Greetings Loyal Airmen and get ready for some really cool pictures, as the Air Chief does his best to recount the events of the last weekend whereupon we turned 70 at the fourth annual Rocky Mountain Con in Denver and had the best time ever what with a surprise birthday party and our getting to actually autograph a car. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as we do not want to forget any little detail of the past amazing three days.
We drove down to Denver late Friday afternoon with our pal, Todd Jones, to both set up and then register at the hotel where the convention center is located. As it was the Air Chief’s birthday the following day, Valerie had decided we should make a special weekend of it and so tagged along. After setting up our booth in the main hall and saying hi to con promoter Tim Moret and his assistant Bob Mask, Val and the Air Chief proceeded to the hotel main lobby to register and get settled into our room. So upon reaching there we find another our pal, Rio Herrera assisting a little gray haired lady get signed in. When he saw us, he immediately introduced us to actress Margot Kidder!! Yup, THE LOIS LANE from the classic Richard Donner movie with the late Christopher Reeves. As they were going to get her squared away, we all rode up to our individual floors in the elevator together. Once in our room, the Air Chief and Valerie were simply overwhelmed. We’d actually met Lois Lane!!
The following morning, Nov 5th, the Air Chief’s big day, we got down to the con and discovered that our con neighbor at this show we be none other than comics legend, Mike Grell. Mike is known primarily for three truly amazing series. The first being Sable from First Comic, where he first made his mark in the business and then he went to DC and not only created Warlord for them, but also revamped the Green Arrow in his minis-series, The Longbow Hunters.” The Air Chief has been a fan of his for years.
One of the biggest surprises for Mike was when a cos-player showed up on Sunday afternoon in the guise of The Warlord. The guy was fantastic and looked exactly like Mike’s creation. Valerie rushed over and quickly snapped a shot of them together. You can see the Air Chief in the background enjoying the moment to the max.
Believe me, Loyal Airmen, getting to meet your heroes is often a very anxious time. But Mike was so gracious and friendly. When we told him our favorite of all his works was Sable, he dropped everything he was doing and shook our hands enthusiastically. From that point on we chatted throughout the weekend and Valerie took the above pix of us back to back. Honestly one of our happiest moments at a con ever. Always great when your heroes turn out to be such great people. Mike Grell is totally one of those.
Another super star guest at the con, and one of the Air Chief’s buddies, was artist Chad Hardin who is currently drawing DC Comics popular Harlequin series. Over the years Chad has done several covers for Airship 27 Productions, the first of which was for our very first Jim Anthony Super Detective. He’s currently putting the finishes touches on the Holmes & Houdini cover for the novel by Ian Watson. Should be out in just another week or so.
And of course we need to give out a Shout Out to all of the Air Chief’s amazing friends and colleagues who helped make the weekend so special. First up, at the left, the talented writer we call our Official Protege, Todd Jones. Todd was instrumental in assisting Valerie in putting the surprise party given to me at the end of the day. On the right is the Air Chief holding a bottle of Star Trek 50th Anniv. ale brewed and bottled back in 1997, a truly amazing gift from our good friend, Brett Smith. We run into Brett at every local show we do and it is always a pleasure to see him.
There would be no Rocky Mountain Con if not for Mr. Tim Moret and his lovely wife, Nicole. Tim is the salt of the earth, one of the nicest people the Air Chief has ever known. Tim came up with the idea of the show to get money to help the survivors of the Aurora Theater shootings and each year part of the con’s proceeds go to them. And one of Tim’s many assistants is the always energized Rio Herrera, a former Army veteran, Rio brings so much fun and enthusiasm to whatever he does, the Air Chief is in awe of him most of the time.
Sincerely, it sure felt like every time the Air Chief turned around he was bumping into another good friend. Of course that exactly what Black Lion artist Kevin Johnson is. We actually met at this show four years ago and that meeting resulted in the creation of this comic series. Kevin tells us he is almost done the pencils for issue # 2. Now that put a huge smile on the Air Chief’s face for sure.
Then as Saturday started to come to an end, Valerie said we had to go up to the auction stage at the other end of the hall, as they needed the Air Chief’s signature on a Green Hornet book. Well that soon proved to be a bogus ploy to get us on stage where Tim and the rest of the gang started singing Happy Birthday to the Air Chief in front of the entire con. Then they whipped out these two giant sheet cakes with the Green Hornet comic logo on each. At which point Valerie and our daughter-in-law, Nicky, began cutting up lots and lots of cake pieces, which we started handing out to all the attendees. It was just totally wild.
Then as we were having a blast handing out cake, Todd comes over and gives the Air Chief a very special and unique piece of artwork. It seems during the course of the previous week, Todd had visited many of my artists pals here in Colorado and got them to draw one of the many characters we’ve had the joy of working on during our careers. Each artist contributed one character, while Jeff Herndon did that on of the Air Chief. On the top level going to left to right we have – Mr. Jigsaw, Man of a Thousand Parts, the Black Lion, and Bass Reeves. The middle row features the Terminator, the Air Chief, the Black Bat and Brother Bones…while anchoring the bottom level are the Green Hornet, Captain Jain Marlee and Kato. This is by far one of the most unique gifts we’ve ever been given and plan on getting it mounted and put up in our office. It is truly something we will always cherish.
Of course all our Loyal Airmen know nothing in this world is more important to the Air Chief than family and as stated above, none of this wonderful celebration could have happened without our son Alan’s help, along with his wife Nicky, grand daughter Cora and grandson Alex. The shot above was taken right after the big birthday bash and just before we headed out to have dinner together. Then it was back to hotel for a the night. By then we were pretty sure most of the major excitement had come and gone. We could not have been more wrong with no clue what Sunday, the last day of the con would have in store for us.
Most of Sunday morning was more of the same typical convention fun and activity. By mid afternoon, Val and the Air Chief thought the show was begin to come to a close and we started talking about packing up. It was then this fellow wearing a very neat Green Hornet tee-shirt came charging up to our table asking if I was the Ron Fortier who had written the Green Hornet comic series. The Air Chief replied in the affirmative and this gentlemen, one Frank Bruso, asked if we’d go with him to the far end of the hall where he had his custom built Black Beauty; the special tricked out automobile used by the Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato. Val and the Air Chief couldn’t believe this gorgeous vehicle had been at the show all weekend and we’d not known of its presence. Poor Frank felt the same way in reverse, wishing he’d known we were there lots earlier.
The car itself is a gem, what with its green headlights etc. But the biggest shock of all happened as we were standing there taking pictures with it when Frank asked we’d be willing to autograph the dashboard! Valerie about had a melt down, being the car she is. But Frank would not be dissuaded and in the end he produced a silver magic marker and the Air Chief signed his dashboard…and then his home made Green Hornet gas gun. Wow. Note, a few days after the show, we shared the above pictures with our old amigo, Green Hornet artist, Jeff Butler. He was blown away by them.
Finally, a few minutes after leaving Frank and his family, they came back to our table wanting to know if the Air Chief would take a picture with his two lovely daughters, the oldest as the Green Hornet and the little as Kato. Here it is. Now, Loyal Airmen, can you see why the Air Chief considers this best damn birthday we ever had. This 70 years life journey has been an incredible adventure and we thank God for it every single day.
We hope you enjoyed this extra long Flight Log. Maybe we’ll do another after the next 70 years. Ha. Till then, take care and as ever, thanks for stopping by.
Ron – Over & Out!