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

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Taio and Kobe at Lee's Comics San Mateo.

Like most of you, I've been enjoying the heck out of the Olympic games. Here's a report of a very exciting incident that occurred at our San Mateo store a couple of weeks ago. The report is written by (Titanic) Taio Iwado.

It was a warm summer night on the El Camino real as I closed up shop for the last time at Lee's Comics in San Mateo, I was counting out the register when I heard that all too familiar sound of someone trying to open the locked door. I looked up and saw a man in a suit with a silver mustache and military cut tapping at the glass. I continued to count dimes as I politely said, "I'm sorry, sir, we closed at 8 pm and it's already 8:30." He then smiled back at me and stepped aside to say, "Well... Would you open up for him?"

Standing there in all of his 81-Points in one game glory, wearing his Blue and Red NBA approved sweat suit. The dimes fell from my hand onto the counter like copper and tin rain as I gasped out a meager, "KOBE!" Kobe, His one man entourage and bodyguard all snickered unsurprised at my reaction as I fumbled around the counter to open the door. As I took out my keys I heard Kobe's friend say, "That's one way to get them to open up." I opened the door and shook the hands of the three men as they entered the store and said, "Welcome to Lee's Comics, how can I help you?" I must have been working on some sort of autonomous shock setting as I spoke with Kobe, stunned that he was in San Mateo and in Lee's Comics asking him, "So what kind of stuff are you into?"

Kobe happily replied, "I'm into that dark sh*t. I've got a 13 hour flight to China and need somethin' good to read." Immediately I recommended my favorite author and series of Preacher to him, explaining to him the intricacies of the faithless Reverend Custer, his assassin girlfriend Tulip, best-friend/Irish-Vampire Cassidy and his quest to make God pay for abandoning humanity. Kobe's eyes lit up as I told him the tale of Jesse and the reasons why Preacher would change his view on comics forever.

He chuckled saying, "My Man!" Giving me a high-five and taking the first two volumes. I also helped him track down the latest volume of 100 Bullets of which he is an avid fan, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Across the Universe: DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore, Batman vs. Two-Face and Batman: The Joker's Last Laugh. Quite the list of well-written stories (all of which can be found at Lee's Comics).

Kobe was nothing but a gentleman and was completely down to earth with this simple clerk as we joked about checking for his ID as he paid with his credit card. I once again shook hands with Kobe and his compatriots as they left the store asking to pose for a picture before he left for Olympic glory. Kobe shook my hand again giving me a pat on the back saying, "Thanks again, My Man." As he got into his black escalade with his bodyguard and NBA cohort, I felt I had accomplished all I could for the world of comics by turning Kobe Bryant onto the works of Garth Ennis and keeping him entertained as he flew into the maw of the Great Red Dragon to represent our country.

-Taio Iwado-

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm leaning toward Sub-Mariner, at least in appearance.

What do YOU think?

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Ancient history dept:

Well the Comic Con ended over a week ago, and here I am finally writing a report about it. There were around 125,000 people attending, and by now all of them but me has written a blog about it. Here is mine. Most of the pictures were taken at my booth, since I was chained there 99% of the time.

Michael Bennett is an amazing artist who chanels the spirit of Jack Kirby in his free form creations. He brought by a selection of amazing Kirby originals for me to look at.

A Kirby concept drawing for animation .

Terry Moore is one of my favorite creators. I loved his "Strangers In Paradise" series, and I am loving his new "Echo" series. The trade paperback collecting the beginning of the series will be out soon. Make sure to check it out.

Here's a typical morning mob waiting none-too-patently to get in to the con.

Here's Gentleman Jim Lee, one of the nicest and most talented guys in the business.

Here's the ever dapper Eric Shanower creator of the excellent Age of Bronze series.

Here are the guys that do the Tiny Titans series, a kid's favorite here at Lee's Comics.

Another morning, and the crowds are roiling out front again.

Here are some of the artists behind the excellent Tori Amos "Comic Book Tattoo" collection.

Here is legendary comic book artist Neal Adams. As I went by, I noticed that he was not too busy, so I stopped to pay my respects. As a teenager I collected comic books that contained his artwork. I had about 300 comics with interiors drawn by him, and around 1000 covers. He brought a new dynamic to comic books, and he has huge influence on today's creators. The guy in front of me was talking to Neal about Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. That was my opening to make my intro. I said "I just sold a copy of Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, Whitman Variant, in fine condition for $21 at my booth." "You let it go for too cheap", Neal said. "I think you're right, I told the buyer that it was one of your last great works for DC. I love all the detail you put into it, especially the cover with a hundred caricatures of famous people."

I had a very nice exchange with Neal. He was very warm and kind, and there was definitely a light in his eyes this day, which the picture captures very nicely. I will remember this short meeting with great fondness.

Here's my friend Tom Orzechowski. Tom is one of the greatest comic book letterers of all time. He worked on the New X-Men from the start, and created the logo for Wolverine. Tom joined us for dinner and ice cream after the show.

Here are Joe and Dottie Ferrara owners of the incomparable Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz CA. Joe and Dottie never fail to bring a smile to my face.

