Ethan Van Scriver is a pretty cool dude

Richard, of the world famous Richard’s Collectables—wait, you guys haven’t heard of him?

The comic store I’m two months into calling “my local comic store” brought in Ethan Van Scriver for signings today. He’s the current artist (penciller I suppose) for Green Lantern, begining that run with the Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries.

I didn’t know who he was until Richard started promoting the event a few weeks back, but I also don’t read Wizard, Green Lantern, or have an extensive background in comics. A few years into this hobby and I still only jump into new comics by chance when something on the shelf grabs my eye, or three issues into the big hits after someone’s finally told me “Hey, this is popular, read this.”

I do have a couple GL TPBs though, from a fit of research-driven-impulse-buying I went through back when I had no idea who GL was at all, and I’d planned on picking up the Rebirth trade at some point. It was pretty easy to talk myself into getting the hardcover now and getting it signed, cause hey, why not?

The deal was free signings for anything for as long as Ethan was there (advertised at four hours, though I’m not sure if he left on time), and the first 30 people to spend $25 in the store that day also got a ticket good for a free head sketch. With the hardcover Rebirth at $20, my weekly pulls put me over $25, so I made sure to swing by early enough to secure a sketch.

When I came back later this afternoon, there were about eight guys in line in front of the table set up with an assortment of Ethan’s work, with Ethan silently inking over a sketch of Hal Jordan. A few people were talking softly, but no one seemed to know how to act, me least of all. I didn’t know if this was some unspoken reverance for a master of his craft, or just a bunch of nerds acting about as social as they looked. Things only rose above a whisper when the two guys directly behind me got into a “oh yeah totally me too” discussion about their wives as they relate to their hobbies.

Shell-shocked by the thought of their matrimony, I didn’t make any effort of my own to say much. Thank goodness for some guy from some independant newspaper. Unbelievably, in some small but not totally ignored local paper, this guy runs a weekly column about comics and had come in to see if he could get an interview. Ethan was happy to oblige, having no problem talking while sketching.

Once the interview got the ball rolling, things transitioned quickly from another stop after the cash register on your way out the door into an “event.” People started asking Ethan questions about his work, and he really turned out to have a lot to say, almost all of it wonderfully entertaining. There were stages in the conversation, from asking polite questions about comics in general, to asking specifically about his experience with DC (which was favorable), to his experience at Marvel (which was hilariously bad), all of them including questions I imagined long ago but felt a little nervous asking until Ethan would launch into the subject on his own. He even trashed Rob Liefeld! It was great! He actually collects Liefeld’s 90’s stuff just to laugh at it.

To make a long story abrupt, it was a fantastically entertaining afternoon. He had such great stories (I really did kind of hate Marvel by the end of the day), all told with candor but not flippantly or irreverently. Reiterating my relative oblivion to the inner workings of the industry, he may have been telling everyone the same things they read six months ago in Wizard. To me though, it really felt like he was opening up among friends with an inside look at the career he so obviously loves.

Oh, I forgot about the sketches. I was expecting little pencil doodles or something, not really knowing what these guys were willing to do for free. Through the course of conversation it came up that he actually usually charges for them, often doing it with the proceeds going to some charity. I have my suspicions that Richard actually paid him for the 30 promised sketches, though neither Richard nor Ethan offered an explanation as to why they were free today.

Everyone, Richard included, was impressed and surprised at the time he put into them though. They were sketch pad pages (I dunno, 7x7" maybe?) of anyone you requested, pencilled first and then inked. A guy in front of me asked for a sketch of Lobo for his wife(!?), and Ethan just asked to see a Lobo comic, explaining he could only get about 80% of Lobo from memory. Richard provided one, and Ethan knocked out one of the best sketches I saw all afternoon, complete with some already-forgotten catch phrase addressed to the lucky(?) wife.

I didn’t have anywhere to be for about an hour and a half after I got my sketch (which was after about 45 minutes in line), so I just stayed and watched him sketch as he talked. He did lots of Green Lanterns, one really great looking Superman, two Batmans (including mine), and even a Wolverine when someone got the guts to ask if his DC exclusivity applied to stuff like this too.

It was a great afternoon, and I hope Richard can pull of more events like this. I don’t have a clue what it costs to get someone to do this—I suspect it varies wildly by the artist—but if I can find a polite way to ask, I might even ask if I could contribute toward the next one. It was an afternoon well spent.

Here’s the Batman sketch he did for me. In retrospect, I should’ve asked for Kilowog (one of his best characters in Rebirth, in my opinion) or Power Girl (yes, for exactly the reasons you’d think), as his Batman isn’t really my favorite version, but I can’t really complain:

I probably would have been the guy whose GL-related sketch requests be either Ch’P or the Shark. Heh.

Too bad his Marvel experience was so sour. He had a pretty good run on New X-Men. I would have liked a Xorn from him or something.

I always try to get a sketch of a character that the artist isn’t used to drawing. I remember when Jim Lee was coming to WonderCon, instead of asking for YETANOTHERXMAN, I’d be the guy who asked for a sketch of Batman. That was the same WonderCon that he announced his run on Batman (for Hush) and that he’d been drawing Bats nonstop for the past six months. DOH.

Yeah, I thought “Hey, he draws Batman in GL sometimes, but I’ll bet he doesn’t get many requests specifically for him.” So of course the guy directly in front of me asks for Bats, and we also learned earlier today that next year he’ll be working on Superman/Batman.

Someone suggested asking for Howard the Duck, I didn’t stay long enough to see if they actually followed through with the idea.