One of the many odd things about being a comic book fan, and, more to the point, of specific comic book creators - whether they’re writers, artists, or writer/artists, or whatever – is that there’s a good chance that you hold someone in very high esteem yet have no idea what he or she actually looks like.
That’s probably less true now than it was before this whole Internet thing took off, but, in general, most comic creators are little more than faceless names to the average fan. Even the “super star” creators can probably walk amongst us in complete anonymity in the way that an actor or pop star never could.
Even when you’re smack in the middle of a context – such as a convention – in which you would expect to see a comic book artist or writer, you might very well walk right past one without even noticing.
For my part, there are quite a few writers, artists, inkers, colorists, and editors whom I’ve seen pictured in magazines or in interviews or whatever, but I don’t know their faces well enough to pick them out of a line-up.
There are, I would say, a total of three comics creators that I would recognize if I just randomly saw them, regardless of context: Neil Gaiman (after all, I’ve met him), Alan Moore (there’s pretty much no mistaking him), and Frank Miller (who has appeared in a couple of movies).
Beyond that, there is, of course, The Man, Smilin’ Stan Lee, whom even non-comics fans might well recognize.
And that’s pretty much it.
As a case in point, this morning, before heading over to the con, I was standing on the skywalk connecting the hotel to the Convention Center smoking a cigarette before walking over, and an older Hispanic man wearing a Superman T-shirt came out of the hotel. I had no idea who he was, but I just got the feeling he had to be someone.
He kinda-sorta looked like Sergio Aragones, or at least, what I could imagine him looking like based on the couple of photos I’ve seen of him and the caricatures he’s done of himself, but I wasn’t sure that it was him, and didn’t want to say anything.
Later, I saw him in a booth at the con and learned that he was, in fact, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.
I’ve liked his work for as long as I can remember, and even people who don’t read comics have doubtless seen his work, as for a long time his artwork appeared on pretty much any given product on the market featuring licensed DC Comics characters, but I never had the faintest clue of what he looks like.
It was an odd moment; this was someone I’ve admired for decades, whose work has meant a great deal to me, yet he was a complete stranger.
So, yeah. It was odd. And kind of sad.