Wednesday, September 6, 2017

TerrifiCon 2017 ~~ Part TWO of a Very Lengthy "Comical Wednesday" Post!

As you hopefully recall, last Wednesday was Part One of two posts concerning my experiences at TerrifiCon 2017, held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

In Part One, I told how my friend John and I were only at TerrifiCon for a few hours, so I passed on meeting the various television and movie celebrities who attended, including but not limited to Burt "Robin" Ward, actress Lee Meriwether, plus Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick. The last two are currently featured on two Netflix series based on Marvel Comics characters, Iron Fist and The Defenders.

Nope. I was there to meet and get autographs from three comic book writers and one comic book artist whom I admire. Last time around, I talked about meeting writer Marv Wolfman and artist Jerry Ordway.

So here we go...

The fourth person whose autograph I obtained -- and no, I still haven't forgotten to tell you about the second, but I'm saving the best for last -- was writer Steve Englehart.

Starting in the early 1970s, Englehart wrote several titles, and I followed most of them. He wrote the solo adventures of the former X-Man, The Beast, in the appropriately-titled Amazing Adventures. He scripted some really good issues of Doctor Strange, with outstanding art by Frank Brunner. He co-created Peter Quill, a/k/a Star-Lord, who much later became a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And for DC Comics, Steve Englehart wrote an incredible series of Batman stories in Detective Comics. This block of stories, most of which were drawn by Marshall Rogers, introduced Silver St. Cloud as a love interest for Bruce Wayne and included a hugely popular two-part Joker story.

Story by Englehart, art by Rogers.

I had pretty much given up on reading comics by the early 1970s, believe it or not. One night, however, a chance look at the comic book section of a bookstore renewed my interest in the little darlings.

As regular readers of this blog know, one of the superheroes whose adventures had always grabbed me was Captain America, whose title was then being published as Captain America and the Falcon. I'd always been a fan of Cap's origin, which had been told a few times since I first encountered the character in 1964. But one of the books I saw that night promised a different origin for Cap.

I "had" to buy it, along with a handful of other Marvel Comics. Issue #155 of Captain America and the Falcon was written by Steve Englehart, a new name to me.

Captain America was a big seller during the 1940s, published in several titles from Timely Comics (now Marvel Comics). In 1964's The Avengers #4, Marvel, saying he'd been frozen (and thought to be dead) in 1945, "thawed" the character, ignoring the fact that Cap's adventures in the comics had actually continued until the late 1940s, and also ignoring a brief revival of his title from 1953-54.

It turns out that the origin presented in Captain America and the Falcon #155 was that of the 1950s Cap, revealed to have been an impostor. Fascinating stuff.

Anyhoo... I told Mr. Englehart that Cap #155 was the first book by him that I'd ever read, and how he was my favorite comic book writer during the 1970s. I added that that was saying quite a lot, considering that Marvel had such stellar writers as Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, and Don McGregor during the same period. I could tell that he appreciated the compliment.

Steve was also charging $1.00 per signature, which I more than willingly paid.

I was not present for this. Here's a photo of Steve Englehart with actor Sean Gunn
(known for Guardians of the Galaxy and Gilmore Girls, among other roles).

Okay, as I said earlier, I've been saving the best for last. The second comic book personality I talked to was none other than Roy Thomas. As I told Roy himself, I've been a fan of his since he started working for Marvel. ("That would be fifty-two years ago," Roy replied... not that either he or myself are anywhere near that old...)

Roy was a BNF (Big Name Fan) in the early 1960s, eventually taking over the editorship of the fanzine Alter Ego from another BNF, Jerry Bails. In 1965, he was a school teacher who became a comic book pro and worked for DC Comics for about an hour... Okay, okay, it was really eight days, which isn't much longer.

