UPDATE 4:30 PM MST
Here are some more pictures from Free Comic Book Day at Atomic Comics in Phoenix.
UPDATE 3:55 PM MST
The weather situation became so desperate in Phoenix, the Image founders took a break from signing to go outside and distribute 200 bottles of water to the fans waiting in the blazing sun, courtesy of Jim Lee, who pushed a grocery cart and said to the crowd, "I am pushing water for Image Comics, so I don't want to hear any complaints about late books!
UPDATED 3:30 PM MST
"I liked your last movie," McFarlane said to the guy dressed as Spider-Man. "Too bad Venom didn't win!"
Fans are availing themselves of the opportunity to talk to the Image founders about drawing, inking and writing, some even bringing in their own work for critique.
Jim Lee's been networking, exchanging MySpace URLs and Flickr IDs with fans who want to share photos, music and artwork.
The Image founders aren't taking breaks so as to get as many fans out of the sun as possible. Bridget Silvestri confessed to us that she fears for her husband Marc's health, saying she knows he will keep signing as long as there are fans waiting. "I convinced him to take at least one bite of food in-between signings," she said.
UPDATED 2:42 MST
McFarlane has arrived! The line is 400 people deep at this point.
Erik Larsen and Whilce Portacio had a lengthy discussion about inkers, with Larsen saying that because he inks his own work, he prefers an inking collaborator to take risks and change the artwork. "It's so hard to find guys like that now," Larsen said. "Everybody's a tracer."
"Sienkiewicz!" Portacio said.
"He's not new!" Larsen responded, finishing his contibution to the jam piece being passed around to each creator. The artwork will be auctioned to benefit the Hero Initiative. "This was Whilce," Larsen said of the Savage Dragon portion of the piece. "I had to fix it. It was terrbile!"
A fan asked Larsen, "How did they coerce all you guys to come out here?"
"I don't know how that happened, actually," answered Larsen. "I think somebody lied to somebody."
A WildCATS fan said to Jim Lee, "As much as I want you on that book, if it can't happen, give Travis Charest a call!"
Jim Lee laughed pretty hard, saying, "Yeah, like that'll happen!"
UPDATED 2:10 PM MST
We're seeing lots of "Absolute Hush" signings today, but a surprising amount of obscure Image one-shots, swimsuit specials, trading cards and other such items.
Phoenix is a big supporter of Erik Larsen's "The Savage Dragon," with what seems like every other person in line bringing several issues to get signed.
One guy is insisting the Image founders sign a copy of "Batman/Superman" #26, the tribute to Jeph Loeb's son.
Silvestri signed a copy of "Conan" #135, his first work for Marvel. "Look at this Walt Simonson cover!" Silvestri said to the other Image founders. "How badass is that?" Silvestri said he drew the 1980s book at 26 pages, some of which were cut up into smaller panels and rearranged to fit in the book. "I don't even have one of these!" Silvestri's wife made arrangements with another fan to secure a copy of the book for Marc.
UPDATED 1:30 PM MST
The signing has begun, with six of seven Image founders in seats and signing right away (McFarlane has yet to arrive). The guy who waited since last night has presented Jim Lee with a drawing of his own, which Lee signed, "Looking good."
Fans are bringing all sorts of books from across the creators' careers. We'd heard earlier there was some kind of 1-book limit for autographs, but total anarchy ensued immediately. One fan brought Erik Larsen a number of books in an old Mr. Coffee appliance box.
Rob Liefeld held up a copy of "Darker Image," saying to Jim Lee, "Hey, Jim. If you want to publish the second issue of this at WildStorm..."
"Didn't we publish a second issue back then?" Lee asked.
"No!" laughed Liefeld.
A fan said to Lee, "I've been trying to meet you and get your autograph for years," explaining how he'd constantly just missed Lee at numerous conventions and hotels. To get such an early place in line, he must have been waiting for hours.
Another fan said to Lee, "You're my favorite artist ever, man. I met Dave Finch and told him that. I said, 'You're good, man, but you're no Jim Lee. And he said, 'I'm okay with that!'"
