10. The Launch of the London Megastore
The first event I ever did for FP – I hadn’t even started in the position and I was slung in at the proverbial deep end. Meeting GoH Ray Harryhausen left me genuinely speechless, and watching all of the journos and publicity types was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
FP are very fond of telling people to ‘hit the ground running’ – and they really weren’t kidding!
9. Signing Ecko.
Absolutely bloody surreal for all the reasons we know – but made doubly bizarre as John Barrowman were signing upstairs at the same time. As I changed hats from publicist to publicised, he was sat in the staffroom, gloriously foul-mouthed and completely at home.
Bless him for putting the icing on the evening!
8. Fangirl Moments (cough).
Meeting Stephen Donaldson – wonderfully sarcastic, and a very drily funny man. And meeting Claudia Christian – along with getting the chance to don the classic Bab5 jacket. Insert fangirl squeee here.
7. The Gentle Giant World Tour
Karl Meyer of Gentle Giant Studios had whole Rock God thing going on, and a queue that waited for him for ten hours plus – fans that literally cheered him upon arrival. We had competitions, tour exclusive toys and tees, a party atmosphere in the store itself – the launch of the Commander Bly bust was absolutely massive.
As part of the event, we also had in store the full 3D head-scanning technology that made Gentle Giant’s busts and figures so perfectly sculpted and unique. Kind of like an MRI scanner for toys…
6. Stealing William Gibson’s Pen.
He’d actually come in to sign Spook Country, and his London fanbase was there in force to meet him. It was the afternoon Reverend Rat gave him the ‘Secure Beneath Watchful Eyes’ poster that he’d been looking for since ‘02 (I love it when that stuff happens, it’s really magical) and I watched the Godfather of Cyberpunk be struck suitably speechless by the gift. Lovely man, telling tall tales of the basement of Denmark Street in the 1980s (and I’ve heard a few of those, as well).
He only handed me his e-signature pen so I could have a look at it!*
5. Andy Serkis signing Return of the King.
I’d been at FP two months when Andy Serkis came in to sign the DVD release of Return of the King – and I’ve never seen a guest work so hard at a public event. The queue was huge as you’d expect, and the children were coming in and holding up little plastic One Rings to him, saying ‘Look! I’ve got it and you can’t have it!’ In response, he would surge over the counter at them, his whole face and attitude shifting, manifesting Gollum right before our eyes.
He did this four or five hours with no break and no let-up – and every kid was as wide-eyed as the first one.
4. Kevin Smith signing Shootin’ the Sh*t.
A consummate retail professional on top if all his other capabilities, Kevin Smith was absolutely aware of (and a part of) his fanbase. The thing that sticks in my head is him walking the store after the event had closed, commenting on stock and layout and visual merchandising – all with the eye of a man who knows exactly what you should be doing and why.
And one would expected to find him loitering outside with Jason Mewes.
3. Ray Harryhausen.
One of the first jobs I ever did for FP was escorting Ray Harryhausen back to his house in a taxi, listening to him talk – about being in LA during the war, and about how much he hated CGI. He was a very insightful and gentle man, still with a wicked twinkle, and it’s one of those moments I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Later, we took books to his house for him to sign, and our attention as Ray’s house to be signed, and we sat in the kitchen like kids, looking at the artwork in the walls and the miniature Talos on the cabinet beside us.
2. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost signing Shaun of the Dead.
One the first signings they did for us, promoting the original movie release of Shaun (the signed poster is still on the staffroom wall). I was there to run the event, and five months pregnant with Isaac. Quite aside from trying to persuade me to call my son ‘Simon Nick’ or ‘Nick Simon’ they were a great laugh, like Kevin Smith they were at one with their (substantial) audience, and fanboys to the core.
Specifically, Nick Frost won my heart by answering the business telephone and getting his mitts on a price gun… we so should’ve given him a job!
1: Gerard Way signing The Umbrella Academy.
Huge. Bigger than huge. Fecking enormous. I’m forever retelling this, but it’s the only time we’ve ever shut the store for an event. It was like something out of a zombie movie, fans’ hands and faces pressed against the glass, screaming and chasing his car as he left. Love-lorn teenagers queued for hours (some from the previous night) – they burst into tears when they saw him and were absolutely unable to speak… that much was fair enough, but when it was their mums, ladies my age – that made me goggle.
Have to say, though, props to the man himself for being absolutely lovely.
And a special mention must also go to Max Brooks, and his affinity with the zombie goodies crafted by Nimba Creations. Fantastic afternoon, proving that, sometimes, legends really do come to life :)
*I should point out that I didn’t, in fact, steal Mister Gibsons’s pen. I forgot I had it in my hand (I swear!) and he was extremely polite in asking for it back…