Well, I'm thinking whoever you are or whatever you were up to yesterday, you did not have as good a day as the Hipster Son had on Friday the 13th. Because he got a day off school and we went up to the Classic City to see a lecture by Groo the Wanderer
's creator Sergio Aragonés
, and got a whole lot more than we planned for.
I took a half-day at work, and he got to hang out there with me, reading books and drinking coffee, until eleven. Then we took SR 120 from Alpharetta over to 316, had a little lunch and got up to Athens about 1.45. We hung out at Bizarro Wuxtry for about an hour, talking shop and gossipping with the Unsinkable Robert Brown, before patrickdean
phoned the store to let Robert know where he was headin' in the next few minutes, and that if we got a move on, we could probably get to meet Sergio a little earlier than at the lecture.
The Hipster Son and I got turned around and went the wrong way, and even though downtown Athens is not really all that large, it's kind of hard to find a place when the place you're looking for is actually closed. Well, we figured it out in time, and found a nice little pub, and joined Patrick, Drew Weing, Joey Weiser and Chris Schweizer, whose Crogan's Vengeance
I will recommend after just a short glance, for an hour or so talking about comics and the industry with Sergio. Well, that was all kinds of fun. Afraid my boy's about a decade too young to say he's had a beer with Sergio Aragonés, but at least he had a Sprite. (The waitress didn't charge me for it either. I said that was very nice, after all, he was my designated driver.)
After about an hour, Sergio had to make his way onto campus. Drew went one way, and the rest of us decamped back to Bizarro, where we wished Robert good luck in getting to leave early and join us. (He did.) I retrieved my car from the top of the deck and drove the five of us down to the art school, now located in spiffy new pedestrian-unfriendly digs way out on east campus. When I was yer age, everything that wasn't within spittin' distance of the north campus quads was either a dining hall or didn't matter. We met up with secondperiod
and with Devlin Thompson, who we're not gonna get to see all that often anymore, what with him moving to So'ca'lina.
Anyway, the occasion for Sergio's visit was he was this year's Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist, and they gave him a shoe in return for a lecture and some cartooning. I'm not kidding about the shoe, either, although I'm sure it was a nice one. Maybe they'll let him come back next year and give him a second one.
Well, Sergio shared many great anecdotes about getting started, and the one you've probably heard before about hoping that Antonio Prohias could get him an introduction at MAD, only to find Prohias knew even less English than he did, but it didn't matter since Prohias embraced him as his brother and took him straight to an editor. Then the editors, taking this literally, kept calling him "Sergio Prohias," and each time he tried to correct them by saying "Aragonés," they thought that was Spanish for "thank you."
Then he did some sketching, demonstrating why he's known as the world's fastest cartoonist. People were shouting out ideas - "athletes!" "ninjas!" - and he did about a dozen of these beautifully silly gags. I don't think he paused for more than about seven seconds the whole time. He mentioned that people always get offended about something, and drew a manhole, then the cover next to it, then a cane, then a pair of dark glasses. I just about blacked out from laughing.
And what occurred to me, as he's got close to two hundred people in this room roaring with laughter, is that he does this every month
in MAD. And how the heck many of us still buy it? Why'd we get out of the habit? My son's got a decent collection of the books and things - actually, it occurred to me later that the Hipster Son really missed a trick when Sergio asked him at the pub whether he still reads books, as opposed to being obsessed with gadgets like everybody his age, by not replying "Well, I bought that hundred-odd dollar Don Martin book they put out" - but it's true that few of his friends are familiar with it, which helps explain why it has recently become a quarterly. MAD put an appropriate face on it, saying that only every third issue was any good anyway, so they're just not going to publish the others, but why the heck did we all stop buying something which makes us laugh so much? I'll tell you what, if you've got kids, or you're planning to, you need to go buy 'em MAD. Every new issue, just stack 'em up until they're ready for them. There's a whole pile of books - the Hipster Son got this Barnes & Noble-repackaged edition which'd kill a cat from five paces - and we're all just plain dumb for not filling our homes with it, and making sure it'd be around for our kids to enjoy when they're my son's age.
After the lecture, the Hipster Son went to get a couple of things signed - one of his seventies paperbacks and Fanboy
, the very silly miniseries Sergio did in the late nineties with Mark Evanier and about two dozen fabulous guest artists - while I went to speak with Jack Davis. You know, never mind what I said above about how my boy shoulda mentioned his Don Martin books, if I had the brains God gave a grasshopper, I'd have realized that Jack Davis might have been in attendance at the lecture series what has his name on it.
Well, if any one man is responsible for turning me from a University of Georgia student into a Bulldog, it's Larry Munson, but Jack Davis was certainly a very strong contributing force. After all, you may well have gone to a perfectly fine school, wherever you went. But your school's mascot was not drawn with any regularity by Jack Davis. Unless he was drawing that mascot mangled and bludgeoned beneath Hairy Dawg's shoes. ADVANTAGE: THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA. Go Dawgs! Well, I had to tell Jack about the gigantic copy of one of his works that was turned into a mural at the Reed Hall basement, and tell him how much I've loved his stuff. Jack is quite old and moves a little slowly, but he seemed to be having a pretty good evening. He signed a few items for people, and apologized for his shaky hand - he broke a finger in a fall some months ago - but no apologies were necessary. I think everybody loves Jack Davis.
I think Patrick was the last to get anything signed by Sergio - I was too busy talking with Devlin to get in line until it was too late, Sergio was hungry and ready to call it a night - and I think everybody had a great time. His stories were wonderful and his cartoons had everybody laughing, and you just cannot ask for anything more. So we made our way out, and I drove Patrick and Joey back to their cars, and the boychild and I got some dinner and left town a little after eight. He called Marie to let her know we were on our way back to Mayretta. He told her "Dad had a beer with Sergio Aragonés! And I had a Sprite!"