Every Fourth of July, I think of those Phil Seuling Comic Art Conventions that were held in New York back in the day. But this particular Independence Day forty years ago was a turning point for me.
At one time, Seuling’s cons were the most anticipated and must-attend events for fans and comics professionals alike. From 1970 to 1973, I went to those cons with all the enthusiasm and passion a feverish fan could have! I’d make sure I got a good seat at every “important” panel concerning industry issues and for spotlights on favorite artists and writers (loved the masquerade contests, too!).
But, by the time I attended the 1974 show I found my interest in comics waning–not the least having to do with career choices (was cartooning really in my future?). By 1975’s con, I came to the realization that I just wasn’t interested in comic books anymore (at least what was being published at the time). I had to admit to myself that I was attending Seuling’s con (and comic cons in general) out of rote.
The 1976 show was held from July 2-6, but I only attended on July 4th. I spent a scant hour there, selling some old comics (I was really kicking the habit by this time!), and I knew I’d turned a corner (and in a literal sense, too!) when I had more interest in hurrying downtown to see the incredible “Tall Ships” sail into New York Harbor for the Bicentennial and to find a secure spot on the languished and closed-off West Side Highway to watch the spectacular fireworks display that evening.
That hour at the 1976 show would be the last Seuling con I attended. As you can see, I still have the program book from that show–a thin saddle stiched shadow of previous years thicker, perfect bound volumes. I wasn’t even inclined to get any autographs! I did go to a Creation Con the following year in a continuing effort to sell my collection (I must’ve had enough curiosity regarding the industry, though, since I attended a panel to hear the new publisher of DC Comics speak!).
Years later, after deciding that cartooning and comics were indeed my calling, I returned to comic conventions, this time as an exhibitor, selling my work. In a few weeks, San Diego’s Comic-Con International will arrive, and I look forward to it. Still, those early Seuling cons hold a special place in my heart and I have many fond memories of them!