The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

Tonight, I am deeply looking forward to an easy dinner, some American Idol, maybe throwing in a load of laundry, and then the sweet, sweet release of sleep. Lest I forget, all of that will be after a stop to take care of a little 'cookie bidness'.

After a pretty hectic five day stretch at Castle Anthrax, I could use a day or two in slow motion. I know I’m not the only one at my house who would vote for that plan, as well.

Many of you know that last fall, Scott McCloud kicked off a nationwide tour promoting his new book and speaking all over the country. He's hitting all 50 states, in fact. To make a short story long, Tony Collett brought it to my attention. I admit it. I’m not usually in that loop. (And for our northern brethren, he will be speaking in Indianapolis today!)

Because Scott McCloud, and his wife, Ivy, are old school chums (and fellow Syracuse University alums) of Highlander’s, I thought it would be cool, if they were going to come through River City, to surprise H by setting up a visit. And so, last fall, I shot Scott a note inviting him, and his family, to have dinner at our place (with no mention of pot roast, btw). Now, I’d never met Scott (or Ivy) previously, but, well, that’s unlikely to stop me on this type of mission. Shocking to you, I know.

For those of you (and I know that list is pretty small with my readership) who don’t know him (and I admit that I’d never heard the name before meeting Highlander), Scott McCloud is one of the most influential names in the comics industry right now. I hesitate to say that he’s best known for his ZOT! series, because his Understanding Comics has literally become a textbook at universities and art schools all over the country (and likely abroad, as well). Scott’s scholarly work on the art of comics is very well-respected and he is known, and admired, by virtually everyone who is anyone (and a bunch who aren’t) in the business.

At the time, Scott wasn’t sure whether he’d be in River City during his tour (dates/venues hadn’t been booked that far in advance at that point), so he said he’d keep us in mind and I made myself a note to check back with him in February/March, which is when he expected to be in this part of the country.

I checked in on his blog last week and noted that he was going to be speaking at River City University on March 6th, so I shot him another note and renewed our invitation. Ever gracious, Scott indicated that because of his surreal travel schedule, he couldn’t work out a visit to our place, but invited us to meet up with him after the lecture and that he and Ivy (and their girls) would love to take us out to dinner. Their treat.

My girls, who are comic-book geeks in their own right, were giddy with the prospect. Highlander, not wanting to seem like a fanboy of someone he knew on such a different level, was a little reluctant, but we opted to take advantage of the offer, as it may be another 25 years before he’d get the opportunity to see old gaming buddies.

Because of Highlander’s work schedule, we got to the lecture already in progress. Which was unfortunate, because it was beyond “standing room only”. There were people crowded at each of the two doors to the auditorium, making it difficult for us to see much of the visual presentation. Scott had called the house earlier in the day and offered to save us a few seats, but we knew we would be pretty late and [Kid 1] thanked him for the offer, but let him know that we’d work it out when we got there.

Scott’s daughters didn’t attend the lecture, but Ivy was there. So, after the lecture, as half the auditorium filed out and the other half lined up to personally meet "the man", H took [Kid 1], [Kid 2], and I to meet Mrs. McCloud. She may be the bubbliest person I’ve ever met, and it was quite fun to think that she’s probably slowed down since college. She talked a little about the tour and the kids and then she and H reminisced a little about their Cinema Board days at S.U. I could see Scott, from the corner of my eye, trying to work his way towards us, but it was okay, we really understood.

One kind of bizarre note, the one other person we knew that was there, was a former co-worker of Highlander’s. It was ‘Bobo’, from his floor maintenance days at our neighborhood grocery. I remember looking up and seeing him and being struck with this kind of "well that’s weird" feeling. I’d have never guessed that Bobo even knew who Scott McCloud was.

Oh, and I nearly forgot, Highlander and brought along a custom heroclix piece he's had for some time, as a gift for Scott. A ZOT! figure that seemed to genuinely touch both Scott and Ivy.

Eventually, Scott’s adoring fans had been sated and he greeted me with a very warm smile and a warmer handshake. Truly happy to meet me and the girls, and obviously pleased to see Highlander after such a long time. Scott (as Ivy had before him) mentioned that his girls were at the hotel and they were going to pick them up before we went to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

I just want to note that Sky and Winter McCloud hit it off immediately with my older girls, though I wish [Kid 3] had been with us, as I think she and Winter would have been a pair to behold!

Much lively talk of comics, tv (they're SPORTS NIGHT fans, too,go figure?), movies and, oddly, this video. (Okay, and a few tales of old to keep things interesting.) A few other folks from the River City University art department joined us, as well. It was a lovely visit, cut far too short because of school schedules. I’m delighted, though, that we had the opportunity. H, to see old friends in a new place/time in his life, and me to see some parts of his history up close that I’d only ever read about.

Before we got away, though, Highlander had suggested that [Kid 1] bring along her sketchbook for Scott to peruse, insisting that Scott often enjoyed looking at young artists’ work. It very much seemed to be true, as Scott looked at each sketch offering suggestions and comments on most of them. Encouraging her to keep with it and letting her know that she had real talent. She was, simply put, glowing. Basking in his praise until we had to drag her from the table. It was an incredibly sweet gesture on his part and I, for one, deeply appreciated him taking the time with her.

We’ve invited them to come see us again when they are in town. Of course, their tour continues until August and then their girls will be back in a more traditional school setting. We just hope they can make it sometime sooner than 25 more years.


Blogger AaA said...

Wow, that is really great, someone bucking the system like that.

(It's long-established fact that if one finds success in the comics industry, one is under no obligation to treat those who have not yet done so as even human, let alone as peers, or acknowledge former friendships as 'Burt Kusiek' could attest.)

Nice to know that there are still a few post-fame class acts out there...

3/12/2007 1:07 PM  

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