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PHOTOS: JH Williams III @ Isotope 2018

Oh guys, this was the *perfect* event, I am over the moon! Writing this report on the event took me all week long and, as you’ll see, so full of really special moments that I will never forget. My heart is absolutely bursting with happiness!

Click Here For Photos From This Event

You probably are aware that JH Williams III (or “Jim” as the Isotope family all knows him) doesn’t do many public appearances and given how much my staff and customers treasure him and his work we really wanted to make this one a special night. But what I could not predict was just how special it would truly be!

The weekend was a team-up with our friends at the California College of the Arts​ MFA In Comics Program and the Isotope, so it was a full weekend long celebration of this extraordinary comic creator who has truly re-defined the comics artform in the 21st century. Jim had a talk on Friday night at CCA’s Timken Lecture Hall in celebration of CCA’s MFA in Comics graduate students. I have to say that the CCA students right now are just *incredible*, and the energy behind the whole program is just fantastic, I love what they’re doing there and it’s no exaggeration when I say that I think that school is going to make a huge impact on the future of the comics industry. The JH Williams III talk with professor Justin Hall on Friday night was incredibly insightful and inspirational. And of course full of mind-blowing art. If you haven’t been to one of CCA’s public talks with cartoonists I can’t recommend it more highly. Afterwards Kirsten and I set up a small table with SANDMAN OVERTURE, PROMETHEA, BATWOMAN and WHERE WE LIVE at the CCA reception. In 17 years we’ve never set up and sold comics outside of the Isotope’s four walls but we made an exception because this was such a special event. I pretty much just hung out talking with the amazing art students while Kirsten did all of the work. The weekend was off to an awesome start and we had a blast working with the staff of CCA’s MFA In Comics Program (thanks Matt Silady and Anuja Silady and Justin Hall and Ed Luce). And it was about to get even better…

Our party the next night on Saturday was sublime. Beyond even my highest expectations and hopes. Over the years our parties had been getting just too over-stuffed, even with me intentionally under-promoting our events(!), so last year Kirsten and I decided to take a bit of time off from posting parties to slim down the crowds a bit. A huge success! We had the perfect sized crowd for this!

And the result was everything I could have ever hoped for. Jim’s intricate work is incredibly time-consuming and absolutely not conducive for quick scrawl-out pictures. So it is understandable that he doesn’t tend to draw much in public. I’ve known Jim for 13 years and the Isotope has had the pleasure of hosting several events with him over the years but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen him do so many mind-blowing drawings for fans before. Just phenomenal. Those of us who got to watch him draw and those who got to take home those sketches home. Wow. Talk about a once in a lifetime event!

But it got even better…!

At around 10pm we stopped the party. Which is something I almost never do. But this party was special. And we were about to have one of the most special moments in Isotope history unfold before our collective eyes. Jim is a very by-the-rules guy and he’d promised Entertainment Weekly the chance to debut his pages to the world when the time is right, sometime later this year or early next year. But, as long as no photos were taken of the work, he’d agreed to show the Isotope faithful the *entire first issue* and most of the second issue of his upcoming ECHO LANDS series. And not just show us, but Jim walked us through each and every page, describing the story and characters, pontificating his techniques, and laying bare the thoughts, artistic ambitions and challenges that went into every page.

ECHO LANDS really is unlike anything anyone has seen in comics before. And, of course, Jim’s art is just breathtaking. A pre-eminent master at the top of his game, pushing himself beyond anything we’ve seen him attempt before. And clearly having the time of his life doing it. Despite the whole thing being totally mind-blowing, Jim kept the talk super casual and relaxed, happily answering questions from fans and students and professional comic creators alike.

I could listen to endless hours of Jim talking about his art, transfixed and hanging on his every word. Anyone could tell you his art is incredibly deep and awe-inspiring but getting to hear about the amount of thought he puts into the creation of those pages you feel his work on a totally different level that is somehow even more astonishing and miraculous. My favorite thing is as superlative as his work really is I don’t know any comic artist who describes their work as “fun” as much as Jim does. It just makes your heart sing to hear that.

Speaking of making your heart sing… one of the most special things of the night was that our beloved Katie Longua (of MUNCHIES and HER SPACE OPERA fame) had just her upcoming graphic novel DEBIAN PERL: DIGITAL DETECTIVE announced the day before in a huge way… on the Hollywood Reporter! We’re so excited for her!

I couldn’t be more proud of Katie and spent a good portion of the party just introducing her to people and telling them about her upcoming book. So many of the party’s attendees were art students and future comic creators so it was extra cool to see how inspired by her work and excited everyone was. And even better was later in the night Katie pulled out a flyer she’d saved from her very first Isotope party ever and it was JH Williams III in 2008! I remember meeting Katie and hanging out with her and her fellow the Academy of Art students that night. But what I did not know… and this is the coolest thing… is it was on that day, when she first met JH Williams III at an Isotope party ten years ago. that Katie decided she wanted to make comics! And here we were, the day after her huge Hollywood Reporter announcement, having a party with JH Williams III again!

Just… wow. I was blown away just thinking about that! And definitely one of the happiest moments in my entire 17 year long (so far!) comics career.

Another great moment at the party was when I spotted FAE ARCHAIC creator Kirt Burdick, one of San Francisco’s greatest unsigned comic creators, sitting at the drafting table getting his JH Williams III comics autographed. I quickly grabbed a copy of FAE ARCHAIC and slid it in front of Jim, “This is Kirt’s book…” Jim was instantly excited and enthusiastically exclaimed “Oh, I was looking at that earlier! This is YOURS?!” (laugh) So cool. Kirt was utterly speechless.

As if my heart could not contain more joy my longtime friend Maureen Minn walked in the door of the party. My jaw hit the floor. Back when we lived in Wisconsin Maureen was the person who took me to my very first comic convention ever! “I’m driving to Chicago to go to Chicago Comic Con – and you’re coming with!” It wasn’t long after that she started working at a comic book store. I was so envious! So Maureen will forever be one of the coolest people in my entire world. She lives here in San Francisco but has kiddos and has never made it to one of my parties before. AWESOME! I had a blast introducing her to everyone and telling people she’s responsible for my entire comics career (laugh)! Maureen had come with her next door neighbor, Heather Nodelman, who I had helped pick out books for her twin daughters only weeks before. So sweet. Thank you for sharing your photos with us Heather!

I kept saying “this is perfect, this is perfect, this is perfect” to myself, the happiest mantra, all night long. And it really was.

Jim and Wendy Williams are some of our favorite people on Earth so it was great to spend time with them again. My sincerest thanks to DJ Bearzbub who we haven’t had the pleasure of having at one of our parties in well over a year. I was downright giddy setting up his equipment up once more and to see him up there on the mezzanine doing his thing all night long. Even my beloved friends Adrienne Rappaport​ and Jim Cox who I hadn’t seen in forever were there. And with Josh Richardson was behind the bar with Kirsten, Katie Mattingly at the register, Andrew Gapen and Ash Aiwase at the door? This is perfect, this is perfect, this is perfect.

Thanks to all of you who joined us and filled my night with smiles. You made a perfect event more perfect than I could ever hope to ask for.

I can’t wait to throw another party.

– James

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