Gifts from Afar [New York]

One of the cool things about having friends living all over the world is that when I go out to get the mail, occasionally, I'll find something like this:

This was addressed to me from my friend Elle, a fellow Bennington alum who I actually didn't know at school, but through the wonders of social networking and mutual insomnia she has become one of the unlucky few to hear me go on and on about comic books at 4 o'clock in the morning.

A few months back the topic at hand between us was the launch of "Demo Vol. 2," the highly anticipated sequel of the first Demo by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. I'd picked up the entire first series as back issues at the Alternate Universe in New Haven, CT, and to call me a fan would be a bit of an understatement. Wood was a writer who'd been on my "everything this guy does is awesome" radar since he picked up Generation X from Warren Ellis back in 2000, and though I had near no knowledge of Cloonan's work before Demo, her natural talent coupled with fact that any comic in black and white makes me drool meant I fell in love with that book from the first page. Did it reek of indy-comic-ness? Yes, of course, as I've already said, it was in black and white, and had playlists in the back to go with the book. But guess what? I like indy comics, and for me, something like Demo hit all the right places.

Hell, I even had a short e-mail run-in with Brian Wood because of it. During college, I was looking for a writer to intern with on an independent study project. Naturally, I thought of Wood, and contacted him. And while yes, he turned me down, he pretty much told me why anyone was going to turn me down, and left me with some kind words and a few more letters after that, making me feel like, hey, this guy actually cares about his audience.

Crazy world. So naturally, I was really pleased when I opened the package and saw what was inside:

Along with a couple of rad postcards by Ken Brown and Genevieve Hafner, a copy of the third issue of the Brooklyn Based free comics paper "Smoke Signal" and yes, that's a package of Emergen-C, was Demo, Issue 1, Volume 2.

Now, I know what you're thinking. But Randall, wait. Sure, it was awfully sweet of your friend to send you that comic, but didn't you say you were a huge fan of all things Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan? Didn't you say you were soooo excited for Demo's new volume? Why wouldn't you, as a fan, have bought a copy yourself. Certainly anything published through Vertigo Comics could have been easily put on your pull-list of Cheryl's Comics in Charleston, WV?

Well, first, stop being a dick. And second, yes, I did already have Demo #1 Vol. 2. But the copy that Elle sent me was just a little bit different...

Take it in, fanboy. Take it in.

Elle picked this little gem up at the Demo release party, something I was reserved to just hear about via Wood's and Cloonan's twitter accounts, while she was able to experience first hand. Now, this wasn't exactly a complete surprise as she ran me through her impression of the event on the internet, but with probate and Dad's insurance, and trying to get all the freelancing going, the fact that she'd done this rather amazing thing for me had slipped my mind.

It's made all the sweeter by just how excellent the title has been, particularly Issue 3, entitled "Volume 1 Love Story," which I am willing to say might be the greatest single-issue comic book story I have ever read, and may just be one of the best comics ever written. And while I say that, knowing full well that some may think it's hyperbole, or at the very least just disagree with me, "Volume 1 Love Story" along with the two issues that preceded it [Issue 1 I have signed!! -- you know, if case you missed that part] have really reminded me why I wanted to write comics so much in the first place.

Reminders are good, and so are gifts, and though it probably sounds terrible and materialistic, such gifts can serve as nice reminders that we are not as alone in the world as we sometimes feel. It's a big place, and the people who I like and who interest me the most are not all right down the street from me, and while I usually expect the internet to bridge that gap, this is one of those occasions where snail mail actually made the connection. And I can't begin to tell Elle how much it means to me that she did this, and I will proudly set aside my signed copy of Demo #1 in a place where it will be safe, but also accessible, so I can pull it out and show it off, as any signed #1 in the hands of a total geek should be.

And if I am anything, it's a total geek. Can't thank you enough, Elle. If not for the distance, I would have told you in post-its.

In the interests of worrying, if you've ever sent me something neat or eclectic [not that it happens all that often] and I haven't posted about here, I apologize. I'll admit I've only just now thought of doing this. Also, if you can tell, I've been feeling a little more comfortable with my -0.2 megapixel camera that's in my phone, and I might be trying some more entries like this, if there's any interest.

Other goings on. My first deadline for the Dentist's website was today. Turned out pretty well, there's still some small things to be done before the publication deadline, but I feel good about how it all turned out. I'll shoot out some links as soon as I'm told I'm allowed to [probably be a couple weeks], and I should be getting my first check soon. Won't be getting rich off of this kind of work, of course, nor am I looking too, but I will admit to still getting a charge out of the "people will pay me to put words on a page?" concept.

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