The first day proper of this years San Diego Comic-Con was hectic, eventful, punishing, exhausting, rewarding, and ultimately heartwarming and very emotional – Thursday had plenty to see and do throughout its programming but there was one panel that I was determined not to miss: the Len Wein Memorial panel, celebrating the work and mostly the big, big life of the comics industry giant who passed away in September of last year.
Len Wein was, with no word of exaggeration, a titan of comics, not only in his output – co-creator of characters like DC Comics‘ Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics‘ Wolverine, as well as one of the men responsible for the revival in fortunes of the X-Men and editing Alan Moore / Dave Gibbons‘ WATCHMEN – but also in the size of his heart. He was, by all accounts, a boisterous, exuberant, warm, generous and extremely kind-hearted man, as evidenced by the love and joy that was on evidence at this ‘let’s not call it a memorial’.
There were many major players in his life in the room, and on the panel, moderated by Gary Miereanu: award-winning TV producer Lynn Latham, writer/producer Gillian Horvath, Wein’s widow Christine Valada, writer Melinda Snodgrass, former DC Comics’ President Paul Levitz, and writer/producer Charlotte Fullerton. All had many personal stories of living with, working for and generally having a blast with Len Wein over the years.
There were a few absent faces I thought might make an appearance – Dave Gibbons was in town so I assumed he might show his face, also Neil Gaiman was pencilled down to be the guest moderator of the panel until some reckless fool spotted Gaiman’s name on the CCI programming schedule, tweeted out that he would be in the room, Neil spotted the tweet and instantly pulled (yeah, that ‘reckless fool’ was me – gutted!!). Still, there were plenty of people willing to share their stories from out in the audience, and it was a genuine pleasure and honour to attend this panel to help celebrate the legacy of this amazing creative force.
Len, as then as is now: you are missed, sir. Happy trails.