Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Creator Creep Squad #1- Mike Grell

Mike Grell
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
This one is personal.

I was a huge fan of Mike Grell's work on Green Arrow. I collected each issue with great anticipation. I reread the run several times to get all the nuances of the characters and enjoy the whole package.

Grell was one of the creators I really wanted to meet someday.

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Here is the story:

On three different occasions Grell was supposed to be a guest at the Seattle Comic and Card Show. My husband and I made the trek over the mountains in snow to get there twice. Grell didn't show the first two times, and we didn't realize it until we got there. Disapointed, I figured he would eventually be at one.

The third time we got there Steve Miner assured us Grell was going to show. Well, he was three hours late. When he finally got there, we all assembled in a medium size line and waited patiently. I was so excited- it was finally going to happen! I was going to meet Mike Grell!

With $100 in my pocket to get some art if possible, and approximately 10 comics to sign, I stood there. When my turn came, I nervously said "I am such a big fan of yours...."

Grell cut me off and said "you're not the biggest fan. The guy in front of you brought so many books he is getting back in line. He is that big of a fan. In fact he is going to buy some of my art later."


So I tried again- "I really enjoyed your take on Oliver Queen..."

The son of a bitch cut me off again. "Come back over here, Guy. I got something to show you. You can stand up here with me while I sign these books."

Never ONCE did Grell look up and acknowledge my presence. He sat and chit-chatted with the guy the entire time. I was so pissed I wanted to rip up my books then and there.

My last attempt at conversation was "are you selling any art today?". His reply was "this fella next to me has the first right to look at stuff. He'll probably buy a bunch, so probably not."

This clinched it for me. I was almost in tears, I was so pissed. I walked off, threw my comics into my husband's waiting hands and said "I will never buy another book Mike Grell writes or draws ever again".

And I haven't.

In comparing notes with my fellow fans in line, this happened quite a bit that day. Grell was rude and cold all day. In my mind, why bother to show up if you are going to be that big of a prick? I was FURIOUS, and I feel I had every right to be.

A couple of years later I was getting some books signed at the same comic and card show when I got into a conversation with another creator about Grell's behavior that day. Said anonymous creator said that Grell was probably having a "woman hating day" that day and not to take it personally. Too late.

At any rate, I haven't publicly told this story until now. My opinion is that when a creator is at a show, it is a business proposition. The creator needs to be professional, and polite. If he or she gets sick of the grind, they need to take a break. If it is a bad day, and said creator doesn't want to deal with fans, CANCEL instead of being an asshole. This is a business, people.

That is why Grell will always be my number one in the creep squad. I don't care what anyone else thinks about this. In my mind he had every opportunity to make a good impression and he chose not to, so screw him.


Brett said...

Had nearly an identical experience with L. Sprague de Camp at a Sci Fi convention many years ago when I was a starving college student. Was reading his short stories, bought a softback of one of his collections and took it to be signed. He signed it, but pointed out the guy in front of me had had the courtesy to bring a hardback. He wasn't joking, I thru the book away.

I suspect it is the willing syncophants that fool these people into thinking they are somehow above us. I love good comics and fiction writers and artists and go out of my way to thank them when I get a chance to, but that doesn't mean I want to shine their shoes or be their buddy. Anyway, sorry to hear about Grell, I had a piece of his art from an old Green Lantern/Green Arrow that is one of the few comic related things I have lost over the years. Have no clue where it ended up but it was a nice drawing.

Heidi Meeley said...

Brett, I am sorry to hear you had a bad experience as well. I was hoping they were few and far between. I don't blame you for throwing the book away- I would have ripped my comics in half if my husband wouldn't have been there to take possesion of them and put them away where I couldn't get at them!

I agree that it is the syncophants that help make the situation worse. I know that this guy who was conversing with Grell was EQUALLY rude, as he didn't acknowledge that there were others there to get some face time as well.

