Promethia cover

I've seen the spontaneous combustion that comes when comics geeks have that rare chance meet their all-time fav writer/artist. You've probably practiced the moment in a mirror a thousand times, and knew it by heart. That is, until the opportunity arose to actually say it... Trust me folks, been there, done that.

I don't believe five minutes went by during today's hour-long Comic-Con panel honoring the short career of J.H. Williams III -- from Chase to Desolation Jones, Seven Soldiers of Victory and, lately, Batman – without being reminded just how much of a genius he really is.

Just don't ask Williams how he's able to transform a simple superhero story into a work of art, however. Lord knows, hosts Lauren McCubbin, Grant Morrison and Scott Johnson tried to get Williams to explain how he does it. Morrison tried to explain Williams' gift as a means to convey superhero drama by approximating the rhythms of music. Sounds good, but no dice...

The closest Williams comes to defining a real influence during the hour: An off-campus art course during his high school days on advertising art and design may have done more to influence his almost supernaturally, intuitive instinct for design. Frankly, I really care how Williams is able to import the look he gives Batman or Promethea from his brain to the canvas. It just works.

Full disclosure: During those halcyon days working for my close friend, Chris Staros (he's really more like a brother to me), behind the Top Shelf Productions booth for many years on the convention circuit, I had my chance to meet Williams in San Diego as his Promethia partner Alan Moore began diverting his comics work there. And, I was just as much of gushing fanboy when I met him. The word genius was mentioned at least once too...

A sidenote: Despite the interest in the room among Williams' fans, don't expect DC Comics to publish trades collecting his first mainstream work – Chase – anytime soon. Since the characters used in the series aren't an active part of the current DCU, the suits claim there's no incentive at this time to reprint them.

Bad call DC!