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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:

My First Con

Ahh, callow youth, what happened to you? Lo those many years ago, before I could drive, before I could really start having disastrous relationships with women, I was a boynerd obsessed with the X-Men, desperately wishing he was as cool as Wolverine (this was before the character was wildly overexposed). Then one day, and I don’t quite remember how my friend Billy and I found out, we got word of a weekend comic-con coming to Indianapolis. And one of the guests was going to be Paul Smith… newly minted artist on UNCANNY X-MEN.

The excitement was incredible. Neither of us had ever been to such an event, but as nerds, it sounded like paradise. And to have the opportunity to meet the artist on the single greatest comicbook in the known universe? It was almost too much to bear. My aunt Beth agreed to take us, and pile in the car we did, nerves ablaze. What would it be like inside? How many comics would we see? How many people would there be? I suspect we built it up so much in our heads that whatever we were going to find inside couldn’t live up tour imaginations. But once we got inside…


Comics everywhere! Tables and tables full of them. Artists working, retailers retailing… what I now take for granted and find to be somewhat boring, at that moment it was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen that wasn’t located on a movie screen.

My memories of that show have faded over the years, but two things still linger strongly in my mind. One was meeting Smith; this was my first contact with a comics professional, and it was one I’ll never forget. Smith was everything that was promised: cool, friendly, responsive to his young fans. He could have been in a rotten mood, struck down by diarrhea, who knows, but that day he was a champ. From then on, I was hooked. Smith made that day for me (and Billy), and it set a tone for every future interaction I’d have with someone in the industry. So thanks, Paul. You’re a champ… and still one of the best to pick up a pencil.

Memory number two was the prize comic I came home from the show with: AVENGERS ANNUAL #10. That’s right, the comic Matt recently discussed in his column as being one of the best of the modern Marvel era. And lord, was he right. I read the book when I got it home and was completely blown away by it. Claremont script, the amazing Michael Golden on art chores… holy crap was it good! To this day, I think it still represents one of the five best pieces of work of Claremont’s entire career… and that’s saying something.

It was a small little show, in a dull big city, but that con was very special to me. It changed what I thought and knew about how comics worked, and about who comics were as well. That’s a valuable lesson for pros and fans alike: every con is someone’s first, and your experience there can shape how you feel about the medium for the rest of your life.

So now you know. If you like me, or CWR in general, you have in some small part, Paul Smith to thank. And if you think I’m a putz, or that the site sucks… blame Paul Smith.

Marc Mason


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