|The gang was all there at Atomic Comics in Phoenix, AZ on FCBD.|
In addition, don't miss CBR's full Free Comic Book Day coverage -- including more from the Image Founders signing and reports from nine cities around the United States -- on our mobile blog, CBR Live!
Special thanks to Bridget Silvestri and Tate Hemlock for the use of the photos in this story.
by Mike Malve
|Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino with some lovely ladies! Photos by Tate Hemlock.|
The CBR crew of Jonah and Andy left to catch their plane back to Los Angeles towards the tail end of the signing as it was running late because of the monstrous, never-ending line to see these comic book luminaries. So I thought I'd give a little report on what transpired after they left.
The signing was scheduled to run to 5:00 pm but as we got a late start (it started at 1:00 pm) we all knew we would be signing until at least 6:00 pm. We capped the line at about 4:30 pm with the fans still wrapped around the building, so we knew we'd be signing for several hours beyond the set time. The line movement was a little sluggish, but that's a good thing because the creators were very talkative and super friendly with the fans and each other. They all could not stop talking, catching up about their families, projects they where working on and again about the past. It seemed I was constantly taking on the role of Line Warden Malve. I would have to tell McFarlane and Liefeld to stop yapping and keep signing! Of course, with Todd being late to the signing it caused a bottleneck at his area in the signing line. But these guys are pros and they have been through these types of signings before. I don't remember which one of them came up with the idea, but at one point I noticed Todd sitting at the tables with only Whilce and Jim Valentino still present. I asked, "Where did the other guys go?" And Valentino said, "We're doing this old school." Lee and Liefeld were outside walking the line, signing books for the late arriving fans, basically standing 'em up and mowing 'em down.
|Rob Liefeld wants you, while Marc and Bridget Silvestri stand for a photo op. Photos by Tate Hemlock.|
Dinner was a private function for all the FCBD guests at all my stores - the restaurant was booked just for us. S-Bistro chef/owner, Brian, prepared a special 5-course meal for over 30. The place was great and it had that feeling of an old school Italian restaurant on Mott Street in NY City. I loved it! I felt like a gagster ... I half expected one of my rival comic shop owners to put a hit out on me. Dinner started at 9:00 pm and since we were running so late Todd called his wife, Wanda, to join us for the evening. It was truly a relaxing fun time for all, after a very long and tiring day. The spirits were flowing along with good stories.
I started to get a bit impatient when the venue I had booked for the after party kept calling me (the party was scheduled for 10:00 pm). It was about 11:00 pm when I finally dragged everybody out of the restaurant after an impromptu sketch-fest by the Image guys. (The Bistro owner keeps plates hanging on the wall in the back of the place signed by celebrity patrons who have enjoyed meals there. I think it started with Jim Lee doing a piece, next thing I knew they where all doing their own plates.) Not to be out done by anybody, Jim Lee actually ripped out a two foot long serving tray as well! These things look great and have to be seen in person to fully understand how nice the marker art shows up on near mint, white dishes.
Cafe Azul was the perfect spot for us all to unwind with more drinks and stories. The whole bunch intermingled well, with no private little cliques or people feeling left out. Jim Lee was checking out Daniel Bradford's portfolio and giving him lots of positive feedback. I mingled and tried to spend a few minutes with everybody, as I had neglected my other three stores by staying at the Mesa Superstore all day. I even did a couple interviews for some of the media present. I would start every interview with, "You realize I have a few drinks in me, right?" Around midnight I made an official Mike Malve toast and thanked everybody for making FCBD 2008 such a huge success! The after party itself was co-hosted by Steve Borock and CGC, so I would like to publicly thank Steve and his crew for coming down and helping support the day. The festivities carried on well past closing. We tried very hard to hook an iPod to the bar's stereo so Jim Lee and his girlfriend could rock to some Journey, but alas it was one thing Mike Malve could not deliver this weekend.
As the night died down we made our way out of the party and back to the hotel ... walking distance I might add. At this point some folks took up residence in the Atomic Hospitality Suite while others just hung out in the hotel lobby while others headed home or to bed.
The whole weekend - from dinner at Todd's house on Friday to the Wizard Breakfast on Saturday morning to Erik Larsen and I on a TV news live studio feed to most likely the biggest signing in the history of Atomic Comics - it was all amazing!
FCBD is now behind us and everybody's back to the real world. In the past few days I've had lots of correspondence with these guys as I just can't seem to stop talking to them all. And after talking to them all I have a feeling they don't plan on letting years go by again without talking ...or maybe more?
Bridget Silvestri sent along some of the photos she took on FCBD, from the dinner at Todd McFarlane's house on Friday night on up to the much merriment of Saturday night. Click the images below to enlarge.