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Sunday, April 02, 2006


Following are some observations from the Big Apple Con held this weekend in Manhattan:

I spotted one of my comic-book heroes, Arnold Drake, author of the silly DC comic books "Bob Hope," "Jerry Lewis" and "Stanley and His Monster" and DC's superhero books "Doom Patrol" and "Deadman." Drake is easy to spot: the only octogenarian in the house wearing a dashiki hat. I wanted to get my "Bob Hope" #100 autographed. My opening line was, "Are you the same Arnold Drake who wrote a rock 'n' roll song for 'The Flesh Eaters?' " "Guilty as charged. It was called 'Pete's Beat,' " he said without missing a beat. Drake also scripted, co-produced and created special effects for that B+W sci-fi cult classic. He's a treasure.

I spotted actress Charlene Tilton of "Dallas" fame. Did you see her on the recent "TV Land Awards"? If so, I don't have to tell you that she was lovely and funny and looked for all the world to be having a ball. AND -- if you were to chat with her that evening, let's just say it would be extremely difficult to maintain eye contact. Charlene's Big Apple Con getup was likewise dazzling. She and I just happened to be boarding the down escalator simultaneously. I was dragging along a heavy, unwieldy suitcase-on-wheels. I took one look at her and said, "Charlene, you were great on the 'TV Land Awards,' " and then nearly fell down the escalator steps. "Thank you," she said, "and be careful there." I swear it was the suitcase-on-wheels, not the view, that made me almost break my neck.

It was my sad duty to break the news about Kathy to a few people. She and I had worked that room so many times over the years. I could still see her in every corner, still hear her laugh over the din. Kathy photographed at least 15 people in attendance, including actors Bill Daily ("I Dream of Jeannie"), Peter Mayhew ("Star Wars"), Karen Lynn Gorney ("Saturday Night Fever") and Ken Foree ("Dawn of the Dead"); artists Neal Adams, Gahan Wilson, Basil Gogos, Ken Kelly, Louis Small Jr. and Howard Simpson; writer/editors Drake, Jack C. Harris, Jim Salicrup and Danny Fingeroth; and pinup queen Jasmine Mai. Many wouldn't necessarily remember Kathy, but a few we got to know quite well over the years.

Louis seemed heartbroken; the three of us had known each other for 13 years. Jim said he wrote about Kathy on HIS blog, and actually received messages of condolence from his readers. Karen, who I believe is a spiritual person, got a little teary-eyed and asked me, "Are you dreaming about her?" I told her I'm probably putting up a barrier -- that I don't have "the faith." I WISH I did, but alas, you can't just turn it on like a light switch. "Are you grieving?" she then asked me. "Pardon my French," I said, "but I'm grieving like (an expletive)." Karen said she's certain that Kathy is here with us right now. I asked Karen to please tell Kathy I miss her, if she ever hears from her.


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