Any history is an oversimplification, but a significant amount of comic-book history was made by two of the guests at this weekend’s Big Wow! ComicFest in San Jose. The festival—at this point the Bay Area’s biggest gathering of the thousands of local comic-book, science- and speculative-fiction fans—was formerly known as Super-Con. That name was borrowed by parties in another state; Big Wow!‘s convention manager Steven Wyatt says, “We have taken the name ‘festival’ to heart and are trying to have more events going on.”

Among the events: the first live Creature Feature showing with the fondly remembered show’s longtime host, John Stanley, in attendance Saturday at 8pm. Also on tap is the Christopher Lee picture Horror Express, a sort of Lovecraftian version of Murder on the Orient Express. Lee’s appearance as a guest on Creature Features was described in the recent documentary Watch Horror Movies—Keep America Strong. The celebrated actor of macabre parts was huffy about being booked on a small-scale local TV show. Then, as was leaving the dressing room, he saw a clip of an earlier interview with Ray Bradbury, and Lee decided that if the show was good enough for Bradbury, it was good enough for him.

Cartoonist Neal Adams is another attraction at Big Wow!; he will also be making an in-store appearance at Lee’s Comics in Mountain View on Friday, May 17. Adams worked to bring DC Comics up to Marvel’s cachet for ‘60s relevance. Adams’ Green Arrow/Green Lantern crossovers, written by Dennis O’Neill, are what fans recall best: the artist and writer took the plumed, modern Robin Hood on a road trip with Green Lantern, the latter snatched out of his comfort zone in the clouds and taken to the streets. Adams’ characters’ giant fists and grim, broad faces added impact and panic to the staid, even suburban figures in DC’s stable of costumed vigilantes. Adams’ neo-classic figures were dynamic, even in repose. “Adams was probably one of the most copied artists of the 1960s and ‘70s,” Wyatt says. “His style revolutionized how fans saw serious comics. He was a great storyteller and draftsman. He greatly raised the bar on drawing comics and storytelling. He also was a driving force on artist’s rights, helping out the creators of Superman, helping artists get their original art back from the companies … and lots more.”

Big Wow! ComicFest
Saturday, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 10am-5pm,
May 18-19; $20
San Jose Convention Center