In getting with the New York Comic Con spirit, I attended a Brian Michael Bendis (of Ultimate Spider-Man, The New Avengers, and Secret Invasion fame) signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe in Manhattan. Jeph Loeb and Ed Brubaker (Fallen Son and Captain America, respectively) also stopped by to sign things…it promised to be a great event!
The line was enormous, and when we were told that the signers would only be there for an hour, I worried that my time with Bendis would be extremely limited. While I’d never been to a comic book signing before, I’ve been to plenty of book signings, and the worst ones are the ones where they just shove your book under the author’s nose, they barely look at you as they sign it, then you get shoved on your way without so much as a How do you do? I was concerned this would be run the same way. However, once I got into the store and saw what was happening, I pepped up. The signers seemed to be taking time with each person! I heard conversations going on. There was lingering, and I was glad.
For me, getting an autograph has nothing to do with making something a “collectible”, or increasing something’s value so that you can then sell it on E-Bay. For me, getting someone’s autograph is an opportunity to have a minute of one-on-one time with someone you admire. It’s not so much about getting something signed, as it is about the chit-chat that happens from the time you hand your item over to the time they hand it back to you with a fresh signature. It’s a rare opportunity for you to come face to face with your favorite so-and-so and tell them how you feel about their work. I was looking forward to meeting Bendis, because I wanted the opportunity to tell him that his Ultimate Spider-Man, not to mention his work on The Avengers/The New Avengers during and after Marvel’s Civil War last year, was largely responsible for my interest in “superhero comics.” Before reading those, I was resolutely an “indie” girl, and prided myself on only reading the “smart”, creator-owned comics. Ultimate Spider-Man and The Avengers changed all that, and I wanted to tell him so and thank him for that.
Finally, it was my turn to approach the table. I started to step forward, my copy of Secret Invasion #1 at the ready, when some random douchebag* who has apparently met Bendis before jumped in front of me “just to give a quick hello.” They shook hands and had a little chat while I’m standing there like “helloooo?” Then, when random douchebag leaves, Bendis turns to the handler guy sitting next to him and starts chatting with him! Argh. I’d heard Bendis mention to the other douchebag that he wasn’t going to be at New York Comic Con this weekend, so as he’s talking to the handler I mustered a “So, you’ve decided to escape the comic con thing this year?” He looked at me and said, “Yeah”, then proceeded to not look at me as he signed my comic and talked to the guy sitting next to him again. He handed me the comic book back and said “Thanks for coming out”, as if to put an end point on our interaction, leaving me to put the comic back into its plastic and say “OK, well, um, bye” as he began interacting with the next person, this time with more enthusiasm and less distraction.
[nms:brian michael bendis,1,0]
I hate to bring this up, but I couldn’t help but notice that I was one of a mere handful of women in line. I was one of an even fewer amount of women who actually seemed to want to be there, and weren’t just accompanying their significant others. When Bendis looked at me only to say “Thanks for coming out” without really giving me a chance to say anything, it felt as though he assumed I wouldn’t have anything to say. As if, because I’m “a girl”, I probably just wanted the signed copy to sell someplace, or worse, that I was probably just getting it signed for someone else. That busted my buttons to say the least! So, I put the comic in my bag and left the store a bit miffed by the misogyny and douchebaggery.
Yet as I walked away, I calmed down a bit…I mean, I understand that everyone can’t be given the same amount of attention at these things. People are busy, and one can’t expect a leisurely conversation. Also, there are plenty of other people over whom I can fawn. Not for nothin’, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t have happened had it been the other bald, three-named comic book writer named Brian that I like.***
At the same time, I don’t think eye contact and an opening in which you are given the opportunity to say something is too much to ask for, but that’s just me.
* Douchebag has become a favorite word of mine lately. I just love how it rolls of the tongue and uses every part of your mouth and throat, as if the person at whom you’re directing it is so heinous that you need to use every square inch of your speaking apparatus in order to insult them properly. Say it with me, and focus on every syllable. D-oo-ssh-b-aah-guh.
** I don’t actually think Bendis is a douchebag. Or a misogynist. But check out how punchy that title is, huh?! He seemed nice enough, though. Just a little tired and out of it. Really, the douchebag in this story is that guy who cut in front of me “just to say hi”, stealing my thunder and wrecking what might have been an awesome moment. This one’s for you, whoever you are! Douchebag.
*** That would be an amazing match-up, wouldn’t it? BMB vs. BKV in a cage match to the death (or at least to the maiming) for total bald white guy comic writing supremacy! I can’t be the first person to have thought of this…. Eh. Maybe they should just collaborate on a comic series…
STAY TUNED FOR IN-DEPTH NEW YORK COMIC CON COVERAGE BEGINNING SATURDAY, APRIL 19TH!
TERESA JUSINO was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. As a writer, her work has appeared in Elmont Life newspaper, and on the sadly defunct website, CentralBooking.com. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories. As a geek, Teresa loves Star Trek, Lost, comics, and anything Joss Whedon ever touched. Also, she has a fangirl *squee-ing* crush on Brian K. Vaughan. Yes, she knows he’s married. Teresa recommends: 5 Minute Lost