Tony Millionaire did a signing at Chicago Comics tonight (and he may still be doing a signing at Chicago Comics, depending on when you read this), and it was perfectly swell to meet the man and have him sign my copy of When We Were Very Maakies. He was quite polite and friendly, and enjoyed showing off his creepy handshake.
But what I was most interested in was the couple who met Mr. Tony Millionaire right before I did. A fella and his lady, the fella lingered back behind his girlfriend. He was pretty quiet and wore a backpack; she clutched a Maakies book in her hands and had a big ol' grin, and I thought, "This is a pleasant surprise. A girl is dragging her dude to meet a comic artist." I didn't think it in those words so much, but the sentiment was there. It Made Me Happy. But then she introduced her boyfriend to Tony as "Your #1 Fan," to which Tony smiled and pleasantly, and The Fan smiled sheepishly. They chatted briefly about how Tony wished his strip ran in the Chicago Reader, (he's too famous, they told him), and about how The Fan was an aspiring comics writer. They shook hands again (there was some confusion over the creepiness of the creepy handshake--apparently only one person is allowed to be creepy at a time. I know it's vague, but just trust me--if you received this handshake, and my friend, I will be happy to demonstrate the next time you and I are out for pop and Indian food, you would be a little creeped out), and The Fan and His Lady left. I stepped up and had my book signed (and replied truthfully no when T.M. asked if I worked for the Reader) while The Fan and His Lady lingered to my right.
"What?" Tony Millionaire asked.
"What?" said The Fan.
"Do you want to ask me something?" Tony Millionaire asked.
"What?" said The Fan.
"Do you want to ask me something? Do you want to give me your zine?" Tony Millionaire asked.
"What? No," said The Fan.
"Are you in love?" Tony Millionaire asked.
"What?" said The Fan. "With her?"
Tony Millionaire smiled, arched his eyebrows and pointed to himself.
"Oh," said The Fan, and his face turned red.
"He is," said His Lady.
"Do you love her too?" Tony Millionaire asked.
"Yes," said The Fan.
I left the store a few steps behind The Fan and His Lady. His Lady spotted me on the train platform and asked how it looked, because The Fan was feeling a bit embarrassed about the exchange. He's a big fan after all (#1 is what I've heard), and he reads the strip every Wednesday. I told him it all looked fine to me, and to just remember that besides being a swell and inventive cartoonist, Tony Millionaire is just some guy drinking a beer (which he was). The Fan said yeah, he knew that, but he still gets nervous.
My train was approaching and I had to run. I told him again that it was fine, that I was sure Tony Millionaire was flattered. His Lady thanked me, I gave them a thumb's up, and headed home.
NEXT: Why kids maybe aren't so bad after all.