Issue #15

3:30 AM Tuesday December 23rd Update - Sorry for the delay, but a nasty flu kept this one from going up on Monday. James sent over a large batch of new videos as well as a sampling of new images to check out. Also included is a wrap up of the event from James below. - JW

At 12:52 AM Ed Brubaker said his final goodbyes andwalked triumphantly out the door of the Isotope. Forover twelve and a half hours he had taken on allcomers, autographed hundreds of comics, and ensuredthat his name would live on in infamy forever more inthe hearts and minds of all who were lucky enough toattend.

By all accounts, it was a highly successful andmemorable in store event. The crowd was so dense attimes as to make it difficult to get to the bathroom,despite the holiday obligations and absence of many ofthe Isotope's regulars. Of the seventy-five copies ofthe Sleeper trade paperback that I had in stock thatday, only a few copies remain. So few, in fact, thatat 11:00 in the evening, Isotope Special ProjectsDirector, Kirsten Baldock, hastily grabbed herself acopy and stashed it away for safe keeping.

Those challengers who came late in the course of theevent thinking they'd have an easy win over a tiredBrubaker were sorely disappointed. And as the videosprove, those challengers who talked the biggest fightwere treated most mercilessly by the iron arm of EdBrubaker. And the list of challengers was long!Fifty-two men and women brought all of their steelagainst the famed author, but few of them broughtBrubaker defeat. With only a few losses on his rightand undefeated on his left arm, Brubaker stands as achampion among champions. And he was such a graciouswinner as to give away free comics even to those wholost their bouts.

Brubaker was even accepting challenges from fellowcomic creators. DEMO and Couriers author, Brian Wood,went toe to toe in a match that had the assembledthrong screaming and shouting with excitement.

In his box of free comics and graphic novels, Edjokingly included a Spanish Language version of hisfirst Catwoman trade paperback. Little did he know howprophetic that would turn out to be. Three differentmasked Lucha Libre wrestlers showed up to challengehim for armwrestling dominance (although I would besurprised if any of them knew enough Spanish toactually read that particular copy of Catwoman). El Giagante made a tremendous entrance complete withan introduction from referee, Jared Guenther, aparting of the crowd, and booming theme music.Brubaker easily put El Giagante's arm to the table,but he was later dealt a narrow defeated by thespastic wrestler known as El Freakazoid. The thirdmasked wrestler, El Diablo Blanco was defeated sothoroughly that Brubaker even went so far as to unmaskhim.

Between bouts, while Ed gave his arm a rest, manymembers of the crowd took the opportunity toarmwrestle each other, including a match with Donny"Get Them Pants Off" Pusawong, whose intensityunnerved all in attendance. Several "Battle of theSexes" matches broke out, but it was the Women'sArmwrestling Championship that generated the mostcrowd enthusiasm.

But the true highlight of the evening was the actionpacked half hour that none will ever forget, startingwith an appearance by none other than ISW superstar,Count Dante, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy withinsults and braggadocio. For several long minutes,Dante ran his big mouth before Ed Brubaker finallyended his reign of annoyance with a vicious chair shotto the back and a swift kick to the backside. Dantewas last seen weeping and crawling pathetically forthe exit. As if this didn't thrill the crowd enough,Dante's exit was quickly followed up by the appearanceof an agent of the evil criminal and scientificorganization, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM). This AIMagent threatened a day of reckoning and swore to putan end once and for all to Brubaker's winning streakand his comic writing career. But even the power ofthe cosmic cube couldn't make the AIM agent's threatstrue. Brubaker defeated the evil scientist with hisleft hand while continuing to enjoy his cocktail withhis right.

Despite the frenzy of activity, Ed also somehow found the time to talk to his fans, autograph comics, addhis own creation to the Isotope's world famous Comic Rock Stars Toilet Seat Museum, and to participate with his fellow Wildstorm creators in the Jim Lee Coup D'Etat Internet Drive By.

I would like to extend my thanks to all who attended, all the special guest stars who made an appearance,the Isotope staff for keeping the crowd well lubricated and from mobbing the event arena, and Ed Brubaker himself, a true champion among men!

The latest videos from the event:

And the last batch of pictures:

12:45 PM Sautrday December 20th Update - More pictures and video are in from the Brubaker Armwrestlethon up at the Isotope. Included in this batch of video is Ed Brubaker taking on Brian Wood. Who is the strongest of the two? You'll have to watch and see. Plus, James tells me there's even more video and pictures from the event to come, so we'll be doing a Sunday update as well. - JW

First, the new videos:

5:45 PM Update - This will be the last update for Friday, but check back on Saturday afternoon for another update filled with the goods from the event. For this update we have two write-ups from individuals who attended the event, another video of the action in the store plus a handfull of more pictures.

