Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Springfield Review by Bill Gladman

Life In Four Colors Event Coverage
Hotshot book signing at Main Street Comics
and Games with Freestyle Komics

Saturday November 14th Hotshot writer Victor Dandridge and artist/creator Mike Watson along with the Freestyle Street Team took over the Main Street Comics and Games storefront for what was supposed to be your ordinary type book signing. Turned out it was much more. The event was supposed to run from noon until six o' clock, and the actual signing did. But the comic book talk continued on for hours more. With store owner Scott Riley, Victor, Studio Akumakaze members writer BJ Johnson and artist Jacob Newell, Akumakaze hired lead slinger Brain Latimer and myself all in attendance as well as one or two regular customers...we talked about EVERY aspect of comics long after the store had closed.

Actually Scott finally made everybody leave, although he didn't want to. And my head was still swimming from the previous conversations of the night before when I woke up this morning. It was the best "comic book hangover" I ever had.

(No...we weren't drinking anything other than the usual mix of carbonated sodas).

Since S.P.A.C.E 2009 the guys from Freestyle Komics almost seemed to come out of nowhere. To be honest before day one of that two day show I had never heard of them or their ongoing comic Hotshot. Now, just seven months later it seems that everybody knows who Mike Watson and Victor Dandridge are. More importantly they know who Freestyle Komics are. Scott and I have wanted to get Mike and Victor in the store for a book signing since Champion City Comic Con where the now legendary Freestyle Sketch Battles were given birth. Their combined energy and enthusiasm took over the entire second floor of the con and when they sat down at the Independent Thinking panel at the show along with their peers in the field, took off those masks they wear as the "Masters of Self Promotion", and got down to the basics of talking business. People listened.

And people are still listening.

Everybody has a method and technique in promoting their own books. And just because these guys like to have fun while they're out there making a name for themselves, meeting fans, and of course making new fans....don't sell these guys short.

There is a fire of determination behind those fun loving eyes of Victor Dandridge you will find hard to match anywhere else. He breathes professional confidence while at the same time he's not afraid to crack a joke at any given minute...or even show off some dance moves. His partner in crime, Mr. Michael J. Watson balances Victor in every aspect. A man of vision equaled only by his creative energy and sense of eagerness to please the customer. To exceed the readers expectations to every detail. From the books on the table, the way the table is set up. To the people they associate with. Mike has a unique visual image of what Freestyle Komics should look like. What it should feel like. And that is the secret (one of many that these two gentlemen have down to a fine practiced art)....meeting the guys behind the Freestyle table is an experience and one you will never forget. If it's the first time you've done so...or the tenth.

They have earned their reputation of the Masters of Self Promotion and are always ready to "Drop it like it's Hotshot!" They even brought their own mixed soundtrack with them to play on the store's stereo system and it was a great mix of music. Michael Jackson, Prince, Queen...."We Are the Champions" a favorite at the Main Street store and many more!

The book signing took on a life all it's own. It became a party, a Freestyle party and I wanted to share a little of it with you.

Victor and Mike putting the final touches on the table setup while members of the Freestyle Street Team play Modern Warfare 2...during their break. Mike brought about four kids with him (each rockin' a Hotshot t-shirt.)Both he and Victor make a serious commitment to giving back to the community and take great pride in being positive role models for the kids in their neighborhood. And the Street Team was no joke! They can set up and tear down a table faster than a speeding bullet, stream information to several different websites at once, and even pick up a white board hyping the event and go outside and bring people into the store!!

Like this young lady who picked up a copy of every book the guys had available. And she wasn't the only one to do so. I lost track of the number of people walking away from the table with a full set of Hotshot books in their eager little hands.

Jacob Newell just realized he was in this photo a second too late.

One of our many great customers at the store, Joe. Hanging out on a beautiful November Saturday afternoon in a very classic Thor shirt. Good stuff!

"Fierce" Frank Raynor preparing for the video interview with Victor and Mike which he did for Underground Video Network.

Frank and I also did a brief video promo for the RaynMan Power Hour Show debuting on Comic Related Monday November 16th. He also filmed interviews with Scott Riley and myself about the plans for Champion City 2010. (Hey, it's all about self promotion.)

Check out Frank's full interview with the guys at which is going live on the site in just a few hours.

Victor Dandridge. Mike Watson. Frank Raynor. Nuff said.

Jacob knows he's in front of a camera this time.

