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Free Comic Book Day in Mesa!

by  in Comic News Comment
Free Comic Book Day in Mesa!

Yes, you could have gone to the CBR front page and checked out their live blog for instant updates on what was happening in Mesa on Saturday, or you could wait until I got home, uploaded my pictures to my PC, typed up a post and added the pictures, and then published it! I mean, it’s really no contest, is it?

The big event, in case you missed it, was that the seven Image founders were signing stuff at the Atomic Comics in Mesa. The owner of Atomic is pals with Joey Q and knows a ton of people in comics, so he swung this somehow. I overheard Erik Larsen tell a guy who was “interviewing” him that this was the first time they’d been together in one place in over 15 years, which makes it somewhat impressive. No matter what you think of the Image guys, they were and still are fairly influential in the business, so this was an interesting event.

I arrived at the store about noon, but no one was there yet. Jim Lee’s plane was late, so he would be tardy. Why he didn’t arrive the night before I don’t know, but there it is. While I was there, I met Our Dread Lord and Master’s Dread Lord and Master … Jonah Weiland, guru of Comic Book Resources! Jonah is a very cool guy, and we had a nice conversation about many things, including why I always seem to piss people off when I write on this blog. I’m really a swell guy, I swear! He pointed out that thanks to Brian’s “100 Favorite Runs” series, he actually had to move the blog to a new server because of the traffic. Our Dread Lord and Master rules the Internet! Here is Jonah and Andy Khouri, live-blogging their asses off!

Jonah is the redheaded fellow, while Andy is not.

I left for a while, because the store was packed and manueverability was difficult (my daughter was with me, and her wheelchair is cumbersome in the best circumstances). Plus, the stars of the show weren’t there yet, so I figured I could come back later. So I left, fed the kid, put her to bed, waited for the wife (who was out getting a pedicure with Demon Child #2), and then, when they got home, went back. Here’s the front of the strip mall where the store is located:

(Just so you know, you can’t swing a dead cat in Phoenix and its environs without hitting at least four strip malls.)

Just to the left of Susie’s Deals there was where the line ended:

This line went back, hooked around the corner, and went into the back of the store, where the stars were set up. Note the blazing sun and lack of shade. May in Arizona means 90-degree weather, which will become important later on.

I went back inside (I had no interest in getting anything signed, but I’m friendly with most of the employees and I had nothing else to do, after all) and checked out the scene. Jim Lee had gotten there about 1.30, and McFarlane didn’t get there until 2.30 (even though he, you know, lives in town), and everything was cooking along. Everyone was very patient, even when the line got held up because everyone wanted McFarlane to sign stuff (he was the most popular guy, by a decent margin it seemed to me, maybe because he rarely does stuff like this, what with all the printing of money he presumably does in his spare time). Here’s the mass in front of the tables:

I thought more of the people there would be dressed up, but I only saw a few. Here’s one of the employees:

See, the main page blog gives you pictures of Spider-Man. I give you cute girls. You’re welcome.

Then I managed to get pictures of the stars of the day;
Rob Liefeld …

(The bald gentleman is Marat Mychaels. Yes, that Marat Mychaels. I actually talked to him about basketball for a while (he’s a – blech – Lakers fan), and he seems like a hell of a nice guy.)

McFarlane, signing stuff …

Larsen and Portacio talking shop …

and Portacio, Lee, and Valentino.

At about 3.30 or so, they all took a break and went out back to hand out water bottles to the parched congregation. It was a fairly cool moment. Lee paid for the water, which seems about right, as DC probably gave him the GNP of a small nation to come work for them.

That’s Silvestri in the center of the first photograph. I couldn’t get a picture of him while he was sitting down, as he was next to McFarlane and was therefore usually obscured by all the fans waiting for the Toddster.

I left about five in the afternoon after talking a lot more with Jonah. He did mention they’re working on a redesign of the blog, so those people who are not happy with the new look should wait and see. It was a fun afternoon, even though I forgot a list of back issues from the “100 Favorite Runs” master list, which was annoying because they were having a half-off sale in the store. Oh well. People really enjoyed meeting all the Image guys, and I must say I was extremely tempted to buy a bunch of Infinity, Inc. back issues (they had the Image guys’ work separated out in case you wanted it). For me, it was more fun meeting Jonah than the fact that the Image guys were there. But it was a busy day for Atomic, and I imagine they did a ton of business. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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