I often get into conversations with fellow artists about the making of art, the marketing of ones self and attending openings and lectures. Creating the work and then following through.
Recently, my good friend (and no relation) Colleen Fish said to me that she often speaks of the drive and energy both Veronica and I exhibit when she's talking to her students.
This past week for example; I taught classes at the beginning of the week, did a workshop at a library event, attended my son's graduation (Proud of you Matt!), produced six pieces of new art, met client obligations with two projects, worked up the scripts for two more, finished another chapter of Dracula, then turned around and headed into Art All State 22 for 33 hours of continuous art making-- not to mention balancing my checkbook, paying some bills and suffering from an absolutley KILLER headcold.
I did it because I had to. I did it because of the inspiration of my heroes and mentors;
Number one on the list and he's head and shoulders above everyone else is Jack Kirby. Kirby was one of the most prolific writer/artists in the history of the comic book industry. As a kid I couldn't look past his sometimes challenged artistic anatomy and what I considered some of the worst writing (Fourth World Books, Black Panther) I've ever read.
It wasn't until I was at the School of Visual Arts that I started to look at Kirby's work again-- and I saw the lightning and the energy of pages banged out in ridiculously short time. A chance meeting with him at a convention showed me what a fantastic person he was.
While I was in New York there was a huge comic convention which was featuring one of my favorite writers, Mickey Spillane. I went both to show my portfolio around and to get a copy of I THE JURY signed. Spillane was a great guy. Easy to talk to, a tough little guy-- and he said to me most of the people at the convention kept mistaking him for Jack Kirby. I had no idea Kirby was at the show and decided to see if I could chat with him about his craft.
I found him in a corner and we talked for about twenty minutes un-interrupted. This was the guy who essentially co-created the entire Marvel Comics Universe and yet people were walking right past him. Kirby didn't care. He had no ego.
Suddenly, Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight came out of nowhere with a slew of Camera equipment and basically pushed me out of the way as they started shouting "MISTER KIRBY!"-- figuring he'd want to talk to them I started to walk away when he grabbed my arm and pulled me back in.
He chastised them for their rudeness and said he was in the middle of a conversation with a friend. He introduced me and said I was one of the future superstars of the comics industry.
That wasn't the end of our relationship-- we kept in touch even though he was three thousand miles away. I had lunch with him and his lovely wife Roz during another trip to NYC-- and he even sent me a chewed up #2 pencil that he wrote FISH on and said it was a magic pencil and anytime I couldn't get past artists block to use it.
An amazing humble man, but no pushover. The story of Kirby throwing guys out of the office of Will Eisner who were twice his size but who were out of line are legendary. Kirby also served in Patton's Third Army which links him to two more of my heroes.