Create doesn’t just mean jump on your computer and make something, it also means put yourself in the right place at the right time, regardless of situation.
Case in point…
At this past year’s Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, my main goal was to get an autograph from Marvel artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. I didn’t have much intention of attending this year until he was announced as a guest. It could have been the first time in about 5 years I wouldn’t have attended.
For some reason, there’s one comic cover he created for a 90s run of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man” that keeps popping up in my world. My brother and I are sure of the fact that I owned it at one time.
Growing up, I became a big fan of Venom, one of Spider-Man’s many arch enemies. I don’t know what it was about Eddie Brock; maybe it was the black suit, maybe it was that while Peter Parker kept his identity as secret as can be, it was by chance (and an alien symbiotic relationship) that had Venom one step ahead of the web slinger, or maybe it was because he was just all around bad ass.
So this cover, and many others were important to me. A few years back, my wife bought me a shirt with this very illustration on the front. It still is one of my favorite articles of clothing. I even wore it to family functions like I was a child all over again.
I re-bought the comic for more than I’d imagine paying, and my brother bought me a blown up wood backed poster for my office wall.
As you can see… Meeting McFarlane, getting his autograph… This was important.
It was also the first chance I had to bring my two sons to the Comic Expo. They had heard all the stories I’d bring back each year, but they’d never experienced it themselves. It was a chance to share an amazing day with my ‘spawn’. We planned to be down at the grounds early, in hopes of grabbing our passes and getting in line as soon as we could. It was the last day, so I had hoped things would have been a little less busy for my children and I.
I was terribly mistaken.
By the time we got into the building to line up at 10AM, we were seven rows back of the ‘cut-off’ point, three rows deep. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Do I make my 9 and under aged children waste two hours of their time for nothing, or do I make the call then and there and enjoy the rest of my day with the kids.
“You’re being very optimistic…”, exclaimed the security guard watching over the line as a response to my “What are the chances” inquiry. One of many he had to deal with over the course of the next hour or so, I’m sure.
I pulled my kids out of the line, and explained the rest of the day was theirs. Whatever they wanted to do, wherever they wanted to go, it was their day. I sucked up my frustration and disappointment and channeled it into creating an amazing experience for my little ones.
We walked, and walked… and walked all over the event. We played video games, we shopped, we ate, it was such a great experience that I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
By the end of the day, my cup was full and my gas tank was empty. There was one more request my the little ones to find fidget spinners. The youngest had counted over 10 as we were walking around, and we were told there was a booth selling them back where we originally had lined up for McFarlane. I could tell that the kids were done, but this would be a good cap to the day.
As we entered the building, I caught a small line up out of the corner of my eye. It was McFarlane’s booth. There was 5-7 people. I thought to myself, either this was a down time… or he was done.
“Nope, he’s done for the day”. The disappointment returned thanks to another security member, just doing their job.
It was in that moment that I had to do something, or let this slip out of my hands. I asked, ever so politely, if the guard would ask McFarlane if he’d do one more. I knew of his reputation. He signs two things for free, he talks to his fans, he’s an all around nice guy. Others charge $40-$100 per signature, and you only get 30 seconds, at most, with your idols as they have to get to the next person in line. Todd was different.
“I can’t ask him that, but what I can do is go walk over there and drink my coffee.”
I didn’t get it. Thought it was a jerk move actually, until he came back over nearly a minute (which felt like an eternity) later.
“I don’t think you understand… I’m not going to be here, I’m going to be over there… drinking my coffee… over there.”
I walked past the barriers, closer.
“He’s done, he has to catch a flight”, said Guard #2.
I pleaded. If only they had asked him, then I’d know for sure. All I wanted was to hear from him. Guard #2 understood, and walked over to McFarlane.
As I waited, another Guard came up to me, same routine. I expressed just wanting a quick scribble on my comic. I wouldn’t be a bother, and I’d go alone my merry way soon after.
“Come on over”
Guard #2 had done it. He asked, Todd agreed. Had he said no, I would have walked away, thanking him for his time. But McFarlane said yes. He motioned me over, I scurried.
I thanked him over and over as he signed my cover. He was gracious, and conversational.
As he finished, he looked up.
“Are those your kids?”
Yes, I completely forgot I had children with me. I said yes, as reasons why they were standing over yonder rolled through my head.
“Can I take a picture with them?”
Wait. Isn’t it me, the fan, suppose to ask him, the mega-superstar, for the photo-op? I was in awe.
What happened next blew me away even more. He talked to my boys, giving them an inspirational talk that I wish I had recorded. He pressed them to be great. To do great things. To be great people when they were older.
“Cure Cancer for me, OK?”
There are the usual amazing moments in a person’s life. Wedding day, births, etc. This didn’t top those, but as far as the other moments in life go, there is no comparison.
McFarlane and his “entourage” walked away. I took a moment. I had to. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
This was an moment to share with my kids. I bent down to them, and told them to never let someone take a moment away from them. If it was important, if it was possible, if it was worth fighting for, keep moving towards it. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, it’s an amazing feeling.
We didn’t end up with a fidget spinner after all. They were all sold out. But I did provide them with the next best thing: Mini-doughnuts. It’s amazing what kids will compromise with.
If you’ve read to this point, saying ‘long story short’ is probably useless. However, I wanted to point out the main reason I started this story with the idea of putting yourself in the right situation.
I could have walked. I shouldn’t have had the chance based on my decisions. I had come to grips with not reaching a goal I set. It happens.
But when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t take no for an answer. I pushed through. Granted, there could have been a moment that would have ended the story, but I pushed as close as I could have gotten to that line.
Create. Create content, create opportunity, create moments. Each of those can create each other very easily. The opportunity created a moment, which created content.
Create… who knows what will happen.