Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ping-Ponging around Ohio

After five days in California, I flew to Ohio on Halloween morning. This is the state where Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman took place. Highlights so far:

- The Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster on 11/1 was an exceptionally well-run event. Patient and efficient organizers, brisk attendance, even great signage. I sold more copies there than at any other single-day event I've been to so far.

- For months, other writers have told me to expect enthusiasm of a higher level when I appeared at the Mazza Museum of picture book art in Findlay. Despite that, I was still not prepared for what greeted me there when I came to speak and sign on 11/2. I will be posting photos and a rundown next week once I'm home (and reunited with my camera cable).

- On Monday, 11/3, I had my first school visits in Cleveland, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they were all in Glenville, the neighborhood where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lived when they created Superman. In fact, the host school (two other schools came there for the presentations) runs along Parkwood Avenue, the street Jerry ran down to Joe's apartment in 1934 to share the fanciful idea he'd had the night before. It was so meaningful to me to share the story with these kids. I wish I knew how they processed it. I wanted to know if it meant something to them to learn that they live where America's most iconic fictional character was born.

After, I had the pleasure of meeting the head of the Glenville Development Corp., the tireless Tracey Kirksey, who has done so much for the community and has been a great ear for me this past year as I've pitched her various ideas to assist the Siegel and Shuster Committee in revitalizing the neighborhood and boosting its Superman heritage. She gave me a slate tile from the roof of Jerry's former home, which has been redone thanks to Brad Meltzer's successful fundraising campaign. This tile dates back to the beginning of the house, so it was over Jerry's head the night he conceived Superman.

- On 11/4, I enjoyed being in a swing state on a presidential election day. There's a different energy here than what I'm used to in Connecticut, which of course has not been a swing state as long as I've been voting, if ever. Another first for me today was speaking at a hospital (the Cleveland Clinic) to children in the pediatric ward. This is the only time I have gone into a presentation hoping for a small audience. The kids and their accompanying parents or caretakers were engaged and seemingly wowed to learn that Superman comes from their hometown. I even broke my own rule and drew someone else's character for them.

Guess who.

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