I had a nice evening last night watching my pal and former neighbor Stephan Pastis be interviewed on the stage of our local high school. The event was one of a series of "Author's Night" appearances hosted by the alumni foundation, meant to feature writers with a connection to the school. Although Stephan had the misfortune to grow up in southern California, his wife Staci is a third-generation alum and his son Tom attends now, so close enough.
A few hundred people crowded the old auditorium, most clutching a book to be signed (also for sale in the lobby). Having heard many of Stephan's stories first-hand over pizza and beer, I hadn't intended to go until he made me promise I would. Sigh. But I'm glad I did. He's a good raconteur, alternately funny, snarky, and disarmingly honest. It's also fun to see him in his element, interacting with fans. Most interesting to me: while much of the crowd was there to see the creator of the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine," there were a non-trivial number of kids clutching "Timmy Failure" books who seemed to have no idea Stephan had another career ("you mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?!"). His diabolical master plan to conquer all media may actually work!
|Answering a question posed by local journalist Chris Smith.|
|Signing books afterward. The line was long.|
Setting aside the envy gnawing at my soul, I'm happy for Stephan; this seemed to be sort of a homecoming that meant something to him. I was also happy to see so many folks turn out to spend an hour with a cartoonist and, now, kids' author. People love comics. People love books. Some people love them a lot (Stephan has a few passionate fans).
Good for books. Good for comics. Good for everyone.