July 23,2011. California. Berkely to be more exact. The weather is fairly calm, neither too hot nor too cold. So perfect that my make up isn’t completely sweating off. Well, some of it has, but that’s genetics, not my surroundings. As I sit on the bus and anticipate the events to come, my mind races. How many people will be there? Will the people running it be cool? Will this whole thing bomb?
Well I have good news on all fronts. It was a positive event all around. This was the first event thrown by Fantastic Comics, so it would appear that both the store and myself would be popping our proverbial cherries together. It’s always relief when your not the only one learning to swim in the deep end. I’ve only just moved to the area, so I had not yet found the time to work my way over there and see what the place was all about. While I had certainly heard great things about it from a friend, I am very much the sort of person who believes things when he sees them.
Arriving early, I took time to look around before being greeted by the two lovely ladies that had masterminded this event. Stephanie, adorned in a Starfleet uniform, was the first person I spoke with. We’d briefly conversed through email, mostly me RSVPing and so forth. Her chipper attitude lit up the room and was soon matched by Paige, a tall redhead who had yet to don her costume at that point, and someone I could best describe as the Poison Ivy to Stephanie’s Harley Quinn. They were in the middle of setting up the very unique tables which you can see in some of the photos in this article. So I found the spot I would call home for the afternoon. After ditching my wares, I had plenty of time to scope the place out and prepare for the event to start.
This was a good event to break one in on. It was neither too large nor was it too small. It had a nice flow of customers coming and going as they all stopped and checked out the different artists that had been featured by the store. I was sitting next to a fairly cool cat by the name of Byron Edwards, who’s graffitti style definitely caught the attention of all who passed by. His art was very free flowing, and it appeared he created it as he went. I love artists like that who simply enjoy the medium, and you can often see that reflected in their work.
At the table to my right was another group, consisting of Paige (yes half of the duo that arranged this little gathering) and with her was a man by the name of Eugene Randolph Young. Eugene’s style was drastically different from mine, Byron’s, and even Paige’s. His art was heavily rendered, and I’d assume he painted a lot of it in photoshop, but I could be wrong. Either way, it had a nice painted feeling to it and he had a pretty good selection up for sale and display. His presentation was top notch as he had them in bags and matted them to give a gallery-like feel. Paige was probably one of my favorite artists there, demonstrating a very professional style. In fact, her’s was (aside from my own) perhaps the closest to what I would describe as comic book-style art. I took a quick glance through her portfolio and was definitely amused by what I found. Between her cute characters and the understanding of anatomy that she clearly possessed, I found myself wondering why she isn’t working for one of the major publishers.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the table to the left of mine, which was home to an artist who specialized in creating custom hats. If Ian Howard Young’s hat didn’t grab your attention, his superhero outfit definitely would. With a cape and mask, he represented Oakland to the fullest. Though a little quieter than most of the others, he didn’t have to worry because his outfit spoke louder then words. It truly added a lot of fun to the atmosphere of the event.
But what is any event without the people that host it? You can’t talk about this one without talking about the owners of Fantastic Comics, Uel and his brother. I spent most of my time talking to Uel, who is, to say the least, a very entertaining guy. He made it easy to feel relaxed there, and showed a true appreciation for the world we call comics. He spent plenty of time talking to everyone, and even helped me pick out some good comics to read, which I plan to review for Comic Booked. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope they continue to host events like this. I can’t help but think that once a year is not nearly often enough, and I’ll be sure to harass them about holding events for movie releases and the like. I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure others will be more then willing to drag their art tools back out any time the good people at Fantastic Comics called.
So for my first event, it was a smash. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the same is true for the store. If you live in the area and you haven’t yet visited them, well, you need to do something about that. Make your way there as soon as you can, and you’ll not only find a new home for all of your comic book need but some new friends as well. Tell them Gacey sent ya.