Friday, March 12, 2010

Captains Kirk, Picard and a Bookie Parlor

There was an ad for "artists wanted" in an issue of the Comic Buyer's Guide in the early 90's. They were looking for portrait artists to paint pictures of celebrities. I like painting portraits and I like comic books so it looked like a great match! The company was Personality Comics, one of many short-lived comic book companies that sprung up at that time. I sent them some samples, and they sent me a try-out assignment: paint Mickey Mantle. I did, and they liked it enough to start sending me regular assignments. Sometimes the deadlines were unreal: you get a week to paint two covers and have it back to New York, or your payment will be delayed. They paid $200 per cover, plus ten copies of that issue, and they returned the art.

No matter if you hit your deadlines or not (and thanks to UPS I did), your payment was always delayed. It usually took a phone call (at my expense) to get them to send the check. Welcome to the big time!

It was pretty cool to walk into a comic book store and see my work staring back at me. One time I went into the Bookie Parlor, the best comic book shop in Dayton, Ohio, and the owner Hal Blevins showed me my Mickey Mantle try out assignment! They used my sample without paying me!! Cue Pink Floyd: "Welcome my son, welcome to the machine!" It took another long distance phone call to get paid for that one.

All in all it was fun painting Pink Floyd, Queen, Lou Gehrig, Madonna, the two Captains, Scotty from Star Trek, and Mark Lenard. I would take the originals to the Bookie Parlor and Hal would kindly sell them for me. He would later totally floor me by giving me a copy of the Mantle comic, *signed by Mickey Mantle*!!! One of his customers went to a Yankees Dream Week and had him sign a few copies. Hal was the best and I still miss him very much.

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