Muscles flex and strain. Teeth grit and the grip tightens. The rain falls on a dark day in San Francisco's sunset district, but Ed Brubaker continues to hold his own in the arm wrestling madness at the Isotope's day long Sleeper trade release event. From Isotope regulars to random passers by, everyone is anxious for a piece of what Brubaker has to offer, both creatively and physically. Standing strong with more wins under his belt than losses, Brubaker is still gracious enough to sign comics between wrist iceings. But the question remains, how many more must fall before Brubaker stands victorious atop the mound of defeated comic fan boys. How many more must fall...

     -- Geoff Wagner - Web site

And our second entry for today.

Considering who I'm writing about, I felt that a little Noir was in order…

It was a wet day, the kind of dripping gray that makes you wish you were drinking. Oh wait, I was. Sliding into Isotope, I was welcomed by a cold beer and a cool cat. Sime. James Sime. My pusherman, my pimp. Holler.

After catching up with scurvy Ryan Yount and that other guy, I made my way back into the bowels of his establishment. The kind of smoky backroom just begging for a fight. It wouldn't be disappointed.

I was handed a legal waiver and another beer. Tipping my glass with one hand and signing with the other, I was ready to go. The flier didn't disappoint. There he was, waiting. Sleeper's Ed Brubaker. I was terrified, but couldn't let it show. Anyone who could write such cold-blooded fiction would smell my terror. I smiled as we were belted in place, Sime's Goons making sure I couldn't bolt. Suddenly I wished I had read that waiver before I signed. I had a feeling if I went down here, I'd find myself kicked into a stupor somewhere in the Outer Sunset.

This was it.



1, 2, 3.

It was over almost before it began. I just sat there in disbelief, staring at my arm.

I won.

You know, I expected a writer to have a firmer grip.

Scott Backer

And here are the latest video and pictures.

4:30 PM Update - And even more pictures from the event happening right now up in the City by the Bay. Plus, video of Brubaker winning, loosing and unmasking! - JW

Video 1Video 2
Video 3

2:25 PM Update - James Sime has sent over the first group of pictures from the Ed Brubaker Armwrestlethon being held right now at the Isotope in San Francisco. Click the images to enlarge. - JW

Fuck it, we're blowing off work this week.

That's right. This week we're calling in sick for work, we're meeting up with our buddies and we're going to the big show. We're going to yell our throats hoarse and we're going to swill beer and booze until we forget all about the endless tasks that work entails. This week we're going to the show and we're just going to have some fucking fun.

The comic industry sometimes forgets that the entire reason any of us care about the funnybooks in the first place is that they're great entertainment. So this week leave your pretense at the door and get ready for some good old mindless entertainment!

And that entertainment is going to come in the form of one comic writer arm wrestling wave after wave after wave of San Francisco Bay Area comic readers and creators for 12 whole fucking hours. And you get front row seats.

We're forgoing all formality and any kind of usefulness except to give you something to make you laugh and maybe make you cry and most assuredly make you wonder why the hell would Ed Brubaker want to do something so outrageously cool.

Thanks to the generous extra labor on the part of CBR's main man Jonah Weiland we're going to be uploading photos, event reports, and nearly live video feeds from the Isotope's wireless DSL network and beaming them into your living rooms, offices, and internet cafes all across the world. The first update goes up at 2pm, the next at 4pm, the third following two hours later at 6pm, and then we're going to wrap it up with our final update at noon on Saturday.

And as I think these events are always just as much about our guest's experiences as well as those of the featured creator's experiences, I'm going to let every single person who is in attendance at this event have the opportunity to participate in sharing this event with the world. That's right, we'll be uploading everyone's photos, videos and event write-ups for the world to enjoy.

Get comfortable in your favorite easy chair, pop open a cold one and enjoy the festivities!

To hold you over until 2pm when we hit you with the first of our nearly live event feeds, enjoy this pre-event interview I conducted with Ed yesterday. Could this be the final Ed Brubaker interview ever? Only time will tell!

JS: Ed, let's jump straight to the case. Why don't you tell the people what this Over the Top Arm wrestling thing's really all about?

BRUBAKER: Well here's the deal, I'm going to give away comics and graphic novels to anyone who can beat me at arm wrestling. Challengers who want to get those comics will need to purchase a copy of the "Sleeper" trade paperback in order to enter the arena to go toe to toe with me. And I tell you, I'm going to make sure those free comics don't feel so free!

