I don’t think that I’ve ever worked with comic writer Peter David. We know each other. We exchange greetings at conventions. Regrettably, I’ve never had a chance to work with Peter David, which is one of the reasons that make this next story so extraordinary.
It had to have been San Diego during Comic Con 1996 when I was having breakfast at a hotel near the convention. It was the first time that I brought my daughter Maggie to the show. She was 10 years old at the time. While Maggie has grown into a comics and “genre” fiction enthusiast and loves to go to San Diego Con, she didn’t really enjoy her first one that much. I’d always bragged how much fun I had at the show. This particular year, my wife and daughter decided to come with me … and frankly it was a little overwhelming.
After one long morning and early afternoon on the convention floor, Maggie was bored and my wife was not having fun either. While I did my thing, they decided to take in all the wonderful tourist attractions around the San Diego area. They did everything. They went to Sea World, the Wild Animal Park and anything else they could think of. At the end of the day, I would find a way to meet them and we’d share an evening meal.
I work pretty hard at conventions, catching up with old friends, making new friends, scouting out new publishing projects, making deals, etc. I get up early and I am out late into the evening. In order to catch up with my friend and Comics Buyer’s Guide legend Maggie Thompson this year, I had to schedule our meeting for breakfast on Sunday. Being the gracious friend that she is, Maggie Thompson was more than happy to have breakfast with my wife and daughter as well.
Sitting at the next table at the hotel dining area was Peter David, who at the time was working on a television show called SPACE CASES. It was a light-hearted kids-oriented science-fiction show that Peter co-created with Bill Mumy that had been airing on Nickelodeon since March. I saw Peter and didn’t have any intention of interrupting the breakfast he seemed to be enjoying.
When Maggie Thompson found out that my daughter, Maggie, was a huge fan of SPACE CASES, she insisted that we introduce my 10-year-old and the creator of the show sitting at the next table. It was terrific to watch my child light up from the inside a little bit when she met Peter. He couldn’t have been more gracious and attentive when talking to my daughter about why she liked the show that he had created.
The amazing part of the story for me happened at San Diego Con 1997, when some friends told me that Peter David was looking for me. Now remember, Peter David and I had never done any business together. In 1997, I’d been out of Malibu for a few years and didn’t have any business activities “on my plate” that would interest a writer of Peter’s stature, so my curiosity was piqued. As I approached Peter, he got this “cat that ate the canary” smile on his face and reached into his leather bag.
He said, “I got this for your daughter,” and handed me an autographed picture of SPACE CASES star Jewel Staite (in full rainbow wig and makeup of her character, Catalina). This was a thoughtful act of kindness from Peter David that I will NEVER forget.
Think of it. He chatted with my daughter for about 5 minutes one Sunday morning after an exhausting San Diego Comic Con. He then went home or went to the set of SPACE CASES or did whatever he had to do to secure the autographed picture. Then he kept it someplace safe for TWELVE MONTHS. And before leaving for San Diego he remembered to pack it in his convention bag to give to me. That is a huge amount of hassle to go through to make the daughter of a business acquaintance happy.
Years later, both Maggie and I would become huge fans of Jewel Staite all over again … as she grew up to play Kaylee on Joss Whedon’s cult favorite TV show FIREFLY. Maggie has endured long hours of standing in lines to meet and talk with the cast of FIREFLY / SERENITY. But the really important part of this story is this … she still has the autographed SPACE CASES photographed framed on her bedroom wall.
(I should have taken the picture from my daughter’s wall and scanned it, but alas, I ran out of time … maybe next week.)
That’s my version of the story.
–Dave Olbrich (DWO) Fri. Feb. 13, 2009