What is it about the comic conventions that you both attend that inspires you?I've been attending comic conventions with my dad since I was 8 years old. The first one I attended was the 1969 New York Comic Convention held in NYC. At that time, comic conventions were almost non-existent. Just the NY Con and the San Diego Comic Con. Being a comic book fan myself, I was amazed at seeing this huge ballroom filled with comic dealers selling comics, artwork, posters, prints etc. It was a great place to pick up the missing issues that I needed for my collection. Also great was meeting all the artists in attendence. At that time because there was only the couple of Comic Cons, most all the big name artists were there. I had known alot of these fine gentlemen from their collaboration with my dad on the books. Seeing them in person was a great thrill for a comic fan of 8 years old. To me it would be like a Yankees fan meeting Mickey Mantle for the first time, or for todays generation, Derek Jeter. The great thing about those older conventions were that all the artists were thrilled to draw sketches for all the fans. I've got some great drawings from some of the all time comic greats like Jack Kirby (who created most of the Marvel superheroes), Bob Kane (Batman's creator), and Joe Simon (Captain America's creator). To this day I still get a big charge out of attending the shows (there's many more these days, if you like to travel and can get the time off, you can attend a show every couple of weeks). I still fill my want list at these shows, and get sketches from the artists - most of whom are now called "friends" to me, rather than artists, as we do so many things together now that we're older outside of the comic scene. Most of my time spent at the conventions are at my dad's table, where I take the orders for his sketches, sell his prints, books and artwork, and talk to the fans while dad is busy signing and drawing. I've been attending Comic Conventions for 42 years now. The next one were're attending is this coming weekend in New Jersey. I still feel like a child of 8 every time I go to a show. They are just so much fun. And Joe gets a big kick out of them too, seeing all the fans, many who he knows by name when he sees them. It's like one big happy "comic book" family!
The public likes humor...any tidbits? Or anything unusual ?Joe started working for Marvel Comics and Stan Lee in 1950, while he was still attending Art School at the Cartoonists and Illustrators Academy in NYC (it's now the School of Visual Arts). He used to take the train to the city every week to drop off his work at the Marvel offices and meet with Stan. There he would pick up a script of a story he was to draw, and return it the next week. He never knew what story he would get - it might be romance, war, horror, a western, sci-fi etc. This was before the Marvel Superheroes began in 1962. After some time, dad would no longer go to the city. They would mail him the scripts, and he would mail the work in. This went on for over 20 years. That's right, over 20 years of dad working for Marvel Comics and never once going into their offices. Then came the 1975 Mighty Marvel Comic Book Convention held in NYC. ALL the Marvel Comics artists, writers and editors along with the hugest crowd of fans you'd ever see were in attendance at the show. They held a big dinner for the artists after one of the shows. Stan Lee spotted my dad sitting at the table and walked up to him and said - Jack Keller, how are you? When are you going to come back to work for Marvel? (Jack Keller once worked for Marvel years before. He was one of their best Western comic book artists). My dad, ever the jokester that he is said - well Stan, maybe if you'd pay me a little better I'd come back to work for you. Now dad talked to Stan every week for these 20 years, but Stan hadn't seen Joe during this time. A while later when the Marvel artists lined up at the dais, Stan Lee turned to fellow Marvel artist John Romita and says - John, what's Jack Keller doing up here, he hasn't worked for Marvel in years? John says, oh Stan, that's not Jack Keller, that's Joe Sinnott. He must have been pulling your leg! Stan had to go over to dad and apologize. He thought dad was Jack Keller - even after working with him for 25 + years. That's just one great story of so many that happen during Conventions. And they still get talked about year after year.
First memory of watching your dad draw...anything that stands out in your memory as a child and later as an adult... It's hard to remember my first memory of watching my dad draw, because I must have been VERY young. I do know that I became a big comic book fan and superhero fan when I was about 5 or 6. My older brother and sisters really didn't have that big an interest in comics that I did. That could be partially because the Marvel Superheroes Era didn't begin until 1962 (I was one at that time). They were older, and probably didn't have the comic book interest at that time. I grew up on superheroes, they didn't. I had my own drawing board right next to my dad's and til this day, although I don't work in the comics field, I draw everyday. At breakfast, or lunch, I'm constantly drawing on napkins etc. Once you get the comic bug, you've got it forever. My dad would tell you, that I was his librarian, receptionist etc. as I would have the comic book collection and be able to get him reference on any character that he needed. I was his biggest critic though. If I didn't like the way dad draw something or someone, I would be quick to let him know. If he was doing a drawing for a fan, and dad would ask the fan - how is this, the fan would ALWAYS say - that's great Joe! Maybe it was to the fan, but then I would add - No dad you need to add this or that, or make sure you do this or that to the drawing as well. I know dad is a perfectionist in his work, and I guess a little of that rubbed off on me as well. After all these years of watching my dad draw (and I never get tired of it, even if he's drawing the same character over and over), I may be his biggest critic, but I'm also his biggest fan!