Comic Book Signing

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[Editor's Note: The first of two articles written by Robert Andres, originally presented at Jazma Online and lost for the last six months...newly found, here's the first, with the second to follow next week...]

The Phone Call

Friday, July 6th, eleven o’clock in the morning. I was at work when I remembered there was a signing that weekend at a local comic book store here in Sacramento. At Broadway Comics near the Tower Theatre.

I talked to artist Ron Lim at the last SacCon. He mentioned he would be signing at Broadway Comics with local industry pros, including Paul Roberts. I said I know Paul, and that I print business card promos for the Jazma website. Frankly, I was surprised that Paul is so well known and that Ron Lim would know him by name. I gave Ron a card.

Since then the day of his appearance had slipped my mind. Paul sent an e-mail with the day and the hours, but I accidentally deleted it. So I called the shop that morning to get the details. The man on the other line informed me that it was “tomorrow” from 1-3 p.m. That much I knew. Or I forgot it but knew it was right when I heard it again. I’m glad I cleared that up.

He also said Ron Lim was scheduled to appear, along with someone representing the Jazma Universe and the Peoples Comic Book Newsletter. What he said next surprised the heck out of me. Also to attend is an artist who draws like a “young Alex Ross”. That’s how Paul introduced me in the pages of the PCBN when I made my debut last year. But surely he wasn’t referring to me. After all, I’m nowhere near being a comic pro. Hell, I’m barely an amateur at this stuff! Yes, I was planning to attend; as a fan. I just wanted to say hi to Ron Lim, get the second issue of his new series Randy O’Donnell is The Man, and catch up with Paul. And get in a little comic book shopping before taking off.

I should have asked the owner if he knew the name of this “young Alex Ross” but like I said, I was too surprised to say anything further. I thanked him and hung up. Immediately after, I got online and sent Paul a very sarcastic e-mail about how I was looking forward to meeting this other artist who also draws like Alex Ross. And how I was eager to see what the competition is like and what I’m up against. It was an indirect way to confirm or deny my suspicions. Just then I remembered when, weeks ago, Paul told me to bring my portfolio along. I thought it was an unusual request at the time and decided not to.

I could barely concentrate on working, and almost took the rest of the day off. If in fact I was supposed to be at the signing, I would need lots of time to work on my portfolio. The last time it’d been updated was shortly before the Oakland WonderCon in April.

Up Late With Howard Stern...

When I got home at six, I immediately decided to finish my watercolor painting of Johnny Thunder & Thunderbolt. I thought I’d have until September. That’s when the next SacCon is and I plan on renting a table. But I needed something for the signing with which to make an impression. That was done about seven hours later. Then I went back to some older illustrations to touch them up. I made the colors more brilliant, made the outlines stronger, made other compositional corrections, and repositioned my Norman Rockwell inspired signature so that it would appear closer to the figures.

In order to accomplish all this and make enough 8 1/2x11 inch glossy prints to give away, I skipped sleep. To make sleep deprivation easier I had the radio tuned to The Howard Stern show on 93.7. He comes on now in Sacramento every weekday live from 3-6 a.m. then from 6-10 a.m. as “...the best of.” Howard is a comic book fan. I heard him talking about how his favorite superhero is Daredevil, and how he’s been offered parts in movies. I encourage everyone to send a copy of your comic and/or ‘zine to his office in New York, and drop him a line via e-mail.

Broadway Comics

I finished printing around 1p.m. but arrived fifteen minutes late. Broadway Comics is by no means a big store. In fact it’s one of the smallest I’ve been to. It’s like the size of an antique store where everything is crammed together and you’re afraid of knocking something off a shelf. But what it lacks in space it makes up for in personality. The owner, Wilson Lew, is a nice, quiet guy. Maybe that’s because he’s asian; all asians seem nice and quiet. Except those Vietnamese guys in “Romper Stomper”. ker-ray-Z.

He didn’t have a whole lot to say but had a smile on his face when he said it. He greeted people as they came in and directed their attention to where Ron Lim was signing autographs, and to where Paul was promoting his stuff. Wilson may have even told people who I am, but then I could have been confusing Paul’s last name with my first.

When things slowed down I cruised the back issue bins for cheap comics. Broadway Comics is small, yet it’s one of the few shops I know of that donate all of its space to comics and comic related product. Other shops have sections devoted to video rentals, music CDs, or Magic Tournaments. What the hell!

It was also air-conditioned and had a cooler filled with cold drinks for only $0.65. Welcome relief to that day’s weather.

The room was cleared for the event. Three six-foot tables lined the center. Ron Lim had his own, Paul and his Jazma stuff were in the middle, and an empty table lay closest to the door. Paul was the first person I greeted when I came in. He was wearing his black Jazma Online! shirt. I should have worn mine. He said I could have the third table all my own, and showed me a handful of comics and magazines he wrote for promoting the Jazma site. Anyone having second thoughts about contributing to the site and the newsletter ought to be aware of what a good job Paul does getting the word out.
Ron was offering free sketches. I chatted with him about his collaboration with George Perez on the Infinity Gauntlet. I mentioned that some websites gave his comic book a positive review.

It wasn’t exactly a sell-out crowd. But it was a good enough showing to make me glad I didn’t skip out. From mothers to children to a five-year-old boy, a steady stream of people braved the heat to chat with Ron about his art and Paul about his site. I was fortunate enough to have at least two people - not related to me - flip through my portfolio and inquire about my technique. And about my Kung-Fu. I even handed out my first autograph on a Johnny Thunder & Thunderbolt print. I was quick to point out that my signature is absolutely worthless now. Hopefully that will change.

Time flies. We went thirty minutes overtime. I’m sure we could all have gone the whole day.

Howard Stern info:
[email protected]

The Howard Stern Show
40 West 57th Street
14th Floor
New York, NY 10019

The first two issues of Randy O’Donnell is the Man are out. The third has a full-page ad in Previews. The new issue will include a bonus feature on how to write comics.

I gave Brandon McKinney the wrong day. I told him the signing was July 8th. He wasn’t invited but said he might drop by. I sure hope he didn’t come down from wherever he lives only to find nobody at the comic shop.

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