Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was at MegaCon 2012 with my buddy, John Beatty. [That’s not John Beatty with me in the photo above. No, that’s John “Hex” Carter. Hex was seated a couple of tables down from Beatty and I. You’ll hear more about Hex tomorrow.]
MegaCon was a lot of fun. Of course how could it not be? Beatty’s table was seated next to Bob “The Hardest Working Con Sketch Artist in the Business” McLeod. I was able to pick up sketches from several artists [which will be posted in the coming weeks] for my Stallone sketch collection. Beatty and I had a fun time hanging out with John Higashi. I met several new artists and got to see several old friends/artists. All in all it was a cool weekend that produced a couple of funny stories that I’ll share in posts this week. Although this story isn’t funny, it is pretty neat.
Paul Gulacy was a guest at MegaCon 2012. I first discovered Gulacy’s art when I was in junior high and he was working with Doug Moench on their classic run on Master of Kung Fu. Paul Gulacy quickly became my favorite artist. A few years later I began collecting original art and Paul was still my favorite artist. I had acquired a few sketches by him and somehow got his phone number.
I called Paul and the conversation went well and I commissioned him to do a Bruce Lee piece for me. We began to talk fairly regularly. Paul was always entertaining. In addition to being a talented artist, he is a great impressionist able to sound exactly like Brando, Eastwood, Stallone and so many others. Paul did a Stallone piece for me… followed by a Sabre commission.
I finally got to meet Paul in person in 1980 at a comic convention in Atlanta. Paul invited me to sit behind the table with him as he autographed and sketched for fans. So there I was with Paul Gulacy, Mike Grell, Bill Sienkiewicz, Pat Broderick, Bob McLeod and other artists. A fan about my age was making his way down the row getting autographs from all of the artists.
When he got to me, he looked at the program and then asked, “Who are you?” I said, “Oh, I’m nobody -” Paul spoke up saying, “This is Craig Zablo. He’s a friend of mine.” As you can imagine, I couldn’t stop smiling all weekend.
As I moved through college and got ready to enter the “real world” I decided to sell off my comic art collection so I wouldn’t have to work during my senior internship. I found myself reading fewer comics and had lost touch with Paul. The one piece of art that I did keep was the Stallone commission that Paul did for me.
Fast forward 28 years to MegaCon 2012. I hadn’t spoken to Paul since the early 80’s, but I wanted to go up and re-introduce myself and thank Paul for being so cool to a young fan. I wanted Paul to know that I still had my Stallone piece and that allowing me to sit with him while he sketched was a convention memory that still brings a smile.
I found Paul’s table. The show hadn’t started yet, but already a fan was speaking with him. When their conversation finished, I stepped up. I said, “Good morning. My name is Craig Zablo – ” Paul immediately said, “Wow! We’re going back in time.” I could see the wheels spinning as Paul tried to place me. I was surprised and said, “You remember me?”
Paul said, “Youngstown, right?”
“I used to call you when you lived in Youngstown – “
Paul said, “I did the Stallone piece for you.” I was amazed that he’d remember. We had a nice conversation and Paul introduced me to his wife. I thanked Paul for the great memories and art.
So now I had two great con memories of interactions with the talented Paul Gulacy… and MegaCon 2012 hadn’t even officially started.