Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fan Expo Vancouver: Stuart Immonen

As mentioned in my previous post, last weekend my wonderful wife and I attended the first day of the inaugural Fan Expo Vancouver. We met many wonderful people, and I talked about a broad selection of them before. Now I'd like to focus on one of two that were particularly special for me.

Stuart Immonen has long been a favourite artist of mine. I think I learned his name during his work on Nextwave with Warren Ellis, but I've been enjoying his work long before that. Superman: Secret Identity, written by Kurt Busiek is particularly memorable and beautiful, deserving of more acclaim than it has ever gotten. Of course, Stuart also had the unenviable task of taking over Ultimate Spider-Man after Mark Bagley's record shattering run of 111 continuous issues. But while Stuart has long been an incredible artist, he has been an incredible person for much, much longer. And I have a story to prove it.

In 2007 Mike Wieringo passed away. I wrote about it at the time, and it's something that came up when I was in San Diego Comic Con a year later, and over and over again in the last few years. The entire industry seemed to have been shaken by his loss and mention of his very name is still enough to bring a hushed reverence over any crowd of comic fans.

In June of 2008 Marvel released the What If... comic Mike was working on at the time of his passing, a comic that was completed by a whole host of triple-A names in the comics industry in his honor, and all proceeds went to charity. At HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina, that year, a bunch of those people involved got together to sign copies of the comic for fans. I wasn't able to attend, but desperately wanted a copy, so, in a move that was incredibly forward and bold of me, I emailed one of the people that would be there to ask if he'd pick me up a copy. The worst he could say was "no".

Instead, Stuart assured me that, if he had the time, he'd be delighted to do so. A few days after the convention, Stuart emailed me again to tell me that it was a crazy busy time, and he unfortunately could not get me a copy. I thanked him and thought nothing more of it until a week or two later when I got another email from Stuart telling me that he had received a copy as a memento of the event and, I quote, "I certainly don't need a signed book, and in fact INSIST on forwarding it to you." He insisted! How could I turn that down? By way of a "thank you", I donated $100 to the Hero Initiative, a charity for people in the comics industry that need assistance. Stuart had even kindly added "To Denis" in one corner, much to my eternal joy*.

I never believed I would ever get to meet Stuart to thank him in person for such an awesome gesture, but thanks to the first ever Fan Expo Vancouver, I got to stand in front of him, hold back a rising flood of tears and recount my amazing tale. His wonderful and hilarious wife Kathryn was by his side and told me that she remembered the correspondence, and was delighted to meet me.

I live in an amazing world where amazing things happen every day. I'd grateful that I get to be a part of a surprising number of them on an annual basis**.

*- I would love to include a photo of the comic in question, but one of the disadvantages of moving to Vancouver was that I left a lot of prized possessions at home in the care of my mother, and I don't seem to have a photo posted on my Flickr account or elsewhere. Oh well.
**- This was so amazing I forgot to ask if I could get a photo with Stuart. To say that I was a little star-struck is an understatement.

Related Posts
Mike Wieringo
A Story From Two Years Ago

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