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A Mother and Daughter Discover the Beauty of Spontaneity

A mostly empty-Sunday with unclear plans becomes a Funny Pages delight, with a chance to hob-nob with well-known artists and writers.

As Memorial Day Weekend approached, I realized we didn’t really have any plans for Sunday, except for my daughter’s softball game at 4:00 p.m. Then, in Saturday’s Boston Globe, a listing for a free event on Sunday afternoon at the Boston Center for Adult Education caught my eye. 

The listing described a reception for the exhibit, “One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages,” a collection of over 130 original comic strips and panels, all from Sunday, April 11,  2010.  The listing also stated, “Meet the Cartoonists.”

My son, Zach, loves to draw and enjoys reading the comics with me, especially on Sundays.  I thought this event would be a real treat for him, and maybe something my 11-year-old daughter would enjoy as well.

I wasn’t exactly sure what “Meet the Cartoonists” might entail, but it sounded fun, and since on-street parking is free on Sundays, it sounded like a great destination with no down sides in sight.

The notice I read said “registration required,” so I called Saturday morning and left a voicemail message indicating interest in attending and left my call-back number if space happened to be available.  I also checked the BCAE website and saw there was a waitlist for the event, to which I added my name and email address.

Saturday night we had dinner at a friends’ house, with Zach invited to stay and sleepover at their house.  Sunday morning Zach called saying they were going to a 1 p.m. show of a movie he was eager to see. 

“Oh, well,” I thought.  “I guess there goes our outing.”  It was easy to give up on the idea since I wasn't sure we'd get in anyway, and Emily wasn't quite as interested in going as Zach in the first place.

At 1:30 p.m. Sunday, shortly after my husband left for the gym, the phone rang.  It was the Boston Center for Adult Education calling to say they had room for us to attend the reception. 

I was not sure what to do.  I looked at my daughter, engaged in an online video she was watching and who still needed to be on a ball field at 4 p.m., and asked her if she’d like to go.

 “Sure,” she said.

Both of us jumped up, put on our shoes and were parked and at BCAE at 2 p.m., just as the event started.

It was incredible.  Not only were there the great “funnies” all over the walls, but there were comic strip artists and writers from all over the county in attendance.

We soon shook hands with the charming Jeff Parker, who writes “Dustin,” and Steve Kelly, who draws the strip of the easygoing 20-something living with mom and dad, ever in search of a job.  We chatted a bit with them both and then left with our very  own "Dustin" picture, dedicated to Emily.

Next, we met animator David Silverman. Among other things, he has been an artist for The Simpsons and directed The Simpsons Movie.  He drew a picture of Crusty the Clown for us.  Above Crusty’s head he wrote, “Hey, Hey Zach.”  He was really friendly and nice and seemed genuinely pleased to meet fans, even if one of them was absent.

Next we happened upon Sam Viviano from Mad Magazine who honestly could not have been friendlier.  Zach recently discovered Mad and the picture of Alfred E. Newman Sam drew for us will certainly become a keepsake.

Also on hand were Lynn Johnson of For Better for Worse, Don Wimmer from Rose is Rose, Family Circus’s Jeff Keane (grandson of the originator), Brad Anderson, creator of Marmaduke, Ron Ferdinand of Dennis the Menace, Bill Amend of FoxTrot and Scott Shaw of The Flinstones.

And those are just the folks we met and who were kind enough to draw a quick sketch for us.  Many if not all of the comic artists and writers came to BCAE from the nearby National Cartoonists Society conference, headquartered at the Fairmont Copley hotel. 

There were dozens of other artists we did not have a chance to chat with or get autographs from.  Some we did not recognize, although all wore name tags, and others we simply did not have enough time to get to.  We had to get to softball!

It was a thrilling event to attend and I was so happy my daughter and I were spontaneous enough to drop what we were doing and hit the road to meet the many gracious artists and writers. 

So, keep your eyes peeled for event listings in Patch and other news sources.  You just never know what amazing people you might meet with a little luck and great timing.

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