Skip to Content

Pittsburgh Comicon: The Legends Panel

Pittsburgh Comicon: The Legends Panel

Pittsburgh Comicon: The Legends Panel

 

The Players:

sin-KEV-ich

Bill Sienkiewicz

-Classically trained painter known for his work at both DC and Marvel, particularly Elektra: Assassin. Sienkiewicz has won more awards than I can count (without taking off my shoes and socks at least)

Joe Rubinstein

Joe Rubinstein

-German-born artist most famous for inking the 1982 Wolverine series, as well as The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Holds the Guinness world record for inking more pencillers than any other inker in history.

Mike Grell and Hat

Mike Grell

-Writer/Penciler/Inker/Editor, known for his work on Green Arrow, Warlord, and for helping Tony Stark expose himself to the public (…as Iron Man. Mind out of the gutter, people). Also owns an awesome hat.

Trimpe

Herb Trimpe

-The first artist to draw for Wolverine (Incredible Hulk #180/181). One of the most iconic artists of the Silver Age, he co-created nearly all of the characters introduced during his run on The Incredible Hulk.

Perez on Comic Book Men

George Perez

-Writer/Penciler/Inker most known for his work with Marv Wolfman, especially Teen Titans. Introduced DC to the concept of a universe-altering crossover (A fantastic idea that DC is slowly beating to death) with the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Unfortunately, he did not attend the panel in order to spend more time interacting with his fans.

 

Despite the greats that filled the room, this was not a hallowed hall of masters. It felt like a bar room with work friends after a hard day at the office. The four comic greats took turns telling stories of the “good old days,” cracking jokes, and being interrupted by Bill Sienkiewicz. A lot of the conversation was centered on the difference between today’s comic industry and the working days of the legends. According to the panel, comics have become more business than pleasure. Each company is looking to make the next big movie  instead of having fun making comics. Bill Sienkiewicz said that he had been approached by some script writers about turning their idea into a comic so that it can be presented to a producer. “It has to be worthy of being a comic first,” he said. “I’m not going to make a comic just because some studio exec can’t read.” Later on he commented, “I remember when I was younger I used to hear reviews about movies saying, ‘[It had] cheesy comic-book like dialogue,’ and I hoped I would live to see that day that that was reversed. I have, and it’s funny to hear people talk about comics with ‘lame movie-like dialogue.’”

There is no more bullpen, where writers and artists can chat and crack wise while working on their projects, and this means they are less likely to bounce ideas off of each other. Rubinstein touched a little on working in the industry  and shooting ideas around the bull-pen. He mentioned an editor of his who would spend a few minutes drawing a caricature of someone’s work before posting it in the bullpen. “She could find your weakness,” he said, “And you would know right away.” The consensus seemed to be that the bullpen atmosphere made everything better.

Herb Trimpe had the unusual attitude at the table. “They asked me if I wanted to work on the Hulk, and I said ‘Sure’. It was just a job,” he said, referring to his iconic run on The Incredible Hulk. “I’ve drawn eight Wolverines today. Imagine if you did something 40 years ago, and people kept asking you to do it. It gets boring.” This let to an interesting exchange between Rubinstein and Trimpe, the two Wolverine artists at the table.

Rubinstein interjected, “I entertain myself by drawing tits on Wolverine.”

Trimpe chuckled and asked down the table, “Oh? Is that what makes him strong?”

“No,” Rubinstein responded, “It’s what makes him lactate.”

The entire hall burst into laughter, including the legends table.

On an interesting side-note, Trimpe is an ordained deacon. Immediately, after the September 11th attacks in New York, Trimpe made his way to the make-shift morgues that were set up around town. He used his abilities to counsel the brave men and women who were on-site, listening to their stories, and helping them deal with the tragedy as well as their seemingly impossible duty. The panel, led by Mike Grell, brought this up and insisted that they would read anything he published about this. Trimpe, in contrast, seemed to prefer to keep the matter private.

One of the attendees asked the panel how they felt about the death of Wolverine, and Mike Grell gave truly the most interesting response. “For how long?”, he asked. Grell told the audience about his run on Warlord and, in particular, how it ended. “I was able to end it the way I had always planned. I always planned to kill off Warlord and then hand the mantle down to his son. It is what Hal Foster wanted to do with Prince Valiant, but the studio wouldn’t let him….Well, I killed Warlord and I burned his body so he couldn’t come back.”

Finally, Joe Rubinstein commented on the nature of being a legend. “It’s hard,” he told the audience, “The attitude is like ‘We revere you, so we’re not going to hire you.’” For men who shaped the universes we know so well, this must be difficult. There are still so many fans of the classic works out there that if this group set up shop as their own production company, they could easily make the “Big Two” into the “Big Three”. Instead, though, they are out at conventions eagerly interacting with these fans, signing autographs, taking pictures, and (In the case of Perez at least) giving out free hugs. These were men that loved their work, some making as little as $13,000 their first year on the job. Their passion, as well as their skill, is what makes them truly great.

[wpchatai]