Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dark Dominion Part 05...

A further look at the comic and Jim Shooter’s Defiant Comics…

Hi Guys

I awoke to my last full day in New York early, excited and keen to fill the day with as much as possible. I wanted to savour the air, hear every sound, and feel the excitement of that great city as much as possible before returning home to England.

Tomorrow would be a quick morning in the office before leaving for JFK airport once more in the limousine that had first picked me up.

I went downstairs once more to the hotel breakfast restaurant and found I was really early with hardly any other guests sitting at the tables.

By now I had sussed out where the cups of tea came from and helped myself to one, despite thinking that honestly the one thing I could not get in New York seemed to be a great cup of tea, coffee, certainly, but the tea wasn’t like home, but it was a fair price to pay for everything else that came with the city.

I chatted once more with the hotel waiter, still insisting I did not personally know the Queen or any of the royal family, honest. Two hundred and odd miles may be a short distance to Americans, but to us Brits, it wasn’t just around the corner, so no, we were not neighbours. The guy laughed and said, “Why back home we would be next door neighbours at that distance.”

I once more crossed Madison Avenue and walked around the block to 37th Street and the offices, looking at the immensity of the buildings surrounding me like a series of canyons. I remembered one of the first things Joe had said to me about folks looking like tourists, being easy targets for muggers, although with zero tolerance this was getting less and less, nowadays.

Inside there was even more buzz than usual and I was greeted like Elvis again as always, which even now I find incredible. The extra buzz this particular morning was we were about to be joined later that day by Alan Weiss, artist on War Dancer. Now Alan’s work had first blown me away on two particular comics, one was an issue of Captain America, which contained a werewolf theme to the story and a black and white story in an issue of Savage Sword of Conan, with another Robert E Howard character, Solomon Kane, which contained vampires.

Today was going to be even better then I had thought, with my meeting Alan later in the day, how could it possibly get any better than this? I would learn soon enough.

I sat down and began work on page three of Dark Dominion, which the office were beginning to pass positive comments on, which was great for me to hear. Bob Downs had come into the office and sat at the drawing board beside mine. In fact as the morning went on we were joined by a veritable horde of creative folks, perhaps all making it in today to meet Alan.

Dave Hillman was there as was George Roberts, Ben Jung, Joe, Janet, Jim and all the office staff and around about ten o’clock we were joined by a newcomer, Su McTeigue, who, like Ben Jung was there to train up as a Defiant colourist. Su was already hand colouring or separating for Marvel Comics at the time. There was a world of difference though, as she traded codes and marker pens for brushes and coloured watercolour dyes.

Below: Page Three of Dark Dominion:

Well as I worked on page three, the noise in the office hit crescendo and was the busiest I had ever seen it. Part way through the morning I was chatting with a few of the guys out on the veranda and we took some photos of me, as it might be the last chance to do so, before I flew back home tomorrow afternoon.

Lunchtime arrived and this time I was treated to a trip downstairs below the office, in the street and an Italian Deli/takeaway, which would become a familiar haunt of ours. Joe had said he was going downstairs for lunch and this first time we ate in and once sat down I realised why Joe had wanted to sit in and eat, as he wanted me to witness, what would become a ritual for us to observe each time we paid a visit.

The two main sandwiches, if the world war two torpedo-sized sticks could be called that, were Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Parmesan, and both were equally delicious. Both came if you wanted with cheese and Bolognese sauce and extra cheese if you wanted it.

We sat down across from the long serving counter and began to eat out lunch. More and more folks came into the restaurant and as they did the atmosphere and main guys behind the counter became more and more frenetic. A smile began to develop on both our faces as we saw the main guy, who had seemed a very warm and reasonable man, develop a Hyde-like manifestation to his demeanour and becoming more and more agitated as the customer queue grew in size until it was outside the deli/restaurant.

The way the service worked was quite simple with one guy sorting the (what seemed like three foot long) bread sticks, whilst another put on the chicken, and another the meatballs, depending which you wanted, whilst the last guy before the guy taken your money served the cheese and sauce.

You had one chance to answer and the answer had to be delivered quickly and concisely too, if you didn’t want physically threatening with the meal. Whoa betide any and all that dared risk his wrath. Those chatting in the queue and not hearing his first request where greeted with a screaming Banshee, shrieking out in a New York Italian accent, straight out of the best gangster movies, “Cheese Y Sauce!

As we continued to try to devour our lunchtime repast one guy still didn’t respond to this shrieking voice, so he lent over the counter and bellowed the same three words again twice, each time getting louder, at which point (and you had to be there to understand) until the guy was almost face-to-face with his customer, giving the said customer a coronary. I never saw him again after that day.

Below: Me on the Defiant veranda, ready for leaving the next day:

Following lunch Joe and I went along to the village once more and checked out a couple of comic shops again, one of them being possibly the best comic shop I have ever been in, and somewhere I would visit a lot during my time in the states, Jim Hanley’s, on West 33rd Street. After browsing and picking up some new books we left and headed back to the offices, via Manhattan Mall on 6th Avenue and 33rd Street, where I picked up a couple of presents for Joanne and Simon and then one for Margaret.

