Since the annual San Diego Comic-Con is underway, I thought I would look back to a time when I attended. The year was 1995, Tekno Comix dominated the industry, the landmark Fantastic Four #400 was published, and Val Kilmer was sure to be Batman Forever.
My uncle was living in Los Angeles and my grandfather and I flew out to see him. We went down to Mexico for a few days and then we all attended that year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
The convention was mind-blowing for me. I was running around like crazy and had been pacing the night before, to my uncle’s annoyance. The three of us went our separate ways and explored. Before splitting up, my uncle asked if I there was a specific comic I was looking for. His intent being that he would pick it up for me if he came across it. I told him Detective Comics #1. He asked what was significant about it. I told him. Then I told him how much it was. I think he responded something like “Go to hell.” In my defense, that comic was a lot cheaper back then than it is now.
So I spent most of the convention running around like a lunatic. If only gym class had incorporated hunting for comic books. Later in the day we met back up. I’m not sure if we had agreed to convene at a certain time. I feel like my uncle and I ran into each other and then ran into Grandpa. My uncle had met artist Peter Kuper. This would have been right before The System came out. He had signed a button promoting the book for my uncle. Now that I’m thinking about that I need to read that book again, it’s great.
Grandpa told us that he had been going through Artist’s Alley and someone had drawn a picture of him. We asked him where the sketch was and he said he didn’t have it. My uncle and I knew immediately what had happened.
At this point Grandpa was 75. He was still with it mentally but was getting to the point where he would say inappropriate things, you know? The way my uncle and I reconstructed it, some artist, probably at Grandpa’s request had drawn him. When the artist had appropriately asked for payment, Grandpa probably refused. Whether he balked at the price or the idea of paying at all, I don’t know. Any artist faced with that situation would have understandably kept the piece.
I was bummed out about this, but I think it hit my uncle harder. We attempted to find which artist had drawn Grandpa, but we were but 2 waves crashing against the cliffs of the gargantuan artist alley at San Diego. Had social media been a thing back then I believe that we could have found it. Unfortunately, we never did.
I would later meet a caricature artist in Myrtle Beach who told me he would come up against comparable situations. He informed me that he always kept the drawings. As any artist should who is not compensated for their work.
Grandpa would pass away 5 years later, 16 years ago now. It would have been nice to have the drawing of him. Towards the end of his life, I was staying with Grandpa quite a bit. One day I did a drawing of him in his chair. Until right now, I’m not sure if I connected that to this situation in San Diego. He had a caricature of him drawn years ago, so it’s not like there weren’t any drawings of him or anything. I feel like it was probably more to help me with what he was going through. Plus, I knew it would probably be the last time I would be able to.
So, I guess if you drew a cantankerous old man at the San Diego comic convention back in 1995, hit me up. I’ll totally pay you for the drawing.