In my short time as a comics pro, I’ve been a part of many signings, both by myself and with others. But I think it’s safe to say that none were as successful as “Pledge Night”, the West Coast release party for HAZED, my dark comedy about sororities and eating disorders illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez.
We had massive turnout. I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 people were there over the course of the evening. But it wasn’t just the numbers of people, it was the quality. Meltdown comics in LA has become a hot spot for art shows as well as comic signings. My non-comic book geek friends from law school, college and “the industry” were all shocked at the fact that these were smart, hip, good looking people who were could converse on topics other than whether Captain America is a Skrull.
Not all of the guests were there for me. Many were there for our co-hosts, Brian Lynch and Dave Crosland, creators of IDW’s “Everybody’s Dead”, about the last fraternity on earth following a zombie invasion. I’ve know Dave for a long time, in fact we discussed doing Hazed together. He and fellow Silky Bureaucrat Jim Mahfood did live art to the beat of DJ Expo.
I met Brian, who also writes Angel with Joss Whedon, that night. Not only is he an incredibly nice guy, but Everybody’s Dead is an absolutely hysterical book which I highly recommend. Chris Ryall from IDW was there, who I still refer to as “Riled”, his old Bendis Board handle.
The idea, if it’s not apparent, was to take two college-themed comics and have a frat/sorority party. We had a keg. I shot down the idea of Dave Matthews music. Unfortunately, everyone else shot my idea of hiring a model to stand there and let girls circle her fat.
Pledge night also marked the debut of the official HAZED t-shirts, one of which I’m wearing in the photos. The unisex version says “Stop the Spread of STDs” (STDS being the name of the fictional sorority in HAZED), a source of much amusement to former sorority girls in attendance.
Speaking of which, the highlight of the night was not the attention, the chance to hang out with friends, or even the free alcohol. A female college student, an aspiring comics artist, had travelled quite a distance to tell me how much Hazed had reflected her campus experience. While I’m sad that the sorority hazing rituals I learned about at Duke years ago still occur nationally today, it’s small moments like this that make me feel like what I’m writing is resonating with the right audience.
Thanks to everyone who came out, to Asahi beer for sponsoring it, and especially to Meltdown Comics. I also want to single out Matt Gagnon, who organized the party at Meltdown, and is now an editor at BOOM! He’s been a great friend, and while I’m sad he won’t be there every Wednesday to chat comics, I’m happy that he’s finally going to be able to use his sharp comics mind to shape the medium for the better.