Monday, March 10, 2008

History Of The Beanworld Action Figure!

Shield Albright sent this photo with the following comment:
"These are a mix of authentic 1996 and 1997 San Diego Comic Con beanworld action figures."

Chapter 9

I can't even imagine how many Beanworld Action Figures I made and distributed between 1985 and 1999, when Beanworld retired from the convention scene.

In 1993, I became Executive Director of Image Comics. (The who/what/where/whens/ and whys of that particular change in my life are a different story for a different time.) But part of my deal with the Image Partners was that I could still maintain a Beanworld presence at comic book conventions. So, yes, for six years I would somehow talk to Beanworld fans and conduct Beanworld business simultaneously out of the Independent Artists Pavilion at Comic Con.

Okay...that's not quite true. I DO know how I managed to do that juggling act. My first table mate at Comic Con had been Scott McCloud, but the year that Winter McCloud was born, the McClouds were unable to attend Comic Con. I needed someone to share a table with and Cory suggested Charles Brownstein--editor of Feature magazine.

In my Beanworld creator craziness, I always insisted on making my own Beanworld Action Figures. I always believed I could tell any Beanworld Action Figure that I had made apart from ones that had been made by anyone else. Charles studied how I made them, the positions of the eyes, the length and width of the pen stroke. Charles was very capable of making a Beanworld Action Figure that looked exactly like one of mine. So I caved into his pragmatism and allowed him to start making replacement Beanworld Action Figures as they day's supply would start running short. Sometimes Charles Brownstein, Cory, and I would be making them as fast as we could to keep up with the demand. Some years at a show like San Diego Comic-Con we would go through 7 or 8 bags of Great Northern Limas. Luckily for us there was a Ralph's supermarket close to the convention center.
Taking a look at the Beanworld Action Figures in the photo above--all of those figures sure look like I made them all!

So, imagine my surprise when in 1999 I found myself the President of a genuine action figure company! \
What an ironic turn of events that was.
After all those years of thumbing my nose at the action figure craze with my silly little Beanworld figures--I was smack dab in the middle of the toy maelstrom!
I was in the eye of that hurricane for eight years.
Then I wasn't.
After eight years of being immersed in the milieu of two-ups, tooling patterns, paint masters, test shots, debugging, testing, slow boats from China, and damages--I'm glad to recognize that the only thing I have to worry about next convention is the current price of a bag of dried lima beans!
Next chapter--the Triumphant Return of the Beanworld Action Figures at Wonder Con!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kind of freaky to read that interview and hear you talking about all that, when from a non-convention-going Beanworld-fan perspective it seems like you were in hibernation all those years.

A few years ago I knew a couple that was starting an online and then bricks-and-mortar comic book store, and they were carrying a lot of that kind of stuff. The guy showed me a Terminator figure once and asked if it looked good to me. I didn't even know how to evaluate it.

It's so strange to me how people will turn anything into a fetish. Some do it with action figures, some do it with books (guilty). Makes me wonder why Cat Yronwode's business isn't swamped with orders every second of every day. Or maybe it is.

This is in no way a "dig" at anyone who collects, admires, designs, or sells collectible or other figures. It's just strange to me that it's closely connected to things I care and have cared about, but at the same time, totally alien.