LET'S LEVEL WITH LEE!

By Lee Hester, owner of Lee's Comics of California.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

IS THIS ANY WAY TO PREPARE FOR BAY TO BREAKERS?

It'’s been a busy week for me. In a one-week period we had Mother's Day, our 11th wedding anniversary, Bay to Breakers, and Connie's Birthday. This is the annual period of time that I affectionately refer to as "Connie’s Reign of Terror." It's a marathon campaign of indulgence that none dare to oppose.

On Saturday, we drove to San Francisco, and checked into the Bijou Hotel. It’s a charming little place that's centered on Movies made in San Francisco. We stayed in room 2002, "The Birds” room, replete with a picture of Tippi Hendron getting pecked. There was a side room, off the lobby, where they had a little movie theatre complete with a dozen theatre chairs. They played 2 movies a day there. The Rock with Shaun Connery was scheduled for 7:30, and Bullet with Steve McQueen was playing at 9:30. I was keen on seeing the latter movie if we were around, but alas, it was not to be.

A couple of friends joined us, and we went to a place called "The Supper Club.” You go inside and lie down on beds with white linen. Every now and then you get served a portion of food. Meanwhile some very freaky people go around the room to "entertain" you. There is a DJ and the music is pumping loud. You have to scream to be heard. Weird kaleidoscopic video is being projected on the wall. People are getting tattoos on a table down below. An acrobat comes out and works himself up straps that are bolted to the high ceiling. You are at a disadvantage if you are not drunk or stoned, and I am neither. Finally the last course is served and we get out of there at 12:30. People are lined up outside to get in for the DJ and Dancing. Their night is just beginning. This is a fine way for us to warm up for the Bay to Breakers race, which is the next day.



Grace, Osama, Connie and Me. Strange Bedfellows.

The highlight of the evening. The ladies in the house were especially enthusiastic.

When the Women Come Out to Dance.

BAY TO BREAKERS BROKE...ME!

Connie and I get up at 5:00 am. We go join “Team KGO, and get a T-Shirt and a Hat, food, and a warm-up with Joni Greggins. Melisa, one of Connie’s friends from work joins us. She is young, tall and very thin; a natural born runner. The members of Team KGO are put in right behind the sub-seated runners. By the time the starting gun goes off, we have inched our way up to just a few feet behind the starting line. The course is a 7 and a half mile one, which will take us all the way across San Francisco, including a steep climb up the Hays street hill.

Now I’ve got to back track a bit here. I was just coming off an injured back prior to the race. Unfortunately it got hurt again a week before the race. I wasn’t quite sure if I could even run. 2006 marks me and Connie’s 6th consecutive run of the Bay to Breakers. It always falls on her birthday and our anniversary weekend. The first 4 years I hit a personal best each year. Last year I failed to hit a personal best, I was off by 1 minute. I still finished in under an hour and beat San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who finished in an hour and one minute. This year I was hoping to do better, but I know that I was not properly trained to reach that goal.

Connie and I both ran hard. I made an okay showing considering the injury. I finished at 1:02:07, #862 overall. Connie finished at 1:03:06 #1010 overall. The mayor was quite happy because he broke the hour mark. Melisa beat him. Girbert Okari of Kenya won the race with a time of 34:24.

My plan right now is to eat lots of ice cream, cake, and chocolate and gain weight. I’m going to relax, and let my back get better. After that, I am going to start running and working out again. I plan on setting a new personal record next year. Everybody at home is scoffing, but I'll show them! I'll show them all!!!

I manage to outrace an old man and a red headed kid.


Connie is closing in on Dick Chaney.

With Melisa, who ran like the wind.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and his possie.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

FREE THE COMICS! part 2


Children of all ages love comics!




The store was mobbed all day. Here is the feeding frenzy in the back-issue bins!




My buddy, Mark Arnold lends a hand or two.




Connie brings the children to the store to lend moral support. Here's my daughter Hanna, Cousin Sarah, and daughter Sophie.




Ted Naifeh delights his many fans.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

FREE THE COMICS! part 1


I was a little worried going in to Free Comic Book day this year. I didn't get the media coverage I was hoping, and I just didn't feel that I had generated the buzz I was hoping for. I thought we were going to have just a so-so event this year. Boy was I wrong! The people came in waves all day. They filled the store and crowded around the outdoor free comics.

I set the free comic books outside on a rolling counter like I always do. I like to set up outside so I can greet the passers by and show them the free comics. I like to talk to the fine folks. Many of them have really interesting things to say once you get them talking. Often they have questions about the store, which I am, of course delighted to answer. Also setting up outside really drives home the point that those comics are truly free, with no strings attached. You don't have to buy anything. You don't even have to go into the store if you don't want to.

The usual method in business seems to be to offer "free" things only with strings attached, and I think that the public is getting sick of it: You can get this candy bar for free but you need to sign up for our store credit card. You can stay at our hotel for free, but you have to attend a 2 hour time share presentation. Despite not forcing people to come in and shop, or I like to think because of it, everybody came in anyway and spent freely. We had one of our best days ever, ringing up nearly 500 sales between the 2 stores.

Ted Naifeh came by at 12:00 for his signing. He is an amazingly talented and productive guy who is the creator of Courtney Crumrin, Death Jr., and Polly and the Pirates. Ted was very generous with his time and talents, and delighted a steady stream of people. I predict that Ted is on his way to great fame and fortune. I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Ted a little better. He's really a great guy. Hopefully he will grace us with a return visit from time to time. If you happened to miss him in Mountain View on Saturday, check out our featured display of his works at the store.

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Imagine a World with no comic books. Not worth living.

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