Last weekend on August 27th, I had the chance to attend the third Vermont Comic Con in Burlington. It was probably one of the better shows they've had since the last year. Lots of cosplayers that I've seen were very impressive and had a great time themselves. Especially the giant Jack Skellington costume and the 501st New England Garrison was a treat to see. I think there were more stormtroopers and imperial officers than the previous show I went to and their booth was just so much fun to be around at with a bunch of props and goodies on their table.
Especially one of the sith lightsabers that was so well built that I picked it up, just to see if I can fence with it. The saber has a knuckle guard hilt to it which is beautifully crafted. The image below shows the actual lightsaber held by the cosplayer of the Seventh Sister ( I believe ). My hats off to this cosplayer.
I also had the pleasure of catching up with several local creators and managed to get a copy of Oliver Kranichfeld's book Flatlander after being published from his successful kickstarter event. And especially Stephanie Zuppo's Belchville book as well which I've been meaning to get my hands on. Both books were beautifully crafted and bound to which I can't wait to get around reading them.
But that's not the main reason I went to the Comic Con. That reason lies in the name of Ken Kelly, who's considered one of the old school greats in the field of illustration. And the kicker is he is the nephew of the grandmaster Frank Frazetta. As soon as I noticed Ken's name on the program list, I took a double take and recognized his classic work, especially the famous KISS album cover art that I remembered all so well years ago, one in which my cousin is a fanatic of.
His works from horror to fantasy was one I would not forget even the images of Conan, Manowar, Frankenstein, Vampirella, and so on. It's endless. The color palette, vibrant. The paint strokes, purposeful and focused.
In confession, as a child of the 70s and 80s, his work has been an influence on me even during my D&D and gaming days, looking at horror magazines, watching Dark Shadows and the like. And as an artist myself, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for the old school illustrators who still do it to this day regardless of the digital nature of the industry. I think I would view his work as 'classic hardcore' in the most old school manner.
His table booth had a plethora of beautifully painted illustrations especially some of the originals that hung behind him. It was stunning to see them in person. I wanted them all but they came at a price which is expected. Another fellow illustrator named Matt Sylvester, whom I know, was talking to him as I watched Mr. Kelly show him an original piece, explaining his process which was so fascinating. Matt and I knew exactly who we were dealing with. Standing somewhat taller than me like a giant, he spoke in such a laid back manner and was very open about the nature of his creative work.
When a giant like Mr. Kelly walks into a local convention, you don't dare miss a chance to meet him.
Eventually, after their conversation ended, I got two prints from Mr. Kelly with the autographs due to a favor I did for him. It was probably the most epic thing I ever did by keeping watch over his booth while he was away for ten minutes.
In the booth of one of the masters!
I chose the two that spoke to me as an artist, fencer and metal music lover. I will never forget this for years to come.
Thanks to Mr. Kelly for the excellent work as it continues to inspire me.