Years ago, I'm at Shelton Drum's "Heroes Aren't Hard To Find" convention in Charlotte. There's a lull at my table. I decide to step into the smoker's lounge, aka the great outdoors. Who should I meet there, leaning against the wall, but the single greatest draftsman in comics today, the incomparable Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez enjoying a smoke.
Chances like this don't come around very often. I'd never met him before and, for all I knew, I never would again (sadly, that last part is true.) So I pounced! I had him, literally, up against the wall and I wasn't going to let him escape. I brought out the arc lamp and rubber hose and grilled him as mercilessly as I knew how. "How'd you do this? How'd you do that? Why'd you do this? Why'd you do that?" I pounded on him as hard and fast as I could…
All I can say is: What a lovely human being is Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Kind, gracious, generous. He answered every question. Passed up every opportunity, and there were many, to paint me the fool that I so obviously was. He even stayed for an extra smoke.
Eventually, he reminds me that Shelton's paid good money to bring us there and we have an obligation to go back inside. Sadly, I stepped back and turned aside only to find we were both trapped! We were surrounded by 2-3 dozen fans all screaming together, "NO! You can't leave! We never get to hear stuff like this inside!" I felt their pain but, Jose was right. I suspect it was the serendipity and brevity of the meeting that makes it so memorable to me now. I can only hope he and the fans felt the same way.
Thanks, Jose, for everything. All the beautiful work, those precious minutes in Charlotte and for Great Honkin' Gorillas flying through the sky.