Returned to the Cincinnati Comic Expo this past weekend. After meeting Darwyn Cooke last year, I wasn't too sure if we were going to return there due to the crowds. Especially after two cons at the top of the month where we actually shopped the book at. I was way too late to get a table at the Expo, so we were just spectators. Decided to go on a Sunday with the hopes of a smaller crowd. Wrong there. And then on top of that, there was a Bengals game going on that made parking interesting. So probably won't do that again.
One of the reasons we decided to go was Aiden wanted to see Todd Nauck. Young Justice was one of the first series he ever read and Mr. Nauck is a favorite of both of ours. For months, I'd make a stance about not wanting to go through those crowds again. But seeing Todd's face on the website one weekend, made me wonder if I should ask Aiden or not. He played it off cool. He knew my feelings on the Expo. Every now and then though he'd ask me if I thought about going to see Todd Nauck at the Expo. Finally I just asked him, do you want to go and if you do, I'll let you make the call. When he answered so quick (he never does that, takes forever to get any answer out of him), I knew we were going.
Let me tell you, it was absolutely worth it. Despite: I was right in the middle of a cold and not feeling well. 3 hours there. Crazy football fans. Crowded aisles. And the little bit of fear that a weekend working a con would have made Todd a little weary and that he may not live up to Aiden's expectations went out the door as soon as we met him. He greeted all of us, made us very backward and shy guys feel comfortable. He and Aiden talked. We were part of the conversation as well. Todd is a great guy. He's every bit the nice, helpful guy you see on his Youtube channel and then more. Our only reason for being there exceeded everything we expected and more. When Aiden asked about a commission, he told him that he was only doing quick sketches but they were free. He headed off to lunch but told us if we were there when he got back he'd do it for Aiden.
We walked around a bit. I got to meet and shake Tony Harris' hand. I am a huge fan and Staman/Jack Knight is one of my all time favorites. Couldn't afford much on his table, but did get a Jack Knight print. Tony was so nice and welcoming of comments and he signed some of his comics for me.
We got back to Todd's table we talked to his wife (who was just as nice). She told us he was going to make a point to make Aiden's sketch the last one of his day. What Todd considered a quick sketch was something that would take me hours just in thinking about it. And to be honest, there wasn't that much different that the drawings he was charging for. I think Aiden's head is still in the clouds.
While we were talking to Todd, he did ask Aiden if he drew. Aiden said yes, of course. But didn't have anything to show him. What my son didn't know is I brought a book with us that had his pinups in the back. I brought the book to give to a publisher up there (yes, I'm thinking about shopping it around, that's for another blog). But when I went around that publisher's table, I guess I either chickened out, or felt they probably would take the book at face value as just a mask book and not be interested. When we went back to Todd's table for the sketch I told Aiden about it. He was too nervous about showing him. But by the end of the sketch, he asked me if he should so. I told him absolutely. Todd reacted so nice seeing all his illustrations. I was never so glad I put so many in the book.
As he was handing the book back to me, I did something I couldn't believe, I asked him if he'd like to keep it. He took it. I think at first he felt I was trying to help pay for the free sketch. But no, I wanted him to have it purely because, while he isn't on my somewhat medium sized inspiration list in the book (it would have taken pages if I really put everyone), he is there in my head. He was so cool about taking it. He even asked us to sign it, which was weird considering we were nobodies to a guy that's drawn a pantheon of the greatest fictional characters ever.
I am so appreciative of Todd for making Aiden's Comic Expo so great. And in doing so, made it so much better for me also. While we have continued to buy his books over the years, they will now have a more special meaning behind them. Thank you Todd!
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.