|Libby and Joe Field|
At the recent Comic-Con International: San Diego, I was honored to be named the recipient of the 2014 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award.
This award has previously been given to industry giants like Jack Kirby, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Will Eisner, Robert Heinlein, and many others whose careers and talents I greatly admire.
Only one other comic book retailer has ever been given the award and that is my friend Mimi Cruz from Salt Lake City's Night Flight Comics, a tireless worker in promoting comics to a wider audience, particularly in schools and libraries. Safe to say, the Clampett Award is a ritzy neighborhood!
Here's the description of the award from the Comic-Con web-site:
"Comic-Con International’s Humanitarian Award is presented in the name of famed animator Bob Clampett, creator of the TV series Beany and Cecil, and designer of such popular characters as Porky Pig and Tweety Bird, and director of 84 classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Clampett was a regular guest a Comic-Con in the 1970s and early 1980s. After his death in 1984, the humanitarian award was created to honor those people in comics and the popular arts who have worked to help others. The recipient is chosen by the Comic-Con committee, and the award is given out during the Eisner Awards ceremony."
The award was announced by Bob Clampett's daughter Ruth at the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards ceremony. She gave me this very kind introduction:
"This year's recipient has been a continuous positive force in the comics industry. Years ago, he was inspired with an idea to get people into comic shops. He felt that the shops were community social hubs of pop culture and the way to learn about what's going on along the comics spectrum. His idea was Free Comic Book Day, which has become the world's largest comic book event, attended by over half a million people at venues in 65 countries. He's also one of the founders of WonderCon and the owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord CA. Our industry is a better place because he is in it. I'm proud to present the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award to Joe Field."
Ruth Clampett with Joe Ferrara
But I wasn't there to accept the award. Sure, I was in San Diego, as I have been for Comic-Con every year since 1986… but that part of the story comes a little later.
Instead, my friend and fellow retailer, the amiable Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld (Santa Cruz CA) accepted the award for me. He said:
"Every time Free Comic Book Day rolls around and I see the media cover it, lines of thousands of people, kids young and old, smiling in anticipation, from San Francisco to New York, from Rome to Madrid, from Singapore to Tel Aviv, I know it's all because one man had a vision and that man is Joe Field. I am so proud of my friend and I am deeply thankful to you for recognizing his contribution."
Had I been there, here's what I would have liked to say:
"Ruth, I was a fan of your father, an avid viewer of Beany and Cecil... and I count my Beany copter as one of my favorite toys when I was a small child. So this recognition is extra sweet because Bob Clampett delivered so much fun into my young life.
My wife Libby has the biggest heart of anyone I know, so I thank her for being a constant source of inspiration.
I've always seen my role as a retailer as part capitalist and part missionary. I don't just want to sell cool stuff to nice people--- I want to leave everyone happier for the experience they've had when visiting Flying Colors... and that as soon as they leave my shop they'll already be looking forward to their next visit.
In addition to the worldwide event that Free Comic Book Day has become, we do quite a bit of work in our local community, including our donations of thousands of comics via Blue Star Moms to troops serving overseas, as well as our annual fundraisers for The Hero Initiative and STAND! For Families Free of Violence. These are among the ways we give back to the community that has given our comic shop so much support over the last 26 years. I'm humbled and honored to receive this award--- and to those who have given this consideration to me, I thank you so very much."So why wasn't I there when I've attended the Eisner Awards ceremony every year for the last 25+?
My plan was to be in San Diego from early Thursday morning to late Saturday afternoon. That usually allows me enough time to schedule a bunch of meetings, participate in a number of seminars and panels and then leave a little time for fun--- maybe even actually see some of the massive exhibits on the convention floor. Friday is always the crazy day, with ComicsPRO retailer programming scheduled all day long, then the Eisner Awards from 7pm-11pm, then parties after that.
|Joe w/ Hillary Chang and Greg Evans (Lu Ann cartoonist)|
|A great group of friends out to dinner at Rei Do Gado|
|Bobby and Jenny, Joe and Dottie Ferrara, Libby and Joe Field|
Hotel security brought the thermometer and vouchers to get us transportation to Mercy Hospital. All my Friday Comic-Con plans were out the window. Instead, I wound up spending more time in San Diego getting intravenous fluids than I did actually seeing Comic-Con itself.
After some tests, one of which was particularly nasty, the medical staff discovered I had contracted a case of the dreaded H1N1 virus, the flu bug so nasty that it has killed hundreds over the last few years!
The doctor said I did NOT get the H1N1 at Comic-Con since the incubation period for the virus is several days. We traced the virus back to the previous Sunday when Libby and I went to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, and it was easily one of the most packed days of the year there.
While in the hospital, I emailed and messaged my friends and colleagues, cancelling all my convention plans. One of those emails went to Jackie Estrada, the administrator of the Eisner Awards. I needed to let Jackie know we wouldn't be at our sponsor table at the ceremony with the hope she could give the prime seats to others to enjoy the show. She emailed back saying she was sorry I was going to miss the Eisners because she had a special surprise for me--- I was named the recipient of the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award!
All of that boils down to the short version of my Clampett acceptance:
"I am touched by receiving this honor, but as much as I would love to be there to receive it, it's probably a small humanitarian gesture for me to keep my germs to myself!"
And now you know the rest of the story…