As some of you may know, my rekindled interest in comics began about seven years ago, thanks to the awesome folks at Third-Eye Comics in Annapolis. The store has grown by leaps and bounds, moving into bigger locations twice, and hosting increasingly cool release events and creator signings. A few months ago, the owner Steve and his team made a HUGE announcement: On Saturday, January 17, current Batman writer and all-around kick-ass guy Scott Snyder would be at the store.
I immediately sent word out to the far corners of the Earth, and received immediate response from Erich: 850+ miles would not keep him from this momentous occasion. My friend Adam would also be joining us on this quest; you don’t know him, but he’s totally cool. Plus he also lives in Maryland, like right down the road from me, so transportation would not be an issue for him.
Skip forward to the 17th, when after many weeks, miles, logistical arrangements, and delicious hamburgers the night before, we were in line at 8 am chatting with other fans. The hope was to be part of the “first fifty,” who had been promised some sort of prize. Alas, we were literally the 52nd and 53rd people in line. Still, we had tasty bagel sandwiches, delicious Doc Brown’s cream soda, and could actually stand in the sunlight to feel slightly less frozen.
On a side-note, Erich got to put some line-skipping jerk in his place. We were right at the corner of the building – hence why we could step out of the shadows into warmth – and the line had started to kind of loosen up. We had all gotten to know the people near us, though, so one of the guys (Mr. Hat) behind us noticed when this douche just kind of appeared near Erich and me. I had mentioned Adam would be joining us later, but this keen observer noticed that our new addition didn’t seem to be talking to us at all.
“Hey, is this guy with you two?” The Question himself (or herself, New 52!) couldn’t have posed the inquiry better. We turned, saw Sir-Line-Skips-A-Lot, and shook our heads at Mr. Hat. “No,” I replied, “we don’t know this guy. Our friend isn’t here yet.” The die had been cast, and for a moment there was just silence as we waited to see how our shared antagonist would react. Mr. Hat and I both then explained that the end of the line was several hundred people back, which is when things got interesting.
“I drove from another state to get here,” said the anthropomorphic anus in the expected asinine tone, “It took hours, and so I thin-“ Nope. Not going to happen, prick. Enter Erich, in all his glory, while this jerk is still mid-whine: “I flew in from Alabama for this last night, and that didn’t keep us from being in line at 8 am.” Boom! Headshot! The guy deflated instantly, and limped towards the end of the line as it tapered off into the sunrise.
Adam got there shortly, met Erich, and we were chatting geekily when the next awesome thing happened: Scott Snyder drove by the line waving to everyone. Apparently he was running a little late because it was his freaking birthday, and he had been at breakfast with his family. We failed to get a picture of this, unfortunately, mainly because we were all flipping our collective shit. The store was about to open, Snyder was there; it was all about to go down!
The event was scheduled to start at 11 am, and I have no idea how long we spent in line inside the store, but it flew by. Third-Eye is overflowing with cool shit, and fairly overwhelming at times, so we were enjoying having time to look around the stuff in our immediate vicinity as we got closer to the table. The signing limit was five items that you brought with you, plus as many things as you wanted to buy and get signed. We were all three a little conservative at first, selecting just a few things for ourselves and friends, then realized “Wait, when are we ever going to have this chance again?” I personally snagged Batman #37, Wytches #1, Batman: The Black Mirror, and Swamp Thing: Raise Them Bones.
Then, while talking to Scott (Mr. Snyder? Scotty?) I handed over my Batman and Joker “Death of the Family” trades, mentioning that they were my two personal items. “Awesome! Do you want these personalized, then? How do you spell your name?” Yes, yes, Mr. Snyder. I want you to personalize my freaking Batman comics! He signed them “To Trey: Thanks from Gotham” and “To Trey: Keep Smiling!” I could have died of joy.
All told, the three of us probably chatted with him for ten minutes while he signed our stuff, and he was engaged and friendly the entire time. I mentioned that we had recently watched the “Necessary Evil” documentary about DC villains, which he’s featured in, and he lit up and told us the following anecdote (which I ashamedly didn’t get on camera):
“That interview was a ton of fun to do, but I was actually really nervous, and I think I sound kind of dorky. You see, they filmed a bunch of us all at once, and when I got there Geoff Johns was doing his piece. I listened to him speak really eloquently about everything, and then realized they expected me to go after him. He patted my shoulder as he left and said ‘Your turn, Scotty.’ So yeah, comparatively I feel like my bit came out sounding a bit dull. ‘I like Batman… the Joker is a mean guy.’ That sort of thing.”
So no one feels left out, Geoff Johns has written numerous defining stories in the DC Universe over the past fifteen years, basically re-innovating characters like the Flash and Green Lantern from the ground up, and arguably saving part of the industry in the process. Scott Snyder is no slouch, and I don’t think he had reason to be nervous. Still, I’d be nervous if I was expected to talk about storytelling in games right after listening to Hideo Kojima chat about it.
As if that wasn’t enough, when it was Adam’s turn, he showed Scott his wedding band, which his wife Judy awesomely had etched with the Batman symbol. To our utter surprise and joy, Snyder revealed that his own wife had also given him a secret Batman ring! Again, I was too busy being a huge nerd to remember my camera, but I’m glad I got to witness that shared moment of appreciation for the Caped Crusader.
The entire experience proved without a doubt that Scott Snyder is an exceptionally down-to-Earth, nerdy guy in addition to being a phenomenal writer. Both he and the staff told us to come back at 2 pm, and we might be able to take more pictures and talk with him for a little longer. We were hungry and had been planning on coming back any way, so we headed over to the PA Dutch market in Annapolis for cheesy pretzel dogs, ribs, and delicious candy. Feeling satiated and still excited, we headed back up to Third-Eye…
…to find that the line was still wrapped around the building, and showed no signs of slowing down. Keep in mind, the original signing event was scheduled to end at 1 pm, and it was already getting close to 2. We ended up still going to the store again, and came back a third time the next day; on this last visit, they told us that he had stayed until 6 pm. That’s a full five extra hours, on his OWN @($*ING BIRTHDAY, to make sure everyone got taken care of. It was at that moment that I decided it was time to get my hands on trades of his entire Batman run, plus all of his side projects, despite the fact that I have all of those titles via… other means.
Anyone who kicks that much ass gets the full support of my wallet; he’s joining the ranks of the Foo Fighters, the Coen brothers, Justified, Stephen King, Pixar, The Lonely Island, Alan Moore, Hideo Kojima, Game of Thrones, and others on the list of “things I buy with real, actual money.”
Even though we didn’t get any more time with Scott, the two subsequent trips back to Third-Eye netted us some sweet, astonishingly nerdy gear.
Of course, the nerdgasm extended all the way through the long weekend. After out last trip to the store on Sunday, Erich and I binge watched three DC animated films – Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, Justice League: War, and Superman / Batman: Apocalypse – then wrapped the evening up with Akira. Monday afternoon was spent admiring our new acquisitions, and we rounded the trip out with a viewing of Watchmen, which neither of us had seen in several years. It’s still excellent, in case you were curious, and immediately kindled a desire to read the graphic novel again. After I catch up on Batman, of course.