Meeting Andy Diggle at Special Edition New York Comic Con
Watch the Writer
One of the most important things you can teach a friend who doesn’t write (with the goal of publication) but does love pop culture, comics, film, and books (!) is to Watch the Writer. Good writers, such as Andy Diggle, are consistently good. Rarely will they disappoint. Sure, an author’s seventeenth thriller about a dude with a gold harmonica, a ponytail, and a penchant for averting world wars may not stand up to that author’s first or second book. Don’t lose that eye of tiger.
Eye of the Tiger
But for the most part the Watch the Writer notion holds true, especially in any kind of serialized storytelling.
I’ll get on with the meeting Andy Diggle story in a sec. First, a few other examples: Many of us knew Battlestar Galactica was going to rock because we knew Ronald D. Moore (TV writer and show-runner, not James Bond), had written (many of) the best episodes of various Star Trek series. If you haven’t seen it, watch a few seconds of this combat montage and then go binge.
One more example before I get to my Andy Diggle story: I picked up Castle, even though I’d never watched the television show, because I believe in Peter David (and I wasn’t wrong, what a well done comic!). Pretty much everyone accepts that they should follow a given director if they like her work, celebrities are more hounded than just watched, and no one wants to miss anything that Joss Whedon came anywhere near. I suggest, if you don’t already do this, that you widen the net. Don’t just pay attention to novelists. Find a writer who gives good Murder She Wrote and you’re likely to also find a writer who has written other great things, including comics. Andy Diggle is one of the writers I watch.
I had been reading Andy Diggle’s work for a long time, and when his Image series SNAPSHOT debuted, I loved it. Although I rarely prefer comics in black and white (well, except for Becky Cloonan’s stuff, and the series Watson and Holmes (I always get the black and white variant) and, well, countless other exceptions), I loved Snapshot from the very first panel. The art is by one of the finest artists working in comics today, Jock. (Yeah, for those of you who don’t read comics, I think his name is just Jock.)
It was smooth, expert comic book storytelling and it had made me want to reach out, in that Twitter way of reaching out. On a few occasions, I managed to catch Andy Diggle’s eye with a tweet. For him, a momentary digital brush with a fan. For me, special.
I finally got to meet Andy Diggle in person at Special Edition New York Comic Con (yes, he’s fine) and picked this up:
An action packed story with a heart.
Confession time: I had no idea where Andy Diggle was from, and I didn’t know whether he was black, white, purple, thirty years old or eighty years old. I was pretty sure they’d named Arrow’s John Diggle after Andy Diggle because of Andy Diggle’s great run on Green Arrow, but I had scant additional data.
Thus, I was totally taken aback when Andy Diggle turned out to be English, with the accent that comes with a license to kill. I’m a shy person, plagued by anxiety and depression. Incredibly dapper, tall, thin, soft-spoken gentlemen with perfectly coiffed hair and elegant, tailored suits intimidate the shit out of me. Add the accent and I become completely dysfunctional.
“We’ve exchanged a few tweets,” I managed to say (which is probably a pretty dumb thing to say.) He said something to the effect of (impossible for me to remember exactly given the circumstances) “Really, what’s your Twitter handle?” At which point I froze because, well, because I have a few twitter accounts and in my addled state I couldn’t recall which I’d used, and I suddenly realized our few interactions might actually have spanned at least two accounts, and I certainly wasn’t going to get into that, so instead I guessed. He’d never heard of me. By this point, I was sweating. No excuse. I’ve hobnobbed with greatness before. I studied in a class with Scott Snyder two semesters in a row (not that I ever got over my anxiety in there, either). Steve Buscemi used to go to the coffee shop where I … No, there’s no connection between my being there and Mr. Buscemi choosing to get his caffeine elsewhere lately. (At least, I don’t think there is.) Point is, I’ve met the famous.
So, sweating, baby on my shoulder, wife watching me make a fool of myself, I did what I always do when I’m terribly embarrassed, which is I tried to give him money. “Let’s buy everything,” I said to my wife. In Vietnamese, she asked me if I wanted to die. So I picked the book shown in the picture above, Guy Ritchie’s GAME KEEPER (also by Andy Diggle, duh). When Mr. Diggle asked who he should make it out to, I said, “Kirk!” Kirk is my son, who was there, on my shoulder, watching the entire exchange and learning all the wrong things about how to socialize with people you admire.
And poor Andy Diggle stuck with me. Here’s this lunatic New Yorker who wants him to sign a book called Game Keeper for a three year old. Plaintively, with the same expression High School teachers had worn when trying to speak with a younger me, he began to say, “Your son is three, is that right? There’s quite a bit of violence–” or something to that effect.
“Oh,” I said quickly interrupting, because it’s good to interrupt the great writer sparing you a few moments, “It’s for the future. I mean, his future. For him in the future.”
Luckily, at this point, I decided it was time to start scoring some points for my team. So, I led us through the maneuver known colloquially as running away.
On the way home, I noticed that Andy Diggle had signed the book on a black interior page, the signature in gold marker. And of course, his signature–stylish, simple, elegant. I stared at it for a while. AD. Go figure. “AD” for ADult, so I would remember not to show my son the guns! Smart guy that Andy Diggle. And my son’s name had never looked so good. Because, of course, excellent penmanship…and the shiny gold ink.