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Robert Young On Playing Six Degrees Of Devin Grayson With Him, Me, Mark Siegel, Nick Abadzis
posted October 14, 2012

I've read comics blogs so rarely over the past five years, and yet any time I follow some link to CR I always kick myself for not remembering to follow it regularly, because there's always so much great stuff. That said, I stumbled across some aggregate convention news site where they list everything from signings by guys who played Boba Fett, to Brookyn Book Fest and Mocca. I saw a link to SPX and decided to take a peek (again I haven't read anything about SPX in several years, because it just makes me sad that I haven't attended in a decade). Anyway one of the links led me to your summary of the 2012 SPX, and I was amazed to see pics of my old friend Nick Abadzis. And also a line you wrote something to the effect that "even noted foodies Nick Abadzis and wife Angela Watson only batted .500 in locating decent local eateries." Interesting because it suggested that Nick and Ang now attend SPX so routinely that they are just another pair of familiar faces (like say Abel and Madden, or Reklaw and Arp, etc.).

This led me to the interview you did with Nick a few years back (um, apparently another one was conducted earlier this year also) when he was promoting Laika. He specifically mentioned that he came to SPX 2000 at a point where he was only doing children's books like The Pleebus, and he was totally rejuvenated by the small press scene while in Bethesda. True enough. But in 2000 Nick had never heard of SPX and certainly never had any intention of attending. He only did so because he and Angela had plans to vacation in New York that year, and I cajoled them to connect their vacation to SPX and just come down to DC after they left NYC. We'd been emailing, and sometimes talking on the phone or in online chats, for years prior, and the main intention was just to finally meet and hang out, and have a great time in DC. We shared a table at SPX, and in fact Nick had drawn the cover to my issue of TCI devoted to Los Bros. Although he only had a stack of various Pleebus books, Nick got tremendous feedback from people who remembered Hugo Tate and Vertigo's Millennium Fever, as well as for the Pleebus stuff. We reprised our SPX meetings until 2003.

Anyway none of this is earth-shattering or maybe even remotely interesting, but I mention it to you, Tom, because you facilitated my meeting Abadzis, and as a result you're the real reason he ever came to SPX, renewed his career and likely moved to New York. Call it the Butterfly Effect. In the late 90's TCJ did a short interview with Abadzis related to Hugo Tate, I think. I remember reading the interview and realizing Nick and I had a number of things in common, and he sounded like a nice guy so I decided to write to him. Also, in that interview he seemed to be held up as an example of a talented creator who had a promising career truncated by his association with Vertigo. He had fallen off the map. One of the British writers recruited by Vertigo who never went on to reach Alan Moore's or Neil Gaiman's success. Not even close. So it also seemed decent to write the guy and just say Hugo Tate was pretty great, and that Millennium Fever was a good read as well.

So I sent a snail mail letter to TCJ c/o Tom Spurgeon. I remember you very nicely writing me back to say that you had no current info on Abadzis' address, and he had apparently moved. But you said you'd forwarded the letter to Scot Nybaaken, who had worked at TCJ and then moved on to DC/Vertigo. You thought there was a slim hope Nybaaken could track Nick down. I thought it was really sweet of you, and considered the letter pretty much dead.

Of course some time later (maybe two months?) I got a letter from London. Nick and I became very good friends and finally met up in 2000 in Bethesda. The point being, had you not gone to the lengths of sending the letter to Nybaaken, and then he forwarding it yet again to Abadzis, it is very plausible that Abadzis never attends SPX (or at least not until years later, if he even returned to doing adult comics while in the U.K.). And consequently Abadzis likely never meets the network of patrons he's now deeply familiar with at SPX, including eventually Mark Siegel etc. etc. etc.

So next SPX, if you see Nick, you are well within your rights telling him that you're the reason he's there, and maybe asking for an original Hugo sketch while you're at it.

Tom Spurgeon Responds: I did take a t-shirt.