FANATIC R.S.V.P. from writer MARTIN POWELL
This is a red-letter day at Funny Book Fanatic. One of the goals I’ve had for a while is to get others in the comic business to share their “behind the scenes” stories. I’ve had a lot of nibbles, but the first comic book professional to answer my invitation is the multi-talented Martin Powell.
I’ve frankly been struggling with this introduction because if you go to Wikipedia (my usual crutch in situations like this) you’ll only find a British musician and a 19th Century baseball player from the Detroit Wolverines.
Martin Powell is very familiar to me (because as you’ll read below), he was one of our g0-to writers at Malibu Comics. He wrote at least eight different comic titles/series for Malibu. Scarlet in Gaslight (a story where Sherlock Holmes met Dracula) was nominated for a 1989 Will Eisner Comics Industry Award (it lost to the Stan Lee/Mobius Silver Surfer mini-series).
Most recently, you can find Martin Powell work over at Moonstone Books, where he’s contributed to books about pulp heroes The Spider, The Avenger and Captain Midnight. If you read more about Martin Powell, the best resource I found is the 10 questions he answered for ComicsCareer.com. You’ll even get to see a picture of him standing next to the Batmobile. Or you can check out his blog HERE.
And I’ll always be a little jealous of Martin because he gets to wake up each morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. Now … on with the story.
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BLEEDING THE LADY
by Martin Powell
Back in the early 90s I was a guest creator at Dragon Con, in Atlanta. I was freelancing for several publishers then, but most of my work was for and I was seated at their table. This was the first time I met some of my editors in person, such as Chris Ulm and Roland Mann, although we’d already worked together for a few years. They couldn’t have been nicer, and made me feel very welcome. It was a good time, and very memorable to me for a number of reasons.
This particular adventure started while I was checking into the hotel. A very unhappy guest was in the line ahead of me, angrily complaining to the perpetually smiling young woman behind the front desk. His language was foul and heated, but was also uncannily eloquent as cursing and swearing goes. I couldn’t quite make out what the problem was, but it seemed to finally be resolved after a few minutes. The guest then turned sharply and banged right into me. Our eyes met, his seething, mine aghast.
He grumbled a low apology and disappeared in the elevator. Later that evening horror authorasked me if I was attended “Bob’s Party”.
“Bob?” I wondered.
“Bob Bloch. He’s having a party in his hotel room. All the horror guys will be there. You should come, too.”
I stammered something about not being invited.
“Aw, hell,” Brian scoffed back, “I’m inviting you. Forry (Ackerman) will be there, too. It’ll be a snort.”
I’m not sure why, but I didn’t go to the party. I was still so new to the business, having been published for only about six years, at that time, that somehow I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Hadn’t paid my dues. Something like that. I still regret not going, though. What a wasted chance, if I was worthy or not. I was probably really the only person there who even cared about that kind of thing.
Robert Bloch died a few months later.
The next day, during the con, I was sitting at the Malibu table signing copies of the Necroscope comic book I’d recently written, a horror series based on Brian Lumley’s best-selling vampire books. It was a lively crowd and everyone was very upbeat and having a great time.
Then, I saw the fan.
She was beautifully grotesque, very tall, very thin, and very pale. Dressed as a sort of Goth scarecrow, her floor-length black trench coat dragged two pairs of plastic baby-doll arms from the ragged hem behind her. We made eye contact and the fan smiled, displaying dazzling white teeth behind the black lipstick. Despite the bizarre masquerade she wasn’t in the least unattractive, especially when she smiled. I was actually a bit captivated.
“Would you sign these?” she handed me several issues of the Necroscope comic.
The fan told me her name was “Dark Amy“. I duly scribbled across the covers with a silver pen, and handed them back, thanking her.
Her dark green eyes never blinked.
“I love these books. You changed my life,” she droned, lifelessly except for her moistening eyes.
I wanted to apologize for that, but quickly concluded that she must have thought I was Brian. Without leaving my gaze, she fished around in a big leather shopping bag and offered me thirteen roses, spray-painted black, wrapped in shiny spiked handcuffs.
“I brought these for you,” she whispered, and then hastily retreated.
It was kind of sweet really. I’d never received flowers from a fan before, even if they probably were meant for Brian. Obviously, I’ve never forgotten her.
I continued signing comics and posters throughout the afternoon, clumsily cutting myself on the handcuff spikes more than once. After another fan accidentally injured herself on them, too, I knew that the black blossoms had to go, or someone was going to get blood-poisoning or worse. The only trashcan close to my table was already so full it was spilling over. I certainly wouldn’t want to hurt Dark Amy’s feelings if she floated by again and saw her precious blooms heaped among the common paper cups and McDonald’s bags. What was I to do?
Then, I noticed a certain female horror author, who was also a guest at Dragoncon. I scooped up the flowers (painfully jabbing myself again in the process), and caught up with the lady writer. Rapidly introducing myself, I explained that a fan had giving me the flowers, but I felt that she deserved them more. The lady beamed a appreciative grin and cuddled the roses close, then squeaked out an “Ouch!”, suddenly slightly bleeding from her thumb.
I still feel a bit guilty about making the horror lady bleed.
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Thanks Martin Powell. I appreciate it.
All you comic professional fanatics, answer the clarion call to send me your instructive and reasonably interesting story behind the scenes of the funny book business.
NEXT: 2nd String Character Hall of Fame stuff
AFTER THAT: Origin of Malibu Comics Part Four
If you’re looking for my next Brent Anderson story, you’re just going to have to wait, there is a story developing that may be even better than the one I had attended. Stay tuned!
– Dave Olbrich (DWO) Wed. Feb. 25, 2009