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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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FEATURE: WALKING BEYOND THE PANELS IN NYC
By Ed Mathews

Chocolate and beer. Chocolate courtesy of True Confections.

On Saturday, April 14, 2001 The New York City Comic Book Museum hosted "Beyond the Panels," a fundraiser in celebration of the men and women of the comic book industry. The event was held at the Commonwealth Brewery and Grill at Rockefeller Center in New York City from 7-10 P.M. My evening started off on the right foot: with chocolate and beer. Oh, sure, maybe you wouldn’t go for that combination immediately, but they had custom made X-Men candy bars waiting for me and who can pass up taking a photo of a box of X-Men candy bars next to a bottle of Bass Ale on a bar near Rockefeller Center? Not me, that’s for certain.


Over 150 people were in attendance, including about 35 pros and their guests. There was mingling. There was schmoozing. There were free Martinis provided by Dirty Olive Vodka, though I have to say that I stuck to gin and tonic and a beer.

And to top it off, I wasn’t the only media presence! I could count at least 15 of us in the room and they were from places as hip as PopImage (heh), Entertainment Weekly, the Harvard Crimson Arts, Forward, FEARSmag.com, UPNYC.com, Dutch Magazine, the Times (for those out of the loop, that would be the New York Times), and the New Yorker.


Jim (FOOTSOLDIERS) Krueger and Mike (POWERS) Oeming mug for the camera. They were just two of the over 35 comic book professionals who attended the event.

Now, who was there besides yours truly and the monster media? The guest list included Neal Adams, Axel Alonso, Murphy Anderson, Jon Bogdavone, Mike Carlin, John Cassaday, Bobbie Chase, Peter David, Joe Giella, Irwin Hasen, Klaus Janson, Phil Jimenez, Jim Krueger, Jae Lee, Chris Claremont, Robin Riggs, Jim Starlin, Joe Linsner, Michael Avon Oeming, Denny O’Neil, Joe Quesada, James Romberger, Bob Schreck, John Romita, Sr., Julie Shwartz, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Lou Small, Jr., and Voltaire, among others. Let me just state something right now: John Cassaday looks just like the character Drummer from the book he draws known as Planetary. He looks so much like Drummer, that I said "John Cassaday?" to him and he didn’t have a nametag on, simply based on the fact that we were all at a comic book industry function and I had heard that he looked a bit like Drummer. A bit? A BIT? I was half expecting Elijah Snow to pop up and smack him in the head! My apologies to Mr. Cassaday for my sudden and rare inability to speak or ask an intelligent question. Michael Avon Oeming looks nothing like Drummer. Nor did anyone else at this event for that matter.


Now, this would not be the first event ever held by the NYC Comic Book Museum as indicated by the timeline included with this article. The NYCCBM has held several fundraisers and done an exhibit called Comic Books and AIDS, which ran from January 23rd through January 30th in the lobby of the Empire State Building. David Jay Gabriel, Executive Director and Founder of the museum, has been collecting comics for over 25 years. Gabriel was clearly happy with the turnout. "For a year now we have been sidestepping the comic book industry, purposely letting people wonder who we were and what we were up to, that’s all about to change," said Gabriel. "So far there has been a warm reception from the comic book world with a keen eye on us and a quiet excitement about the museum. It’s an organization that can only serve and promote the medium and the men and women ‘beyond the panels.’"


This event was sponsored by the SCI FI Channel and Wizard Entertainment and Midtown Comics co-sponsored the event through advertising and ticket sales. Dirty Olive Vodka and True Confections sponsored the event with drinks and comic book theme candy bars.

To find out more about the NYC Comic Book Museum and its mission, visit their web site at http://www.nyccomicbookmuseum.org and read all about it.


Timeline

July 1999
- First Board of Trustees is assembled and idea for a museum is proposed and accepted.

November 1999
- Incorporated as non-profit organization through the NY State Department of Education.
- Received Museum Charter from the NY State Museum Department.

December 1999
- Tax exempt status (501(c) (3) Status) granted by the IRS.
- Grant received from Cable Positive.
- Production starts on video documentary: Comic Books and AIDS: What’s the Story?.

March 2000
- First fundraiser held at Ernie’s restaurant with friends and family to promote video.

May 2000
- AIDS video completed.
- Grant received from the Sanford C. Bernstein Foundation.

June 2000
- Premiere of video on Time Warner’s Manhattan Neighborhood Network in NYC

July 2000
- San Diego Comic Con International showcases AIDS video with a panel discussion including comic book writers and artists: Judd Winick, Jim Valentino, Trina Robbins, Terry Moore, and Phil Jimenez.

September 2000
- Website, www.nyccomicbookmuseum.org is launched.

November 2000
- Second fundraiser, Heart and Music, a concert featuring Broadway performers is held.

December 1, 2000
- First exhibit Comic Books and AIDS, premieres on World AIDS Day at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

January/February 2001
- Comic Books and AIDS exhibit gets a two-week showing at the Empire State Building. MTV Brazil, ECO TV, Time Out NY, and The Blade cover the event.

March 2001
- Second grant from Sanford C. Bernstein Foundation.

April 2001
- Comic Books and AIDS: What’s the Story? wins Tony Cox Award from Cable Positive.
- First industry event: Beyond the Panels. Major fundraiser will serve as an introduction to the comic book world.



Ed Mathews is the brand-new Assistant Editor for PopImage. He attended "BEYOND THE PANELS" this past Saturday in order to bring you this report. Look forward to many more of Mr. Mathews' on-site reporting, interviews, features and more in upcoming weeks. Welcome to the site, Ed!


New York Comic Book Museum - Hosts of the BEYOND THE PANELS event.
Wizard Entertainment - Co-Sponsor of the event.
Midtown Comics - Co-sponsor of the event.
Dirty Olive Vodka - Co-sponsor of the event.
True Confections - Co-sponsor of the event.
PopImage Forum - Discuss this article at the PopImage forum.