Big Names in a Paper World

I was told I would soon be introduced to a man named Bob Schreck, who everyone talked about with a level of reverence. I knew in that case that he was an important name in comics, but as I wasn’t sure in what capacity, I chatted amiably with him after the screening and the next evening at dinner. Bob was a fascinating individual; I was always struck by the sly twinkle perpetually in his eyes. It doesn’t take long before you begin to realize that his experience in the comics industry goes back a long time and that he’s full of all kinds of insider stories. It was soon clear enough that he and Matt Wagner have known each other for years and they enjoy each other’s company, and Bob is quick to praise Matt’s cooking abilities. During our very filling German dinner we made it a point to sit with them at the end of the table and bask in the jokes and laughter that inevitably results when these two see each other.

My ignorance of Bob’s background kept me from getting intimidated by his resume: as DC’s Batman editor and the former Dark Horse editor who edited Frank Miller’s Sin City, quite a few people would like to get the chance to spend time with this unassuming gentleman. Not least of which a boy I dated during college who absorbed Batman comics like they were made of his favorite candy. I told Bob and Matt, who has also worked on numerous Batman titles as an artist, that the ex-boyfriend used to complain that there were too many titles to keep up with the storylines.

“Here’s the secret,” Matt grinned. “Only read the ones you like.”

“Right,” agreed Bob. “Batman’s not real.”

True, as unreal as Batman may be he’s still makes for terrific reading, and many comics artists would love to be working on the stories that Matt and Bob so enjoy being a part of. But we talked only sporadically of comics. Much of our last day together was spent reminiscing, telling inside stories about Frank Miller and eagerly talking about HBO’s Deadwood. Though I had to spend most of their day judging the animation competition, I did manage to catch the tail end of their presentation. As Bob sat comfortably at the presentor’s table fielding the usual questions, Matt took a sharpie and drew out simple comics pages made from random plot ideas submitted by the audience. Who knew two comics hotshots could be so down-to-earth and downright fun to be around.

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