Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fantastic Four: Stockton's Home Town Heroes, 30 Years Ago Today!

This is a story of how I got into the business of comics. It's also an anniversary story, so bear with me. 

Thirty years ago this week, while I was working for KJOY-AM Radio and after months of campaigning with some craziness along the way, Stan Lee came to Stockton CA to give the city a proclamation stating that "On the occasion of our 25th anniversary, Marvel Comics bestows upon Stockton California the title of Official Birthplace of the Fantastic Four."

It was the culmination of months of effort starting with asking fans to sign a petition at Al's Comic Shop on Stockton's Pacific Avenue (still there after all these years...go see Al when you're in Stockton!). After hundreds of people signed the petition, I took it to a Stockton City Council meeting and asked for their approval and a resolution asking Marvel to put Stockton into the FF's adventures.

That city council meeting hit the United Press International newswire and led to the Los Angeles Times sending their lead features' reporter, Charles Hillinger, to spend a day with me in Stockton. That then led to many interviews with other news outlets all over the country.

But it wasn't until Mr. Hillinger called Stan Lee and asked what he thought of my little campaign that things went over the top. Stan said something like "We've saved universes from destruction. The least we can do for good ol' Stockton is make them the FF's home town."

Once it was settled, there was a ceremony on the steps of Stockton City Hall, as Spider-Man crawled the outer edges of City Hall and posed for photos with kids. Why did Marvel send Spider-Man? I guess the FF were in another universe at that point...

Stockton made its first Marvel Comics' appearance a few months later in issue #296, the 25th anniversary issue.

After seeing what I did with this promotion, Stan hired me to help do publicity and press relations for his wife Joan's first novel. That in turn led to me being offered the role of advertising and promotion director for a new convention starting in Oakland CA....that would become known as WonderCon!

When I did the work for WonderCon, I was able to meet and become friends with a number of Bay Area comic book retailers. As I was feeling burnt out on radio at the time, I decided to look for work in the business of comics. I interviewed with a number of comics companies, including DC and Marvel, but didn't have the experience they wanted. So I decided to open my own shop closer to my home town of Moraga. That led to the October 1988 opening of Flying Colors Comics on Treat Blvd in Concord. Thanks to you all, we've been going strong for 27+ years and hope to continue to serve you for many more years!

In a real sense, the Fantastic Four event on the steps of Stockton's City Hall was my entry to the business of comics. That was 30 years ago this week.

My! What a long strange trip it's been...


Joe "FlyCoJoe" Field

• More about Stan Lee & FlyCoJoe HERE! 
The Stockton Crusade!

No comments: