Howdy Inkwellers! This is my first blog entry since June 29, 2017 and the last time I focused on a membership rollcall and previously titled “The Old Order Changeth” (sorry, I’m an unapologetic, lifelong Avengers fan) was August 31, 2013! So why am I taking a moment to blog an article after all this time in lieu of an insane schedule as we wrap up yet another season? Because our core committee roster, the braintrust of this non-profit, recently witnessed a roster change after the longest and glorious run of a consistent committee line-up. It used to be that, like all volunteers, people put in their time until they don’t have the time or they burn out. Comic book creators especially don’t stay long due to nutty work schedules and obligations. Some of those creators include Tim Townsend, Dave Simons and Nathan Massengill (who actually put in over two years!). Usually there are folks who come and go with rotating, overlapping rosters. Back in the day the passion got fierce as some personalities conflicted and I was the guy that played diplomat to attempt to keep the peace and not always succeeding. So while there were some individuals that had long stays like Daniel Best (3 years), Mike Kellar (4) and Jim Tournas (5 1/2), overall teams never stayed constant for long.
Besides myself, in 2013 two members were promoted to core committee status, Mike Pascale and Erick Korpi. Like Mike Kellar before him, Mike Pascale in short order became an assistant director after Kellar resigned (“The Mighty Mikes”). The current Mike has been on the core team now for over eight years! In that time he has been essential in streamlining operations, handling and upgrading most press releases, announcements and documents with me, often making me sound much better than I am (trust me, he’s good!), redesigning graphics used, been our most-prolific chronicler for bios and Sinnott Hall of Fame articles, acted as a back-up auctioneer in a pinch and even establishing the submissions program to our ballot voting system three years ago among his many accomplishments while holding this position.
Erick Korpi was on the team almost two years when he resigned for personal reasons but he returned just over two years later and has been on the team 3 years and 5 months since 2017. Again for personal reasons, this time related to business and health, Erick had to take an indefinite hiatus as of October of 2020. He is the only core committee volunteer to put in two terms and I have no doubt once he can straighten out some hurdles in his life that he’ll be back again for term #3. At one awards ceremony I even asked multimedia contributor Ray Burke to tease about this and present a mock “Inkwell Masochist Award” being offered to Erick during his slideshow. And even since he left he has continued to be invaluable as a consultant regarding original art value, lifetime achievement nominations and especially developments for our Inking Challenges. Among his many contributions, Erick has been the mastermind behind our most profitable Inking Challenge Spotlight events, successfully recruiting superstars like Jim Lee, David Finch and Ivan Reis and overseeing the programs with me, raising tens of thousands in fundraising, second only to our senior spokesmodel Hailey Skaza-Gagne.
And lastly, we have our second Aussie (after Dan Best) Rhys Evans who we recruited with an ad on social media to reach out for committee volunteers. Out of the three members who joined, Rhys was the only long-term “survivor”, having been on the team as our key auctioneer for just over five years. While the duties of an auctioneer was eventually split among 3-5 contributors from originally being just one person overseen by me due to the intense and time-consuming schedule that burned out members like Bob Shaw, Nathan Massengill and especially Mike Kellar, Rhys has gone many months with on average bi-weekly auction waves. Only recently in December of 2020 did he ask for a leave or sabbatical until the following summer due to family needs in the face of pandemic challenges.
These are the big three that held things together with me the longest with incredibly strong contributions to the organization with minimal issues. So while 2021 brings in new players to fill in the needs of our operations, I hope to see Erick and Rhys return to me and Mike Pascale while retaining our new members such as:
–Ray Burke, who had been a senior contributor for nine years nine months until coming aboard December of 2020. A longtime Inkwell veteran, he brings with him the ability to run auctions and still carry on his duties as tech-guru, a chronicler and the awards ceremony multimedia contributor.
–Joe Prado, who had been recruited as a senior ambassador, also in December 2020, to oversee the popular Brazillian School of comic book artists. Following the success of Mike Deodato Jr. in the 1990s, the region has developed generations of fast and reliable, mainstream talent that has been influential to a degree not seen since the older Filipino School of artists that developed in the 1970s for publishers Marvel, DC, Warren, etc. that is still active going on five decades. In this capacity, Joe assists with overseeing fundraising from donations and Inking Challenges. But he is the first Inkwell member to be active as both a special ambassador and, as of April 2021, a core committee member, a groundbreaking feat! While most professional artists only stay short-term, Joe is showing how things are done taking on two crucial, simultaneous positions while also maintaining his work schedule as a high-demand artist.
These are exciting times for us. I can only imagine the contributions to come from these two “lifers” and if our away team returns then there’s nothing this dream team can’t accomplish, along with the rest of our extended family of invaluable contributors, ambassadors, volunteers, associates and supporters. Let’s face it, I’m not the easiest guy to work with and yet all of the above talents have something in common: Bob stamina. And whenever I look good it’s only because they are GREAT. Our second decade shows us the best is yet to come. Forward & Upward!