LET'S LEVEL WITH LEE!

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CHARLES BURNS SIGNING A SMASH!


This week's Metro.

Thanks to all who attended our Charles Burns signing at our Mountain View store yesterday (Tuesday, October 26th, 2010.) We had a great turn-out! around a hundred people came, and we sold lots of copies of "X-ed Out" and "Black Hole." The event was cover-featured in this week's issue of the Metro, with a great article by Richard von Busack. Make sure to read it on-line if you didn't get a printed copy. It's an excellent, and article. I couldn't be happier about it.

Going into the event, I was a little apprehensive since it was on a weekday instead of a week-end. In addition, it was on Tuesday, the day before the shipment arrives, traditionally one of our slowest days. In addition, it was at noon, rather than in the evening, when people were off work. I was afraid that these factors would reduce turn-out, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a great turn-out, and a line for most of the signing time. The line was not too bad, and once you got to the front, Charles spent time with you, so it was well worth the short wait.

The people who attended appreciate what a great artist Burns is, so they managed to fit it into their schedule. I heard quite a few people say that Black Hole was their favorite graphic novel, so those that attended were quite thrilled to meet Charles, and to get that, and his new book signed. Lots of people came up to me and thanked me for putting on the event, and to them, I thank them for the support.

I was also a little worried about meeting Charles. His comics are some of the most genuinely spooky that I've ever read. Also, his pictures and self-portraits suggest that he might be a stern fellow. I was quite pleasently surprised to find Charles to be a nice, down to earth fellow. He's considerate, and smiles easily. He is also a reserved and quiet individual. I have a feeling that it would take a while to really get to know him.

He was very gracious with the fans. He signed everything presented to him, including the event flier, copies of the metro, and "Brick By Brick" the Iggy Pop album that he did the cover for. He posed for photos with anyone who asked. To my complete amazement, he did sketches for anyone who asked, and apologized that the quality was not as high as he could produce if he was at home.


Brick By Brick by Iggy Pop, 1990 illustrated by Charles Burns.


Hanging out at these events, you get to hear some great stores. Someone asked him about getting the assignment for the Iggy Pop cover. He said that he heard from his agent that a record label wanted to see some samples of his work. He was not too thrilled about having to audition until he asked who the recording artist was, and he was informed that it was Iggy Pop. He sent samples in right away by Federal Express. They liked what they saw, and they wanted a cover "yesterday", so Burns scrambled, and whipped it up. He delivered the original art to Iggy Pop in person at Iggy's Manhattan penthouse. Iggy loved it! Allan Ginsburg was there that day, taking lots of pictures. He was supposed to be the photographer for the back cover of the album, so somewhere there's lots of pictures of Iggy Pop and Charles Burns taken by Allan Ginsburg.

After the signing, I took Charles, and David, the literary agent that was driving him around, out to lunch. In conversation, I found out that Charles has two daughters, just like I do. He also mentioned that they both ave very different personalities beginning from their earliest years. The same as mine. They used to get embarrassed by some of the very ordinary things that he did in public, just like mine do. It was interesting to see that we both had some of the same experiences with our daughters.

I felt very privileged to get in on Charles Burns' book tour. He stopped at quite a few book stores, but I believe that Lee's Comics was the only comic book store on the tour. Burns is one of my favorite creators, and it was a pleasure to meet him, and to give the local fans a chance to meet him too. I'm going to keep working to try to bring the very best comics creators to Lee's Comics. Make sure you join my mailing list, so I can tell you about future events.

Here are some photos from the signing, presented in chronological order:

















Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MEET CHARLES BURNS



I'm very happy to announce our next artist signing here at Lee's Comics. It's with the great graphic novel creator Charles Burns. Charles is famous for many works including Black Hole, which is widely considered one of the best graphic novels of all time.

We will be celebrating the release of Mr. Burns' brand new hardcover graphic novel from Pantheon Books, X'ed Out. It is all original story and art that has not appeared before in any format.

Meet Charles Burns in Person
Free and open to the public
Tuesday, October 26th
Noon to 2:00pm

Lee's Comics
1020-F N. Rengstorff Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 965-1800
www.Lcomics.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GOING APE

Mark Arnold and I traveled to San Francisco on Saturday to check out the APE (Alternative Press Expo). For most of the previous years, I have set up a booth there. It's so much easier to just go have a look, than to sell. I brought some postcards about our upcoming Charles Burns signing to drop off at the center. I saw a lot of interesting books and bought a few to read at home. Mark and I left around 2:00 pm.


