In what has to be one of the great serendipitous moments in the last 10 years since creating my own comic, my own hometown of Whittier is holding it's first ever film festival, with EL MUERTO screening on Opening Night!
On Friday, March 7 at 7:10 pm, EL MUERTO will be screening at one of three venues assigned for the festival, MEMORIES. A large two-story building originally built in 1902, MEMORIES is a full function dance hall, bar, eatery. They host many swing dance events as well as live bands and weddings. But it occurred to me one day recently that I have a personal history with the building. Back in 1983, while in High School, I used to work in that very building when it was a Jerry's Big & Tall Men's Clothing Store! Unbelievable! My friend at the time, Adrian, had a brother who owned the store, Jimmy. Well, one day I asked Jimmy if I could work for him part-time and so I think I worked there for about a year or two. Sometimes, near the last several months or so, times got slow at the shop and I would actually be working there myself, opening up and/or closing the shop myself. It was a fairly large, single room store, and there would be hours when no one would show up. Just me, sitting in that old green leather and steel chair, probably reading some comic books or alternating between James Bond and 'Mack Bolan,the Executioner' novels! The idea that 25 years later, I would be screening the movie based on my own comic book in that very location would have seemed like the most outlandish premise! Back in 1983/84, I certainly had not even thought up the idea of EL MUERTO to be honest.
Maybe you can't go home again, but you can go back to work!
And in another case of full circle.... There will be a Q&A following the film in another venue. At 9pm, GEEKS comic shop on Greenleaf will be hosting a Q&A with my EL MUERTO writer/director Brian Cox, So-producer Susan Rodgers, musician Martin Espino and myself. Sal, from GEEKS, and myself have been working out a nice program. In addition to the Q&A, I will have lots of EL MUERTO artwork on display. Not just my original comic book pages, but lots of memorabilia from the last 10 years of EL MUERTO : out of print mini-comics and zines, the various custom statues and action figures I've been fortunate enough to receive from friends and fans, my costume from my cameo in the movie and a few other things from the Muerto archives!
(Click image to enlarge)
What's cool about the fact that GEEKS is on Greenleaf (the main street in the historic Uptown Whittier section of the city) is my long history there as well. It was on Greenleaf where the old venerable book store BOOKLAND was located (now closed for about 10 years or so). BOOKLAND, in the late 70s and 80s, was where I used to by a lot of my comics, including some of those beloved Marvel trade-paperback books like ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS and HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL WAY, two books whose influence on me is immeasurable. Also, back in 1998, before I took that trip up North to the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose, CA to debut my first EL MUERTO comic book, I stopped by the then-current comic shop Pegasus Hobbies to leave the first copies of the comic.
Greenleaf, and Whittier in general, have had a life-spanning influence on my life. It's going to be real nice to to make some new memories. Maybe some person in the audience that night will be inspired to pursue their own creative impulses one day.
I like to tell people that Whittier is the early home town, and High School, for both Richard Nixon and John Lassiter (Pixar founder), and that one day I'll be known as the third famous person from Whittier. But really, the fact that we're screening the film in Whittier is so satisfying, especially during this 10th year anniversay of my having created the character.
Famous or not (and who really needs the headache of being famous), I like to consider myself one extremely lucky and grateful person!