Sunday, 30 April 2017

Meeting Gerhard & Shelley

I only remember the last date I saw Gerhard in person because it was the last time I had a drink of alcohol: October 1, 2005. It was at the Ye Bookes of Cerebus at St Bonaventure University in western New York. So when Menachem of Escape Pod Comics said he was going to be hosting Gerhard and Shelley in late April, I gave going to the signing serious thought. At just about a 4 hour trip for me, it was the closest Ger had been in awhile that I could remember.

So I took the time off and headed down on Thursday afternoon. Menachem was super helpful in reserving me a room at a local hotel, so my first order of business was to check in there and then get some eats before the signing. By the time I arrived after an hour on the non-express Long Island Expressway, it was around 4:30 pm, and I was hoping I wouldn't be too late as my schedule was thrown off a bit.

I checked in to the hotel and came back out to my car to get my bag and who do I see? Shelley. I've never met Shelley in the past, but thanks to Gerhard's blog, I'd seen pictures. Gerhard and Shelley had flown into Newark Airport, gotten a rental and drove through NYC to get to Long Island. We ended up taking my car to the store, where we went in the back entrance and surprised Menachem. After saying our hellos and dropping off some items for the signing, the three of us went out to get some dinner in Huntington. 

Since it was closer to 5:30 then 5pm by this time, we got appetizers at a Thai restaurant that was down the street. I wish I could remember the conversation the three of us had, but I think the excitement of having dinner with Ger and Shelley was a bit much for me. Or perhaps I was just tired from dealing with Long Island traffic. I do remember Shelley asked me as many questions, if not more, as I was asking of them. Pretty soon my 6pm alarm went off, so after paying the bill we quickly walked back to the store.

Menachem had Gerhard set up near the back of the store, right in front of the wall of Cerebus - where he hands all the different commissions he has gotten over the years (click on any of the pictures to enlarge):

Conrad, Menachem and Gerhard
With Gerhard in the comfy seat, he commenced drawing commissions. One was of corn. Seriously. I could watch Ger draw corn all day. He was sketching and staying within a box that I couldn't see. I had asked him if he used the ruler for the edges, and he stated he had. So faintly that I couldn't see them from a couple feet away. He then stopped and found a piece of slightly used sketch paper and showed me what he does with a page.

Draw an outline around the edges. Put an X on the page. Then draw two more lines. Then two more. Then use intersections for composition:

He then drew something quickly in the center of the page using his points of interest, and then drew another box around that so some bits of the sketch were outside the second box. 

I wish I could just stand there all night asking Ger questions about drawing and watch him sketch, but I didn't want to monopolize his time - there were other Cerebus fans there. Someone had come as far as Richmond, VA. Even Carla Speed McNeil had driven hours to show up and talk to Gerhard.

Gerhard looking at Finder while Carla shows him the original art
Nate had come with a few things for Ger to sign, and it was great to see him again as well:

Left to right: Shelley, Margaret, Nate and Gerhard
Ben Granoff dropped off his commission he did for Menachem. I should've gotten a picture of Ben with it, but I wanted my picture taken with it - how one could encapsulate the entire saga on one page just blew my mind:

Holding the 'Get on The 'Bus!' commission by Ben Granoff
Ben  and myself looked at all the original Cerebus pages which Gerhard had brought with them. 

Ben looking over a page of original art from Cerebus
I only wish I had enough cash money to pick up this one:

Cerebus #192 page 16 (Minds page 122)
Make sure you zoom in on the above picture - the page in the phone book looks okay, but the original art? Yeah, I stared at that for a long time. All the detail on it. The little Cerebus pasted up on it. The thickness to the flecks of white paint (white out?) on top of it. Gerhard started to tell a story about how the above was his second try at it. Dave had asked for an explosion in space, and Gerhard's first attempt was deemed too cartoony. We didn't get to hear how he came up with the specific piece above.

I brought some prints from Gerhard - as he had a nice selection to choose from and he graciously signed them all. He also pulled out an program booklet from the Indiana Comic Con:

Indiana Comic Con program booklet, front
He then flipped it over to show me the back. He stated the previous year he had done a sketch for one of the guys at the con, and they used it in this year's program booklet. He said he had brought me a copy since he knew I didn't have one of them:

Every time I saw Menachem he had a smile on his face and kind words for everyone:

The signing was only supposed to be from 6pm to 8pm, but Gerhard kept sketching until just a bit past 11:30 pm. Of course since I had driven Shelley and him there, I got to wait until the end to bring them back to the hotel. By the time we got back it was past midnight. It was one of the best signings I've been to - relaxed, laid back and listening to artists talk about their craft? Always a good time.

Gerhard's 2017 Convention & Signing Itinerary:

Keep up to date with Gerhard's latest news at Gerz Blog!


al roney said...

Wow! Sounds like an awesome time.

I was actually just two hours away from the store that day, and hadn't checked in here for awhile, so I didn't even know about it until I was back home, an additional 2-hours in the opposite direction.

Jeff Flam said...

Kills me that I wasn't able to attend. Escape Pod is a great store, met Steve Rude there last year. I used to live on Long Island but recently moved to Berkeley, CA. Hoping Gerhard makes his way to the west coast some time.

Tony Dunlop said...

Sorry, Jason, wrong want the Chet Brown post just above this one.

Travis Pelkie said...

Perfect response, Tony!

Jeff Seiler said...

Second best laugh I've had today, just behind when Dave called me a second time for my annual birthday call. Thanks, Tony!

Dave gave me some interesting insights into how he is trying to handle the rollout of the one-shot CIH?s. He said he's trying to crank out the "You Don't Know Jack" mini-series and finish up the CIH? one-shots, with an eye down the road to where he won't have to have any more interaction with anyone for a good long while.

Eight or nine months of uninterrupted work on The Strange Death of Alex Raymond.

Just being able to say, guys here's everything you need from me for YDKJ and CIH?. Now you guys take it from here.

And then, he got to discussing some deep research for SDOAR, for which I have next to zero reference. He said he had recently hit a cul de sac on something from (IIRC) 1959, but thought he had figured it out, only to find that it led him to "another cul de sac", which is where he is now. All of which was interesting.

I asked him if he had received my letter about how I had found a fascinating reference to a relationship by blood or marriage (I forget which) that Margaret Michell had to an important person from the Old West.

"Oh, yeah!" Dave replied. "That definitely went into The File!"

Of more general interest to most of you is that he said Diamond agreed to accepting 4300 copies of *each* of the CIH? one-shots, but he would have to buy back any unsolicited copies. And then he told me his plans for such a contingency, which I can't share here.

(To be continued.)

Jeff Seiler said...

We talked about Florida a bit, where I'm vacationing, and then about my cat. I told him big he is ("Holy cow!" was Dave's response; "he's not a cat, he's gone past dog, he's the size of a woodchuck! Hi, meet my woodchuck!") and how he got stuck outside overnight and the next day because he wouldn't come inside when my friend Dan called him (the cat). I said that the cat hasn't tried to go out since-learned his lesson-which got a laugh.

Otherwise, besides all the above, we just kinda shot the shit for a little while longer. And then, it was "prayer time coming up." I thanked him again for calling me back, three days after my birthday. He just said, "I just wanted to make sure that you got your birthday call."

I told him to look for a card and gift from me when I get home and send them, along with an annual birthday call on May 17th.

"I will!" he said.

Then it was "take cares and bye-byes".

All in all, a very nice surprise.

Thanks, Dave!