I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Fantasticon in Lansing, Michigan. Fantasticon is a pop culture and comic experience that spans several locations throughout the year. These show locations include cities in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. This is the first of my articles on my time as Fantasticon. While there, I had the awesome opportunity to sit at the Comic Legends of the Bronze Age paned. The panel consisted of Keith Pollard, Mike Grell, Arvell Jones, and Kurt Lehner. Each of these talented gentlemen have over a decade of experience in the comic industry. It was fascinating listening to their stories of how they "broke in" to the industry, who they worked with, and what they worked on.
Keith Pollard and Arvell Jones, two artists from the Detroit area, told a story of how they worked together in comics. Apparently the legendary John Romita Sr. looked at both of their work and had issues. He said that Pollard's work was good but lacked excitement. He said that Jones work was also good but lacked consistancy. THe faces Jones drew from panel to panel looked like different characters. So Mr. Romita did what any forward thinking Marvelite would do...he teamed both Pollard and Jones together. I suppose he figured that both these talented guys together would equal a great artist.
Both Pollard and Jones had a hand in creating two of Marvel Comics baddest ladies. Jones co-created the bionic armed Misty Knight. Pollard brought Felicia Hardy aka The Black Cat to life in the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man. Pollard and Jones also did various work for DC.
Mike Grell, creator of the DC character Warlord has served as both artist and writer. Not only has he done work for DC but Grell has done several creator owned works for various companies. This includes the series Shamans' Tears. Among many of Grell's accomplishments in comics was the Green Arrow limited series Longbow Hunters. This led to an 80 issue Green Arrow run for Grell. He is credited for changing the direction of Green Arrow making him an 'urban hunter' and focusing Green Arrow on more street level threats. During the panel, Grell said that his influences on the character earned him a small nod in the current CW television series Arrow. In the first season of Arrow Laurel stands before a Judge Grell. He also mentioned how he had to explain to his nephew that he didn't get paid for that. I told Grell that I would check out the Longbow Hunters series. I'll post a review after I've finished it.
Kurt Lehner said that he grew up following and emulating the other panelsts. He feels that where he developed his "modern-retro" comic art style. While he's been involved for almost two decades in comics, he didn't feel he technically was a legend of the Bronze age. Many of Lehner's work involved design work for animated features and films including Disney and Marvel. Lehner shared an interesting story that he said was the one thing that he was most proud of. At the time Lehner was working with the legendary Stan Lee on The Marvel Action Hour; Stan the man told Lehner (after looking at some of his work) that if he had walked into (Stan's) office in the 70's, he would've hired him on the spot.
I had a chance to sit down and talk one on one with both Arvell Jones and Keith Pollard. Look for those follow up articles soon. It was awesome meeting these gentlemen and I hope to see them again.