This past weekend my girlfriend Julie and I headed to Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted. The expo is a weekend-long celebration of independent comics, inspired by Chicago’s legacy as home to many underground and alternative comic artists. It features comics and zines for sale, workshops, exhibitions, panel discussions and signings.
Our friend Dave Scheidt, writer of Monster Dudes and Roaring 20’s, was there promoting his work. He had told us he was going would be at the expo back when we were bumming around this year’s Printers Row Lit Fest. While there I saw a copy of Lisa Hanawalt’s a My Dirty Dumb Eyes at Drawn & Quarterly’s table.
Being a huge fan of her work, I was about to buy it before Julie pointed out a sign on the table said she was going to be signing copies at CAKE. So I decided to hold off on buying a copy so I could get one that Hanawalt could sign in person for me. I figured I might even be able to chat her up while she signed it.
Of course I should have known better as I’m not very good at articulating myself around strangers, especially one whose work I admire. I know this might come as a shock as I’m a reporter who get’s paid to do exactly that. Anyways, I first came across Lisa Hanawalt’s art while I was in college. I stumbled upon her flickr, lobsterrags, during a Kate Beaton comics binge in between classes. Since then I’ve been following her work and recommending it to all of my friends.
So when I did purchase the book from her table and ask her to sign it, I figured it would go something like this:
“Hi thanks for purchasing my book,” said Hanawalt.
“No worries. I’ve been a fan of your work since college. My girlfriend and I really love your surreal funny aesthetic. It was so cool to see your work published in Vice and the New York Times,” I said, before opening the book up and asking her to sign it.
“Oh yeah it was a pretty awesome when they asked to work with me. Thanks for being a fan,” she said, drawing something rad while signing the book and chatting up Julie and me.
Wrong. Instead as I walked over to her book Julie abandoned me out of fear, saying she needed to go say hi to Scheidt again before quickly walking away. When I arrived at the table, instead of asking for a copy to purchase, I just picked up a book and gave it to Hanawalt like a weirdo.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence I asked her to sign it for me. She asked my name and I said Alex in what I imagine was the weirdest voice possible, all the while sweating profusely (although this might have been from the humid weather and not my nervousness).
When she finished she handed it to me and I stood there confused, not knowing what to do next. Finally someone at her table asked if I wanted to buy it, to which I nodded yes. After shelling out the cash for the book I said thanks to the two of them and briskly walked away. Julie found me later and admitted that because she would have reacted in the same way she went to go hide at Scheidt’s table.
So in conclusion, both Julie and I would like to apologize to Lisa Hanawalt for being a couple of weirdos. We like your work and your book is great, just don’t ask us to not be terrified of how awesome you are. Ω