A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Not really. Not so long ago (ten years, maybe?) and only in a town about an hour from where I am right now.
I was cleaning up some old papers recently and I came across this photo:
Yes, that’s me, with Mark Hamill. No, I absolutely cannot explain what the hell is happening to my hair. I’m going to say it’s the Force and stick with that story.
Anyway, this was back in the Nineties, when Hamill was promoting a comic book he’d written called The Black Pearl. One of the stops on his signing tour was Cards, Comics, and Collectibles, the comic book store at which I’ve shopped since I was fourteen years old. Marc Nathan, the owner of CCC, pulled out all the stops, and a great time was had by all.
And then it got even better because Marc shelled out Big, Huge, Unreasonable Bucks to take Mark Hamill out to dinner…along with about fifty fans. Including yours truly.
So for a long, long dinner, I sat across the table and two people down from Mark Hamill. He was either the genuinely nicest guy in the universe or the best actor in the universe — you pick. All I know is, he seemed like he was having a great time, goofing around, doing the Joker voice for us, talking about recent encounters with George Lucas. You know — geek stuff. Only he lived it, whereas the rest of us just watched from the sidelines.
At one point, I was talking to someone next to me about the Legion of Super-Heroes and Mark’s ears perked up. “Who said Legion of Super-Heroes?” he asked.
“Oh my God! I love the Legion!” he said. I thought for sure he was kidding. It had to be a joke, right? I waited for the punchline.
“Dream Girl. Oh, God,” he moaned. “Dream Girl was my favorite.”
Holy crap! Mark Hamill was a Legion fan! I couldn’t believe it.
And suddenly I was embroiled in a discussion of the freakin’ Legion of Super-Heroes with the last of the Jedi Knights.
The coolest thing about the whole day, though? Well, like I said, there were a bunch of people at this dinner. So many that we needed two huge tables. There was a table of people behind me, and Mark was so sincere in his love of his fans that he got up several times during dinner to walk over to the other table to make sure the people there were having a good time.
During one of these times, I happened to look up. Mark was behind me, but there was a huge mirror mounted on the wall opposite me. Take a look at how he’s dressed in that picture. All dark clothes, right?
Yeah, when I looked up into that mirror, in that dark restaurant — for just a second — it was like someone was playing Return of the Jedi on a big screen in front of me. Because Luke Skywalker was right there.
Great night. Geek dream: Realized and surpassed!