UPDATED 1:30 PM MST
We're reliably informed the signing is to begin shortly. In the meantime, here's more photos from Free Comic Book Day at Atomic Comics in Phoenix.
UPDATED 12:30PM MST
The Image founders signing at Atomic Comics has been pushed back to 1:00 PM due to the late arrival of Jim Lee's aeroplane, giving us a chance to talk to some of the fans lined up around the building. We tried desperately to find some fanboy rage in the crowd, something to make this story really sensational -- maybe someone who's still waiting for the years-late issue of some classic Image title -- but everybody seems geuinely eager to get their comics signed and meet the Image founders.
"I haven't seen a signing line like this since the '80s," said Jonah.
"It's crazy and it's nuts and it's freaking me out, but ultimately everybody's reallyf riendly and very cooperative," said Michael, an Atomic associate, who said this is the biggest FCBD event the store's seen since the first one.
These guys have been waiting outside since early this morning, mainly to see Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane.
We spoke with another fan -- the very first guy in line, supposedly their since late last night -- who refused to give us his name or allow himself to be photographed, but did bring with him an impressive stack of '90s comics for the Image founders to sign.
Earlier today, Erik Larsen appeared on a local newscast to promote Free Comic Book Day, drawing a picture while speaking with the anchors, who posed with Larsen for the picture below:
The line has continued to grow as we update this report:
Welcome to CBR's coverage of the Image Comics founders signing for Free Comic Book Day at Atomic Comics just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Featuring Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Mark Silvestri and Jim Valentino, the event is an historic one, as this is to the best of the founders' recollection the only time they've ever signed together in the same comic book store.
The group met last night for their first party in sixteen years, hosted by "Spawn" creator Todd McFarlane at his home here in Arizona. Atomic Comics proprietor Mike Malve attended the dinner, and captured the following image to give fans an idea of what the evening was like.
|Clockwise starting from left: Andrea Malve, Jim Valentino, Whilce Portacio, Jon Goff, Mike Malve, Todd McFarlane, Wanda Kolomyjec, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, Joy Liefeld, Rob Liefeld|
In a previous conversation with CBR News, Mike Malve detailed how exactly he managed to corral the Image founders for the event, and said of Free Comic Book Day, "I try to generate as much buzz as we can every year for FCBD... We always bring charities aboard during FCBD weekend. We’ve been able to raise thousands of dollars for various charities via art auctions, artist sketches or special VIP events. Donations have been generated for the Ronald McDonald House, East Valley Child Crisis Center, the Heard Museum, the Arthritis Foundation, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids, the Hero Initiative, and many others."
In addition the decidedly high-profile guests, Atomic Comics' festivities will also include performers hired from Marvel Characters Appearance Program Company to provide children with a sanctioned and licensed, trained Spider-Man and other fun characters to interact with, as well as other activites and giveaways.
CBR News will be reporting live from the event throughout the day, along with time-lapsed photography of the signing, which begins at 12:00 MST.
If you're in the Phoenix/Mesa area, be sure to stop by Atomic Comics at 1120 South Country Club #105, Mesa, AZ 85210.
For more on CBR's extensive coverage of Free Comic Book Day throughout the country, stay with CBR Live for updates from:
- Seattle, WA -- CBR’s George Tramountanas
- Portland, OR -- Dark Horse’s Scott Allie and Oni Press’ James Lucas Jones
- San Francisco, CA -- Image Comics’ Joe Keatinge
- Los Angeles, CA -- CBR’s Pinguino Kolb, Remy Minnick and Matt Murphy, plus Top Cow’s Filip Sablik and writer Joshua Hale Fialkov
- Anaheim, CA -- CBR’s Michael Sullivan
- Phoenix, AZ -- CBR’s Jonah Weiland and Andy Khouri, plus Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins
- Dallas, TX (at CAPE) -- CBR’s Dale Philbrick
- Columbus, OH -- CBR’s Robert Taylor
- New York City, NY -- CBR’s Shaun Manning and David Press