Meeting Dave

It’s become Dave Gibbons week here on my blog, and I’m finishing up with a few anecdotes and pictures. I first met Dave over the phone at DC, while we were working together on Green Lantern Corps stories, as described in my last post. We spoke a few times, and corresponded, both enjoying the collaboration. I’m not sure if Dave came to visit the DC offices during that period. If he did, we probably first met in person then. I met a lot of artists and writers that way, but can’t recall if Dave was one of them (sorry, Dave!) I do recall that in 1985 I made my second trip to England, and Dave arranged for a get-together at a London pub. He promised to bring some comics friends.

I have no pictures, but I well remember the event as being lots of fun. Kevin O’Neill was there, and some other British artists and writers, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which ones. We had a grand old time talking shop, and they all listened to my DC insider opinions raptly (I was still on staff at DC then). Dave himself is outgoing, gregarious and has a great sense of humor, and I learned for the first time that he’s fine company. We’d finished our GL Corps stories by then, but Dave told me, “I’m going to send you the artwork from one of them.” I said it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted, and I admitted I’d be delighted to have it.

I think I next saw Dave when he visited DC during his time drawing WATCHMEN. I remember pitching an idea to him then about a science fiction comics series I was thinking of writing. Dave said it sounded good, but had to pass, as he was too busy, which I certainly understood. And Dave had plans to do some writing himself, too.

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In 1987 I made another trip to England, this time with Ellen, and we spent two days in Dave’s then home town of St. Albans, visiting him and his family and getting a tour of the town. This is Dave in his home studio pretending to hold up the broken shelf on the bookcase. “This isn’t going to appear in some fanzine, is it?” he asked. I assured him it wasn’t. This doesn’t count, does it, Dave?

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On a rainy afternoon Dave gave us a tour of the famous Roman ruins in St. Albans. I believe this was the first such tour Dave offered, and he repeated it many times later for other comics folks from the US. Needless to say, Dave made it all funny and entertaining. As we were leaving, Dave reminded me about the artwork he’d promised to give me. “I haven’t forgotten,”, he said, “but I can’t seem to locate the story I want to give you at the moment.” I told him it was no problem.

Dave and I worked together several times after that, with me lettering his stories or art. I lettered SUPERMAN: KAL, a graphic novel he wrote for Jose Luis Garcia Lopez to draw. Unfortunately my name was left off the credits, but anyone who knows my style could figure it out.

Time passed, and we saw each other a few times at the San Diego Comicon, where we always found time for a good chat. Then in 1999 Ellen and I went to England again. We didn’t plan on visiting St. Albans, but I contacted Dave and arranged for him to meet us in Henley-on-Thames, not too far from his home.

We met at a hotel bar, had lunch, and walked around the town for a while, talking shop as usual. Then I’d arranged for us to go on a barge tour up the Thames through the part of the river made famous by Kenneth Grahame in “The Wind in the Willows.” This was fun, though much of the trip was spent talking about comics! Ellen was very patient. Finally we arrived at a large mansion for a two-hour stop. The house is the one used as a model for Toad Hall in the book, so we took a tour of it. Nothing too remarkable inside. Out on the grounds, there was an English Civil War (Roundheads vs. Royals) reenactment going on, and Dave kept up a very funny running commentary throughout their mock battle that had Ellen and I in stitches. Later, on the grounds, we toured an old mill, where Dave posed for this picture:

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The old accounts desk in the mill made for the perfect period setting for a contemplative author!

We had great fun again that day, and as we parted, Dave once again brought up the promised artwork. “I’ve brought it with me,” he said. “It’s in my car.” By this time the art had become a bit of a joke between us, and I didn’t believe him, but sure enough, he produced the original art for one of the stories we’d done together, “Deeter and Dragons,” and handed it over. I thanked him profusely, and you can see a page from it at the beginning of my previous post.

Since then, we’ve met again in San Diego, and at Alan Moore’s wedding. I’ve worked with Dave as letterer or designer on THUNDERBOLT JAXON and the ALBION logo. Dave also contacted me when he was getting ready to write GREEN LANTERN CORPS for DC, and we discussed some of our old creations, like The Green Man and The Spider Guild, and how he could use them.

Our contacts are infrequent, but always great fun, and I’m proud to call Dave a friend. I’m very pleased to see him enjoying the growing excitement over the upcoming Watchmen film, and for his sake I hope it meets Dave’s expectations. Dave is not only a fine artist and writer, but a fine fellow, and he deserves all the fun he can get from it. And, knowing Dave, that will be a considerable amount!

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