When giants walked the Earth - The Craig/Evans store appearance
Probably my favorite comic store memory will always be the time Ned and I managed to get two legends of comic book art, EC Comics-alumnis Johnny Craig and George Evans in for a store appearance. It all began when we opened our second COMIX CONNECTION location in Camp Hill, PA in the Camp Hill Mall in 1993. As part of our Grand Opening celebration, we had special sales, free comic books for the kids and a huge prize drawing. When the time came to draw names for the prizes, one of the randomly-drawn names was a "John Craig" from Mechanicsburg. When I called the number to inform this guy that he had won a prize, I jokingly asked "Are you the John Craig who used to draw for EC Comics?" There was a brief pause, and then the voice on the other end of the phone said "Yes, that's me." I was stunned and couldn't speak for a few seconds (so you know how completely amazed I was if I shut up for any length of time), then told him he had won a prize. He thanked me, then hung up. I resolved to ask him if he wanted to do a store signing when I saw him next. As it turned out, one of our subscribers in York was the nephew of George Evans, who lived in Mount Joy and who we had had as a guest at one of the YorkCons, a local comic book convention we used to put on in York. This would turn out to be the key. When I saw Johnny Craig, I asked him if he would be interested in making an appearance at the store. He was very reluctant, as he actually felt that there would be no interest from the comic community. I assured him that people would LOVE to see him, but he still resisted. I think it was Ned who thought up the idea of asking both George and Johnny to make an appearance at the same time! That seemed to do the trick, as Johnny expressed great interest in seeing George, as they hadn't met for many many years. (Our friend and noted comic art collector Charlie Roberts also provided us with fellow EC artist Al Williamson's number, and he was also thrilled to appear. Unfortunately the weather prevented him from coming the day of the signing. *Sigh* Rotten Old Man Winter!)
Well, needless to say the day that both of these giants of comic book history walked through our doors and sat down to meet the fans was one of my favorite moments in time... both men were two of the absolute nicest people I have ever met, giving freely of their memories and time and both were genuinely humbled by all the attention they were getting. Everyone had a fantastic time and all got an autograph or sketch from the Great Ones.
(Sorry about the lines on my scan... to get a clear view of the pencilled artwork, I had to tweak my scanner... resulting in annoying horizontal lines!)
Sadly, both George and Johnny passed on a few years ago... they will be sorely missed, but truly their work lives on long after them. And for an afternoon, they touched the lives of a bunch of fans in Pennsylvania, including this one. Thanks, Johnny and George... thanks for making great comics.
Oh, and I still have the John Craig - autographed entry blank...