Ray Priest, one of my Triad mates with the Houston Area Bears and co-host of the now-famous Bear PodCast (With Ray and The Nard), shared with me that he will be attending ComicCon in San Diego this year. While I’ve never been a big fan of comic books, I do know they have quite a devout following, with numerous news articles and stories publicizing those who save for years to make this annual pilgrimage. I also know that there is a very sizeable gay contingent within this body of devotees, many of them being from the bear community. SO – being the curious-minded person I am, I wanted to know more about Ray, and about ComicCon……
At what age did you first start getting into comics?
My first memories of enjoying comic books are as a very little kid, maybe 6 or 7. I would go to the local drug store in our small town with my Mom. The pharmacy had a soda and snack bar where we would always get a pack of cheese crackers and a fountain coke. While Mom was shopping, I wander over to the comic book stand at the front of the store. Eventually I coaxed her into buying them for me. I know for a long time that was the only place I could get them until a larger gas station /convenience store opened that also carried comic books. Eventually I got to the age where I was old enough to ride into town on my bike – about a three mile trip – every week to see what was new.
What were your early favorites?
I have to say that the X-Men was an early favorite, and still is today. As I got older I started branching out. One of the many things comic book writers like to do is re-invent the comic Universe every so often. Marvel had the Beyonder Wars, and DC did Crisis on Infinite Worlds I think it was. That’s when everything started splitting off. The classic X-Men were re-released, and then an entirely new family was introduced – New Mutants, X-Factor, The Avengers, The West Coast Avengers, Teen Titans, Legion of Super Heroes, Nightwing, and several others.
One of the interesting things to happen in the world of comics happened when some writers and illustrators would break out and form new companies, with entirely new characters and plot lines. One of these was a new series called Amethyst, the Jewel Princess from Another Dimension. On earth she was a regular 12 year old girl; however, in her homeland, she was a full grown blond bombshell who had magical powers tied to her birth stone, which, as you can guess, is the Amethyst. Along these lines of new stories and characters was a mutant-type comic. I can’t remember the name of the book, but one of my favorite characters was Scuzz – a mutant with serious hygiene issues caused from his toxic body chemistry that eventually would eat through anything. Being a pre-teen boy, of course this was cool to me!
I know comic books are highly collectible – do you own any valuable ones?
I have never really checked. I have some that are over 20 years old now. I think I have a very good collection of some of the series from the 80’s and 90’s. I think at one time one of the issues I have was worth about $100 but I have never really pursued it closely – all total, I have 6 cases in storage.
What about now – do you still collect?
Like most avid fans, my comic book reading became an addiction. I was in college at North Carolina School of the Arts my freshman year. I was living off grants and work study. At that time, work study paid $2.85 if I remember correctly so that monthly check was shall we say, small. As with any addiction, my need for food and basic living supplies lost out to feeding my addiction. This was only made worse when the comic industry figured out that they could release two or three versions of a comic and tie story lines together through subsequent issues, so you have to buy the other spin offs to keep up. For example, Legion of Super Heroes spun off The Ultimate Legion of Super Heroes, – same with Teen Titans, and several others. Eventually I came to my senses, and my need to eat and not be funky smelling won out. In the early 90’s I quit collecting all together. Shortly after that there was a big change in the industry as new ways to print and art styles changed, which further supported my decision to stop collecting.
You shared with me that you will be going to ComicCon for the very first time this year. How did you first come to find out about Comic-Con?
Comic-Con has been around for about 38 years now. It was one of those events you always hear about through the grape vine, where all the cool stuff related to sci-fi or comics always happened – like the first preview of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Actors and producers from new comic series, TV shows, and movies always happen to show up at this convention.
Tell me about this year’s event – what’s appealing to you about it? What especially are you looking forward to?
Since this is my first Comic-Con, I’ll get to be super geeky. I have a friend I met on the net quite a while back, and he is the one who invited me to go, so it’ll be great to finally meet him in person. He’s going to be my San Diego Tour Guide while I’m there – sort of like my ‘Cato’ for the weekend (Green Hornet reference for you non geeky folks). He has introduced me to a couple of folks that are involved with Comic-Con, and I am working with them to set up some interviews for BearPodcast while there. And, I’m not ashamed to say, I’m really hoping to run into some of the cast from two of my all-time favorite television shows – Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica, and maybe a sneak peek at the new Star Trek movie!
I know ComicCon is widely known for the die-hard fans who dress up as their favorite characters, or create their own and design an outfit for that character. Will you be in costume?
Well I’m not dressing up as a character. There is a chance, though that one of my favorite heroes from Bearopolis, Alpha Bear will make an appearance at the convention. He is one of the few bear-type heroes around. Him and his side kick Chaser Boy are rumored to been in town at the convention. I hope, though, that his arch nemesis Jackie, the bad Drag Drag Queen will not be there. She uses her Drag Queen powers to put on bad drag shows that make everyone super depressed. Hopefully I will be able to get an interview with Alpha Bear and Chaser Boy. I do know that at sometime during the event, know my friend is hoping to run into, onto, or under – Alpha Bear at some point *wink*.
Will there be a special event that you hope to go to?
From my understanding, there are a lot of Bears that go to Comic-Con. One of the local Bear Bars has a big costume party during the convention. One of the things I like about being a pod cast Super Star is getting invited to these wonderful events. I’m hoping to score some pictures and interviews for Bear Podcast from some of the attendees. I’m not big into doing the whole dress up thing and having to deal with a costume, so I will probably just go in jeans and a BearPodcast logo shirt. I’m tying to talk my host into wearing his Robin outfit – Woof!!!!
Does your partner share your interest in ComicCon or animation?
No, not at all. He did at one time like lying in bed with me and watching the Justice League, but they only produced a few shows, and after a couple weeks they all start rerunning. This is just my thing, and he’s okay with it.
What do you think of Anime? If you like it, what are your faves?
I like some of it. I don’t know if I’m to old or what, but some of the stuff that comes out just doesn’t make sense to me. Recently, though, I saw the live version of Death Note and am interested in seeing the anime series.
If you are interested in finding out about ComicCon, go to their link. You can also find out about more GLBT comics at Prism Comics.