Mike Gold: Friendship


Yeah, yeah. Another major convention, a huge mother called the “New York Comic Con.” Emily wrote about some of it yesterday and Martha will be talking about it on Friday and maybe Marc will do the same on Saturday – yep, Marc actually went to New York City while the Chicago Cubs were working their way towards the pennant. He’s a southsider, so I’ll give him a pass. Not sure John Ostrander will.

Ergo, there is no need for me to write about the show. All those folks, as well as ComicMix Utility Infielder Glenn Hauman and columnists Ed Catto, Molly Jackson and Bob Ingersoll, were there and I think all or most were actually on the Javits Center floor more than I was. Besides, if you’ve read my deathless prose long enough you could probably write my review yourself. All I’ll say is, the major difference between the New York Comic Con and the Black Hole of Calcutta is that the latter has free parking.

So, instead, I want to talk about friendship.

Missing from the floor was my friend Jamie Graham. He’s the guy who lent his name to the Graham Crackers chain of comic book shops, which is one of the larger chains around. I’ve known the guy since, roughly, the Year Gimmel. In addition to comics and our common antiquity, Jamie and I have a lot in common – we’re both Chicagoans, we’re both hockey fans, and we’re both mindlessly acerbic.

You’re probably thinking by the end of this column, Jamie is going to wind up dead. This is not the case, and that is not a spoiler alert.

Last Thursday, my daughter and fellow ComicMix staffer Adriane Nash received a call from Jamie saying he had a personal emergency and he would not be accompanying his crew to the New York show. Well, that sucks but, honestly, I saw him two weeks before at the Baltimore Comic Con and about two weeks before that at Chicago Wizard World, so missing him in New York wasn’t a catastrophe. I haven’t had the chance to connect with him since the show ended – after each four-day convention comes about three solid weeks of catch-up. Four, if you count catching up on your sleep.

I mentioned Jamie and I are hockey fans, as is Adriane. This is true, but Jamie’s dedication to the sport exceeds mine, and perhaps exceeds reason as well. If his enthusiasm was akin to Stumbo the Giant, then I, as a hockey fan, am at best the mayor of Tinytown. As such, my friend had tickets to the New York Islanders/Chicago Blackhawks game held last Friday night. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last year, and the Islanders were having their home opener in their new home, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. That means tickets were almost as hard to acquire as fresh air was at the New York Comic Con.

So I get a call from Adriane. She says Jamie has a present for us and he’s Fed-Exing it overnight for receipt Friday morning. OK, we both figured out what it probably was… as did you. While I was in Manhattan Friday hobnobbing with the elite, Adriane called to confirm our suspicions. She had the valued tickets in hand.

She was in Connecticut so she jumped into her car – named Brak, by the way – and I waddled out of my friend’s apartment in the city. Shortly thereafter, both of us were hit with a cloudburst of biblical proportions. We weren’t happy, but we would swim to the Barclays if we had to. For me, the arena was only a 25 minute subway ride away and, because subways run in a hole in the ground (as the song goes), the massive rain delayed me and about a billion other people waiting for the Lexington Avenue express. I got there, sweating profusely due to the heat of compressed humanity, an hour later. Hell, if I wanted to sweat I would have spent that time at NYCC.

The new arena is elegant with great sight lines but lousy bathroom placement (again; I could have stayed at NYCC for that). The game was great and the Islanders were sharp in their new home debut. I’m a Blackhawks fan, so you’ll forgive me if I point out that my team won – in overtime.

Jamie could have, please forgive the pun, hawked those tickets, probably for serious money. Nope. He sent them, at some expense, to Adriane and me. That, folks, is friendship.

I’ve said before that the best part of being in the comic book donut shop is that the folks in the adjoining seats are wonderful people. I have been blessed with a great, great many fine friendships, many quite enduring.

Like my friendship with Jamie Graham.

I love you, man. And I thank you.