Meeting Kevin Eastman

I had the honor today of meeting Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He had a signing this morning at Ultimate Comics in Durham, NC. I bought my ticket over the phone four days in advance because I wanted to be assured I would not miss this. So I woke up early on this cool Saturday and drove just over an hour and got in line at 10:30 this morning. I had brought with me two pieces for him to sign (as the ticket stipulated) and stood in line for about another hour. It wasn’t until I had him in my full line of sight and about two minutes away from meeting him that it had dawned on me.This man was one of my ultimate childhood heroes. One of the creators of one of my favorite franchises of my life. I started to feel nervous as the line was suddenly moving faster than I could handle. What would I say to him? I have a tendency to ramble. I was actually afraid of making a fool of myself… and that never happens!

Rest assured, I was told by one of the employees that I would have about 30 seconds with him and to have whatever I wanted for him to sign out and ready. I fumbled my Red Lobster bag I brought from home and pulled out my Batman/TMNT graphic novel and a printout of the review I wrote for it. I went up to him and the first words I remember saying to him were, “thank you.” Then I quickly went off on this tangent on how the ninja turtles inspired me to want to learn martial arts despite battling heart disease. I didn’t think of it then, but I also wanted to tell him about the time when I was 7 years old and had just woken up from my last heart surgery, unable to speak because of tubes in my throat, and after seeing the time of 4:38 PM, frantically pantomiming to my mother to put channel 33 so that I could watch the remaining 22 minutes of the show. TMNT had meant that much to me. I still remember that moment vividly over 26 years later.

I was already being told to move along and he hadn’t signed anything yet. He was just so cool to meet. I was more starstruck for those 30 seconds than I had ever been in my life. I had to yell over the live band playing just a few feet behind him to explain to him to sign one printout of the review and the other was for him to keep and then to sign my graphic novel itself. As I he was signing the person in line behind me snapped a picture of us. I shook his hand again, thanked him again, and walked out of line. I got back into my car and saw the picture…

He was too busy signing to look at the camera. I was already back in my car and across the street filling my tank. I had sent this picture to my fiancé and she insisted that I go back and ask for another picture. I was hesitant to do this, but I knew that it was something that I had to do.

So I drove back to Ultimate Comics. The line and crowd were still very much alive and full. I had returned to the employee managing the line, showed him my ticket and the photo and asked if I could get another photo. He was hesitant at first, but did let me cut in front of about 20 other people and let me take a reshoot. WORTH IT!!


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