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Events: Toronto Comicon - Nov. 8, 2003

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This way to the show!

I made it to the Toronto Comicon around noon on Saturday. It didn't take me long to locate the Queen Elizabeth Building in the vast complex of Exhibition Place.

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Dealers, dealers everywhere...

As you can see, there were dealers everywhere, though not as many at the Comic/Sci-Fi/Anime convention I attended in August. This was specifically comics.

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Lining up for Mike Kaluta

I found Mike Kaluta happily signing autographs - of all the artists, he would have one of the longest lineups of fans. Opposite him was Howard Chaykin's seat, but he wasn't there. Feeling a little deterred by the long lineup, I decided to visit Mr Kaluta later. I spent the next hour searching for comics to complete my collection. Unfortunately I found only one Archie comic, but I also found a set of Mr Chaykin's comics and some first issues of the 1970s DC Shadow. Those would come in handy later. Around 12:45, there was an announcement that Mr Kaluta, along with artists Jim Starlin (Batman, Silver Surfer) and Marshall Rogers (Dr. Strange, Justice League) will be upstairs for a discussion and question/answer session at 1pm. I had to attend!

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From left to right: Mike Kaluta, Jim Starlin, Marshall Rogers

At the discussion, the three artists were asked about their experience in the changing comic book industry. They reminisced about working with legends such as Stan Lee and the late Archie Goodwin (the comic book editor, not the Nero Wolfe character). Mr Kaluta spoke more than the other two artists, and always added "sidebars" (i.e. an additional story) to their stories. Near the end, it was question time. I wanted to ask about Mr Kaluta's experience with The Shadow, but time was short. Oh well, there's always the autograph session.

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Howard Chaykin poses for my camera

Right after the panel session, I went back and bought the comics for the artists to sign. I headed back to the special guest area and found Mr Chaykin having a discussion with a few fans. He was particularly interested in the girl in front of me, who had thick eyeliner on. When it came to my turn, he was more than happy to sign my comics and have his picture taken. I talked to him about his work on The Shadow and the 1994 movie (which he didn't like). When he was hired to do the 4 comic series, he decided to take The Shadow into the present since, according to him, leaving The Shadow in the past would tank the series. He also gave a bit of insight into the copyright issue people have been asking me about. Conde Nast (which includes Advance Magazine) is not interested in doing anything with The Shadow right now. All in all, Mr Chaykin was nice and gracious. He's also a good singer too! While I was packing away my freshly signed copies of his comics, he spontaneously broke into song (he was singing to himself, not to me). I believe it was called "Slow boat to China".

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Mike Kaluta signing my comic

Finally, after a quick lunch, I waited in line to meet Mr Kaluta. When I got to the front, I found him making a quick sketch of The Shadow for a fan! Like Mr Chaykin, Mr Kaluta was very gracious and talkative. Besides signing the first issue of the 1970s DC Shadow that I bought, he allowed me to take a picture of him. Mr Kaluta was very friendly and funny. He fielded my questions about The Shadow, and was genuinely interested. I got the impression that he tremendously enjoyed working on the Shadow comics. By the way, he did send his work to the guys who made the 1994 movie (which is why he's listed in the credits). I would love to have asked him about his favourite Shadow comic, and if he will do any more in the future, but I had to wrap up my questions since there were six people behind me. Other fans where also waiting patiently to have him sketch for them as well. I soon realized that if you wanted a personalized sketch, you'll have to pay him. By then, I was already broke, but just the experience of meeting him made up for that.

A great day to remember. It was an honour to shake the hands that drew my favourite character. A special thanks to both Mr Kaluta and Mr Chaykin for giving me a few minutes of their time, and permission to post their pictures here.

— The Webmistress


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