Missed Opportunities

Was watching The Big Bang Theory earlier and realised that I have something in common with one of the characters.

It’s not the comic collection (well, okay, that’s something else I have in common), and I guess you could say that both me and Dr. Sheldon Cooper have the people skills of toast, but in tonight’s episode he experienced something terrible, something that cuts to the very soul of any comic book fan.

He missed the opportunity to meet Stan Lee.

For those of you who aren’t into comics, this is like a scientist missing the opportunity to meet Stephen Hawking, or a rock fan failing to meet, I dunno, Ozzy. If you’ve ever seen a movie based on a Marvel comic, Stan Lee is the old guy who’ll turn up briefly, do something slightly funny and then disappear. My posse plays the "Guess How Long It Will Be Before Stan Lee Shows Up" game, but I’m very bad at it. I think I’ve previously lost to someone who didn’t realise they’d won because they had no idea who Stan Lee actually is.

Anyway, Sheldon missed the chance to meet Stan Lee. And this reminded me of the time I failed to interview Jim Lee (no relation).

It was back when writer Brian Azzarello and artist Jim Lee were in the middle of their twelve issue run on Superman, the For Tomorrow arc. I was a regular on the DC Comics Superman message boards back then, being a fairly prolific poster, and I guess I was doing something right because one day I got an email from Jim Lee.

(This is a big deal. Jim Lee is one of the biggest names among comic book artists.)

Turns out that Jim and Brian wanted to get some fan feedback on their run, and were asking for a bunch of the message boarders to conduct a chatroom interview with them. This was a great opportunity – I’d started figuring out my questions immediately (I figured the posters who knew about art and writing and comic history would cover those subjects, so I was going to do what I do in this blog and ask the random questions).

And then the date of the interview came through. Now, I figured the main issues I’d have were dealing with the time difference and trying to stop my then-ISP from punking out on me twenty times an hour. But no. The date of the interview came through and it clashed with the memorial service for my Dad. My exciting and yet non-existent entry into the world of geek journalism never materialised. In the end I think the same was true for the others who were invited – the interview was eventually carried out by just one of us, Kilgore Trout, and he did a good job of it.

Looking back, I think that’s one of my big regrets. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a choice, it’s obvious where I had to be and for one night only that wasn’t on the internet. I guess I’m not really one for regrets and looking back, but this particular missed opportunity was just another kick in the teeth from a year that had way more than it’s fair share of kicks in the teeth. Failing to interview Jim and Brian wasn’t the worst of those, of course, but it’s probably one of the things that made me think that life was really taking the mickey.

So anyway, that’s probably my biggest missed opportunity, or at least the biggest missed opportunity that has parallels to a sitcom I’ve just watched. And I comfort myself with the idea that, in an alternative reality, somewhere in the multiverse, another version of me is a rich and successful comic book journalist, with a lifetime free pass to the San Diego Comic Con and a goatee beard.

I can only hope that he also has issues with Terminator 3.


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