FantaCo birthday musing

There was a time when I used to buy into the notion that the past is past, and you move on to the next thing, as though life were some connect-the-dots puzzle, where you go from point A to point B to point C without ever doubling back. It’s not that I ever really thought that on my own, but that others suggested it, and I, for some reason, bought into it for a while.

I suppose it can be a useful tool, letting go of the past, when the past was awful. But when it was good, why forget it? (And I could make the case for remembering the less good as well.)

And some people don’t forget. Not that often, given the fact that I worked there 8.5 years, I’ve mentioned FantaCo, the comic/film book retailer/publisher/convention operator in Albany, NY. Even less frequently, I have mentioned Raoul Vezina, the house artist who also worked on publications for FantaCo (Smilin’ Ed, X-Men Chronicles) and others (New Paltz Comix, Naturalist at Large). But those brief comments generated not one but TWO of Raoul’s friends, to write to me this summer, days apart, indicating that they appreciated the mention of their friend. Understand that Raoul DIED in 1983, and it’ll give you a sense of how much impact he had on their lives, and to be sure, on mine.

These are drawings, obviously, that he did for his friend Buck. I know I have one that he did for me as the duck caricature that you see on the header.

I also reached out to Tom the Mayor, a reader of this blog, (not to be confused with Tom, the owner), who worked at FantaCo after Raoul died, right as I was leaving. Since today is the anniversary of FantaCo’s birth in 1978, I asked him if he had any impressions of FantaCo to share. He wrote:
When I first started at the company, we ran the whole publishing and shipping operation out of the very cramped back room of the store; if you stepped wrong you could fall into the basement. Your desk was there, Tom’s desk was there, Hank Jansen worked in one corner, and I was in another corner. What with backstock everywhere, if a freelancer came in the room, somebody would have to step out. I can understand why you got burnt out shortly after you brought me into the company.
Actually, I was burnt out BEFORE we brought him into the company. Yet it is often interesting to get the perspective of other people regarding events at which you were present. But Tom is right; that back room WAS an accident waiting to happen, especially for those unfamiliar with it.

Getting back to Raoul, his friend Ed also allowed me to post these drawings by Raoul; the top one is less clear because it’s still in the frame. I’ll have to get around and scan some more of my Vezina artwork.

As I’ve noted, FantaCo closed in 1998. My buddy Steve Bissette and I, a couple years ago, found it necessary to make corrections in the FantaCo Wikipedia listing, not because, as someone wrote to Steve at the time, we wanted to “correct the Internet” – twice this month I’ve quoted that phrase – but because it was a part of each of our personal histories that required a greater deal of accuracy, lest the faux facts proliferate.

Oh, yeah, on this date, Jack Kirby was born in 1917; he died in 1994. Tom (the owner) said that opening the store on Jack’s birthday was purely coincidental.
A mass e-mail I received from John Hebert, with whom I worked on the comic book Sold Out for FantaCo:

Subject: Hell has frozen over!!!

For any of you who haven’t heard yet…….John Hebert is a father!!!!

Welcome to the world, Ari Michelle Hebert- born after all of an 8 minute delivery on August 10th, 2010; 6 lbs, 11.5 oz, 18 inches long… and she is GORGEOUS and has already been on the local news and the front page of the local Business Review!!!!!!!!!!

And all this time, people said I was a real mother!!!!

0 thoughts on “FantaCo birthday musing

  1. I wish I had the picture of John Hebert wearing his Batman mask at a chaotic giveaway of “Batman” movie tickets at Fantaco, when the first Tim Burton movie came out. The crowd was out of control, and John was there as the Caped Crusader.

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