This is kind of an addendum to the previous blog about the Cincinnati Comic Expo. But this has to do with the creators I got to meet.
I am a comics fanboy. I see creators as both celebrities and inspiration for those of us who try to create our own comics. Since embarking on this journey, I wear my inspirations on my sleeve (and in my books). It has long been my goal to give a copy of my book to those on my list if I ever get the chance. My driving options are limited (mostly the time factor because of my business). So I have to wait till a comic creator gets within my sphere of travel. While browsing upcoming cons a few months ago, I found one. DARWYN COOKE. He was being hosted by the Cincinnati Comic Expo. And despite my reservation of the type of con I knew the Expo was, I was willing to face that crowd and meet Mr. Cooke.
Darwyn is an amazing creator. Started seeing his stuff in the early 2000s. Found out he did the opening of BATMAN BEYOND. He went on to create the excellent NEW FRONTIER both in comics and then later animation. The last few years he's been doing the Donald Westlake/Richard Stark PARKER adaptations for IDW. Which, if you haven't read them, stop what you're doing and get to a store that has them now!
Fast forward to this weekend. Here I was in line, surrounded by people who would probably just laugh at me for trying to give my book to Darwyn. I was sweating, heart pounding. Then it was my turn. I barely got a "Mr. Cooke how are you doing?" out of my mouth. I had brought comics for him to sign, mainly because they meant a lot to me, and I wanted to make sure he realized that. But I brought too many for the line that was behind me. So I started paring them back. Finally on the last one, he was about to say thanks and move on to the next person. I was about to lose my chance.
But I didn't. I actually said "Mr. Cooke do you take other people's comics? One created by myself and my son and you being such a inspiration, can I give you one?"
There wasn't even a moment of awkward silence. He said he'd take it. Said he liked looking at other work. He stared at the front of the book (gave him the SPECIAL EDITION from the Ashland con), and...
He said he liked my cover.
Took me a few minutes to get what he just said. He flipped through the book. And then he thanked me for giving it to him. I then asked to take a photo with him. He was concerned for the line, but took it anyway and it was extremely appreciated.
As stressed out as I was about it, and I almost chickened out, I felt relief. I followed through on a promise I made to myself. I gave my book to Darwyn Cooke and he was cool about it. Will never forget that. My hope is that one day he might give it a read. And judging by his reaction I think he will.
One of the creators I approached as kind of practice for Darwyn, was Lee Weeks. I have seen Lee's work for years. Have a few books by him. But he's one of those artists that kind of passed by me. Not because I didn't like his work, but I wasn't collecting the books he was working on at the time. But since he's drawing the new Superman book starring an older before the new 52 Clark and Lois (y'know the good one) I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated some preview art I saw about the book. Told him one of the panels almost made me shed a tear. He appreciated that. We stood there and talked for awhile. He was even going to try to fit me a sketch into his busy schedule. While he eventually would not have the time to do it, I appreciated the effort so much and can't wait for that book to come out.
Other than Darwyn, I wanted to buy the complete LOVE AND CAPES collection from Thom Zahler. Been wanting to buy them for years but put it off for one reason or another. Then when I learned he did conventions, planned to buy them directly from him. Even asked him to do a drawing with his lead character, Mark (y'know the Crusader) with my MAN IN THE MASK. I just wanted to see another artist interpretation (Jeremy King was the first other than myself and my son to draw the character and he stoked my interest in seeing other interpretations.)
Thom was super nice. And when I offered him a copy of my book I think he thought it was just for reference. I had to tell him it was for him to take for himself. Might have thought it was odd, but as much as I have to sell what I print, I do like to share them with others if I can. I'm proud of my odd little book. And I do think while I'm not in the direct same category as his sitcom rom/com superhero book, we're in the same grouping as far as approach. The people behind the mask so to speak.
While the crowd aspect and the tone of the show was not quite my cup of tea, meeting those great creators was the high point. I felt energized by meeting them and appreciated their time. I got to see a number of talented creators the last few weeks that have inspired me to continue on with my story plans and art. I'll try to keep up with the blogs but I want to work on finishing issue #3 and start BOOK TWO.
Stay tuned this week. Issue #3 cover is on it's way.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.