When Dick passed away last week I found myself thinking back to the slightly sepia toned days of Valiant Comics/Acclaim Comics and of Dick coming by to hold impromptu inking/advice clinics up in the bullpen area.
As naive as it may seem, it really sounded like fun when Shooter decided to remake a comic company with a bullpen area that might actually be like Stan used to make Marvel sound in his Stan Lee soapbox pages. Naive in that artists now live all over the country as opposed to being cloistered into the few square miles of Manhattan, but in the pre-internet being everything days it rather was a good idea.
Being an inker at Acclaim was a little scary, since Bob Layton eventually took over the EIC chores, so you knew that every page he looked at he must have seen with a, "Oh I can do better than that." Bob never particularly liked my work, although there were times on my best jobs that he did come through with a nice compliment or two.
It was a big deal when Dick would come into the office since most everyone there knew his reputation, who he had worked with, what he had done. (He was one of the few that Andrew Wendell would get off his high horse and talk to.) So what was nice is that no one was defensive about his or her work, after all you couldn't be with Dick his resume was impeccable, but he was simply so nice and affable to deal with that the criticism always came off as helpful. It was great to listen to old school comic fans now professionals ask Dick, "What is the secret of getting that Wonder Woman sheen on the hair?", "Why did Sekowsky do this on his pencils?", "How did Joe Orlando get that look to his brush work?". Dick answered all of the questions to best of his ability and was thoroughly entertaining really. Layton was usually in a good mood those days as well, they seemed to get along well.
Do I recall any one thing that i learned from Dick's visits? It wasn't a specific brush technique (although, now that i think about it, he did show a certain pen line out of a spotted black that i think i do use), but it was more about giving back and sharing the wealth of skills and approaches that can work in comics. He was a great guy and, like Archie Goodwin, one of a few guys who were very good at getting the best out of the people around them. We'll miss him.
I'll be at Wondercon on Sunday wandering around, hope everyone has a good time there. I won't be sitting and signing but I'm hoping that Radical Publishing might have some of the TimeBomb work at their booth! I'll be live blogging any good stuff that comes up. Saturday night, however, is the big deal: the premier of Matt Smith as the new Doctor! I'll be surprising my two daughters by bringing them in to watch the episode... and they have no idea its coming. Should be fun.