Whenever I see one of the "If I was in NYC I'd go to..." entries on Tom Spurgeon's blog, I always feel a little guilty: all this great comics-related stuff right around me and I hardly ever take advantage of any of it.
Anyway, I knew that Steve Dillon was going to be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe yesterday (which is right around the corner from where I work), so, at the last minute, I decided to swing by and get his autograph. "Last minute" meant that I had to buy a back issue of Animal Man for him to sign (my complete run of that series is in my parents' attic and/or basement in Vermont and/or upstate New York).
This was the first time in years I've ever gone to get a signature from a comics artist. I think the last time was when I drove hours to get a Dave Sim autograph and sketch during his Spirits of Independence tour. I went to a San Diego convention between then and last night, but at that convention I think the only autograph I got was from Max Allan Collins and I had him sign one of his novels, so I'm not sure if that counts. And back when DK2 #1 came out, I stood in line at the Virgin Megastore on 14th St. with a friend while he waited for Frank Miller to sign his copy, but I didn't bring anything of my own to get signed (I think because I found out about it at the last minute and was generally pretty all-over-the-place at that point in my life).
The only reason I decided to go get Steve Dillon's autograph as opposed to, say, Kyle Baker's (which I could have gotten a few weeks ago when he was at Jim Hanley's) is nostalgia. Animal Man was one of my favorite comics and I have a particular affection for the Tom Veitch/Steve Dillon run, especially since it gets so much less love than Grant Morrison's (justly celebrated) work on the series.
Dillon became one of the first artists working in super-hero books whose style I could easily recognize and (more importantly) who I wanted to follow from book-to-book. I even bought and enjoyed the super-hero parody book How to Be a Super-Hero that Dillon illustrated.
I'm not sure why I was really into Steve Dillon's work when other kids my age were into Todd McFarlane.
And the "Welcome Back Frank" Punisher series was one of the two books that got me back into reading super-hero comics fairly regularly after a break of about four years. (The other one was Morrison's New X-Men - 'natch.)
So, yesterday work kind of sucked and I was in a bad mood and figured, "Hey - why not swing by Jim Hanley's and pick up an issue of that Wolverine comic that Steve Dillon is drawing and an Animal Man back issue that I wouldn't mind having a double of and get him to sign them."
Overall it was a good experience: not at all awkward as some of these social/commercial interactions can get. I got there pretty early on in the signing session, but wasn't really prepared for the line to move so slowly. That wasn't really a bad thing, though, because Dillon seemed to be taking his time with his sketches. ("Seemed" because I have nothing else really to compare it to: maybe 8 minutes a sketch is normal. I have no idea really.) He also seemed like he was pretty easy going and that he actually enjoyed meeting his fans and telling funny anecdotes.
I think I was one of the only people there who was really into Dillon's work on Animal Man which wasn't surprising. Maybe a little surprising: the Preacher fans seemed to really out-number the Punisher fans.
Anyway, I'm even looking forward to checking out the Wolverine comic I bought.
Oh yeah - I like what Mike Hunter says about Dillon on this TCJ thread:
He's one of those talents - John Severin comes to mind - who, though not flashy, are rock-solid, compensate in other worthy ways. In his art, violence is no graceful ballet; you can feel the bone splinter, gristle collapse. He can perfectly capture the easeful warmth of friends knocking back some suds in a pub, or an icy sneer of utter contempt, a snarl of feral hatred. He can render a believable schlep or stone-cold killer.