Walt Whitman High School
I don't remember exactly when or where I met Ellen Vartanoff, but there's a good chance it was October 4th or 5th, 1975 at a small comic convention (my first) at the Howard John's Motor Lodge in Wheaton, Maryland. Gene Carpenter made the introductions as I recall. That makes Ellen my third oldest acquaintance in the local comic community.
Of course, I got to see my new friend on a regular basis at convention after convention. It was sometime around 1978 when I, with one of her former art students, discussed an idea to publish a portfolio of comic art by Ellen's then-current art students, but that never came to fruition. It would be nearly four years until I again ran into Ellen at local comic shows, but that came to an end when I stopped attending comic conventions altogether by 1984. I did see her at a tiny show in Gaithersburg, Maryland (date unknown, possibly early 1990s). I missed her at an exhibit at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland that featured comic art in her and her sister's personal collection - as well as a small show in Rockville where Jerry Robinson appeared - and several of the SPXs. Finally, by 2012 or 2013 I started going to the Baltimore Comic Con every year and ran into Ellen a couple of times.
The last time I saw Ellen Vartanoff was Friday September 22, 2017 at approximately 5:00pm, at the (18th Annual) Baltimore Comic Con. We were standing at booth #813.
Ellen & Irene Vartanoff at SPX 2007, photographer unknown
Ellen Vartanoff at Comic Art Convention Luncheon, July 5, 1969
at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City
|Star Trek fan art|
The thing is, I have this false idea that I'm still young and have all the time in the world to refresh old friendships, even when faced with evidence to the contrary.
Ellen Vartanoff was a fan, a collector, creator, artist, teacher, mentor and so much more to countless friends and admirers. Condolences to Irene, Scott, and all of Ellen's family. I will always carry with me the last time I saw Ellen.
Farewell, Ellen. You are missed already but always with us.
March 18, 2019
[editor's note: A 1997 Washington Post review of one of Ellen's exhibits, but not the one Stu refers to above.]