Comic Art Friday: I just called to see if you loved it

“Hi, Michael. This is Scott Rosema.”

I’ve taken a few surprising phone calls in my lifetime — some wonderful (“We want you to come play Jeopardy!), others horrific (“Your wife has cancer… again”). One of the more pleasant telephonic surprises began with the two brief sentences in the preceding paragraph.

Iron Man and Iron Fist, pencils by Scott Rosema

The artwork you’re viewing, although officially designated as Common Elements #2, was in fact the first piece I commissioned (in December 2004) with Common Elements specifically in mind, and is the first to reflect the theme in its now-well-established form. (I know, I know — Iron Man and Iron Fist make for a transparently obvious pairing. I got better, okay?) By the time this work arrived in my hands in April 2005, I had commissioned and received a handful of other Common Elements pieces, so I sometimes forget that this one’s conception preceded all of the others.

But I don’t forget that phone call.

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the mechanics, commissions fall into two general categories: direct and brokered. The majority of my commissions over the years have been arranged with the artist one-on-one via email. Many others, however, have been worked out through an artist’s broker, representative, or agent. At the time I commissioned today’s spotlighted piece, Scott Rosema‘s commissions were managed by another Scott — last name Kress — whose business is called Catskill Comics. (I have both commissioned and purchased art on numerous occasions through Catskill, and recommend Scott Kress’s services without reservation.) As is typical of a brokered commission, I had no direct communication with the artist during the process. I sent the payment and specifications to Mr. Kress, who forwarded them to Mr. Rosema. After the art was completed, Mr. Rosema mailed the piece to Mr. Kress, who in turn sent it to me. (I wouldn’t usually say “Mr.,” but it sounds less lame than “Scott R.” and “Scott K.”)

I’d had the art in hand for a few days when the phone rang.

“Hi, Michael. This is Scott Rosema.”

This being very early in my commissioning career, my immediate thought was that something had gone wrong. Had Scott not received the correct payment? Did he think he’d made an error in the drawing? Had he or Scott Kress accidentally stuck someone else’s commission in the package along with mine, and I’d failed to notice?

None of these fears proved valid.

The truth was that Scott simply wanted to know whether I was happy with the work he’d done. He had enjoyed the project, and wanted to be sure that I was equally pleased.

I was stunned. To me, comic artists still seemed a bit like unapproachable demigods, from whose gifted imaginations and dexterous fingers sprang the legends that fueled the fantasies of my youth. Only a few months previously, I wouldn’t have imagined that one of these lofty superbeings would even deign to draw something just for me, as opposed to the pages of comic books that were read and loved by millions of fans.

And now, a member of the Pantheon had dialed up my home number — not to rage and threaten, but to seek my approval.

It was almost too much.

I felt a bit like Ralphie on Santa’s lap in A Christmas Story. I knew that there were such things as words, and I was certain that I knew some — I was even reasonably confident that I had spoken some at one time or another — but getting my brain to unleash them and push them outward through my lips and tongue seemed an impossible task. I probably sounded to the man on the other end of the telephone line like a blithering moron as I fumbled to express my appreciation. I might as well have been trying to shout “AARON BURR!” with a mouthful of peanut butter and a dearth of milk.

Somehow, with the air as thick as molasses in my larynx, I managed to communicate to Scott that I was indeed quite thrilled with his drawing — not to mention his call.

In the years since, I’ve come to know a number of comic artists — and artist’s representatives — rather well. Several have even become friendly acquaintances and semi-regular correspondents. I’ve gained comfort in knowing that even the most talented of artists are just folks, who like to be appreciated for their abilities, and for themselves.

But I’ll never forget the first artist who picked up the phone to make that lesson personal.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, Reminiscing, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

One Comment on “Comic Art Friday: I just called to see if you loved it”

  1. Scott Rosema Says:

    Hi Michael; this is Scott Rosema. Again. I just came across your wonderful story of my phone call to you! I wanted to tell you that it was a great call for me too. It’s a real treat to have enjoyable interaction with folks who share your same passions. (The art was a blast to work on too.) Take care!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: