Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beauty and the Beastmaster

This is a piece I wrote a few years back for Geek Speak Magazine. A very cool site, if I may say so. Check them out. I left in the editor’s notations in the piece and their ending tagline. The photos in the post are from a quick image search and mostly IMDB.

A few years back my comic collaborator Mark Gonyea and I exhibited at Wizard World Chicago. The Con was going well. The only black mark on the event was the stranglehold Coke held on the venue and our hotel’s vending machines. (I’m a Mountain Dew guy, by nature, and was more than willing to endure a four-mile round trip walk to the nearest retail temple that stocked my divine Ambrosia.) We arrived early on the final day of the show to walk amongst the exhibitors and make last minute purchase decisions. As it was early, I hopped in line to buy a coffee. I noted with fatigue-blunted senses a tall, blonde man in front of me in line. There was nothing outstanding about him, save instantly my brain told me I knew him. I asked my brain how it made this leap without seeing the man’s face. It replied it was working on it and hinted the coffee might help its efforts. The line advanced with mechanical precision and soon the tall man faced the coffee hawker.

“May I get two cups of coffee, please?” he asked in a pleasant tone.

His voice was familiar, too. It was too soon in the day for mysteries, so before my brain could cross-reference his voice I leaned over with the subtlety of a colonoscopy and looked him in the face.

Holy Crap! It’s Marc Singer!

Holy Crap! It’s still Marc Singer!

He looked at me, smiled, and reached for the first of the two cups of his order. Think fast!

“Mr. Singer, I have enjoyed your work for a long time. May I please buy your coffee?” I blurted.

Marc looked surprised for a moment before replying, “Really? Thanks!” [Marc Singer is the star of cult 1982 sword-and-sorcery epic The Beastmaster and its sequels, and he also starred as Mike Donovan in the original V - Ed.]

Before I could think of another point of banter, Marc started making small talk at a furious pace. He invited Mark and I back to his table in the autograph area to continue our chat and grant us a couple of free autographs to say thanks for the coffee. When we approached our destination he called down the line of tables to an attractive woman who was setting up for the day.

“Here’s your coffee, Erin.”

Neat! It’s Erin Gray!

Neat! It’s still Erin Gray!
 [Erin Gray starred as Colonel Deering in the 1979-81 TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. - Ed.]
She casually walked over and took her coffee with a smile to us all.

“Erin,” said Marc. “These are my friends. Take care of them.”
She motioned for Mark and I to follow her back to her table, which we did like puppy dogs. She asked which photos we would like. We picked one out each and she signed them.

“That’ll be $20,” Erin said without an ounce of humor.

Somehow Marc’s words translated in Erin’s mind to, “Hot dog, my first sale of the day! I eat tonight!” What could we do? Without missing a beat we reached into our pockets, handed her our money -- that was $20 each, by the way -- and then thanked her with a smile for taking it. All the while she sipped on her hot, fresh, free coffee.

Mark and I walked back to Marc’s table and finished our conversation. It was very enjoyable. In fact, we chatted so long about comics, movies, art, writing, raising kids, and pop culture that we were twenty minutes late getting back to our table after the doors opened! We thanked Marc for his time and he did likewise to us. I don’t begrudge Erin Gray... much. She did take me by surprise, though. All I’ll say is that of the two autographs birthed by that encounter, only one hangs on my wall.
Beastmaster 1 Erin Gray 0

Sam Girdich is a writer of kick-ass comic books. Visit him, and artist Mark Gonyea, at their website

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