I drove up with Aaron Carnes (a friend of mine who shot video footage) and Lee Hester of Lee's Comics in my car and got to the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco about 6pm. Andrew Farago and Summerlea Kashar of the museum greeted us while they were setting up the tables with food and drink in the gallery.
The gallery looked pretty much the same as I had seen it in early July, but now my pieces of text about Harvey Comics were professionally mounted on boards instead of the simple paper printouts pasted on the wall. Also, there was a nice banner of the same image from the postcards of all the Harvey characters flying into the sky in the front window and in the gallery itself was a huge stencil on the wall featuring the title of the show utilizing the original "Richie Rich" and "Wendy the Witch" logos.
(Incidentally, for those who have asked, the reason for using Richie Rich and Wendy in the title is to give a male/female representation as well as the fact that "Rich" and "Witch" rhyme.)
As we weren't really needed to set up (besides bringing some cider and copies of my book and "THFT!"), Aaron, Lee and I decided to get a quick bite at a Chinese restaurant a couple of doors down. I'm glad we did, because during the show, there was really no time for me to eat. In fact, the only time I ate, was when we served cake and at the end of the show when I finally got a drink.
Aaron, Lee and I had a good meal, and waltzed back in at around 7:05, five minutes after the show was scheduled to start. Although I had at least two guests with me, I was so happy to find probably 15-20 people milling about the gallery.
I made my way to the back of the room and behind the scenes where I saw the cake provided by Goldilocks, a bakery located next to Lee's Comics in Mountain View. (BTW, to give you scale for those living outside the Bay Area, Lee's Comics is about 40 miles south of San Francisco.)
The cake had a silk-screened sugar layer picturing the Harvey Art Show postcard and my book, "The Best of The Harveyville Fun Times!" in full color on the top. It was pre-sliced and looked great. (Tasted good, too!)
Dave Holt spotted me and yelled (in his normal quiet and reserved way), "MARK, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!" I explained that we were eating next door and that we were waiting for the show to begin before we made our appearance. We also met up with Lee's 6'7" son, Lee the 4th, commonly referred to as "the boy" by Lee, Sr. and me.
Just then, I saw Linda Rose (wife of Skeet Rose and owner of Goldilocks) in a back room suiting up as Richie Rich. She said that she would do it if we couldn't find anyone else. Linda's sister was suiting up as Casper. Skeet (who owns the RR and Casper suits as well as a lot of the art pages in the show) was helping them suit up. Linda and Skeet's daughter was there as well.
Soon, they were ready and walked out. I, and many others snapped photos of the two and with the two. I would say the crowd was probably around 30 or so by this time.
I peered around the corner and saw my dad (David) and his friend Janice, and I got them to come to the back and pose with Richie and Casper. My dad was impressed that I was able to pull this off, which is quite a remarkable statement as he usually doesn't give two figs about all the art and writing projects I do.
After many, many, many photos, we finally walked Richie Rich and Casper into the main room where the food, cake and artwork was all displayed. Everyone in the room turned and smiled at their appearance and many more photos were taken.
I started to look around to see if I could spot anyone that I knew. A few people approached me that I knew of but had never met face-to-face in this world of ComicSpace, Facebook and the Richie Rich's Vault Yahoo! group. I'm mention them briefly here as JG Book, Jeff Plotkin and Alex Schumacher. Of course, I met many other people but I either didn't exchange names or (horrors!) I didn't remember their names!
Anyway, a few comic book notables did make their way to the show, for which I am eternally grateful. You never know when you set these things up and promote them who's going to attend. So, I was very happy to see Dark Horse's Shawna Gore there with her husband (who flew out from Oregon especially for this show!) I also saw and spoke with Trina Robbins and Steve Leialoha, Fantagraphic's Gary Groth, and "Emily the Strange's" Rob Reger. I hope I'm not leaving anyone out.
Everyone was chit-chatting about and the crowd peaked at possibly 50 or 60, maybe more. I couldn't tell, nor did I do an official count. People could roam about the entire museum which included exhibitions on the late Phil Frank of "Farley" fame and Keith Knight of "K Chronicles" and "(Th)ink" fame. There is also a fourth room of random artwork from various eras owned by the museum and a room with very rare animation cels and a flatscreen TV that was playing the disc I provided of old public domain Famous Studios cartoons from 1945-1950 that feature Harvey characters like Casper, Little Audrey, Herman and Buzzy.
Around 8 or 8:30 or so, Andrew got everyone into the Harvey Art space and made a quick speech of thanks to Dave Holt, Skeet Rose and myself. I think Dave said a few words of thanks, but I, for whatever reasons did not really say a thing. I kind of wanted to but the moment passed and it would have been hard to get everyone's attention back, so I let it go.
Had I said something, I would have thanked everyone for attending and pointed out some of the people I am mentioning on this write-up, but it worked out all right. I proceeded to "cut" the pre-sliced cake and hand it out to everyone. As I was wearing a suit, I didn't want to mess myself up, so I only did a row of about six or seven slices before I went back to shmoozing. The last cake I sliced, I ate.
After this short ceremony, people slowing began to leave. I decided to take this opportunity to film and opening and the closing to the show for the video version, so Lee, Aaron and I went out to film this. It took a little longer than I thought and when I got back in, many people thought I had left my own show. I explained about the footage we had just shot.
Aaron was good about getting coverage of everything including close-ups of each piece of artwork and brief soundbites from Trina and Shawna and others.
While shooting this stuff, my friend Cristina Ramirez showed up. She had previously told me she would be coming late, but she did show up and I was grateful. I'm always happy when any friend shows up.
Everything was winding down. A few copies of my book and "THFT!" were purchased as well as a few copies of the Dark Horse collections, all of which were available in the bookshop. I signed a couple of copies as well. At this time, my Art Director for "THFT!" S. Eddy Bell showed up with his wife and we took more photos. I didn't recognize him at first as he was not wearing his glasses.
I said my goodbyes as people slowly filed out, took more photos, and soon it was just Lee, Aaron, Dave, Cris, Cris' friend (sorry, I forgot your name!), "the boy", S. Eddy, his wife (sorry here, too), and the Cartoon Art staff. It was about 9:30 at this time.
Everyone parted ways and I took Aaron, Lee and "the boy" back down to Lee's and eventually home.
I uploaded a number of images from the Cartoon Art Museum Opening that I took at Photobucket at http://s218.photobucket.com/albums/cc49/thft_2007/Harvey%20Art%20Show%20Opening%20Reception/
There is a lot of video footage as well and other photos I didn't take. More soon.
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