Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007
In meetings all day. Bob Brink reserved a stunning penthouse suite on the 16th floor of the New York Athletic Club with spectacular views of Central Park, the Dakota and Columbus Circle. We held court there in the morning with our book agent James Fitzgerald and a publisher with the unlikely name Brando Skyhorse (of Skyhorse Publishing fame). Mr. Skyhorse, or as I called him, "Please-Redman-No-Horsehead-In-Bed," was not interested in the graphic novel, but pitched us on repackaging my six existing outlaw and lawmen books for a broader audience. Our agent told a joke: "Did you hear about the Pollack who got into publishing to make money?" And, Brando followed with, "How do you make a fortune in publshing? Answer: Start with a larger fortune."

By the way, Bob Brink lent me a pair of his slacks which I've been wearing with some satisfaction (nobody has jumped me in the lobby, like they did the first night when I wore my Wranglers).

At lunchtime we met the head honchos at King Features Syndication in the second floor dining room. As we walked through the crowded room I noticed that many were gawking at me and I soon found out why. A waiter practically ran to our table and said snippily, "Sir, may I check your hat." He carried my custom $1,000 Optimo lid away like he was handling a dead rat. Talk about hat Nazis! Later in the day when Paul Hutton arrived we tried to get a drink in the bar and there was a sign that said, "All hats and coats must be checked at cloak room." The entire room was empty of people, except a stoic bartender at the end of the bar and I said, taking my hat off, "Can we come in for a drink and I'll put my hat in my lap?" "No sir. You may check your hat at the cloak room."

On the positive side, as Paul and I sat in the lobby and waited for Bob Brink to come down for dinner, someone tried to use a cell phone and the doorman loudly reprimanded him and forced him to put that oppressive device away. Now that I liked! As I came into the city on Tuesday night, almost every person at every intersection was walking and talking on a cell phone. To say it is an epidemic, is an understatement. So that a gentleman's club would ban these incessant gizmos, I greatly admire that.

One of the editors for King Features, Jay Kennedy, remembered my comic strip Honkytonk Sue, and said, "Do you still live on MacKenzie?" Well, I did. In 1978! What a memory. Jay wrote a very collectable book, "The Guide to Underground Comics" and somehow had remembered not only my comic book character but the street I lived on at the time. Now that's detail retention!

At six, Bob Brink, Paul Hutton and I hailed a cab and went up through Central Park to Broadway and 103rd to meet Bob Gleason, executive editor of Tor Forge Books. After drinks at Henry's, a local pub, we walked up to a restaurant called 103 West. Bob Brink and Bob Gleason hit it off because Gleason is a huge fan of Jim Brown, the hall-of-famer, and, of course, Bob Brink played football with Brown and is to this day one of his best friends. So, as Hutton joked, "You two have a book deal, and Bob Bell and I are out in the cold."

Actually, Gleason is interested in the graphic novel and we had a very good discussion about the parameters of doing business together.

We got back to the NYAC at about midnite and Paul wanted to walk down and see the General Sherman statue, across the street from the Plaza Hotel, which is being totally remodelled by the way. Stood out in the cold and admired "the man who saved this country," or, that's the distinguished professor talking.

Then we retired to the Helmsley Hotel bar for a nightcap and talked of the day's events, meetings and possibilities. One thing is crystal clear: the prototype is far from being finished and I have to use cartoon balloons whether I want to or not. One of the King editors said, "It looks like a picture book." Ouch! Just the reaction I didn't want. However, Mr. Mott (the name of one of our characters in the GN, by the way) remarked on the artwork, saying, "You can't sustain this level of art for the entire book, can you?" I took that as a complement.

Today we are headed downtown to the New York Comic Con for a day of graphic novel seminars and then dinner tonight with Allen Waxenberg, a retired editor at Hearst, at Club 21.

Before lunch yesterday I was sketching in the lobby and when Bob Brink came down I said, "Thankyou. This is a total thrill for me just to be here and meet these incredible people." Bob laughed and told me to go put my sketchbook in my room because I couldn't take it into the dining room (you can't do business or put papers out because it is considered unseemly). So I've been here less than 48 hours and I've broken three rules and I'm wearing strange pants. Really another world.

And, by the way, if you haven't already done so, go register your vote on our new poll. Do you read Western comics/graphic novels?

"Nothing is impossible. We just don't know how to do it yet."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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