Last year, I ran a SDCC Retrospective post on a moment from San Diego Comic-Con 2014, involving Jim Lee, a How-To Panel Room and the Mother Of All Panel Introductions. It was a big moment in my life, generally. But one year on and it’s time for another look back and this year, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to stop talking about me and, hey, talk about me! Kind of. Okay? Then let’s set the scene…
Skottie Young: frankly, if you don’t recognise the name, then it’s very possible you’re reading the wrong website! Award-winning comics writer and artist, Young has become incredibly popular in recent years for his distinctive art style, his recent interpretations of the Frank L. Baum Oz stories and the Guardians Of The Galaxy character Rocket Raccoon, and his many variant covers of Marvel titles. Safe to say, I’m a fan.
Indeed, I managed to get a sketch from the man himself when he last visited the U.K., appearing at Travelling Man in Leeds. I had been in contact with Skottie via social media the weeks previous and asked if he’d be up for doing a Judge Dredd for the SDCC UK Attendees Group. I have still yet to get round to using it for something but at least I have me a Skottie original on file.
And now I have two Skottie originals. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
This year has the first in a long time in getting back into comics and comics collecting – and it’s mostly Skottie’s fault. When Marvel Comics announced the new titles for Star Wars (the core title, Princess Leia and Darth Vader), they came with a series of variant covers which formed a triptych. With the purchasing of these, I launched myself right down the poisonous and addictive rabbit-hole that I had dug myself out of almost fifteen years ago: buying variant covers for investment and collection. Goddamn it.
I grabbed a whole pile of the books that I’d bought subsequently – including the shedload of Skottie’s that I’d accumulated – and stuck them in the luggage. The second that I learnt that Skottie would be doing a signing session, upstairs in Sails Pavilion on the Thursday, I grabbed my books and backboards and threw them in the backpack, arranging to meet up with fellow Skottie fan / SDCC UK Attendee group member / AEISD press member / all-round top bloke Neil Williamson who had a pile of books to be signed of his own.
We had no idea which table Skottie was going to be signing at and Neil and myself did a cracking job of loitering around the Signing Information booth until it was allocated, half an hour early. Indeed, we weren’t the only ones waiting on finding out where to go – it’s when we both caught Skottie stood behind us, also patiently wandering around Sails, killing time! We asked he where he was headed: he sheepishly admitted, he didn’t have a clue, either. He then took off to wander around the Art Gallery. If we had thought, we would have asked him to sign our book there and then. But that would have robbed me of what happened next.
A fair crowd was starting to gather – he’s quite the popular artist! – and after being corralled into a holding pen, we were escorted around to Skottie’s allotted table… And were thrilled to see him pull out a sketching pad! For days, he had been saying that he wouldn’t be doing sketching at this session, there would simply be too many people and there wouldn’t be enough time. But the first two people in the line were getting yer actual Skottie Young sketches. Fantastic!
I was eighth or so in line, Neil was in front of me: we instantly dug out our blank variant covers and art pads and started thinking what sketch topics to ask him for. As we were about to step forward, the young lady co-ordinating the signature sessions leaned over and reminded Skottie just how many people were lined up to meet him, there just wouldn’t be enough time to for many of them in if he was going to be sketching. He grudgingly agreed and folded the pad beneath the table: I’m certain he could hear the groans of all of us in line! But we understood how the game was played and we were just glad we’d get to meet him and get our books signed. Neil stepped up, got a pretty unique signature himself (Neil is making it a personal mission to get his UK Attendees hoodie signed by comics greats) and a photo op – I was next.
Skottie said hi and, as he worked his way through signing the books, we talked about his trip to the UK, his fans in the country and our hopes that one day he’d come back (I still keep my fingers crossed that he’ll come over one time for the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival or Thought Bubble). It was when he reached the Spider-Gwen Blank that he looked up at me and gave the look that said, “…sorry, dude.”
“No, don’t worry about it. I’d put that in there when I saw you doing those sketches. It’s okay, I got me a couple of artists in mind that I think I can get to use this cover. And, anyway, I don’t think you’d have done the sketch I was going to ask for, anyway.” Skottie gave a beat, threw me a look, and said, “…excuse me?” “Well, you draw your baby versions of characters and I don’t think you’d have done the one I was thinking of.” Skottie smirked – the man obviously was up for a challenge. “Alright, go on!” “Well, I was going to ask… I was going to request a Baby You!” Excuse me?! The pen was already in his hand. “I was going to ask for a Baby Skottie Young!”
The words were barely out of my mouth as a shit-eating grin spread over his face, the pen flashing over the cover. And thirty seconds later, with his trademark cap and just a pinch of Calvin from Calvin And Hobbes for good measure, I was the proud owner of a Baby Skottie Young!
That sucker’s getting framed, that’s for damn sure!