Furthermore, I had $100 in my pocket, which is a lot of money to me. I was willing to spend part or all of it to get some art. I couldn't believe that Grell couldn't at least see the commerce aspect of things!

Thank you for commiserating. I am sorry again about your experience as well. Some creative minds need a reality check!

ShellyS said...

What a jerk. I've gotten to meet a few comics creators, SF writers, and actors, and most (not all) were very pleasant. Harlan Ellison, doing a signing about 25 years ago was a jerk, but that's pretty much a known fact so, except for the kid he reduced to tears, folks were okay about it.

It was at the opening of a Forbidden Planet in midtown NY that's long gone. The kid had the nerve to give him the photonovel of the Star Trek episode Ellison had written and disavowed after it got changed from his original script. He told the kid he wouldn't sign it because he didn't write it.

It was awful to witness. Especially, since he gave a lot of time to the young guy next in line who had a pirated copy of the actual script Ellison had written.

Heidi Meeley said...

Shelly, that sounds just awful for that poor kid! How mortifying. I bet it was terrible to observe the whole thing, knowing that Ellison could do it to anyone else at any moment.

I just don't see the point of being mean to someone of careless of their feelings just because a person can. It absolutely befuddles me.

I guess it chalks up to ego and selfishness, not to mention the fans that exaberate that behavior like Brett pointed out.

Thank you for the further example- it sure shows which creators care about their fans.

Carl said...

My worst artist/creator experience was with Neal Adams. I loved Neal Adams' Batman, his Tarzan paintings and I always bought everything I could find on him. I had book after book of his covers and comics. Then, he was at Megacon and had his own company's booth and even sold his books.comics and art at it. So, I was stoked, I took all my '70s Tarzans, my Batman books including several hardcovers and found him up one of the hallways back in the old Omniplex Con Center. So, I get in line and I look and see he's got a sign that says 3 free autographs of any item but after that, it's $3. I thought, well, I can get the 3 and then I don't mind paying a bit, this is one of my fave guys. Well, I wait. And I wait. And he's looking at portfolios and talking to guy after guy that has one and wants to break into the biz. I understand, he has a school (or did) but after waiting about 20 minutes or more, I really started to get mad. I'm the only guy in line after the portfolio guy and it's like he can't even see me. So finally they wrap it up, but I'm already pissed and I get my things signed but it pretty much ruined my love of Neal Adams. And one of the guys I told the story to said he heard that a lot of artists/creators do that as an autograph "nuisance" fee. So, I don't buy any books anymore 'cause it's Neal Adams. I won't avoid them, but I won't look for them either...

CalvinPitt said...

That's really fantastic that the one creator excuses it by saying Grell was having a "woman hating day". Oh, well that's makes it all perfectly understandable.

*rolls eyes*

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, that is so sad! Thank you for sharing that.

I wish there was a way to make these creators understand what it does to a fan when they are rude, distant, or in general unpleasant. Would they like it if they called my business and I was rude to them?

It killed your love for Neal, and it killed my love for Mike. Too sad

Heidi Meeley said...

Spencer- I was pretty much not convinced by the "woman hating day" remark either. It just made me dislike Grell more. It also made me wonder why his friend was condoning that kind of behavior.

That's really going to help Grell behave better, isn't it?? Hmmm...

Let's enable our friend to be a bigger jack ass! Yay!

Luis K. said...

These stories -- particularly the Grell one -- sadden and enrage me. Thank God it seems to be true that, as Shelley says, most of these creators are actually very pleasant. And I'm so glad that when I finally got to meet one of my favorite novelists/comics creators -- Mr. Neil Gaiman -- that he was so incredibly friendly, witty, gracious, and accomodating. He didn't play favorites, he never got nasty, and he signed stuff for everyone, even though the crowd was six times the size he expected.

I'm not saying I expect every fan-swamped creative-type to go above and beyond the call of duty like that, but we really, truly appreciated it. And while the reason I snapped up Anansi Boys when it came out and am buying a copy of The Eternals as soon as I can get to a comics shop this week is simply because I enjoy the man's writing, it does give me an extra nice feeling to know that I'm supporting the work of a man who is genuinely pleasant in person as well as talented.

