Burne, baby, Burne!

I just noticed the label to the right that says “Burne Hogarth” and couldn’t remember what I’d written about him. It turns out that it was a listing of a review in my index of Comics Career Newsletter #1.

Well, I need to do another Burne Hogarth item just for good measure. Since I spent the past weekend playing chauffeur to convention guests, it’s a natural segue to my single Hogarth experience.
Burne Hogarth, for those of you unaware, was a legendary illustrator, teacher, and author who is best known for (1) a classic run on the Tarzan comic strip in the 30s and 40s, and (2) creating influential art instruction books including Dynamic Anatomy, Drawing the Human Head, and Dynamic Figure Drawing. 

He was a guest at Kansas City’s Mo-Kan Comics Convention circa 1990 – back in the days when Comics Career Newsletter was in full swing. At the time, Mr. Hogarth was about 80-years-old, hard-of-hearing, soft-spoken, but stern. I actually don’t recall interacting with him very much during the show, because I’d spent the full day Saturday selling CCN subscriptions, reviewing the portfolios of aspiring pros, and socializing with the usual gang.

One of the nice traditions of the Mo-Kan show was the Saturday evening banquet they threw for the guests, dealers, and selected special friends. I don’t remember the specifics of that year. I just remember that at some point the club members needed someone to help transport guests from one place to another. Somehow I was drafted to drive Burne Hogarth and Jon (Adventures of Superman) Bogdonave back to their hotel.

That’s fine. No problem.

Did I mention that Kelly, my wonderful wife, was also along? And old buddy Mark Runyan?

Oh, wait, did I mention that our car was a Dodge Omni? Remember the Dodge Omni? If you don’t, let me give you an idea of how tiny it was. A Dodge Omni is approximately the size of the little battery powered cars that 4-year-olds drive around the back yard.

We were at least respectful enough to let the 80-year-old legend ride in the front passenger seat instead of squeezing into a backseat not suitable for a single adult human with two other adult humans. That fate was reserved for Kelly, Mark, and the big time Superman artist.


The wrap up? Burne Hogarth was very kind and polite, was interested in Comics Career, and took a copy to his hotel room. On day two of the convention, he sought me out, assured me that he had read it carefully, and liked it very much.

Wow. I was pleased at the time, and I was largely unaware of how important Burne Hogarth was. Now I have Wikipedia, and I’m blown away to understand that:

“over the years, he was an instructor of drawing to a variety of students at a number of institutions and by 1944 Hogarth had in mind a school for returning World War II veterans. The Manhattan Academy of Newspaper Art was Hogarth’s first formal effort, and by 1947 he had transformed it into the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. This academy continued to grow, and in 1956 was again renamed, as the School of Visual Arts (SVA). It is now the world’s largest private institution of art. Hogarth designed the curriculum, served as an administrator, and taught a full schedule that included drawing, writing, and art history. It was in Hogarth’s classes that many of the Silver Age of comic books’ artists learned the advanced drawing techniques that formed a style still defining the superhero genre today.” 

And he was in my Dodge Omni…


On Beyond the Planet

As far as I’m concerned, this past weekend’s Planet Comicon was a great success. There were far too many highlights for me to possibly cover them all, but I’m going to ramble through what comes to mind. I’ll just have to fill in the rest later.

First, my biggest regret: I was so busy that I didn’t manage to take many photos. I guess it will just have to live in my memory (but if anyone’s got photos they’d like to share, I’d love to have some.) I was constantly scrambling during the show because I did double duty, serving as Panel Coordinator and also making courtesy car runs to transport our out-of-town guests between the hotel and convention center. The courtesy car service meant that I always hit the convention hall after the show was up and running, so I never managed to catch up with all of the programming duties. Next year I’ll have to do one or the other.

Thanks to Seth Wolfshorndl for allowing my to swipe this image of Kenny Baker at Planet Comicon!!

Next, the most special memory: I had the pleasure of driving Kenny (R2-D2) Baker and Valerie Gale during the convention. My Chrysler Concorde, it turns out, is well-suited for Kenny’s needs. It’s low enough to the ground for easy entry and also has a large trunk to hold the rented wheelchair that helped him get around. They are an absolutely charming couple and were wonderful to escort. My kids were delighted that Kenny gave them signed photos. I was thrilled when Valerie kissed me on both cheeks as we said our goodbyes – and she got quite a razzing from Kenny for that!

The parade of courtesy cars: I also provided transport for sci-fi icon Walter Koenig, scream queen Brinke Stevens (who “liked my chariot”), editor/publisher/artist representative Renee Witterstaetter, and artists Angel Medina and Bernie Wrightson. Each and every trip was a pleasure and it was great to get a chance to spend some one-on-one time with some very talented and interesting people.

The parade of panels: As coordinator of the panels, I was happy that promoter Chris Jackson and I were able to come up with a well-rounded roster of presentations. Walter Koenig was kind enough to handle an hour on Saturday and then a second full solo session on Sunday. He had the crowd enthralled for the whole time. (Thanks to Rob Davis who oversaw both Koenig events and also to Victor Péna, Phill Dutcher, and Mark Runyan for wrangling the sound system)

Through pure coincidence we had a terrific assemblage of Ghost Rider talent on hand for a fabulous panel (pictured above). Ghost Rider co-creator Gary Friedrich, current series writer Jason Aaron, long-time GR artist Javier Saltares were interviewed by Jai Nitz (with the microphone in the photo). Another definitive GR artist, Mark Texeira, was slated for the panel, but unfortunately a delayed flight kept him from making it in time.

Jai Nitz also interviewed Kurt Busiek on Sunday. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see more than a few seconds that panel, but they ran long, so the large crowd must have been enjoying it.

I got the chance to moderate three panels. Panel one featured local talents Hector Casanova, Travis Fox, and Daniel Spottswood. Panel two had the current Superman Confidential creative team B. Clay Moore, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks. Panel three featured the terrific artistic talent of Eric Powell, Tony Moore, and last minute pinch hitter Jeremy Haun.

The last panel of the weekend featured your truly and Renee Witterstaetter providing tips to aspiring creators about how to crack into the comics biz. The session was modestly attended but seemed to be received well. Those in attendance were the first to hear an announcement that affects this blog.

My wife and I are drafting a business plan to launch a full-scale ad supported site for comics creators. I’ll finally make use of the comicscareer.com URL that I’ve had parked for ages (if you go to it now you’ll just be redirected back to this blog). The plan is for Kelly to run the day-to-day operations for the foreseeable future while I maintain my “real job” as Marketing Director of MCH, Inc. There will be much more to announce as we finalize the business plan and move toward a launch date. Check back regularly. If you would like to get our upcoming weekly e-newsletter for comics professionals and aspiring professionals, just send your name and email address to us at comicscareer@yahoo.com.

Whew. Now it’s bedtime!