Every year, I go to Free Comic Book Day, and every year, I get assaulted by some superfolks. This year, FCBD is this Saturday, May 3rd. Hope I survive.
BTW, to prepare for FCBD, I went to this show this past weekend and saw my old compatriots Rocco Nigro, Bill Anderson and John Hebert. AND I finally ran into ADD; he DOES exist! He’s written a nice account of our meeting here.
And I even won a drawing for a copy of Iron Man #97, “The Return of the Guardsman”. Almost certainly, I owned this comic book once upon a time – all those Marvels with the 30-cent cover price I would have been buying perforce – but without looking inside, I just don’t remember The Guardsman at all.
That was one busy Saturday eight days ago. Some of you will understand the need (of my wife) for us to clean the house in anticipation of someone coming over to clean the house; that was the post-breakfast activity. And we were also trying out a new babysitter, Annie, to replace our old sitters Anna (who went to college) and Anne (a busy HS senior).
So the babysitter came, the housekeeper came, and I got picked up by my friend Rocco. Rocco was a kid who used to be a FantaCo customer who became a FantaCo employee in the early 1980s. We traversed over to the Elks Lodge in Troy to go to a comic book program, organized by former FantaCo customer Dave Palladino.
We went to the artists’ table and talked to three guys with a strong FantaCo connection:
John Hebert was the artist on a book I co-wrote, Sold Out and worked at a couple FantaCons, before moving on to fame and fortune. He’s getting married next year, and herein is the proof:
Fred Hembeck, who I saw for the third time this year (yay!), was doing the big reveal of an anthology of his seven books published by FantaCo, plus over 600 MORE pages, news that would soon be wildly and exuberantly cheered by the comics blogisphere. He had on hand a binder that featured the black and white version of the color cover:
Bill Anderson, who I see more often than the others, worked at Fantaco, off and on, between 1984 and 1996, but even before that, embellished some of Hembeck pages, before becoming the inker extraordinaire.
Rocco and I had great conversations with them and with Fred’s daughter Julie, between her stints reading homework. She told me she likes doing these trips because it gets her out of the house and because Fred “really needs a navigator,” which even he would admit is true.
I also had some lengthy conversations with other former customers and employees. Talked at length about the late Raoul Vezina (a post for next year) and FantaCo’s founder, Tom Skulan, who has gone into a different line of work.
At some point, I returned to the artists’ table, and a couple little kids asked me to sign a Mars Attacks mini-comic that FantaCo had published. I didn’t have anything to do with it, except shipping it to distributors, and escorting its writer Mario Bruni a Capital Cities Distributor show in Madison, WI back in 1988 so we could promote it. But I signed them anyway.
I now remember why some folks find comic book people really weird, as I heard a number of stories, including Golden-Gate, some debacle involving Michael Golden and a Doctor Strange drawing. It’s interesting in a very bizarre way.
I had a surprisingly good time, though I didn’t buy anything, except for some food. Check Fred’s October 20th post for his take on the event.
Rocco dropped me home long enough to go back out to the drug store and grocery store, before a second babysitter came. We’d NEVER had two babysitters in one day, EVER, but we really wanted to go the 30th anniversary party for our friends, Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, as it turned out, at my church. After a wonderful dinner, there was a short segment of singing to and telling stories about the Stewarts, MCed by me (I learned about this at 10 a.m. that day), thus once again ruining my self-image as a shy person.
It was a good day.
I have friends, good ones, whose birthdays, anniversaries and other significant dates I simply cannot remember. But Bill and Orchid’s wedding date I remember, for really dreadful reasons.
But when I first met him, he was just a (not too annoying) kid who wanted to draw. Eventually, he did some inking for Fred Hembeck, the late Raoul Vezina and others on some FantaCo publications. (Here’s one citation – the first item.) He also worked at FantaCo, doing mail order and occasionally working in the store when I worked there in the 1980s.
Don’t remember exactly when Bill started going out with Orchid, but I know it was by the time of my friend Norm’s 30th birthday some 18 years ago, because every picture I tried to take of them that night involved both of them hiding their faces, as though the camera were going to steal their souls.
After they were engaged, Bill asked me to be in the wedding. The day before the ceremony, Bill, the other groomsmen and I rode downstate for the rehearsal. Somebody, probably I, remembered that the next day was the second anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing and the fourth anniversary of the Waco disaster. What made this slightly creepy was the fact that some pilot and his plane had disappeared. Conspiracy theorists on the radio were speculating that perhaps the plane was in hiding to be launched as a weapon on the anniversary of these two events. I was not, and am not, much of a conspiracy theorist myself, but I admit the plane’s disappearance did cause me pause. (Some time later, the plane and its deceased pilot were found crashed into a mountain.) So the guys were in an interesting frame of mind when we got to the church.
Meanwhile, Orchid and her entourage arrived separately. The guys were a few minutes late, but the women about 45 minutes tardy. The priest implored us to be on time the next day for the 3 pm wedding, because there would be a 5 pm church service.
So, the next day, the guys are at the sanctuary in plenty of time. The women were “running a few minutes late”, each call explained. The priest, while saying nothing (other than “Where ARE they?”, repeatedly), was clearly becoming apoplexic. Finally, around 4:05, the women arrived, and the service began. This was a Catholic service with mass, communion and the like. The priest buzzed through the ceremony in record time, just as the parishioners for the 5 pm service were beginning to file in. I’m pretty sure there were no pictures taken at the church, only at the reception.
So, today, Bill and Orchid celebrate ten years of married bliss, with three kids, still (understandably) occasionally late. We’re still in regular contact. Happy anniversary!