January 31, 2003
Jennifer & Michele, who are writing the paper about Honkytonk Sue had another question: You told us about a printing of 5000 copies, but we're curious: how did you decide to distribute the comic, once it was printed? (Stores that carried the weekly paper the strip first appeared? Comic-book stores? Western shops?)
When I printed up the first Honkytonk Sue comic in the fall of 1979 I personally went around and put it in all the head shops and comic book stores in Arizona. I was very successful at this and got the comic in all three stores. Then I heard about a comic confab at a cheap motel next to the Black Canyon Freeway in Phoenix (I think it was Days Inn, but it was at Thomas and I-17). I called and obtained a "table" and showed up with a box of my comics.There were maybe ten people there, and I sold maybe three comics (at $1.50 each), but one of the attendees walked up to me and said, "I like your comic, here, send it to Phil Sueling." And he gave me the address in New York. I sent it and got a call almost immediately from the legendary comic raconteur and distributor Phil Sueling ordering 1,000 comics and inviting me to the New York Comic Con (I had never heard of such a thing) to be held at the Statler Hilton over the fourth of July weekend in 1980.
I had never flown before on a commercial plane, never been to NY, had to take dramamine (sp?) to get on the plane, flew into Kennedy airport and a taxi dumped me at the hotel right across from Madison Square Garden. I met all the legends, Phil treated me like a king. His gorgeous daughter, who had a shaved head—in 1980!—took me to a wild nightclub, Danceteria (Where the Stones had just premiered their latest album), and I saw the future. TVs everywhere playing rock videos (MTV was still two years away) and generally blew my mind. From that moment on I had wonderful distribution and met the other players like Bud Plant, etc. Needless to say, I appreciate and miss Phil. He was a great guy.
Amazing. All from a crummy motel with no attendance. Sometimes your boat comes in and it's a dingy, but, if it's floating—you better get on the damn thing! Ha.
"Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer."
—Old Vaquero Saying