So, this weekend was Virtual DragonCon! As I’ve been for the past several years, I was a guest of the show, although I was only able to participate in some programming this time around (usually I am on upwards of a dozen panels). It was great being a part of Virtual Dragon Con 2020, and I look forward to returning to the physical Dragon Con next year.
This show has always held a special place for me. My first Dragon Con was as a guest of Richard Hatch, back when I first started working with him in 2003. For anyone who doesn’t know the details, this is the Battlestar Galactica Richard Hatch, not the Survivor one–and man did he hate people telling him he was “great on Survivor.”
My relationship with Richard was complex–I had the strange circumstance of first working with and then becoming close to someone who I watched on TV as a child.
I remember once playing games at the arcade on a carnival cruise with Richard during a storm–it was one of those games where you have the pistols and are shooting at zombies coming for you. People who know me know I’m not one to “fanboy out” on someone whose work I enjoy, I understand they are people with faults and aspirations just like any of us. This time, however, I had the surreal realization that I was standing with Captain Apollo, shooting at bad guys–just as I did when I was a kid pretending I was Starbuck with Apollo at my side. Bizarre.
Richard and I became good friends over our many conventions and cruise trips together, but Dragon Con was always a special place for us. We always got together for drinks and dinners, at least one night of which would be Sear (Phil and Eva Vanermine) and the other Bennihanas (Derek Conley and The Crazy 88s).
I owe a lot to Richard, from many of the friends I’ve made in the industry to even just his infectious zeal for life. I am a better person for knowing him as I did–as a real friend.
A few years ago, Richard passed away, and I coordinated a memorial panel in his name for Dragon Con. There was standing room only–he was well-loved.
I took on the same task virtually this year for my former mentor, the late great Denny O’Neil. Denny was responsible for some of the most important Batman and Green Arrow stories ever told–and he was also the writer on the Question–my favorite “superhero” comic (if you can call the character a superhero).
Denny was my teacher in college and then insisted on tutoring me at no expense when I couldn’t afford to go to school anymore. He took me to lunch for six months on DC Comic’s dime, showed me the offices, introduced me to professionals, and even got me on the interview list for an assistant editor gig there (23-year-old me screwed up that interview, but hey, that’s life). He saw my talent and wanted me to move ahead as a writer. He believed in me. Here’s Denny O’Neil talking about his work at DC Comics during the 90s, when I first got to know him.
I hadn’t seen Denny in years, but I never would have followed the career path I did if not for him. I’m where I am because of him. I was happy to gather former associates and friends of his in the industry to talk about the man and his greatness. Panelists included:
Howard Chaykin – Writer/Artist
(American Flagg, Marvel Star Wars, Wolverine & Nick Fury)
Brian Augustyn – Writer/Editor
(Batman, the Flash, Justice League)
Andrew E.C. Gaska – Writer/Franchise Consultant
(Alien, Planet of the Apes, Predator)
Paul Levitz – Writer/Editor/DC Comics Publisher
(Legion of Superheroes, Batman, Wonder Woman)
Charles Kochman – Editorial Director
(Superman & Batman Magazine, Shazam, JLA)
Click here to check it out. Well, this is a lot longer than I planned. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except to say I miss my friend and I miss my mentor. I love this industry, and the amazing people–fans, friends, and pros–I’ve gotten close to in it. Finally, I love these conventions that bring us all together to laugh, drink, and cry. I love Dragon Con.
I’ll just leave you with a 2013-14ish pic by Chandra Free of Richard Hatch and a VERY fat and VERY bald me (what was I thinking?), enjoying the Tiki bar at Dragon Con.
—Andrew E.C. Gaska
An award winning game-writer, author, designer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures. He has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games and is the lead writer of Free League Publishing’s ALIEN Role Playing Game. In addition to being the senior development editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their game division and their licensing team.
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