I left my heart in Winnemucca.

North Hollywood, Ca. Passport Books. 1980.

Roy Thomas is doing a book signing. I bring my portfolio along with my comics. I ask if Mr Thomas might take a look, provide some tips. He graciously agrees. Flipping through, he stops when he sees the Conan pieces.

He makes me an offer I can't refuse. He says he no longer works for Marvel. He can't hire and he can't pay… but… he can guarantee this: If I let him mail the pages to Marvel in an envelope with his name and handwriting, Marvel will open the package. He won't promise print, pay or, most importantly, return of the originals… but Marvel will see them.

While flabbergasted by his generosity, the "too good to be true" light flashes before my eyes. The voice of reason instantly pulls the plug; Two sheets of paper vs the rest of my life. I thank Mr Thomas profusely and step aside for the kids behind me.

Time passes.

I rucksack through Europe (which is only important in that everything else I own is boxed up in storage.) I have my heart broken by a beautiful Nebraska farm girl off the Isle of Skye but, that's none of your business. Returning stateside, I stop off in New York. By this time I've got two stories under my belt (another story altogether) and I pick up a Falcon gig before heading west.

I hit the coast. Animation season is nearly over. I have a Falcon story assigned by Jim Shooter himself. The rule of the day: comic careers require living in NY. I'm "homeless," everything's packed… NYC here I come.

I make my goodbyes to LaLa Land. I detour through 'Frisco to visit my best friend, my other brother Bill. I pick up a stack of comics from Comics and Comix in Berkeley and start east.

First night out. Beautiful downtown Winnemucca, Nevada. Motel 6. 22:30(ish.)

I'm lying in bed. Am I NUTZ? All my life I wanted to be in animation. I had a career. I had upward trajectory. I had family, friends. In NY, I got… nuthin'.

I pull a comic off the stack. King Conan #9(?). What should I find in the letter section but, my very first fan letter. The pieces I left with Roy had seen print while I was overseas. A fan wants to know where they found me, am I related to Barry, do I have a regular gig…? And Marvel printed it!

Slept like a baby. Never looked back.

Happy Trails
Smitty

P.S. Never intended for publication, the originals contained partial nudity (oh noes). While not destroyed, Marvel crudely retouched the originals. These are the unedited versions.

 

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