Phone Call With A Legend and Other Stories
Him (in fake Italian accent): "Yessa, may I-ah havah pizza-pie?"
Me: "Excuse me?"
Him: "Bonjourno! I would-ah like-ah pizza pie."
Me: "Who is this?"
Him: "I am-ah Italiano, just like you-ah!"
He wasn't Italiano, just like me-ah. Just an eccentric genre mega-legend who thought it was funny I had an Italian last name. When ever I hear that this guy has stepped into another pile of poo-poo I just roll my eyes and go, "yep!"
Not talking about John Byrne, by the way. Met Byrne once, had lunch with him. A gentleman. Though the editors I was with were a bit unfair, they would go, "Hey John, who was more responsible for the X-Men, you or Claremont?" This is what's known in the nomenclature as "a leading question."
Chris Claremont himself was a pretty cool guy. I had to rewrite a few balloons of a story he did for "Batman Black & White" and I was scared to death of his reaction, because I totally idolized him. And he was so zen about it, so cool. Which was great, because he's God.
Actually, there are many comic book gods. When you're a total geek like me and you finally have the chance to work in the industry you have to learn how to greet these gods. Slavish adoration will put most of them off -- though there are a few of such intense ego that such devotion is not only appreciated, it's required. Your boss will probably brief you beforehand who those bombastic few are and how to deal with them. But chances are, if you are a total geek like me, you won't mind. Unless they start talking to you like some bad Super Mario character because you are Italian.
Someone like Howard Chaykin is such a larger-than-life, impressive figure that you will look out the window when he arrives at the office to see the replica WWII bomber he heroically flew in on. On the flip-side, a guy like Frank Miller just sort of gets ushered in to see his editor and ushered out and you didn't even know he was there, you just hear about it after the fact. And an artist like Walt Simonson will hang out around the office, as down-to-earth as you can get, happy to discuss comics or sign a book.
Out of all the comic creators I have met or talked to on the phone, only one stands out as a total prick. He started out very friendly, then overly-friendly, then I had to avoid his phone calls, then he left a message that he "psychically sensed I was in trouble" and needed to speak to me immediately, then he did something like call the president of the company and try to have me fired. After something like this happens, you try to go back and enjoy some classic comic he worked on and it's really hard. But then you explain it away to yourself by figuring he was so damn talented that the sheer talent drove him completely insane -- and apparently gave him psychic abilities to boot.
However, most male comic creators have been pretty respectful to me, a good number with that chivalrous sort of "Ye fair maiden! Are those gorillas bothering you? I shall bean them on the head with this here Mjolnir!" attitude.
And yeah, I guess I'm sort of feminist but that sort of talk just turns me into a Wally Wood heroine with a Valkyrie helmet, a Smurfette smile, and a freshly-picked daisy pressed up against my nose.