March 26 is the birthday of one of the most talented artists to ever work in the comic-book industry, the one-and-only Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (praise be his name!).
Senor Garcia-Lopez was born in Spain, then moved to Argentine when he was five years old. He has worked professionally as an artist since he was in his teens; he sold some of his first US work to Charlton when he was 18 years old! He moved to the US at the end of 1974. He started doing work for DC Comics such as "The Private Life of Clark Kent" or issues of THE JOKER. I remember him also doing various back-ups and Superman things, but I was never a huge Superman fan. Then he started working in the Batman universe, and I started taking notice. He did wonderful work like this DETECTIVE COMICS cover that became a poster.
In the early 1980s Senor Garcia-Lopez was asked to create a Design Guide for licensing purposes. It was a "style" book for marketing and also for other (new) artists to know how to draw the DC line of characters. From all of these poses have come the vast majority of DC licensing in the past 30 years! In fact, because of this work I was able to strike up a conversation with Senor Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praise be his name) himself!
It was at the Baltimore Comic Book Convention in 2011. My friend Rick and I had driven to Baltimore the night before to attend. We were staying at the Sheraton, but the Convention was at the Hilton (or vice-versa?). So I was making my way over to the Convention after breakfast and held the door open for an older gentleman. Now I have to say, I had no idea who he was at the time; I was simply being friendly. If you've never been to a convention I'll tell you this: it seems like there are two types of people there: those who are happy to be there, and those who are frustrated or angry or unhappy to be there. I'm always one of the happy ones because 1. I can remember when there weren't any conventions to go to at all! and 2. I live and work in a "normal" environment, so I'm in a great mood when I'm surrounded by like-minded geeks and nerds! I am just so gung-ho to be there that I try to share the happiness. So anyway, I held the door open for this older gentleman, knowing he was either an artist or a vendor or a fan like me. I, of course, had an Aquaman t-shirt on. We chatted on our way to the convention site and it became obvious that he was an artist. He thought we had met before (do I have one of those types of faces? haha) and I told him that it was the first time I had been East for a convention. When I said that my favorite character was Aquaman, I pointed at my shirt. He then said, "Oh, I drew that."
|the t-shirt in question|
"Y-you...you drew this?" Obviously I then realized who he was. I stammered out a reply. "I....One of the reasons I'm here is to see and meet you, Senor."
"Well, I'll be at my table all day. Come by and we'll chat some more."
And he walked in to the hall, leaving me to walk to the "general admission" line. Floated, I should say, as I was definitely on cloud nine!!
Later that day when there weren't so many people in line to meet and greet with him I did stop by and we did continue our chat. I reminded him who I was by pointing at my t-shirt (HIS Aquaman) and asking him how his day had been. There was no sign on his table about him doing sketches, so I didn't even think to ask him. Instead I had him autograph a few of my comics (LEGACIES, shown below, featuring my favorite, Aquaman, of course!). When other fans started to show up, I moved on. I was very very happy.
A few hours later as the convention was winding down and I was in line to get somebody else's autograph, the guy in front of me and I struck up a conversation. When I told him about meeting and chatting with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praise be his name), HE told me that he had gotten an original pencil sketch of Robin from him for only ten dollars. TEN DOLLARS!!! He showed it to me and I nearly flipped out. It was beautiful!! Anybody remember those "I could have had a V-8?!" commercials when the actor slaps his forehead in stupidity? THAT was me. By this point it was too late to go back, but I knew that the next chance I got I would get a sketch.
Fast-forward to Baltimore Comic-Con 2012. One of the reasons I decided to make the trip at all was to get a sketch from The Master. After I verified that he would be in attendance again, I decided to return. On the day, I got back in line to meet Senor Garcia-Lopez again, and this time I brought my copy of Modern Masters Vol. V. THIS time, I got an original pencil sketch of Aquaman, reproduced here. It is still one of the treasures in my collection of Aquaman goodies. Plus it's a hell of a story.
Happy Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!
One of the Aquaman Style Guides. Look: the first pose is the same as the one on my t-shirt!
The greatest illustration of Classic JLA
(except for Hawkwoman getting blocked by her husband's wings)
This one is for you, Shag!
My copy of this has my Aquaman sketch on the inside front cover. :-)
My copies of these two issues have autographs on the inside where
Aquaman and the Justice League and Teen Titans appear,
as drawn by The Master. :-)
My current favorite t-shirt....check out ALL of the
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez goodness!!