Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Invincimmortal Iron Matt Fraction

It was at the San Diego Comic Con of 2008 that I first met Matt Fraction. He was doing one of those hour long special appearance signings at the Marvel booth and the area was a total zoo. Luckily I had the foresight - after being denied a signing the day before for someone I do not even remember - to get in line about an hour early. I had never heard of Mr. Fraction prior to getting my mits on the comic The Immortal Iron Fist, which he coauthored with Ed Brubaker and David Aja on art, but that comic was one of the best super hero books centered on a character that I had loved since I was a child that I had ever read. I believe that I had read an interview somewhere that described The Immortal Iron Fist as a Kung-Fu Noir, and there is really no better way to put it except to maybe to add the word Legend or Lineage somewhere in the description. In the first issue alone, there is the grand threat of enemy terrorists, giant deadly steel insects, corporate intrigue, mysterious new comers with all-too-familiar powers, and the return of old foes previously thought dead. In the comic, Danny Rand is the Iron Fist, a martial arts master raised and trained in the mystical city of K'un L'un and he has the ability to channel the power of the dragon Shou Lau the Undying into his fist making it "Like a thing unto iron." Of course this sounds a bit cheesy, but what Fraction, Brubaker and Aja did with the character and the revamped history of the Iron Fist throughout their tenure on the book completely pulled me in.

Now, back to the main point of my story. There I was waiting in line with my two Immortal Iron Fist hardcover books, and glaring at the man in front of me with his thirty plus comics consisting of multiples of the same issue that he was fully intending to sell, and all the while getting bumped by the thousands of people shambling by the line and looking at the two nearly naked girls posing on a zombie motorcycle or some such thing at the booth across the way. Basically, I was becoming thoroughly irritated yet at the same time strangely happy to stay in that very spot; I still do not know what the zombie motorcycle thing was about.
An hour eventually went by and the line began to move, and I borderline lost it when another leech tried to convince the man with the thirty plus books to add his own stack of about fifteen issues of the same comic so that he could also sell them to the monstrous pile. Did I mention I had two books? Luckily, they announced a cap on the number of books that Mr. Fraction would be signing and I gave a sigh of relief that I would at least have time for my two books to be signed.
When it was finally my turn, I stepped up to the podium to hand Mr. Fraction my books and his head cocked to the side and he had an odd look on his face. I thought that maybe I had made a mistake and that he actually did not have anything to do with the books that I had just handed him, or that I had broken some sort of unspoken rule and was about to get my ass removed from the premises. Instead, he pointed at me and said, "You. You look like someone I would know. Like someone I would hang with." I looked around a bit nervously, half expecting to be filmed for some sort of joke that I was not in on, but he continued, "You just seem like someone that would call me up one day and say, 'Matt, can you help me move this weekend?' and I would say sure, buddy."
I laughed at this and while he was signing my books I said, "Funny you should mention that, man, I'm moving next week and I could sure use a hand. Just kidding." He too laughed and I told him that his book was one of my all time favorites and that my wife was a teacher and that she loved the latest issue with Danny Rand opening an after school program for children and when he stated that hunger, or being "food insecure," can essentially destroy any chance a child has of being healthy, adjusting socially or achieving academically it blew us away. I did not actually say all of that, I believe that I said something to the effect of, "My wife is a teacher and I had her read the latest issue and she loved what you had to say about hungry kids."
Mr. Fraction replied, "Thank you. That means a lot to me. Everything that I write is from here, he said pointing to his heart. At this point, other people were getting a bit irritated and I took my books, shook his hand and was off.
The next day, there was another signing, only this time with Ed Brubaker and as I was standing in line waiting for him to sign the same books that Matt Fraction had signed the previous day, when I saw that Mr. Fraction was there as well. I had told my wife of what had happened the previous day, and she did not wholly believe me, thinking that I had stretched the truth a bit, but as I stepped up to Mr. Burbaker's podium to have him sign my books, Mr. Fraction saw me and made a "V" sign, brought the tips of his two outstretched fingers to his eyes and then pointed them at me, smiled and gave me thumbs up sign. He then seemed a tad bit embarrassed for a brief moment. My wife looked at me in shock and I introduced her to him and explained that I had told him that she was a teacher and that she had appreciated what he had said in the comic. He said that what she did was great and thanked her whole heartedly. Unfortunately, I did not have anything new for him to sign, so we said our goodbyes and made our way over to Ed Brubaker, who signed my books and posed for a picture, but that was about it as he was chatting with someone else the whole time, which was totally fine. After we walked away, my wife had a complete freakout over what had happened and she excitedly kept saying how crazy the whole occurrence was. SDCC continued on and overall we had a blast.
Now for Matt Fraction run in number two. A few months later, Metro Comics, the local comic shop, announced that Matt Fraction was going to be appearing at the store for a signing and Amy and I decided to go. Armed with the trade paperbacks of The Order - a great series cut short far too soon - and Cassanova, which is a crazy book that I will have to reread a few times to completely figure it out.
*note-Cassanova is illustrated by Brazilian artist Gabriel Ba, who is currently working with his twin brother Fabio Moon on the comic Daytripper, which I will be writing about at some point soon. There are currently four issues that have been published that I must reread. One of my favorite new creator owned works. A simply wonderful series thus far.
My wife and I stood in line waiting and she was actually getting jittery and excitedly whispered, "Do you think he will remember you?" I said that he probably wouldn't and that she needed to relax, because she was beginning to stress me out. When I reached about third in line, Mr. Fraction saw me and said, "Yeah. I remember you," causing more than a few people to look at me in an odd manner. I walked up to the table and said hello, setting the books down in front of him, and he said, "You must think that I am a crazy stalker or something. I hope I didn't freak you out in San Diego."
I laughed and told him, "No way, you made my whole trip." Then I said something totally idiotic that I don't even really remember about if he was staying in town, or I suggested somewhere for him to eat or something equally stupid. We shook hands and my wife and I left for Coffee Cat, where she grades her student's papers and I work on my novel. Once we settled in with coffees and scones, my wife urged me to open the books and see what he had said. Both copies of The Order had his signature, but Cassanova had his Signature and "To Don. Sorry I am a creep."
Such a nice, funny, and good person who is completely deserving of the fame that he is currently receiving. The funny thing is that he actually does remind me of my friends and he would probably fit right in: playing Rock Band, having BBQ's and watching Super Inframan or Master of the Flying Guillotine with the gang. If this damn housing crisis ever straightens itself out once and for all, at least I have someone I can ring up to lend a hand carrying all those graphic novels to and from the moving truck.
Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Last Iron Fist Story (v. 1)Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 2: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven (v. 2)Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 3: The Book of Iron Fist (v. 3)The Immortal Iron Fist Omnibus

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