Here's Milton Griepp. Back in the day, he was the president of my distributor, Capital City. Now he is the editor of a pop culture and comics news website called ICv2, or Internal Correspondence 2. He stopped by to see how things were going at the booth, and I twisted his arm to give me a little coverage on his web site. He managed to boil a half hour of conversation into a sentence. For Milton, brevity is the soul.

Here is Janelle and Steve Rude. Steve is one of my favorite artists, and is the co-creator of Nexus.

Here are front and back views taken from the middle of the floor. It's a mighty long walk across the convention floor, especially when you have to fight a near rioting crowd of freebie hungry hoards in the Hollywood infested middle sections. I really wanted to spend more time at artist's alley at the other side of the building, but I only made it once during the whole show.

To infinity and beyond!

Here's a view of our booth. Mark Arnold is hard at work behind the counter.

Another view of the booth.

Here is Maggie Thompson, editor of the Comics Buyer's Guide, and as always the smartest, friendliest, and most witty lady in the room. I always make sure to stop by and see her. Slowly but surely I am helping her to rebuild her Spider-Man #1-100 collection. You got that want list together yet Maggie?

Here's Bill Harrol, the fellow that helped me get started in San Diego by sharing a bit of table space with me. I started in 1986 at Bill's booth. He came by to let me know that it was his last year. As luck would have it, it's mine too. I'll share my reasons behind this some time. For now, I just want to put this little article, and myself, to bed!

Here are some of the cool costumes that abounded in the room. I for one, enjoy the costuming, and shame on you if you are one of the wet blankets that complain about the cosplayers. If you are too "hip" to enjoy the costumes, then perhaps you are too hip to attend a comic con. You might want to attend a plumbers convention instead. You won't have to suffer through any costumes, and you'll see just as much crack.

Here's our pal Jerry Boyd. Jerry has a great sense of humor and was cracking us up each time he visited the booth. He had a running gag going each day. He was doing a spot on imitation of Wallace Wimple, the henpecked husband on the Old-Time Radio show Fibber McGee and Molly. "Sweetie Pie won't let me buy comic books." He would say in lachrymose tones.

Here's two of the best artists in the business. It's Concrete artist Paul Chadwick, and Asto City artist Brent Anderson.

Here's a giant of an artist, creator of Warlord, and Jon Sable Freelance, Mike Grell.

Here's another shot. Mike was in a hurry to leave, but he still took the time to set up these shots, and had his friend take both of them. A brief meeting, but quite a delight. I have enjoyed his work immensely over the years.

Here is one of the things that dwell in the midsection of the "Con that was eaten by Hollywood."

More stuff from the middle of the room.

Here's Hollywood's cutest couple, luminous Amy Lumet, and her boyfriend Iron Mike Ryan. Amy and Mike stopped by our booth last year to buy matching Pure Hero Fantastic Four BMX shirts. Amy's dad Sidney is one of America's greatest directors. This year, I told Amy and Mike how much I enjoyed his latest movie "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead". Amy and Mike were quite passionate about the film and told me that they were disappointed that the studio did not do a better job of supporting and marketing it. Make sure to see this one on DVD. It's one of the best movies of recent years. You'll thank me later.

Friday was Eisner Awards night. Me and Mark were seated with Laura Hudson and Tim Leong of Comic Foundry fame. I had not met either before this evening, and they were sparkling company. Comic Foundry didn't win this time around, but I'm sure they will win in the future. After meeting Laura and Tim, I know there's no stopping this dynamic young couple.

"There's ACTORS on the @%!!##%@!! EISNERS!!!"

Here's one of my favorite artists, Mary Fleener.

It takes a big man to properly display the world's biggest comic book, and Peter David is just such a man.

Robert Rhine stopped by the booth on Saturday to sign copies of his Girls and Corpses Magazine and Calendar.

Here's Punisher star Thomas Jane. He stopped by to purchase a copy of ShockSuspenstories to have signed by EC legend Al Feldstein. Tom is a big comic book fan, and he is writing a comics series for Image called Bad Planet.

Here's Dallas Stevens, and his lovely daughter. Dallas is the owner of the great comics collection that Mile High Comics retailer Chuck Rozanski is selling. I have known Dallas for several years, and have had the pleasure of selling him a few comics.

Contrary to what some people insist, not all the people in costume are out of shape nerds. These guys had the ladies swooning in the isles. I would have gotten rich if I opened a smelling salts stand.

Here's my Comics Code approved friends Ron Murry, and Joe Field.

Here's my buddy: Gentleman, Poet, and Artist, Rafael Navarro.

Chuck Rosanski visits me and Mark Arnold at the booth. I've know Chuck for over 20 years, and he has always been amazingly generous with helpful and insightful advice. Chuck is always the smartest guy in the room.

Take two, and chuck reveals what he REALLY thinks of us.

That's it for this report. As I said earlier, the tale of why I am not setting up a booth again in San Diego after 22 consecutive years of exhibiting will have to wait for sometime in the future when I have time to properly devote to the tale. The hour is getting late (It's 2:00am now). And so to bed. If you came by the booth this year, or any other year, I thank you. Please forgive me if you were not included in the Photo Parade. Send me a note and a picture, and I'll include it in an update.

Your Pal,

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

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