I mean, I buy Harlan Ellison's stuff too. But I usually wait until it's in the bargain or secondhand section. ;p

Carl said...

I met Harlan Ellison too, at Megacon back in like 2000 (I think). His wife was watching the crowd. I had the photonovel for "City On The Edge of Forever" as well as his new script book for it. She stopped me and said, "He won't sign that." I looked and said, "Oh, really? Why?" And she told me about how he considered it not his story, so he wouldn't sign it. And I noticed that he kept looking to her and asking if he was being cruel again, like she was his 'Jiminy Cricket'. I had a good fan experience with HE since his wife saved me an embarrassing moment, bless her sweet heart. If we could only get a legion of people like her for the guys listed here...

Heidi Meeley said...

Luis- it is great to hear a nice fan story. It sounds like Neil Gaiman is a great guy. I wish Grell could have followed his example, because if a famous guy like Gaiman can be a professional and is setting the standard, there is no reason why these others can't.

Thank you for the link and the great feedback. It gives me hope!

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, that is too funny. It is like, let's get handlers for the asshole squad or something!

Bless his wife for her quick thinking and kindness. She is obviously the ying to his yang!

Luis K. said...

Thank you, Heidi; I love reading your blog -- whether the subject matter is as unpleasant as Creator Creeps or as fun as 'Superheroes I'd Date'. :)

Here's something relevant to the Creator Creeps topic, from a transcript of one of the talks Neil Gaiman gave while he was here:

"When I was a young journalist, I learned very rapidly that most of the people at the top of their profession were incredibly nice, incredibly sweet, incredibly helpful. The ones who weren’t were all the same creators. They were the pains in the ass. They were the ones who had to have, you know, the Perrier put in the toilet before they went in."

That was when he decided "to be one of the first-raters when he grew up", as he put it, "because it’s going to be so much easier." ;)

Chris said...

For what it's worth, Grell was also responsible for pretty much the worst Iron Man run in recent memory about 3 years ago.

RedheadFangirl said...

I have had great writer and artist experiences, one of the reasons I became such a fangirl was the personal interaction at cons with comic creators that you can't get with book authors.

When you meet a creator in person, and they are decent to you, it kicks up their work tenfold.
Brian K. Vaughan was humble and amazing. Rags Morales is mellow and awesome.

Only 2 people, of the 100 or so I've met, get the thumbs down- Greg Horn spent the whole time with the IGN blog folks and just brushed off my She-Hulk comics. I was getting some things for a a friend who loves Cry for Dawn from Joseph Michael Lisner - he wouldn't even look up or acknowledge me! Good thing he had a nice guy work the booth. I'm just a fan, but he had a chance to turn me on to his work. If it wasn't buying for her, I wouldn't give the man a dime.

So, I guess "peoples are peoples" like the rats say in that Muppet movie..

Heidi Meeley said...

Luis- thank you so much for the compliment! I really appreciate it, more then you can know!

I love that quote from Gaiman. It is so true that it is almost painful. Having class is a virtue in my eyes, and I believed my mother when she told me it takes more energy to be mean then it does to be nice.

That quote really does say it all, doesn't it?

I hope to be wandering over to your blog this weekend, by the way! It looks very cool.

Heidi Meeley said...

Chris, that is right! It was that bad, huh? I didn't bother, because it was right around then that I had met Grell and he was so lovely...

Heidi Meeley said...

Redhead fangirl- a belated congratulations on your blog's one year anniversary! I absolutely love going there! I hope your con is a rousing success!

I am glad you have had good creator experiences other then the two fellas you mentioned. That is too bad, I would have thought those two would have been pretty cool.

I met Linsner five years ago and he was really shy, but kinda mellow. His man Zeke was there and was the main talker. It was kind of the whole "advance man" vibe, you know?

Take care and have a wonderful weekend!