Former student-turned comic writer visits Norman comic store
After the Oklahoma History Center opened its “The Uncanny Adventure of Okie Cartoonists” exhibit, both Superman and Starman fans flocked over to Speeding Bullet Comics.
Why? To meet and get their comics signed by comic book writers Sterling Gates and James Robinson, both writers on the recently concluded “Superman: War of the Supermen” story arc.
Last Saturday, the line to meet the writers had started well before their arrival at 3 p.m. When they did arrive, they gave a short debriefing on the “War of Supermen,” then promptly got to signing and meeting fans. Although the line of fans was long and seemingly never ending, the writers were done signing at 6:30 p.m. The store was still able to provide fans with free soda, and enough time get their books signed and take pictures with the writers.
The exhibit wasn’t the only reason Gates and Robinson were in town, Speeding Bullet was celebrating its 12th anniversary since opening in 1998.
“When we started out, it wasn’t quite as hip to be reading a Superman book on the bus, “ said Matthew Price, who co-owns the store with his wife Annette. “But we decided to say, ‘We think it’s cool, we’re having a good time, if you like this stuff, come in and celebrate it with us and we’ll have fun with you,’ and that’s kind of been the goal the whole time and what we’re celebrating this weekend.”
Gates, as many of comic enthusiasts know, used to work at Speeding Bullet before while he was a student at OU. Upon moving to California, he got a job working for industry writer Geoff Johns, then worked his way up to become a comic book writer.
He became interested in comics at an early age and fondly remembers his first comic.
“I was 5 (years old) and The Fantastic Four, their home base being blown up by Dr. Doom,” said Sterling excitedly. “I remember looking at that and being like ‘That’s the coolest thing ever.’”
From then on he was hooked on comics and didn’t even expect to be where he is now.
“I wanted to write television when I was in college, because I felt like writing television was an attainable goal,” he said. “Comics were sort of this, like, ethereal crazy thing that would never happen. So I put a lot of focus towards that, but I always sort of wanted to do comics. When the opportunity arose I pounced on it.”
Both the writers felt comfortable during the event and greeted the fans of their work with an air of familiarity and respect reserved for appreciating their work. Anyone that saw Gates could tell that he felt comfortable at home at his former stomping grounds. So did “Starman” scribe, Robinson as he went around the store pulling interesting books off the shelves and interacting with a few fans.
Now that comics are as popular as ever, the comic book industry is one of the hardest to get into, but Gates leaves a piece of advice for anyone trying to make it,
“Make comics,” he said. “If you want to make comics, don’t talk about making comics. Just make them,” he said. “Find someone who can draw what you envision, write them a script and then have them draw it. There are a lot of venues online-self-publishing-wise that you could utilize to get that work out there. If you want to do it, just do.”