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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Priceless Yesteryear Souvenir

I don't know why it was on a pre-punched binder sheet. I suppose Bruce stole the paper from the recycling bin in the Jawa desert transport.

This low-res image of a Jawa is one of my favorite mementos of the glory days of Chicago ComiCon, back in the ‘90s, before it was bought by “WizardWorld” and turned into a much more profiteering and corporate affair. It was a scrappy, bootstrappy era when basically anyone with the confidence to apply could get free table space in Artists’ Alley, along with a “PROFESSIONAL” badge. Cranial Brad and I peddled our minicomics and T-shirts there a few times; at least once, Brad just came at the last minute as my "assistant," and got a badge made at the door. Of course this meant that any talentless jackass could be signing junky photocopied comics or color copies (laser prints!), but the same holds true today, it’s just that you spend $200 for a table alongside talentless jackasses with the gumption to pay in advance more than they are likely to earn back that weekend.

Anyway, one year (maybe 1994 or so), there was this kid, I think from Kenosha, Wisconsin (because for some reason all the savvy cool kids at that con were from Kenosha) who came in with a stack of these vague Jawa images. They were little more than enlarged clip art, but with a flourish of metallic gold pen, he transformed them into free souvenirs. He was too young to have been in Star Wars, and I don’t think his name was even Bruce Jones. He just shopped the merchandise aisles for Godzilla stuff, and then took occasional breaks at his table to carelessly sign some Jawa pics. In those days there were usually booths for actual minor Star Wars sub-celebs, such as the tall guys who wore the Chewbacca or Darth Vader suits in the movie, but they were only available at designated signing times, and you had to pay to stand in line for their autographs. Who knows, maybe some people actually thought this kid had been a true Jawa. To me, he will always be Eternal Jawa Chieftain.