Bendispalooza: Atomic Comics hosts Brian Michael Bendis for weekend of fun

This past weekend Atomic Comics in Arizona welcomed Avengers/Powers writer Brian Michael Bendis to the store for a weekend of meeting fans, eating Chick-Fil-A and teaching a seminar on writing comics. Store owner Mike Malve was kind enough to send over a report from the event, which you can read below.

by Mike Malve, owner of Atomic Comics

This past weekend Atomic Comics was honored to host a gigantic comic book personality event: Bendispalooza! Man, what a blast the fans and I had! As owner of Atomic for over 25 years, I’ve hosted many a signing, and was super excited to bring Brian Michael Bendis back to sunny Phoenix AZ. It has been six years since Brian and his friends Joe Quesada and Brian Finch were all at Atomic Comics, so to make this appearance even better, we held a PALOOZA rather than a mere signing.

Festivities kicked off Friday night with a paid comic book and graphic novel writing seminar led by Brian Bendis. I knew Brian currently teaches a regular class at Portland State University and I also knew the boy loves to talk, so I figured it was a natural match. But never in a million years did I think we would attract so many people who happily shelled out $25 to participate in a comic book writing class taught by THE Bendis. (No offense, Brian!) In total we had over 35 paid students for the class, including some who drove all the way from Los Angeles to attend. I think Brian was hoping for ten while I had projected success to be defined by 20. So we were both pleasantly surprised with the turnout. But even better than the numbers was the fact that everyone came prepared and ready to learn. Paper, iPad, pen and laptops in hand, they sat at the tables jotting down every important word that was discussed.

We anticipated Brian’s class would last about an hour, but as the second hour zipped by, I realized this was turning into an in-depth tutorial. Brian was having fun with the projector, showing tips to the class along with some awesome pages of not yet published books he was working on. The class loved being able to ask Professor Bendis questions and interact with one of the highest profile and most successful writers in the industry today. The class eventually ended around midnight, and even then, I practically had to pull Brian away from the podium, as he just kept going and going, like the Energizer Bendis!

The three-hour seminar was incredible and attendees were excited and thankful. I hope folks will talk about it with their grandchildren ‘til their dying days. More importantly, I hope everyone felt they more than got their money’s worth out of the experience.

The next morning we hosted our “Win Lunch with Bendis” to benefit the Hero Initiative. The eBay auction promised a free lunch with Bendis at his favorite restaurant, Chick-fil-A, and witnessed frenetic bidding activity, closing for a tidy sum! Winner Matt Bussey and his buddy, Larry Sanchez, had a great time in a more intimate setting than most fans are privy to, interacting with Brian on a “hang out and shoot the $#*&” level. Besides, it was Chick-fil-A, how could it not be fun? We got to meet the Cows!

Over at the Atomic Mesa Superstore, fans lay in wait to meet the main man at Marvel. Now, Brian knows his audience, so he came prepared and ready to win over the crowd with Chick-fil-A for everyone –- he brought a big-ass party tray for all! I have to be honest, at first when Brian ordered the tray I thought he was getting it for himself to take back to the hotel, and I couldn’t blame him for wanting to gorge on the chicken-y goodness that is Chick-fil-A. But no! In addition to being a writer and teacher, the man is apparently a meal donor as he gave away all that delicious food to fans waiting in line.

Before the actual signing started, we scheduled Brian for a full hour long Q&A session with the fans, complete with a slide show showcasing some of what is to come from Bendis over the next few months. I was happy to open the formal signing with an interactive event for all the fans who had gathered and waited patiently in line all morning. Brian visually projected and discussed several covers and interiors for some of his upcoming work. To his credit, even under intense fan interrogation, he remained steadfastly tight lipped about the allegedly upcoming Death of Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe.

The signing itself went fantastically well. We had folks traveling from as far away as L.A., Vegas and even Colorado to see Bendis. In a chicken-fueled frenzy, he signed for over four hours! Brian delivered every fan several mintues of one-on-one time, multiple signatures and even a sketch or two. He even made a bold foray into the future with a digital signature on a fan’s iPad comic.

Bendispalooza was a tremendous success, and a great kick-off to Atomic Comics’ holiday season! On behalf of the Malve (myself), the whole Atomic Comics family, I thank Mr. Bendis for swinging down to Arizona for the weekend. And HUGE thanks to all the fans who came out from all over the Southwest – you guys and gals are why we at Atomic love doing what we do! Happy Holidays to all … and God bless Bendis and his shiny, bald head!

Special thanks to Mike Malve and Megan Anderson of Atomic Comics for sharing this report!

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