she knows I’m experiencing some kind of dorkgasm or cliMets. “He’s right there,” I said. I shook my head. “And he really does wear Hawaii shirts all the time,” I said. My knowledge of Perez’s work is not deep. I grew up a Marvel guy, so missed his Crisis on Infinite Earths stuff, but was always sort of aware of his stuff like this. To see him today, however, really hit me. It was at that moment that I realized that the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con was an attempt at an actual Comic Con.
We heard about the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con much earlier in the year but we never bought tickets because of the uncertainty surrounding Lynnette’s pregnancy. It wasn’t until I started seeing pictures go up last night that I actually thought about going. By the time I went to bed I had resolved to go. Only Lynnette wasn’t sure, she can’t walk around very much. Yet, she decided to stick it out with me. Madison dressed up in her Pikachu costume (and declined to take a picture with a twenty-something Ash and a much more… provocative Pickachu). We made contributions to the comic book economy. I want to thank the organizers of the event for giving me morning filled with excitement, surprise, and sweet nostalgia. Thank you, Lynnette, for clutching up and waddling around the convention center simply because you knew I would have the best time ever.