This past Thursday, in conjunction with the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and the debut of The Legendary Star-Lord, a Guardians spin-off, Anaheim’s Phat Collectables had a store signing with Star-Lord scribe Sam Humphries at the Anaheim UltraLuxe Cinema. I missed the in-store signing and was a little late to theater, but when I arrived I saw a crowd of enthusiastic fans of all shapes, ages, ethnicities, and genders, copies of Star-Lord #1 in tow, patiently waiting in line.
The line didn’t seem to move. It only grew in length as the minutes passed. Normally, this would be a drawback, impatient fans groaning as the minutes tick by on their Casio digital watches. But that wasn’t the case here. Once they got to the front of the line, nobody left with anything but a wide smile. Between the shop and the theater, Humphries had spent hours signing and greeting fans, yet his demeanor was nothing short of someone relishing every moment. Humphries is the kind of person who’ll inspire, at least, half of the kids he meets to pick up a pen to write or draw. When I tried to get a picture of Sam interacting with fans, he turns towards the camera and poses. He tried to pose for another picture but my ancient technology froze up. Sam Humphries is a guy who’s always on, but it’s not a schtick, he’s genuinely passionate.
When the signing had concluded, we were ushered into line for the auditorium. There was a sense of anticipation all around me. I was bookended by two groups of people. On one end there was the really gung-ho 16-year-old (I know her age because she told me she just turned 16 about 5 times) and the other a group of mid-20s women, but each side had Rocket Raccoon shirts.
Once we were seated inside the theater, a Q&A moderated by the fellows of the Four Colors Commentary with Sam Humphries began. Maintaining his affable ways, Humphries talked honestly with the Four Colors gang and the audience. When asked if the Marvel Cinematic Universe had any bearings on his own stories, Humphries explained that he has quite a bit of autonomy, “It’s my own thing. My own vision.” He would explain what drew him to Star-Lord, “I enjoy writing smart-asses and think they’re fun to read. Who doesn’t like a smart-ass? Don’t answer that question.” Like he did on a one-on-one basis during the signing, Humphries carried that likeability to the packed auditorium. But when prodded about his favorite books and artists, he wisely didn’t choose favorites. Though he mentioned the Ed Brubaker-Sean Phillips book, Fatale (which I’ve read a few issues of and love), and a current study of EC Comics (always great), he avoided praising or damning.
Now onto the sour side of the evening, which had nothing to do with the good people at Phat Collectables, Four Color Commentary, or Sam Humphries. It concerned the hosting venues, the Anaheim UltraLuxe Cinema. Their projection was dim, either by purposefully dimming the projection or, most likely, leaving the lens on for 3D projection during a 2D screening. It’s a common occurrence, and the lens for 3D projection leads to a natural dimming effect – if you notice this, be vigilant! Even more damning, this supposedly upscale theater left the air conditioning unit off in a packed theater of 300. The patrons in the sweltering heat were fanning themselves off with the boards that backed their bags.
Even with the debacle concerning the air conditioning, the night was a rousing success. The good people at Phat Collectables and the Four Color Commentary crew gave their all to provide fans the best experience possible. Sam Humphries can’t make it into Carl’s Future Comic Rock Stars column, because he’s already a rock star. He’s the kind of guy that the industry needs more of. I say this in the most-guilty ways, but I’ve never read a Sam Humphries comic book (again, I’m the film guy). But I’ll seek his work out now, because he’s the kind of guy you root for. Good guys win sometimes.