Raichal hanging with Mike and Victor. She loves these guys. The feeling appears to be more than mutual.

Pretty decent crowd. A lot of foot traffic in and out of the store all day. This book signing was the sixth such event we've had at the store and the store itself hasn't even been open for a year yet. Other signings so far have included Chad Lambert, Jesse Mounts, Dustin Carson, Sean Collins, and Studio Akumakaze with future plans for Sean Forney, Chad Strohl, Gary and Derron Church, as well as Andy McGinn. Scott and I are so very lucky to know so many talented people who want to stop by the store. It's always a mini-convention at Main Street Comics and Games!

Rich "The Stoner Review" Walden and Rick Lazear showing their overwhelming support for our current commander in chief. Rich and Rick showed up while in the middle of the taping of the RaynMan promo and make a brief cameo! Two of my oldest friends. I've played music with these two guys off and on for years in various projects and bands. Rich is without a doubt the best drummer I have ever worked with...and the best damn drummer I ever heard! I'm very thankful to have recorded a couple of c.d ';s with him in the past including the Misled: Seasons Past disc back in 1996 and Project X: Good Intentions back in 2002.

Rick is a local guitar legend. He was on the Project X disc with me and Rich and plays all the music for the Eternity's End concept disc we are working on with former So Be It lead vocalist Kevin Adkins. Hopefully the disc will be out some time in 2010. Production is currently on hiatus until March 2010.

Both Rich and Rick appear on the All Is Forgiven disc I released in 2007 while still affiliated with Zonetrooper. The disc was my farewell to playing music and a greatest hit disc (of sorts). Currently I only write songs and produce.

Watch for Rich's review column in the Rabbit Hole forum real soon.....back to our regularly scheduled event coverage.

The store got crowded enough that Raichal decided to hang outside with Ron Fortier and Chad Lambert junkie Rob Adams (in the leather jacket) and his sidekick. Springfield Ohio's biggest Moon Knight fan. The conversation bounced around from Hotshot, Red Robin, and Batgirl with a little of the Darkness thrown in for good measure.

The biggest surprise of the afternoon came for me during a moment on the before mentioned soundtrack (one of my favorite songs that I first heard on an episode of Smallville called Superman -It's Not Easy by the band Five for Fighting) Victor and Mike presented me with this. They had heard about my father passing away recently and designed this beautiful framed picture featuring a heartfelt black and white illustration of Hotshot and a paragraph dedicated to my Dad's memory.

Are these guys super cool or what....(and yes I cried like a little girl...even Riley started to tear up.)

Spending a little time in the sun.

Scott listening in on tales of past road trips to Chicago inside with Tyler from Studio Akumakaze.

Back to business, Mike working on one of the commissions he sold while at the store. This one was an "Evil Ernie"

And the finished product and a happy customer...Thelma...Wonder Woman from Champion City Comic Con. Doing this last commission got Mike fired up and you know what time it was now.....

Sketch Battle Time!!!!!!! Round One....Mike versus Victor...five minutes to draw Deadpool (thanks for the suggestion...and the dedication Brian!) Mike wins the first round.

Round Two: Jacob versus Victor. Five minutes to draw Red She-Hulk. Suggested by Scott. Jacob beats Victor.

Round Three. Final Round. Jacob versus Mike. Five minutes to draw Black Bolt. As suggested by Victor...I learned that Black Bolt is Victor's favorite character...pretty cool...and as time ticks away, the winner of this double elimination Sketch Battle is....


Not long after the Sketch Battles finished up Mike had to leave to get the kids from the Street Crew back in time. Victor hung out four another three and half hours talking shop in the shop.

Over all a great day. A win for Freestyle Komics and a win for Main Street Comics and Games. Want to get in on the ground floor on what is sure to be an independent comic sensation and learn more about Hotshot and Freestyle Komics check out the following site.

Until next time, I leave you with a little music. A song I like now more than ever and will always have fond memories of until the day I catch up with the "old man".

Bill Gladman - Bill is a writer and illustrator and currently working on several different projects including the first issue of an ongoing comic book series (Prodigy), an illustrated fantasy novel (The Book of Noheim), and the first of four illustrated science fiction/fantasy novels (Jack the Rabbit, Living Legend of the Purple Plains) as well as a light-hearted on going mini-comic (Three Wise Men). Bill also pens a column for Comic Related and will be doing a mix of regional convention coverage.

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