In the mid-90s my work was adapted into a comic book series, Duplex Planet Illustrated. I was only tangentially involved in the world of alternative comics, but during that time I occasional spoke or had signings at a few stores. A few years after publication ceased there was a comic convention held at the Equinox in Manchester, Vt. The guy who organized it, knowing I lived nearby, asked me if I wanted to appear. I did not. He persevered, saying I could have a table with all of my various other works for sale on it, and it would be great.
It was not. It was everything I thought it would be, and worse. My comic was from the alternative scene (previously known as underground), with artwork by such artists as Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. However, this convention was mostly superhero stuff, filling a large conference room with aisles lined with tables at which were seated various publishers, writers and artists, selling and signing their goods. It so happened that a big name comic book personality had a table next to mine. Such was his popularity that a line formed and stayed in place for most of the day. It went right past my table, effectively closing it off. There I sat with people (almost entirely male) standing directly in front of me trying not to make eye contact with me or my table full of stuff. Not only did I do a comic book based on stories with old people, but I’d also filled the table with non-comic book publications: Duplex Planet issues, books, CDs. To the line in front of me inching along, I was invisible.
Then, lo and behold, a young man looked at the table, saw an issue of The Duplex Planet and said, “Hey, that picture was on the cover of an album by Men & Volts!” Waking me right up, I exclaimed, “I was in Men & Volts!” He then quickly straightened me out with, “Oh, I’m not a fan or anything, I work for a cut-out company and we’ve got a lot of those.” Regaining my footing, it occurred to me that he could be of use to me. I asked if the album, Tramps in Bloom, was the French version, with foil stamped lettering on the cover. He said it was. Our conversational course led to me asking about buying some copies. The company didn’t do any direct retail themselves, but he could arrange a purchase, and he gave me his number to call after the weekend so he could facilitate a sale of some copies of the record to me.
According to plan, I called the following week, but he wasn’t in and I left a message. A week went by and I tried again. No call back. On my third attempt I was told he no longer worked there and I was put in touch with the owner. I explained to him the situation and he said he could take care of it. The inventory wasn’t updated but he thought there were about ten copies left. At two dollars each, I said I’d take them all. Because they didn’t have a system to take a credit card payment, the LPs would be sent C.O.D.
A week later a box arrived, for which I paid $18, covering the postage and C.O.D. fees. It felt light and upon opening I found out why: there was only one LP. It turned out that that was all they had left. The final result of my having reluctantly attended that comic convention was that I had paid more than anyone else for a copy of my own record.
Artist David Greenberger lives in Greenwich, NY. His latest CD of monologues & music is My Thoughts Approximately. www.davidgreenberger.com @davidbg