I truly wish I could have gotten this up, sooner. Life, y’know. But, now, without any further hoo-hah....
Wow. That’s all I can say, really. Just, WOW. The opening of the Toy and Action Figure Museum this past Saturday was far greater than I expected. In fact, as far as I could tell, it exceeded EVERYONE’S expectations, including those who had a hand in the planning. Let me just start with what made it a great event, in general.
The town of Pauls Valley really turned out for this landmark occasion. While, at the same time, we know there were visitors who came from as far away as Brooklyn for the opening. The guided tours of the museum began at 10 a.m., and from that time until at least 2 p.m., there was a line of people waiting to get in which stretched around the corner! One of the things we noticed was the diversity of ages; from children to senior adults, and every age in between. And, these were not all families who had brought the kiddies, either. We saw couples in their twenties to those in their seventies waiting to enter this attraction to enjoy it themselves! It can truly be said that the museum was a hit with all ages.
Also impressive was the support thrown behind the museum by town leadership and local merchants. Everywhere you looked, there were super hero-related symbols on shop windows and doors, as well as congratulatory messages on business marquis, welcoming the museum to the town. A front page story in the Daily Oklahoman stated that the town has allotted $1,000,000 for the project, of which only $100,000 has been spent, so far. A couple of things exciting about that: That the town has that kind of commitment to and excitement for the museum, and that it will, eventually, be many times better than it is now! And, it's FANTASTIC, now!
It’s also worth noting that Oklahoma City-based comics shop "Speeding Bullet" has struck a partnership with the museum, basically by making the gift shop another store outlet. So, besides being able to purchase museum memorabilia, fans can also pick up their new comics, graphic novels, action figures, and other comics-related items. Yes, indeed, a fine, fine establishment.
There were a few things, however, which made this an event to remember for me, personally. One was simply being able to play such a large part in promotion within the online community, and even being credited to that effect by Michael Vance at the awards luncheon (Thanks, again, Michael.). After conducting the first online interview with Kevin Stark about the museum, getting Michael and Kevin together on the museum/Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection alliance, spending months of posting notices on action figure and comics message boards, and creating/hosting the official OCC site on my blog, it has been extremely gratifying to finally see it all come to fruition. And, to know that it’s simply going to get better!
Perhaps the greatest treat for me, however, was getting to meet the cartoonists themselves, and listening to some of the stories from their careers. The person I got to spend the most time with was Pocho Morrow, widow of long-time comics artist Gray Morrow. Funny, intelligent, and talented in her own right, much of the day was spent listening to her talk about Gray, and other comics professionals they have known for years, watching her interact with fans, and just generally cutting up with her. I had a little trouble pronouncing her name correctly; it’s pronounced like "loco," but my initial pronunciation sounded like "taco." She corrected me good-naturedly, but QUICKLY. Later, I jokingly reminded her to be sure and sign her name with the correct pronunciation, not really knowing what to expect. But, I received a chuckle and a peck on the cheek, rather than a slap upside my head, so that worked out well. (She’s from "back East," ya know!)
All in all, a great event! I hope everyone enjoys the pictures, as I had a tough time deciding which ones to post. And, as soon as you get the chance, get down to Pauls Valley, before word of the Toy and Action Figure Museum/Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection leaks out all over the world, and the lines become much longer!
Wall of action figures
A loyal fan!
A gift to the museum from Mega Bloks.
Professional sculpter talks about his trade.
Michael Vance prepares to present Hall of Fame awards.
Proud recipients Jim Lange, Dave Simpson, and Marie O'Brien (with her husband by her side). Marie accepted the award for her cousin, E. Nelson Bridwell.
Pocho Morrow (far left) accepts for her husband, Gray, and Carole and Jack Bender accept for their work on Alley Oop.
Steve Irwin introduced during Museum Luncheon.
Jack Bender signs some of his work.
Linda Simpson watches as her husband's original work sells itself.
The Benders admire a particular illustration above the OCC display.
Yours truly, proving that if you annoy ANYONE long enough, they'll take a picture with you. Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Lange!