i remember the day i decided not to meet a hero.
the job had sent me (well forced me) to go to new york to attend the new york comicon. i really didn't want to go (yeah i don't understand it either) and almost sabotaged it by not having my passport ready in time.
i did get the passport, a day before i was to travel – plenty of time not cutting it fine at all. i did get to the airport in time – a matter of minutes, plenty of time. cutting it fine? never.
i survived the flight.
while the cab ride into mahattan provided a fantastic introduction to the city - i did not get one of those interesting cabbies of film, tv and everyone else who went to new york: you know the ones who tell you about their experiences from their days before being a cabby:explorers, spacemen, elite special forces. or the proud new yorker who knows everything and everyone in nyc and wants to tell you everything about his city. no i got the ones who chatted to their family on the mobile. total bummer.
i enjoyed, no loved, the few days i had to myself to walk the manhattan streets and art galleries.
but work. i had to go to work.
i turn up at the convention centre to see what i can do to help – turns out very little the boys and girls of diamond are a well organised machine when it comes to setting these things up and i am the proverbial spanner in the works, the fly in the ointment. i end up doing make work just to look like i am doing something and not getting in people's way.
at double quick time the booth is being erected.
i am oohing and aahing at some of the product – ever the fanboy.
all around booths are getting to that point where they are complete and those manning them are relaxing or starting to do the serious business of selling and buying.
as the uk representative of the company i decide to go and scope who is there – to see if there are people i can talk to in order to see what we can do to increase their sales or profile in the uk,
wandering to the back of the hall mostly populated with independent dealers and small publishers i spy a total star of the comic firmament. a hero. a great.
now i am not someone who cares much for celebrity. there are people i worship for what they do but i don't really go out of my way to find out more about them. i love their work and i want them to produce more of what it is they do that i like.
among that group there are a handful i want to have the opportunity to go up to shake their hands and thank them for the hours of pleasure they have given me over the years and to thank them for future work that they are going to do. (i would keep the gushing down to a minimum.)
the man heading up the continuity comics booth is just one of those people. as i live and breathe it is neal adams. neal fucking adams. oh i just have to go and say hi and thanks. i just want to tell him how much i love his work and how i have just ordered all three the batman hardcovers collecting his ground breaking run on the character.
oh shit i can feel a gush coming on.
there is a teenager at the booth chatting to neal adams – he has a recorder in his hand. turns out the chap is trying to do an interview with neal adams. also turns out that neal adams is being a total arse about it. well that's not very good is it. my hero, this star is totally up his own arse. what a wanker. all my good will and gush towards him have quickly turned to vitriol.
now given my recent wayne sleep story (and people say i just throw this shit together) i am well aware that celebrities of all stripes have to put up with total wankers and anybody watching waynegate would tell you wayne sleep was fully justified in what he said to me, but from where i was standing neal adams was just being a cunt.
i walked away.
i never said thank you.
i never shook his hand.
i never got let my hero know his work was respected and appreciated,
why because he was acting like an uber wanker's uber wanker.
i never read the three collected volumes – they now felt tainted.
it was a reminder that as much as you like people for their work – quite often they are not their work. sometimes it is the other way around i can't stand neil gaiman's work but everything i hear about him paints him as a top bloke.
perhaps it is better to keep a distance from your heroes and just their work speak for them.
i still enjoy looking at pages of neal adams's work, but i am more thankful to him for providing a lesson in not putting people on pedestals.