JS: Aside from Mike Oeming arm wrestling people for pages of his original art I don't think anyone has ever used arm wrestling to help promote a comic book before, particularly in the context of an all day long event. How did you come up with the idea?

BRUBAKER: I was just trying to think of a way to make it more interesting, and I wanted to give away a bunch of freebies to people who showed up. My friend Count Dante from ISW is always hammering me that comics need to be more like pro wrestling, so I just thought, if they want a free book, they can arm wrestle me for it. Then I told you about it and you thought it was hysterical, so here we are!

I think it's going to be a lot of fun, and a lot more fun than just sitting behind a table signing books!

JS: Hell yes! You've done some pretty wild things to help get your books into reader's hands, things like those money back guarantees you were offering earlier this year and now this arm wrestling promotion. Do you feel it's important for comic creators to take an active hand (or arm in this particular case) in getting their books noticed in today's market?

BRUBAKER: Unfortunately, it seems to be, because this market is so resistant to new books lately, for the most part. I wish I could just sit at home and write and not worry about promotion at all, but the reality is that quality isn't enough to sell a book.

I get emails all the time from people who can't find "Sleeper" or "Gotham Central," and who say their retailer refuses to stock them or even special order them. What is that, you know? Those are two of the most acclaimed books on the market, and some retailers actively refuse to carry them. In a market like that, it seems to me it's essential that I get out there and push my stuff, because if readers never see a book, how can they know if they want it? I just want more readers to be able to get their hands on these books without it feeling like a battle, you know?

JS: Yeah, I hear you. Okay, I know my people are interested in knowing more about your arm wrestling background. Are we talking competitive arm wrestling or just arm wrestling your pals over beers at the local tavern?

BRUBAKER: Definitely the latter. I've always been pretty good at arm wrestling for some reason. Or maybe I was just less drunk. (laughs)

JS: Tell CBR's readers about your training regimen. I hear it's pretty strict!

BRUBAKER: Oh yeah. I eat nothing but raw meat and I row six hours a day. (laughs)

Actually, I've always found with arm-wrestling, that it's technique, not strength that makes the difference. So I plan to cheat a lot!

JS: I knew you had to have an inside track, some of my regulars are pretty fucking buff! But even so, aren't you even a little worried you're going to end up breaking some Brubaker fan's arm right in half?

BRUBAKER: As long as it's not their "Sleeper" TPB buying arm, I'm not worried!

JS: (laughs)! You know I got some serious love for the "Sleeper" series. But since you've obviously gone so far out of your way to get people talking about this Wednesday's release of the "Sleeper" trade paperback, why don't you tell me why you love this book so much and why you think comic readers should pick it up.

BRUBAKER: For me, it's just that I think Sean and I formed a really good team, and started to be really intuitive in how we work together. And I loved that we got to do something within the superhero genre that was completely different from everything else coming out. I mean, it's an espionage story, it's a post-modern examination of super-heroes and villains, and it's a character study about actions affecting morality. And it's got more sex and action in each chapter than you can find in 5 issues of any other comic, probably. How can you not love that?

JS: Well said! I know you've got to get back to your workout, but let me just ask you one more question. Since the announcement of the Ed Brubaker Over The Top Arm wrestlethon, you've been referred to as the "P.T. Barnum of comics," but I honestly don't see how are you could top this one. Any thoughts?

BRUBAKER: I have to top this? Damn.

Maybe next year I'll enlist some Sleeper agents of my own around the country and have them assassinate retailers who refuse to carry our book. That'd get a lot of publicity! Yeah, that's the ticket... Okay retailers, you've been warned. (just kidding, I'll only order them to wound).

JS: Better watch out, some of those retailers might be coming in!

BRUBAKER: Well if those retailers want to get some free comics off me, they're going to have to earn them, just like you will Sime!

The "Sleeper" trade paperback is published by DC/Wildstorm and was released Wednesday, December 17th 2003.

The Ed Brubaker Over The Top Armwrestlethon will be held this Friday, December 19th from noon until midnight at Isotope - the comic book lounge 1653 Noriega St in San Francisco. For more information see www.isotopecomics.com, call (415)753-3037 or email Isotope's proprietor at jamessime@earthlink.net.

Watch for Armwrestlethon updates at 2, 4 and 6pm today, Friday December 19th, followed up by one huge post show wrap-up on Saturday at noon! (Pacific Time)

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