More Trash From Mad #12

I just bought a collection of Mad Magazines and had an issue of More Trash From Mad #12 from 1969. These Mad Specials contained various inserts. This particular issue had "pocket medals". One of the medals was missing, so I figured that I would remove the rest of them, and bring them to the APE. Now and then, when I ran into someone interesting, I looked through the stack and presented them with a pocket medal. I still have a few of them left. Who knows, I might present one to YOU next!


Some of the "Pocket Medals"

I'm thinking that I might want to start doing a booth again next year. It's a good way to promote the stores, talk to people and hand out business cards and flyers. It's much better to have a booth as a base, than to just wander around the floor aimlessly. If I step away completely from setting up at Bay Area conventions for too long, people may start to forget about Lee's Comics. Economics are tough these days, so a little extra work might be warranted. It sure is nice to just walk in and out of the convention hall at your leisure rather than getting up at the crack of dawn, forming several tons of boxes into a sales area, and then being on your feet selling all day.


With two former Lee's Comics employees,
James Walker and John Fleskes of Flesk publications.



A couple of nutty guys selling Jack Chick religious
mini comics, and parodies and histories of them.
I bought a bunch!



Here's a display of the Chick Tracts.
Photo by Mark Arnold.



With Rafael Navarro. Note his pocket medal.
Photo by Mark Arnold.




Award winning Michael Aushanker.
Photo by Mark Arnold.



The Award Winning Keith Knight.
Photo by Award Winning Mark Arnold.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

STUFF THAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BUT ONLY RECENTLY LEARNED


Steranko's Nick Fury #4. Op art meets pop art

Did you ever learn or figure out something that in retrospect, seemed so obvious that it's hard to believe that you didn't know about it in the first place? I sure hope so, because here's my list of STUFF THAT I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BUT ONLY RECENTLY LEARNED.

Arby's
You know the place that makes those yummy roast beef sandwiches? Well the name is the initials of the product that they sell, but spelled out phonetically into a name. R. B. for Roast Beef. Connie could not believe that I didn't know that. Did you know that? Sometimes you don't really think about things because they are right under your nose. You don't think they have deeper meaning.

Chips Ahoy
I didn't realize that the name of this popular cookie is a take-off on "Ship Ahoy!" When I first heard about this cookie I had a limited vocabulary. My knowledge of the cookie pre-dates my knowledge of the phrase so I just took it for granted.

Rock The Vote
I don't have any excuse here. I really should have realized that this was a take-off on "Rock the Boat."

Namor (The Sub-Mariner)
Didn't realize that this famous Marvel Comics character's name it the word "Roman" spelled backward. He's kind of like a Roman Emperor. That's more of a tough one, you probably don't look at names backwards looking for meaning all the time ether.

Rom (Spaceknight)
I didn't realize that Rom's name is short for Romany, meaning gypsy. He is a gypsy that roams around the galaxy.

Cloak and Dagger
For some reason, it didn't occur to me that this team's name was a take-off on a slang term for spy fiction. That's because you could clearly see the girl's cloak, and the dude's daggers. I didn't think about the name any further! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees!

I'll be updating this list from time-to-time as I think of new ones.

BB Gun
What are the BBs that a BB gun shoots. BB is short for Ball Bearing.

Tony the Tiger
You know how Tony the Tiger, say's "It's Grrrrrrrrate!" I didn't realize that he elongated the Grrrr because he's a tiger, And Tigers say Grrrrr. It wasn't untill McGruff the crime dog came on the scene and used pretty much the same gag, that I caught on. What's the Armstrong's Roofing guy's excuse (Three sevens, Aaaaaaaand a one two three four!) He's not dog or tiger (But he is dead.)


Pop Music
I didn't realize that this was short for Popular Music. It seemed like it was music that Popped. Around the same time I heard about Pop Art, I heard about Op art, which I knew used optical illusion. Steranko used a lot of it in his art. But what about "pop guns" or "pop rocks" the pop in those are not short for "popular." The items make a popping sound.

Pulp Culture
I didn't realize that this popular book on Pulp Magazine art was a take-off on "Pop Culture", or Popular Culture. Perhaps others didn't realize it as well, as there were other books on subjects other than Pulp magazines published in the same format that still used the word "Culture" thus elimating the play on words entirely. "Comics Culture" is one of the titles.

