Sandy Carruthers @ Hal Con 2012

Art by Sandy Carruthers
Art by Sandy Carruthers

This is the last post in my Artist @ Hal Con 2012 series of posts, and should be one of my last regarding Hal Con 2012 in general. As much as I loved it and as much as I could devote an entire blog just to the awesomeness of this convention and the people that run it, the ride has to end sometime. It’s amazing every year and I can’t wait until 2013, I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.

I won’t say I saved the best for last. Art is too subjective to say this is the best or my favorite. There were pieces I loved because they were exactly what I would have had in mind, and pieces I loved because they were the opposite of what I had in mind. But this is definitely my favorite anecdote.

So across from me in the dealers room was this one little table with nothing on it but this cool little drawing table. There weren’t any pictures up around it or posters or flashy ads. Just a cool guy in an orange tee-shirt drawing things. I walked past him like eight times because I wasn’t even sure if he was doing sketches. Finally I stopped and asked him if he was doing sketches and he said yes. He was very personable and polite and came over to the booth to study all the art and prints I had of Black Womb. He asked about the character and the story and got all these great little tidbits, really dug in deep, then walked back to his drawing board and got to going.

A moment later I brought over his money and noticed an old battered graphic novel sitting on the table: Men in Black. There were two agents on the cover, and one looked a lot like Kay. The other was a skinny white guy, clearly not Will Smith. I stopped and kind of looked at it for a moment, then went: “Naw.”

Because it couldn’t be, right?

Well, wikipedia proved me wrong. This nice little guy way Sandy Carruthers, and he basically invented Men in Black. THE Men in Black. He did the art for the first graphic novel, the story that launched the entire franchise.

I couldn’t believe it. It absolutely blew my mind. I walked over to him and was like: “You’re YOU. I went to see a movie with your characters in not three months ago. Like, dude.” And he chuckled and was like, “Yep, I’m me.”

I still can’t get over that people didn’t know who he is. That I didn’t know. I mean there were dozens of fools walking around that convention dressed up as Men in Black for the costume contest, not realizing that one of the creators was right next to them. That they were passing him by without giving him a second look. I mean LORD. That’s like someone dressed as Spider-Man walking by Stan Lee’s table and going “Stan Who?” It boggles my mind. I just don’t get it.

So I was excited for this piece. Really excited. The guy is a legend. I read Captain Canuck, he was great for that too. The man is incredible. I stopped over when the day was winding down and asked him how it was going, and he said the craziest thing: “I’m getting there. Would you mind if I took it home and worked on it?”

I think my jaw just about hit the floor. I mean, that’s a commitment right there. Props to all the other artists on my blog here, but most gave their pic back to me in twenty-minutes or less. Nic and Ariel I know for a fact really gave it their all, but it’s a $20 sketch. They’re not supposed to be painting the Mona Lisa. And here was a professional, a legend, asking to take my sketch home to work on it.

I clearly said yes.

He comes back the nest day with the above sketch. Holy lord. It could not be more perfect. Some of it was his insightful questions (looking back, it’s clear he’s worked with writers before), and some a very happy accident. I mean, that looks like Xander. And then the middle character is a great representation of the Womb when Xander is in control (and kind of superheroic, still) and then the top one is full-on crazy Womb-mode. It’s just amazing. He couldn’t have known there were three stages to the character, and yet here they are. The proportions are perfect. It’s electric and exciting and the tones are perfect. He actually took something that was in my mind and made it better. I could never have thought of this pose and image myself.

Thank you, Sandy Carruthers. You are a true gentleman.

I gave him a copy of Black Womb in thanks. I hope he reads it and gets back to me. He’s such a nice guy.

Great memory.

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