Early September has me reflecting back to my mid-August summer,.. to sum it up: a bittersweet journey that touched my childhood so hard, I could feel the loved ones that I've lost in my family there, hanging out with me - as they were the ones to show me Wildwood.. and I like to believe, get to experience that magnificent time warp of a beach town again with me.
My first day driving in, I checked in to the Mango Motel, on E. Spicer.. In a great part of Wildwood it was, as I had accessibility to the Wildwood Museum and Zippy's Bikes, both on Pacific, the cross street, just steps from the Mango.
Sadly, the Mango Motel wasn't illustrated in 'The Wildwood Days of Doo Wop', but the interior liner notes has a nod to the 1950's dream commercialuxe. Sadly, the Mango Motel's neon sign never lit the 5 nights I stayed, but it was so beautiful, it didn't need to be lit... A
common trait (come to find and write about) of Wildwood's motel signs.
Along with receiving the good news that the other comic book I was planning to release that week in Wildwood, officially made it to the Tributes and Traditions proprietor himself, Mr. Fascination - Randy Senna. Our night wouldn't come until that Saturday night, August 14th... but you know I had to get my fascination in!.. So I grabbed a sprite from his soda machine and started playing. The adventure had begun.
The first signing began that night, at the Doo Wop Preservation League's
museum in Wildwood - a museum dedicated to the artifacts and signage surrounding the Doo Wop motel's history. It was the absolute perfect environment for our signing.. and the people who came were just as great.
One of them, being my childhood neighbor, who was so kind to come out and bring one of my late mother's best friends.
Others included siblings of the motel builders, hardcore families of fans and even Stella Star herself - "the girl from Doo Wop city." ...It was great to know the books were beginning to go to great homes with people who love Wildwood's motel movement.
Of course, the signings wouldn't have felt the same without my editor, Kirk Hastings joining me on each of the signings... It was awesome to have him there to talk about the town's specifics - As Kirk grew up in Wildwood as a youngster and attended school there. Kirk even, come to find, lived in some of the houses that the Morey brothers built while the Moreys were building all the motels. It was great history to take in at each location. To see Kirk's book, 'Doo Wop Motels: architecture Treasures of The Wildwoods' go here.
Another stellar guest at the DWPL building, was my new friend, Dorothy Kulisek - who, for the last 15 years, has put her heart and soul in to The Wildwood Sun By The Sea newsletter there in The Wildwoods. Like me, she's a long time self-publisher. The newsletter of hers, is fantastically done... containing her own illustrations of Wildwood to photographs submitted by the families who helped shape Wildwood themselves as vacationers and property
A great joy I had, was meeting all the great folks who planned to be at the signings. Some of these people, knew their loved ones would be in the book. Two of them being, Robert Polis, the son of Theodore "Ted" Polis - the sign maker that pretty much started it all in Wildwood with the first neon sign business. His business would end up training some of the best sign men in Wildwood, including Serafino "Harry" Lanza. So, it was a great to meet the son and his grandson, who came with Robert.
At the signing where I met Robert, I also met Cool Scoops ice cream parlor proprietor, Paul Russo, who, was one of the funniest and kindest men I had met during my journey. Paul went above and beyond to promote 'The Wildwood Days of Doo Wop',.. I was and still am so grateful of his friendship. His Cool Scoops parlor is a must see for Wildwood nuts - as his collection of Wildwood history lines the walls of the parlor and the ice cream is just as great!..
It was also a pure joy to see my great aunt and uncle at the George F. Boyer Museum signing. As I hadn
't seen either of them in years. The George F. Boyer Museum brought out all my favorite friends and authors whom I met through the museum, which was so exciting. This included motel owners (who were 3rd generation) and nearly my age!.. So, it was thrilling to answer them with a "yes" after they'd ask if their own motels were in our graphic novel.
By the time the George F. Boyer show went down on Sunday, I was beginning to realize that I was almost out of books... and there was one man who I needed to get a copy to - and that was Jack Morey. The son of one of the most prominent builders of the movement, Will Morey and nephew to the most prominent builder, Lou Morey. It was quite thrilling to drop off a copy to Jack at the Starlux motel.. and I can't wait to hear his feedback someday.
Nothing but pure history surrounded Kirk and I at the George F. Boyer Museum in Wildwood... We were greeted by many friends of the museum - Kirk got in to some wonderful conversation with the signing goers and I was happy to listen ^_^ Our graphic novel found some great new homes that day.. can't wait to return again next summer.
Here's a wonderful picture of two fans of Fascination with Mr. Fascination himself - Randy Senna!... Our release night was Saturday night, August 14th and it was a success in my eyes. We played Fascination late into the night and had several comic book cover-all games to celebrate, as Randy called it. They went really great. Other fans came in the days thereafter, and I was happy to greet them with a signed copy from Randy and Myself. Randy is a Wildwood icon... even if the town doesn't know it - he is... and I'm happy we put a fun comic book together. One, I'm really proud of.
Here's to a great summer 2021 and a hopeful better one for next!..