Look, Comic Book Creators Can Draw a Crowd Too, Damn It

Daniel Rodrigue

Mark Millar, at left, and Tony Harris met the fanboys at Lone Star Comics yesterday.

Today’s new-title day at your local comic-book shoppe, but yesterday, Mark Millar and Tony Harris were at the Lone Star Comics on Mockingbird Lane to promote their new creator-owned title War Heroes. It was no small gathering either, as the place was packed with some 125 fans getting their comics signed -- no doubt, before slipping them back into the plastic sleeves from which they'll never return. Chris Powell, Lone Star's general manager, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout.

Millar, as the fanboys already know, is responsible for the unmasking of Spider-Man in Marvel’s Civil War and for turning Superman into a Commie in DC Comic’s Red Son. Harris has put his artistic touches on Starman, Iron Man and Ex Machina. The duo are on tour not just to promote the title, which is sold out and headed to a second printing, but also to raise awareness for a little-known charity called Hero Initiative, which helps faded comic book creators in need of financial assistance.

After the jump, the answer to the fanboys' eternal question: Which is better, shooting a gun or eating a Twinkie? Also: Best. Haircut. Ever.

Before the signing, Hero Initiative held an eBay auction benefiting the charity. The winning bidder paid $61 for the honor of being the first in line for the autograph session, as well as for a limited-edition copy of the first issue of War Heroes. It proved to be a sweet deal, because when Unfair Park’s interns arrived just after 3 p.m., there were already more than 50 people waiting outside with another 20 queued up inside.

Standing in line, fanboys -- and, yes, maybe two or three fangirls -- were clutching stacks of bagged and boarded back issues for Millar and Harris to Sharpie-up. One observation, intended not to insult but to guide: Most of those in line had clearly been allowed to start dressing themselves way too young and still hadn’t figured out that polyester Spider-Man shirts don’t usually go well with Wrangler cargo jeans and never look good with tan leather shoes with elongated square toes.

Fonzie Vitela -- no, really -- was toting a box full of comics he wanted signed. Of comic book collecting, he admitted it’s similar to a junkie’s drug habit. “It’s like an addiction, dude,” Vitela said.

Just as we neared the table, after waiting in line with the fanboys for more than 45 minutes, a wanna-be reporter skipped the line and went right up to Millar. Sticking a microphone in Millar’s face, the broadcaster-podcaster from Fanboy Radio proceeded to pepper him with questions for a good 10 minutes -- prompting folks behind us to start sighing in indignation. One guy in a faded Avengers T-shirt said, “You don’t have to be a douche to be a fanboy, but it sure does help.”

Wrapping up his interview, the fauxcaster stood up, looked at 30-plus people in line, smirked, whipped out his copy of War Heroes and plopped it down on the table for Millar to sign.

We finally got to the table at 4:24 p.m. Millar and Harris graciously signed our comics, and Harris drew an impromptu sketch on our copies of the very limited “Tour of Duty Edition” of War Heroes No. 1. He even obliged Daniel’s rather lame request to have a dangling cigarette added to the lip of the grizzled soldier doodled on the front cover.

Millar is from Scotland, and since firearms are illegal in the U.K., earlier that morning, Harris -- an avid gun and military memorabilia collector -- took Millar to a gun range so he could shoot a gun for the first time. Millar said it was the first time he’d “fired anything that could kill something larger than a small worm.”

But that wasn’t the only “first” of the day that had Millar excited.

“When I was a kid,” he explained in his Scottish brogue, “Batman and all those kinda guys would use Hostess Twinkies and treats like that against the villains in these one-page stories [which were actually advertisements]. And as a kid I thought, 'What the fuck are these things? I’ve gawt to get ‘em.' But they don’t sell ’em in the U.K. So, I’ve spent the last thir’y years wondering what they taste like and why they stop villains from committin’ crimes.”

The interns asked which he thought was better: shooting off some .45 and 9mm rounds or the Hostess fried pies?

“That’s like comparing mum to dad – they’re both spectacular,” he said. “All we need to do now is have sex for the first time.”

Yeah, and that’s exactly what half the fanboys in line were thinking. Courtney wrote that. It was her first time in a comics shop. And she's totally kidding, far as you know. --Courtney Clenney and Daniel Rodrigue

Daniel Rodrigue

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky