With My Old Pals... Dave Stevens, Russ Heath, Tiny Ron
I'd known Dave Stevens for years prior to The Rocketeer. As fate would have it, when I was Managing Editor of Disney Comics (when Disney published the comics themselves, 1990 - 1993) I wound up being the editor of the graphic novel adaptation of the movie. When Disney Comics had a booth at the 1991 San Diego Comic Con, Dave was there to promote the movie and the graphic novel, along with Russ Heath, who illustrated the adaptation, and Tiny Ron Taylor who played Lothar in the movie.
Someone was taking pictures of me with Dave, Russ and Tiny Ron. I didn't want it to look as if I had jumped behind the table like a fan boy (which I am) to get into the shot, so I hastily wrote on a piece of paper "OLD PALS" which I held up over Dave's head so people would think we were old pals (which we were).
I did the same thing with Russ Heath. I'd met Russ in 1974 when I attended the comic convention in New York. I was working for Marvel at the time, writing and illustrating The History of Moosekind for CRAZY magazine. Larry Hama took me over to Neal Adams' studio and introduced me around. Squashed in one corner of a small room, along with about three or four other artists, sat the great Russ Heath. We became friends from that day on. When Russ moved out to Los Angeles to work in the animation business he stayed at my place until he found a place of his own. We became pretty good drinking buddies. Dave, Russ and I all worked at Hanna-Barbera in the 70s.
But this idea of holding up a sign that said WITH MY OLD PAL and then adding the name of my old pal of the moment made me laugh. It also made my "pals" laugh and made it easier to get them to pose for a picture. But the fact is, a lot of these people really are pals, friends, co-workers and at least acquaintances. If you work in comics and animation, there's a lot of overlap and plenty of opportunities to meet and get to know a lot of your heros. More on that later. For now, let's just start with Dave, Russ and Tiny Ron.
By the way, I'd never met Tiny Ron Taylor before, and never saw him again after this photo was taken, but he sure made me feel like an old pal. He was, and I'm sure still is, a great guy. Check out Tiny Ron on IMdB.