Friday, August 31, 2012

Pre-STGCC 2012: Mark Brooks Meets Fans at Invasion

Well-known Marvel comic book artist arrives on Red Dot Island. Decides to do a pre-STGCC meet-the-fans/ signing session at local comic store.

Will Red Dot Diva be there?

Is that even a valid question?!!!

The cozy signing session held on Thursday 30th August evening at Invasion Toys & Collectible's store, was one of the BEST-est-*est* ways to ease into an all-geek showdown at STGCC.

When Red Dot Diva arrived at the shop, she said hi to owner David and noticed there were about 8 guys waiting in line for their turn with guest, Mark Brooks. Mark was already comfortably settled in his seat next to his wife Lisa, chatting with fans.

Da Boss Alywn was there too. He was manning the line with a forbidding look, ensuring that everything was in order and that everyone was behaving themselves.

When Red Dot Diva walked past the line to say hi to fanboy Danson, Mark looked up and there was an obvious sign of recognition in his eyes. "It's nice to finally meet you!" Red Dot Diva greeted him.

She decided to let the eager, primarily male crowd get their turn with Mark first and stood aside to take some bloggery pics. One of the guys in line was comic book reader Luke from Australia, who happened to be having a holiday in Red Dot Island with his girlfriend when they spotted Mark's tweet about a mystery Wolverine sketch hidden at Gardens by the Bay. Not long after that tweet, Luke found the artbook's hiding place! Such awesome luck!

Lucky Luke and the Wolverine sketch

Other geek pals were also at the store for the signing. Nicholas, who had interviewed Mark for the Straits Times a few weeks back, came by to say hi to the artist. Red Dot Diva was very glad to see artist Bro Rudy AO again; he was back in town for STGCC. And there was Brennan, who had rushed to Invasion from work during his very short dinner break. 1/3 Here Be Geeks Alvin arrived somewhat later.

When it got to an hour into the signing session, the line got noticeably longer. At one point, there was about 12 people waiting patiently in line. Mark spent ample time with each person, simultaneously chatting and sketching. Some fans were obviously very excited to meet him in person. Red Dot Diva can't blame them. It is after all, pretty rare to have a chance to meet internationally-known comic book artists here. A few were curious about how one could get into the industry and asked him extensively about his advice on this.

One young boy quietly asked Mark what he could do to improve his drawing skills. Mark got pretty passionate about the subject and in an attempt to elaborate on this point, started asking around if someone could name him a popular car model. Red Dot Diva thought it was amusing to note the blank looks that came to the local guys' eyes. "Not many of us drive. Maybe we could tell you bicycle models," Da Boss Alwyn joked.

In the end, they settled on Subaru Impreza, a model that was more or less familiar to everyone, and Mark asked if the boy could remember what the hub cabs looked like - which he didn't. The point Mark was trying to make was that for an artist to improve and grow to be a good one, he would need to be able to see and remember details in his mind's eye.

Because Mark took precious time with each fan, whenever he seemed to get carried away, his lovely wife would gently tap on his arm to remind him that there were many others waiting in line.

At about 745pm, the crowd in the shop got smaller. A fan asked Mark which was the wierdest sketch he's done to-date. Mark looked at Lisa and they unanimously agreed it was the strange guy who kept asking for sketches of majorettes, who would come requesting for it complete with a reference book of majorettes.

When it was finally her turn, Da Boss Alwyn politely introduced Red Dot Diva to Mark, who then said half-jestingly, "I know her. For awhile back, I was a little afraid of her." Haha. You see, she had warned him a couple of months ago that she might be checking out his biceps during Comic-Con. Unfortunately, things were so crazy that weekend in San Diego, Red Dot Diva hardly managed to visit the show floor!

She decided on a X-23 sketch from Mark, which spurred Mark to deadpan, "so basically a girl with long black hair." Yes, why not? By that time, Mark has went pass the allocated 2-hour session, and being the third last person left in line, she didn't really want him to sketch something too complicated.

Even then, it was an absolutely stunning sketch of "basically a girl with long black hair".

Don't ya think?

While Mark sketched X-23 for Red Dot Diva, they chatted about how surprised they were that the MBS casino's minimum bid at the blackjack table was 25 bucks, compared to just USD 2 in Vegas. Lisa mentioned that Leinil Yu had pretty good winnings from the blackjack table the night before but Mark didn't fare so well.

Not surprisingly, there was also some discussion on the very Singaporean topic of  FOOD, and where they could get some of the best hawker nom noms around town.

When Red Dot Diva left the shop, Mark was still there drawing his last sketch.

It is a special thing indeed to see fans come away from a meet and greet session with their favourite artist, all bright-eyed and hyped up. And there were so many such fans that night.

Mainly because Mark Brooks was such a stellar personable guy, and appeared to truly enjoy meeting and connecting with his fans in person that night.

Diva, X-23 sketch and Mark Brooks' biceps

So, don't forget to say hi to him by giving him a warm Red Dot Island welcome at the STGCC Walk of Fame this weekend. Or attend one of the panels that he will be particpating in.

Better still, get his artbook "Groundworks" which contain pages and pages of his beautiful artwork, available at Invasion's booth C-24. And then share with everyone else what your fan experience with Mark was like!

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