Wednesday, March 23, 2011

about assorted autographs

 Days Remaining to Next Beer: 357
Drawing and pints are like Fringe and kettle corn or liverwurst and butter or fish and bicycles to me, and all of those things are better with friends. And with friends and pints come dedications and cheers, generally expressions of respect, or celebration, or to acknowledge something notable. Asking for an autograph, to me, is the same sort of thing, a show of respect, and something to show others that you respect someone's work, their excellence at their respective craft, and perhaps their speck of appreciation for you, the fan, for digging what they do.

I've met autograph hunters that resell the autographs, that don't want the autographs personalized. This makes little sense to me. Although I did once buy an autographed copy of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club at the University of Oregon bookstore where he'd been the week before as an alumni reading excerpts of his new novel for students and signed a stack of books for the bookstore to sell proudly. I'll be honest, at the time, I had no idea who he was, probably most folks didn't yet. He'd just been nominated for a literary award for the tome, which likely lead to getting optioned for the film rights leading to the luscious film adaptation that remains a favorite of mine, and of many people's I'm sure, and helped make Chuck Palahniuk a household name, despite how tricky to spell his last name is. I picked up the book because of the bar of soap on the cover, the clear Neutrogena sort of Another Roadside Attraction tse-tse fly Jurassic mosquito trapped in amber soap, not the pink one from the film poster the paper back versions used.

Intrigued, I picked up one copy and did the "would I read all of this, there's so many words?" test. The test is simple, I'd randomly flip a book open in three places and read only a paragraph, whatever my eye fell on. I'd do this in three spots, and ask if what I'd read had intrigued my curiosity enough that I'd want to bother to read through to find out what everything I'd read meant in context. With Fight Club, I only read one short passage and head for the counter to give someone my money. The passage involved someone sticking a bent prawn into tomato soup.

Later reading the passage in context revealed I'd misinterpreted part of the passage, there'd been no female partner or "time of month" involved. I'd been on target close enough with the bent prawn bit to know I held a book I needed to read, ingest, and enjoy thoroughly.

I am Chuck's adoring fan. And I happened to have bought his autograph in a book from a university bookstore, the one across the street where the Blues Brothers once performed as a practice gig. I've only purchased one other pre-autographed book, a preview / pre-release / reviewers print of The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer signed by Neil Stephenson. Loaned the book once to someone that earned their living in a pub cafe kitchen, gave the volume that added texture and fluffy yet ruddy travelled fullness it really needed to suit the epic yarn contained therein.

I've once held a curly Q of autographed plastic dog poo that Chuck'd left his Sharpie Hancock on at a book signing in Seattle, one of the many poos he'd thrown out into an excited mob of an audience, fights broke out, fillings were loosened. The poo belonged to a manager at EA, not one I knew remotely well enough to palm her celebrity poo. My insane colleagues Ludo and Mo were pals with her though so they had no such reservations about touching her poo and making it their crown jewel in their "guest chair", a porcelain toilet bowl fixture they pooled their resources to purchase and use public transit to bring back to the EA campus in Burnaby.

 Not speaking of Star Wars, I wrote some content for Mark Hamill when I helped out Blake, the writer for the Starsiege and Tribes universe, while I worked on those games in Eugene. As a fun way to say thanks for my help, Blake arranged for my 45 record storybook to be sent down to wherever Mark would be doing the pick ups for a couple of the characters he did the voice work for, and let me sit in on the conference call during the recording session so I could briefly chat with Mark and humbly ask for a rather specific autograph, one that started back when I stood in a line up utterly star struck to be standing in front of William Gibson, and stuck dumb, couldn't think of anything clever to ask for. I think on both occasions there might have been some teething style drooling involved.


I'd later get to briefly meet William Gibson at a book signing in Cincinnati with my partner at the time named Lisa and my long time arch rival best buddy Jed.

When in 9th grade reading Neuromancer on the porch of my Uncle Pete & Aunt Elaine's house, it was the pulp mass release edition with the Rick Berry cover, the same art I'd years later trade a pencil drawing of my Rickets character emerging like The Spirit from a lake with a fish hanging out of his trousers for a signed print of the cover art from Neuromancer of from the Rick himself. 

I later sold that Rickets character of mine to a talented artist in NYC named Celia Calle. Still waiting for her to do something with it, whatever she does, I'm confident it'll be snappy. Or someday I'll buy it back.

Through the years I've collected a pretty eclectic mix of scribbles from some very remarkable people. I don't typical stalk stars or anything, and when I encounter anyone I respect for their work or contributions to the world, I tend to get a bit shied into submission, so I'm not keen to thrust myself into situations where I'm curl up and shake like an embryo on methamphetamine.

My favorite sort of autograph though isn't a signature, not like you'd find on a check anyway. It's a trade, particularly an art trade, and through the years I've traded a lot of pieces with artists I respect, admire, and have learned from.

Case in point, my pal Butch. I met Butch at the very first San Diego Comicon in one of the Artist Alleys, he had this character called Lily he'd put onto the face of a clock, and I knew I had to have that clock in my office. The clock is still ticking away in my office, and Butch is still ticking away at a myriad of art and sculptural projects on the go.

Butch and I exchange info, turned out we worked in similar industries, both tech, and had similar blue collar sorts of backgrounds, his construction, mine in kitchens. OK, his was harder. Any rate, the next time we ran into one another at a later San Diego Comicon, we got pints, then overnight in our respective hotel rooms banged out killer doodles to swap the following day. Both a challenge to impress and an sure sign of mutual respect. Here's his, so solid.

I just. just realized / remembered what Butch's character's name is. Uncanny, cause upon meeting my newborn son 8 months ago fresh out of the womb, no other name seemed right.

Also, can't forget  how many other types of autographs their are out there. Like pop pix or snap shots or whatever you want to call awkwardly posturing with a celebrity or person you dig as though the two of you are fast, life long friends or you've just handed them a briefcase full of cash and replacement kidneys. For instance when I told the lead singer of Korn I'd show him the Scarface game in the preview booth in exchange for a photo op:

he may or may not have pinched my bum. Crispin Glover definitely did not pinch my bum.

Lastly, a cheers to friends and family that have gotten autographs for me when the unlikely circumstances arose and there was little to no chance I could teleport there in time to get said signatures or pop shots myself.

Like my multiple as in many time toy art custom collaborator Chad Mount did through his sister that works for the agency that represents Carrot Top and Rick Springfield in Vegas...

...Or my separated at birth surrogate sibling Alex did through his lighting and rigging staffing company's connections with the Toronto showings of the Evil Dead Musical...

For more snaps of some of my favorite autographs, check out my Flickr page.



  1. That would be awesome, Butch! we should totally do another art swap. And I'm getting a toy in the mail for you once I'm back in Vancouver. Noice!