Supanova has come and gone, and the comic fans have returned from their pilgrimage to this most important festival of comics for another year. For your humble Comic Book Evangelist, this year’s Supanova left me with a feeling that I had all but touched the divine, as I had the chance to meet one of my favourite artists of all time – and the artist whose work I have been enjoying for the longest time too !!
I first came across Alan Davis’ artwork when I picked up the Excalibur Special Edition in 1987, and spent many years in second hand bookshops and back issue bins hunting for everything he had done to that point, as well as buying everything released since then (in fact I am hanging out to pick up his latest work on the first issue of Savage Hulk, released this week !!!)
So, to say I was thrilled to have the chance to say “G’Day” and have some comics signed by the man is an understatement on par with “The Avengers movie made a bit of cash for Marvel”.
I could easily spend the entire blog talking only about Alan Davis (and will in a future blog), but will skim the highlights so as to
1. Be able to spotlight other cool folk I met at the show and
2. Not bore you totally and utterly !
So, here are my Alan Davis highlights from Supanova Perth 2014 !
* The Alan Davis master class on comics artwork kicked the show off for me and many other fans of his style. In the class, the master discussed his technique, philosophy on art and drawing, provided tips on technical aspects of comics art such as foreshortening and his opinions on comics colouring, storytelling and the best way to render Batman. This was accompanied by a slide show of pencil and ink artwork, as well as an incredible series of slides showing the opening double page spread from Fantastic Four: The End in the pencilled, inked and coloured stages. I spent the whole time scribbling down as much of the presented wisdom as I could, and may one day post it all here (if you demand it !)
* Saturday I had some issues signed….OK, I will come clean here. When I say “some issues signed” I do not mean three or four prized issues (as I could not choose which issues I prize most) but about 50 or so issues, trades and graphic novels ! Every time I came back to the table with another dozen or so comics to be signed Alan Davis was the epitome of a gentleman, and was happy to sign them all with a smile.
* Also on Saturday I realised one of my biggest dreams in comics – I now have a page of original art from Alan Davis (not that I wish to of course, but I can now die a happy man) ! The page I bought is from the creator-owned Clan Destine series, and features the “death” of one of the main characters from the series. It is a beautiful page, with some great moody shadows and the fine line work you expect from the great man !
* Of course I had to show the artists I always harass at Supanova the page, and I loved watching them study the page as a craftsman would, noting where the inks were thicker to show weight, admiring the layout of the panels and the way the shadows in the work drew your eye to the figure in the final panel. It was a revelation to see briefly a whole new way to appreciate art, as a piece of technical brilliance as well as a great image.
* The best moment of all occurred on Sunday, when I had the pleasure of taking my kids Jamie (5 years old) and Natasha (15 years old) with me to Supanova. Natasha was off getting her photo taken with John Barrowman, and Jamie and I were waiting for Mr Davis to do a sketch for us. Jamie had decided he wanted a sketch of Captain Britain, who is his favourite hero to play in the Lego Marvel Superheroes game we have on the Playstation. I had told Jamie that Mr Davis had created the costume which Captain Britain wore in the game, and Jamie was suitably awestruck and was even more keen to have his favourite character drawn by the man Daddy had been talking about for the last few months ! Jamie was being ever so patient while we were waiting, happily chatting to me and Mrs Davis, who had travelled to Perth with her artist husband, and generally bending everyone’s ear about how cool Captain Britain was in the Lego game (“He can fly, and shoot cool blast that look like the Australian flag, and punches really hard and….”) ! Our time soon came, and when asked who he wanted a sketch of Jamie happily asked for “Captain Britain please Mr Davis”. It was at this moment that Mr Davis proved himself to not just be the best artist in comics, but also the most friendly……
* Mr Davis asked Jamie to sit next to him whilst he was doing the sketch, so Jamie was able to watch a master artist at work on a “commissioned” sketch ! Mrs Davis happily gave up her seat so Jamie could do so, and even then Alan asked Jamie to move closer so he could see what was happening. Mr Davis did not just do a head sketch as he was for other fans, for Jamie he did a full body sketch of Captain Britain !! And when I tried to pay him for the sketch, he emphatically told me (a couple of times, as I was pretty insistent he take some money for the amazing work he had done) that he would not take my money as “He is a very polite boy, and a fan”. So, in a matter of minutes Jamie had not only am incredible sketch of a favourite character, but also the memory of meeting genuinely wonderful human beings. Both Alan Davis and his wife Heather have my undying admiration !