I will update the list from time to time when I think of more things that I didn't know at the time, but should have been obvious to me.

HUNG UPSIDE DOWN

This song is new to my ears, but it's going through my head a lot these days.



The band is Buffalo Springfield. The band included Neil Young, Steven Stills, and Richie Furay. They will be playing together for the first time in over 40 years, in Mountain View on October 23rd and 24th. My wife and I will be attending with friends.


Here's Bluebird, one of their best songs, and for my money, one of the best songs of all time.


Here's their one and only big hit. It is one of the big theme songs of the 1960s. By now, you probably guessed that I love Buffalo Springfield, and you would be right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

IS THIS THE AL JAFFEE'S MAD LIFE REVIEW?



If you are reading this, then you're probably a fan of Al Jaffee. You know and love him for his Mad Fold-ins, his Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, his Mad Inventions, and his hysterically funny writing and artwork for Mad Magazine.

There is a new biography about Jaffee called "Al Jaffee's Mad Life." It is written by Mary-Lou Weisman, and profusely illustrated by Al Jaffee himself. There is a color drawing on almost every other page. Most of them are brand new for this volume, and they add wonderful details to the story. Jaffee's story would be remarkable just for the great comics work he's done. Did you know that one of his first jobs was working for the 18 year old wonder-kid Stan Lee at the company that was to become Marvel Comics. Did you know that his best friend in school was Mad's Rembrant, Will Elder? Another classmate was Harvey Kurtzman?


Jaffee's father could draw characters from the Sunday Funnies, to the delight of his children.

What makes this biographical book so remarkable is the harrowing life that Jaffee and his led. His eccentric and deeply religious mother took him and his brothers from America to Lithuania, not once but twice. He lived in abject poverty and was narrowly rescued from the holocaust by his father.

It's all true, and it's one of the most remarkable and compelling biographies that I've read. It's a must-read if you are a Mad magazine fan, or just a comics fan in general. This is a biography that rises to the level of great fiction.



An assembly line of children producing paintings of airplanes for sale at local stores. The group includes Al Jaffee and Will Elder.

ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK



The Social Network is currently the #1 movie in the country. It is about the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg. Facebook headquarters is just a few miles away from my Mountain View store, where I am writing this. I don't know how accurate the portrait of Zuckerburg is in this movie. Jessie Eisenberg, in an outstanding performance, portrays him as a very smart, but a completely anti-social person. In the first scene, he is so creepy to his one-and-only girlfriend, that she leaves him for good. It's a wonder she gave him the time of day in the first place. By most accounts Zuckerburg is a much more normal and well-adjusted person in real life the way he portrayed in the film. He supposedly has friends, and even a long-term girlfriend.

Throughout the movie, new innovations for Facebook are presented as if they are brand new inventions. Take the invention of the status update, which is an a-ha moment in the film. I always thought that Facebook was pretty much the same as MySpace, with all the same bells and whistles. Did Facebook really introduce new features to the world, or was it just a slight improvemnt over previous such sites? People got tired of MySpace for some reason, and migrated over to Facebook. I'm assuming that sooner or later, Facebook will be pase' and everyone will switch over to the newest thing. I've seen so many social networks come and go that I'm getting social network fatigue. I'm tired of setting up new profiles and pictures and inviting people to join. I've been on My Space, Comic Space, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and too many others to remember. I do have an account on Facebook, but I scarcely do anything except to okay friend requests. I see most of this social networking as a complete waste of time. I haven't even logged in to Myspace for over a year.

So, perhaps Facebook is not so vital and revolutionary. Perhaps Zuckerburg is much more normal than portrayed in the film. One thing is extraordinary, and that is the film making. This is a hell of a good movie. It's fast and smart. It moves quickly and the dialouge is cleaver. The music and cinamatography are first rate. Justin Timberlake is great in a supporting role as Sean Parker, creator of Napster. Who knew that Timberlake could convincingly portray a rock star? A bit of a stretch, but he pulls it off!

Make sure to see The Social Network, not necessarily for the historical value (if you want that, read a bio), but for the film making. This might well be the best picture of the year. It is especially interesting if you live in the middle of Silicon Valley, where Apple, Ebay, Facebook took hold of the newest frontier.

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