My Dad was a character. A man of great complexity and contradictions but also a man of great affection. It was almost as if James Joyce and and Damon Runyon got together and created this larger than life person.

Leo Joseph Nolan was born on this date, St. Patrick’s Day, 1934, and you couldn’t find a more proud Irishman. The stereotypical Irish in America is either a cop or a tavern owner…he was both. In the early sixties he opened up NOLAN’S PUB on Park Ave. in his home town, Long Beach, NY. It became an institution and is still there today!

After a couple years he decided to enter the “family business”. His father was the former Chief of Police and so Dad decided to become a cop. He graduated from the police academy in 1964 as my Grandfather looked on proudly. He eventually earned his gold shield and became a homicide detective. He retired from the department in 1974 due to an injury (and that is a whole other story!) and moved us to Florida. Being retired and moving away from family was not a good thing for him as some of the demons that haunted him took control.

Dad was always a sentimentalist. He was tough as nails but every time he watched TITANIC (the Clifton Webb version from the 50′s) he’d be balling his eyes out when the young boy decides to not get in the lifeboat with his mother but rather go down with the ship with his dad. Loyalty was very important to him. It’s something I cherish highly from my friends and family as well.

When I was 11 and told him I wanted to be a cartoonist he couldn’t understand it. Although college educated, he was still a blue collar guy. He had two nephew’s with masters degrees from Pratt Institute and one was laying brick and the other delivering pizza at the time so he couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of me wanting to become an artist.

As usual, I went off in my own direction and did what I wanted to do and as a result of determination and hard work became successful in my chosen career. All the years I was doing big projects in comic books he’d ask about what I was doing, but it’s not like he ever read anything I ever worked on until…

In 2000 I took over the art duties on REX MORGAN, M.D. I had been on the strip for about a year or two and we were doing a storyline about the dangers of black mold in the home. Rex’s wife June was in the basement and commented about a terrible smell down there. One morning my phone rings. I answered it with the obligatory hello and without missing a beat the guy on the other end says, “I know what the smell is in the basement”. It was Dad.

“Oh, yeah?”, I replied.

“It’s a STIFF!”, he says.

I laughed so hard. The former homicide detective immediately thought of a crime scene and a body. What this told me was for the first time, he was READING my work! Comic books weren’t his thing, but this, in a newspaper that came into his home and the homes of his friends…that meant something!

I always felt he was proud of his first born son that came home from the hospital, with a big shamrock pinned to his blanket that St. Patrick’s Day in 1962, but after that phone call, I was sure of it.

Dad sailed off to the other side of the horizon in 2004 and I miss him dearly. His laugh and sense of humor was contagious. So every year on this day, I raise a toast to himself. God bless you, Pop! Happy birthday.

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I’m back home and decompressing today after a long week on the road. MegaCon was great! I got to meet a lot of awesome fans and was kept busy signing and sketching.
Sunday is usually the slowest of the three days, but not this time. It was at least as busy as Friday! I never did get to walk around and see what was there on the floor. Although I did make an extra effort to get over to Nick Cardy’s table and introduce myself. Nick is now 91(?) and I wanted to be sure to tell him how much his work has meant to me over the years. My first DC comics all had Cardy covers.
I said goodbye to my daughter, Sarah and her friends, Nicole, Veronica and Phil as they headed back to resume their work at SCAD. My buddy Steve picked me up at the convention around 4 and we scooted over beachside to meet up with more of our high school pals. We all turn the big 50 this year and thought it would be fun to hang out in the home town, have some beer and tell some lies. We accomplished our task.
I flew out of Orlando yesterday but earlier in the day, my pal, John (a Navy captain) got us some fishing passes at Cape Canaveral. We were able to scoot around and see some amazing and historical sites in the history of space flight. Check out the pics on the Sunshine State Facebook page.

Sarah and I.

Day started off with a nice breakfast buffet with my daughter Sarah. Then it was off to the show because I had a panel on Sunshine State first thing in the morning. Note to self…don’t do a panel as soon as the doors open and at the same time Stan Lee is signing autographs! I had 7 people show up and 4 of them were my daughter and her roommates! Sunshine State fan extraordinaire, Babs Holland and her dad where there as well…thanks for the support Babs! You and your dad were great! Also, thanks to SCAD professor of sequential art, Dove McHargue for dropping in!
Back at the table I had a bunch of sketches to finish up from the day before. I didn’t get up until 5pm to finally use the bathroom. Lots of cool fans came by with comics to sign and sketches to do. Lots of interest in the Sunshine State flyers. New fans…WELCOME!
I forgot to give a special thanks to Richard Cross of FUNNIES EXTRA for stopping by yesterday to drop off a Sunshine State stand up display and some extra flyers! Check out Funnies Extra, gang…this is going to be big!

Finally, this picture could only be called, BANE AND HIS FATHERS!

Wow, what a busy day! I woke up at 4am and realized I hadn’t packed any drawing board to do sketches! I posted my lament on Facebook and not 5 minutes later, Mike Perkins tells me he hasn’t left his home yet and did I need him to bring me an extra pad. Mike’s a great artist and a great guy and saved my bacon today. Many thanks, amigo!

My daughter, Sarah and her buds from SCAD pulled into town for the show. After getting them settled we headed over to the con and I was busy from the moment I got there. My sketch list grew fast. Got to see some familiar faces from the last time I was at MegaCon, two years ago. My old friend, Chuck Dixon was in the same section as me so we got to talk a little bit. Hopefully more tomorrow.

This being the year of “Bane”, it was only apropos that we finally got to meet! I imagined him taller.
Tomorrow is the big day with the largest crowd. I will be having a discussion on SUNSHINE STATE at 10:15 so if you are at the show…stop by room 221 DE (check the program to be sure).

More tomorrow…

Thought you might like to see my creative process. Thursday’s is my writing day. I go to the local coffee shop which helps get me out of the studio with a fresh perspective on things. I have a pad that I jot down my notes and sketches in and work them out. If there is a new character popping up, I like to get a basic design down before I continue writing gags for him. I will make change through the entire process, adjusting camera angles, refining the wording etc. When I get a week (preferably 2) done I go home and begin drawing them up. I usually have to work on Saturday to finish the complete week.

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