He then went to work at Marvel. His first extended writing job for Marvel was on Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, a title which I read, but admittedly, I didn't immediately notice that the book was being written by someone other than Stan Lee. From there he progressed to another of my favorites, the original X-Men title. He also wrote The Avengers for quite a while. He was the second person to write The Amazing Spider-Man, and the third to write Fantastic Four. He was responsible for Marvel's acquiring the rights to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian in 1970, which began the "sword and sorcery" trend in comics. Thomas had (and has) a real love for the Golden Age comics he read as a boy -- he often revived or re-imagined Golden Age characters in the titles he wrote -- and he put that love to use in a series called The Invaders, which was set during World War II and featured 1940s Marvel characters such as Captain America (and Bucky), the original Human Torch (and his kid sidekick, named Toro for some unknown reason), and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. In the mid-1970s, Thomas was instrumental in arranging Marvel's comic book adaptation of a new science fiction film... a little something called Star Wars. Roy wrote and Howard Chaykin drew the first six issues, which followed the plot of the movie. And I've left out a lot.

Okay, you can take a breath here.

This was the issue I almost had Neal Adams sign!

The issue below, What If #4, contains a story by Roy that finally explained how Captain America had appeared until 1949, since he was supposed to have "died" in 1945! Roy said that he himself had really enjoyed that story. I told him that I'd read it yet again the previous night, at which point he asked "Did it end the same way?"

I went on to tell Roy how much I loved his stories (for both Marvel and DC) about the Golden Age heroes. He answered that those were his favorite to write.

In the 1980s, Roy Thomas started writing for DC Comics. He wrote stories for such various titles as Wonder Woman, Batman, DC Comics Presents, Secret Origins, and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and created or co-created such series as Arak Son of Thunder and Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew... but his best work for DC was arguably his huge volume of work involving the Golden Age superheroes, particularly the Justice Society of America. The JSA appeared in All-Star Squadron (set in the early 1940s), the America vs. the Justice Society mini-series, The Last Days of the Justice Society one-shot, and in various issues of Secret Origins. All-Star Squadron birthed two spin-off series, Young All-Stars and Infinity, Inc. The long-running Infinity, Inc. featured children and protégés of the JSA members in modern times.

Perhaps one of my all-time favorite JSA-related tales was from the Infinity Inc. Annual #1. This was a story which largely concerned the Golden Age Green Lantern, a character whom I gush about here, and his daughter and son, Jade and Obsidian. That's the third comic I had Roy sign.

Roy (and writer Kurt Busiek) also appeared on a panel John and I attended later, where Roy talked at length about having taken over the scripting of The Amazing Spider-Man from Stan Lee in 1971. Roy also discussed the Spider-Man costume shown below, which he's owned since the mid-1960s. This was created for publicity purposes, and Roy himself used to wear it! (For an extensive article about the costume, its history, and numerous rare photos of Roy wearing it over the years, click here!)

This photo, taken by my friend John, shows Roy's Spider-Man costume. If you look closely, you'll note
that the legs of the outfit are purple rather than the proper blue that most of the rest of the suit is made of.

This photo, also taken by John, shows just a small section of the convention
floor. That's me on the far right, about three-quarters down. (Just kidding.)

Someone had the good idea to have Roy, who co-created the Iron Fist character
with artist Gil Kane in 1974, meet Finn Jones. Jones has the title role in Netflix'
Iron Fist series, and appears in The Defenders as well. I assume that something
was said to Jones along the lines of "If it wasn't for Roy, you wouldn't have a job."

Summing up (yes, finally!), I enjoyed this convention immensely, and only have two minor regrets, three if you count my not approaching Lee Meriwether (as mentioned in Part One).

The first is that I only had Jerry Ordway sign that copy of All-Star Squadron #20, considering that the damned thing was written by none other than Roy Thomas! I mean, just look at that cover, which has such a great place for Roy to have signed it.

And my second regret? Well, I kinda wish I'd met con guest Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing on Iron Fist and in The Defenders. I mean, just look at her.

And I see that Roy Thomas didn't pass up his chance to meet Jessica Henwick. Roy, you dog, you!

