Draw Me In!

Guest Column By CW Cooke

CW Cooke and "Jeff from Kansas"
CW Cooke and "Jeff from Kansas" (Click to enlarge.)

In my previous column about the Free State Comicon, I spoke briefly in the comments about something that I forgot to cover . So I’ve decided, of course, to make it my next post about the comics world in KC. And this one is something I’m incredibly surprised hasn’t been picked up on by more people or discussed or even brought up.

I hadn’t heard about it prior to the Free State Comicon on September 10th. I hadn’t heard mention of it. But like most of you, I’ve read almost all of the comics that are involved in this insanely brilliant idea.

I’m talking about the Draw Me In campaign of one involved fan. Jeff from Kansas is how he’s labeled on his website, www.drawmein.com, and I really hope you click that link either now or after you finish reading this entry. You should. You really should.

I met Jeff, randomly, at the Free State Comicon. He was interested in hearing about my comics (an incredibly nice gesture from each and every person who ever stops at my table whether they buy something or not). He was interested, like most others, in the Conan O’Brien comic book. I poured a lot of time into that comic so I’m always pleased when people ask me about that one and the Vincent Price Bio I wrote. But anyway, enough tangents.

Jeff and I talked for a few minutes about my writing process and everything I’ve written to date and very briefly about stuff that is coming out. I talked about how I thought I recognized him from somewhere and that was when he pointed it out to me: He was on the poster for the Free State Comicon. I had participated in spreading his image around the internet on both Facebook and Twitter and even at my day job in order to get the news out about the con.

2011 Free State Comicon
"Jeff from Kansas" makes an appearance on the Free State Comicon 2011 poster. (Click to enlarge.)

The poster is still staring at me from a flyer on my wall. And there he is, nestled right behind John Brown, in his Superman shirt. Greg Smallwood drew the amazing poster and did his part by putting Jeff right there, staring at you, like some insane subliminal message. He was invading my dreams, and it was all Greg Smallwood’s fault.

Just kidding of course. Greg is a great dude too.

Back to the Draw Me In campaign. He told me all about it, all about his dream of becoming a comic book extra and how he’d been included in numerous comics from Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and on and on and on and on. He showed me his flyer for the campaign which had pictures of him from Walking Dead and The Sword, and we talked about his appearances in Ghostbusters and True Blood and countless others.

I was shocked. Amazed. And completely excited by this. This is a fantastic idea!

Comics need more good ideas like this. Some people might find it hokey or ridiculous, but not me. This harkens back to the good old days of comics where there were so many things to get excited about. It reminds me of things done by people like Gene Ha and Alan Moore, filling the backgrounds with all kinds of crazy stuff going on that you just have to read and re-read every comic so that you catch all of it.

I found myself doing that. I was going back and seeing Jeff’s face in comics that he probably was never actually in. I was looking at old copies of X-Men comics and just felt like he was there, looking over Wolverine’s shoulder. Again, he wasn’t then, but he will be very soon. He’s already announced it on his blog, I think, but if he hasn’t, I will now: he’s going to be in an issue of Wolverine and the X-Men in the second arc. Amazing, right?

But like I was saying, comics need more ideas like this. Looking at old comics, you always look for Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Byrne, and Chris Claremont, at least, I do. I flip through comics and read them and just devour them, looking through each and every panel for all kinds of things that I might have missed. I learned that because of guys like Gene Ha or Walt Simonson and all the little hidden tidbits that were left there for me to find.

I have something new to find, and that’s Jeff.

I will admit, I was probably overly excited when I met Jeff. He’s pretty much a comics celebrity in his own right, and he’s a character in numerous comics already. He’s bridging gaps between comic universes that companies no longer do. You don’t see Marvel and DC Crossing over as much as they should. You don’t see Marvel characters showing up in Image or Dark Horse books. But Jeff shows up in all of them.

I promised him he’d have a place in at least one of my upcoming comics and I plan to make do. Whether that’s through Bluewater or another comic company, it doesn’t matter to me. I love this idea and I am behind it, 100%. I think all of you should be as well. I think we should be pushing the Draw Me In campaign/agenda as part of the Kansas City Comics scene, as to me, it’s just as important as all of the creators here. He’s doing something most of us have only ever dreamed of, he’s become a comic book character.

The next thing would be to star in his own book, and I think, with enough of us trying, that might just happen. Who’s with me?

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