Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Booksteve Reviews: Comic Book People

The worst thing about Jackie Estrada’s new annotated photo album book, COMIC BOOK PEOPLE, is that so many of those whose photos appear therein are no longer with us. Conversely, though, the best thing about the volume is that Jackie documented these people through the years, along worth many who thankfully ARE still out there and creating comics, and is now sharing her work with us all.

The multi-talented Jackie Estrada is known for her work behind the scenes at the San Diego Comic Con for many a year as well as her work with her stylish husband, Batton Lash, on his SUPERNATURAL LAW, but I first knew her name as a photographer. A number of the pictures contained in COMIC BOOK PEOPLE first appeared in Alan Light’s BUYER’S GUIDE FOR COMIC FANDOM (TBG), the little tabloid adzine that got out of hand and united so much of fandom as we knew it in the 1970s. Jackie’s San Diego Con photos appeared in conjunction with coverage of the annual event as well as in Shel Dorf’s interviews and other features through the years, almost always credited to her by name.

She’s an excellent portrait photographer, too. In many cases the first and only photos I saw of certain creators back then were taken by her. Those photos and so many, many others from SDCC (along with a few from elsewhere) are now collected here, organized neatly by genre and/or subject. Writers, Artists, Writer/Artists. Indies, Underground, Big Name Fans, etc. Plus it’s all indexed so you can easily find your favorites!

I only ever made it out to San Diego once more than 25 years back. It was amazing. You literally would just bump into folks whose work you had revered in some cases all your life. Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Bill Mumy, Jean Giraud, Julie Schwartz, Dick Giordano, Bill Willingham—all folks I remember from my sole visit and all folks present here in the book, some from that same year. One of my favorite people that year was actually Cat Yronwode’s young daughter, Althaea, with whom I joined in a conversation while her mother was speaking with someone else. I was impressed by her intelligence and maturity. Never heard of her again but she’s here, too. So is a very young Valerie Thompson, no relation but a longtime Facebook friend.

The list of names is nearly endless. Easier to list people who apparently never made the trip out to the Coast or who were camera-shy. Mike Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson are present, for instance, but no sign of their Studio mates, Jeff Jones and Barry Windsor-Smith. Odd, also, that Captain Sticky (look him up) appears in no less than three separate photos and yet Vaughn Bode is not to be found.

Still, there’s no reason to cry over who’s NOT in the book when one should be celebrating the captured moments of those who ARE in the book. Jackie’s succinct and informative annotations for each photo make this a valuable history book as well as a photo album.

Comic book fans today don’t tend to care as much about what came before as we did in the Silver Age. But if you’re one who does, Jackie Estrada’s COMIC BOOK PEOPLE: PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE 1970s AND 1980s will be required reading on the subject for a long time to come.

The book has the size and feel of a high school yearbook. If you’re a convention-goer today, might be a good idea to take this book with you regularly and get it signed by as many of the still extant creators in it as you can!

Thanks to Jackie for supplying me with a copy and for the waves of nostalgia that hit me as they rolled off of almost every page.


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