Thanks for your time, and your perseverance!


  1. Passing up meeting Jessica Henwick would sure be a regret indeed haha

    I never knew Beast had his own comic. Sounds like Roy really had fun with it and was willing to chat a bit more than the others. I saw the purple, just looks weird with purple.

  2. I've finally gotten to see the end of Iron Fist's first season -- have yet to see The Defenders -- and the more I see of Jessica, the more I like her. Of course, Lee Meriwether is closer to my age...

    This may be hard to believe in these modern days of multiple X-Men titles and appearances, but for a while in the early seventies, they were in comic limbo. Their own title had been cancelled, and they didn't even guest star anywhere very often. They decided to change the Beast from an athletic guy with huge feet to his current furred form. First he was grey, then black, and somewhere after his fur turned black, someone got carried away with the blue highlighting comic colorists usually put on black cloth or hair, and he became the blue-furred Beastie that he is today!

    It was great to talk with Roy. I just hate that he was so damned popular, with such a long line of fans waiting to see him. Otherwise, I could have talked to him for hours if he'd let me!

    1. Wow, I never knew Beast went through so many changes. You sure are in the know.

      The Defenders wasn't bad. Just found most of the bad guys rather pointless.

    2. I watched the first half (four episodes) of The Defenders this morning. Not bad, but I have NEVER liked The Hand. Not on television, nor in the comics.

  3. Why would you want to meet Jessica Henwick when you can meet me, The Queen of Grammar? I recognize that actor, what's his name. He was Kirk on The Gilmore Girls, and as everyone knows, in my real life I am Lorelai Gilmore. It's fun to have so many identities. One of my identities doesn't like it when people think that multiple identities is a mental health problem or some such shit.


    1. Hm. Does that mean that your other identities do "like it when people think that multiple identities is a mental health problem?"

      Sean Gunn's Kirk character annoyed me, actually. Not the actor's fault, I just hated the way Kirk acted.

      I always have to catch myself and make sure that I don't spell "Gilmore Girls" as "Gilmour Girls," because I always think of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.

    2. My other identities agree that multiple identities might be a mental health issue. Kirk is not my favorite person in Stars Hollow, but you have to admire a man who has so many jobs.

  4. how fun! i love cons!
    and those are some great classic comics - looks like a terrific time (ha ha)

    and you were right, the ABBA song is knowing me, knowing you - my title was wrong, but they do say that lyric in it... you got me!

    thanks for stopping by!

    Tara Tyler Talks

  5. I was right about the song? I didn't think so. There are actually one or two songs out there called "Loving Me Loving You!" (Only readers of your blog will understand that exchange, Tara!)

  6. Now, I need to go back through some old comic books and see if there are any by these writers. It sounds like you had an adventurous day.

  7. I was really into Captain America and the rest of The Avengers in the '60s. This waned when I discovered Mad Magazine in the '70s. Porn took over after that. Can I blame it on the editors of Mad Magazine? Sigh.

    1. Gee, I always thought it was comics, then MAD, then National Lampoon, and then porn! Ha.

    2. I somehow missed completely out on National Lampoon in print form. In fact, it was not until the first of the Vacation movies came out that I was exposed to their comical take on things, and I understand that the movies presented a very mild version.

    3. Yes, in the 1970s, the magazine was known for some shocking humor by the standards of the day. For example, back then, dead celebrities were considered to be sacred cows, but the National Lampoon made fun of people like JFK when no one else would dare. Things sure have changed in forty years.

  8. Love this post, Mr. Silverfox. And Roy, you dog, you... wooooof!

    1. It was great meeting Roy. I was glad to see he had such a long line of fans waiting to see him. In fact, while I was in line, they moved Roy to a different room so they could fit more convention-goers in there!

      If you get a chance, Blue, check out Part One. It's got one page featuring Burt "Robin" Ward, reprinted from a 1984 issue of Hustler, believe it or not!


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