Jackie Estrada began helping to put on the San Diego Comic Con in the seventies, and currently administers the Eisners Awards, as well as co-publisher of Exhibit A Press.
During which time, she took a photo or two. Or two hundred.
She is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the production of a book full of hundred of photos of comic book creators, editors and executives through the seventies and eighties. Including the likes of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Carl Barks, Bob Kane, Harvey Kurtzman, C. C. Beck, Murphy Anderson, Jules Feiffer, Gardner Fox, L. B. Cole, Alex Schomburg, Mike Sekowsky, Curt Swan, Jack Katz, Joe Kubert, John Romita, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Bill Woggon, Wally Wood, Alan Moore and many others
I asked a few questions to Estrada and shared an old photograph of my own.
Rich Johnston: I enclose a photo taken by Pinguino Kolb, now a professional photographer, back in 1995, my first San Diego Comic Con. It appears that I am being groomed by my co-publisher and firm friend Mike Myer. Looking back on the photographs in this volume, what are the major differences do you see between the way we see the world now and the way we saw it then?
Jackie Estrada: That’s a good question. I would say that back then everyone was less stressed out and more relaxed. The setting was a lot more intimate, especially in the 1970s, when the San Diego Comic-Con and even other shows it was modeled on, such as Westercon and World Science Fiction, were opportunities for people to socialize more than anything. In the 1980s things started getting more businesslike, as companies began having booths and San Diego introduced its trade show. As I always like to put it, comics people were being pulled kicking and screaming into professionalism. For instance, San Diego didn’t have its first employee until 1985. I think that was all for the good. You still see a lot of clowning around and casualness in the photos from the late 1980s. Today, people in the business can still have a good time at shows, but they tend to be more stressed and have less time for fun activities.
RJ: The comics business has changed a great deal over the years – but have people changed as well? Psychologically are they any different, and do you see it on their faces?
JE: There are so many new kinds of people and new elements in the comics business these days that it’s really hard to tell. A lot of the focus now is on “networking” as opposed to what we used to call “schmoozing.” And that’s just part of progress and trying to find out where comics fit into the world of new media and how comics creators can keep doing what they love to do and still survive.
RJ: Have you any insight into how we will appear in thirty years time to readers of the future looking back at photos and videos of now?
JE: You got me there. If you had asked me 30 years ago how people today would view our times, I wouldn’t have had a clue either.
What would you tell the subjects of your photos if you could travel back in time and whisper into their ears?
JE: “You are living in a very special time. Treasure the experiences you are having here. You’re meeting the all-time greats from the field and making friends that will last a lifetime. Enjoy every minute!”
RJ: This isn’t your first dalliance with Kickstarter, how is the process treating you and Batton?
We funded two books, one in 2012 and one in 2013, and both campaigns raised more than the goal. For instance, our Supernatural Law book The Werewolf of New York had a goal of $7,500 and we made over $16,000. We’ve learned a lot from both projects, especially about the high costs of shipping things to other countries! We think Kickstarter is a great way for creators to build the audience for their work and keep control over the work.