(Click on thumbnails to see larger images.)

By far, the highlight of my attending the Pittsbugh Comic Convention this past weekend was meeting comics legend Stan Lee.

Here’s Stan, courtesy of my iPhone, but my hand was kinda shaking, so it’s not so great.

Luckily, Evil henchman Tony Miello was behind me in line, and he kindly offered to get some photos as I spoke to Stan.

See, my parents gave me a hardbound copy of How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way for Christmas when I was nine years old.

And I carried that book with me everywhere. Vacations… family gatherings… college… There were lots of times I felt as if I didn’t fit in. And there were lots of times I felt like I didn’t have many friends.

But I had Stan and John.

And that book spoke directly to the dreams of a nine-year-old boy with a thing for cartoons.

I met John Buscema, the co-author and illustrator of the book, in San Diego at Comic Con way back in 2001 or 2002, and I took the opportunity to have him sign my book then.

Getting Stan’s signature on the book was incredibly meaningful to me.

And that’s what I told Stan. And I told him that, thanks in no small part to that book, I will be celebrating ten years of creating a six-day-a-week comic strip this February. Tony captured his reaction, to the right.

He was proud of me. The nine-year-old in me cheered.

And the forty-year-old started getting misty.

So I took my exit. And Stan went on to sign another book. Tony was yelling for me to stay for one second longer and lean in for a shot with the two of us, but I didn’t hear him. You can see my arm. That’s going to have to be enough.

I don’t need a photograph. I’ll have that smile burned into my brain for a long, long time.

‘Nuff said.