By the time we returned to the offices Alan Weiss and his wife Pauline had joined us. He was introduced to everyone before going to speak to Jim again in his office and then the three left along with Defiant Publisher, Winston Fowkes to get lunch.

When they returned to the bullpen, Jim and Alan went into Jim’s office, whilst Pauline joined Janet in her office/studio. A short while later Alan came over to me and quietly spoken said his rough southern drawl how much he loved what I had done with page one of Dark Dominion and that he would love me to colour up one of his upcoming War Dancer comics at some point. I had hardly spoken to the guy and he wanted to work with me…this had to be a long dream and I was going to eventually wake up and realise it wasn’t real.

I was so over the moon, it felt incredible. Here was a guy I held in such high esteem and here he was praising my work…could it get any better?

Around four o’clock, or so, Deborah Purcell came over to my drawing board where I was now putting the last touches to page three. She smiled and complimented me on the page, asking me how I was going on and finding things? I told her everything had been brilliant and that I had enjoyed my time there and thanks for everything.

She then said Jim had organised a meal for himself, Joe, Janet, Deborah, Alan and his wife, Pauline, Debbie Fix, Winston and me. We were going to be setting off for the restaurant around seven o’clock, would that be okay? I mentioned I only had t-shirts and jeans with me for the trip, but Deborah said not to worry that was fine.

Well as soon as I finished page three I went over to the hotel, packed the stuff for leaving tomorrow, showered and got changed into my next to final t-shirt and jeans, which I had brought over for the trip, before going around to the office again to meet the others. When I got there Joe was wearing a jacket and trousers and Janet was wearing a nice dress, I was there in my t-shirt and jeans, oh well Deborah had said it was not that swanky a do, so…

On arriving at the restaurant, I realised it had all the trappings of a very swanky place. We walked inside and we were shown to a large dining room full of large swish thick heavy curtains, large circular tables and a grand piano in a corner of the room. As we waked through past the other tables for what seemed like an age, I glanced around the tables and saw everyone dressed to the nines, in tuxedoes, suits and dinner jackets and me in a t-shirt and jeans.

I can safely say I was receiving glances at every turn and I would have been embarrassed, had I not been with the others. The guys at the table all stood to receive us and then I was sat between Deborah and Joe. The evening was fantastic, with a lovely meal. I had a fresh salmon starter and a steak for the main course, followed by the most exquisite sweet. I was aware all of the time though of the glances and staring from around the room, at the scruffy one at the table over there.

When I mentioned this to Deborah, she just turned to me and smiled and said, “No they aren’t looking at you thinking you are scruffy, this restaurant is well known for celebrities visiting it. They are just wondering who you are. You must be famous, as you have got in without a dinner suit on.” I later found out that Jim and Winston both knew the owners and had said they were bringing along a guest from England, which was why I was allowed in, dressed as I was.

I didn’t sign any autographs there, but I did feel a little under-dressed. With the meal finished I noticed Jim, Deborah, Janet and Winston all speaking to each other in a huddle around the table. Deborah turned to me and asked me if there was any possibility in my staying longer. I could not believe my luck.

I explained I was flying back home then would travel through the night down to London to appear as a guest at the convention this coming weekend and then going on holiday as soon as I got back from it, with my family. She asked if I would ask my wife if I could come back then for a couple of weeks to help get the books on track with their deadlines, once all that was done?

I said I didn’t think Margaret would mind, but that I would call her tomorrow to confirm with her, but explained that I had Margaret’s total support and there would not be a problem.

That said she turned to Jim and they chatted for a while before Jim stood up and asked everyone to “Raise their glasses and share a toast to the Brit from across the sea whose powers they could harness for good!”

The room really was looking at the table now and I reckon I could have shrunk and hid under the table, had I not been so excited that yes I was going home, but that in a weeks time I would be returning to the city where Spider-Man swings and super-heroes aplenty keep vigil over its inhabitants.

Below: Jim Hanley's Comic Shop:

The rest of that night was a blur of excitement and anticipation as I prepared mentally to go to the convention then switch to Husband and Dad to go on holiday and then return here to continue working on the Defiant Universe of books.
By the time I reached the hotel my mind was overactive, as I fought to go to sleep, tomorrow I was flying again.

But I’ll share that in my next Blog.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 20th 2009


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

it all seemed like a good dream didn't it?

Tim Perkins said...

It was indeed, just like a good dream and you helped make it that way for me mate.

I look on those days with so much warmth and the amazing thing is, it is all so clear to me, even now, all these years on, which is making it all very easy to write about.

Two more to go and then we meet up for the first time.

Not too sure how many this series is going to run for, as I keep remembering things.

Hope you are enjoying it all though, as much as I am.


Unknown said...

Been catching up. Great stuff as usual.

Tim Perkins said...

Thanks again, Magnus.

I'm glad you are still enjoying things here.

There will be some more anecdotes later in the week.