Over the years I've been blessed to meet many of the creators whose work I admire and respect. With some its been a chat at conventions, others I've gotten to spend time with, such as Joe Sinnott and Dick Ayers, still others email or correspondence by post. Of the old guard, to a person they have been generous, gracious and often humble. From Stan Lee to Steve Ditko, it has been an absolute pleasure to encounter such talented and unique creators.
One of the great moments was meeting Jack Kirby. I first saw him at the 1975 Marvel Convention, when he was introduced as a surprise guest, returning to Marvel. As he walked to the podium there was a tremendous ovation from the audience. From time to time I saw Kirby at other conventions over the years, but my last encounter was a special one. It was at a New York Con, where I had taken my little brother, Terry. I was a volunteer Big Brother for many years, and Terry grew to love comics, especially the work of Lee, Kirby and Ditko (and still does. He now has children of his own that enjoy comics!). After one of the panels we were lucky enough to talk to Jack for a moment when he wasn't mobbed, and I prodded Terry to ask him a question. Terry was a little shy but finally asked Jack how he came up with the Fantastic Four. What amazed me was how Kirby spoke to Terry like he was the only person in the room. You could tell that he really liked children and it it was a special moment that both he and I treasure.
There have been so many others: Gene Colan, Gil Kane, Dick Ayers, Jim Steranko, Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin, Roy Thomas, John Romita, all part of my childhood memories. What is notable is how many of them have a true love for the medium and praise their fellow creators more than themselves. They know comics and respect both their contemporaries and those who preceded them. There are many I wish I had a chance to meet before they passed away, but I've encountered so many who are not only professional in their job, but in demeanor as well. I salute them all, and thank them for their sincere efforts. We'll not see their like again.