I have friend and his name is IVAN BRANDON. I'd like to talk to you about him for a minute so read along if you don't mind. As a matter of fact, if you want to get into this business for the long term you need to know this story. Then maybe you can go find and get to know this man.
First let me preempt everything I'm going to say here by saying that some of the statements may seem to make this brilliant, brilliant person out to be some kind of bogeyman. He's not. He's here to HELP. Let me tell you how and how I found out:
Okay, so...Ivan. He's the one who asked me to draw covers for his NYC MECH book a while back (look at some of my earliest posts on this-here blog for images of these covers) and he wrote the story for my 24/7 contribution in Volume 1. Now, he's done more work than that obviously - the most recent of which is his Machine Man run set to release from Marvel very soon. And if you'd like to know his full professional background, click on his name on the link I've high-lighted above; the fella' is bright, quick with the wit, well versed in comic book history and can tell and take a good joke with the best of 'em. Oh, and he's loyal. Loyalty is important. He's backed my name in everything that I've done - even pushed my work like a drug dealer whenever a project comes up on the horizon and it doesn't even have to be a book that he's involved with! He looks out for his people and I was lucky enough to meet him, lucky enough to be asked to work with him and everything has gotten rolling from there by way of my second foray into the funny book business. It is to say that I credit they guy with how my career got its second start.
Here's the thing: He's not REAL.
Yeah...it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of that too, but after this past weekend's trip to the Emerald City Comic Con, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head and I was convinced. See, events transpired in that show that started me on this path to discover if he was an actual person or not. My findings have lead me to believe that he's actually several people. Put simply, there's more than one 'Ivan Brandon' walking around out there.
Crazy, right?! Yeah...let me tell you how crazy.
Ivan Brandon's a mystery man. He's everywhere at once. In that same show, I'd talk to 'him' at his table (sitting with his lovely girlfriend Kristyn - one of the nicest, most charming people I've met in a while) for about 20 minutes or so and that was a hoot. He'd offer me books he's just recently published and about what's going on next between the both of us. Then I'd make my way around the show, run into someone who also had an acquaintance with Ivan and they'd say,
"Oh hey, you just missed Ivan. He was here...two minutes ago."
"Oh yeah?, I was just talking him up a bit at his table two minutes ago. When did you run into him?"
"Like, I dunno, man...two minutes ago. He was *just* here - literally two minutes ago! We talked about this and that and books and comics and blah, blah blah."
"Blah, blah, blah, " I'd think to myself? "That's the same shit he just spoke to me about! Verbatim!"
Now I don't care how fast you walk or what kind of special pair of Pumas you've got on, that type of travel, especially in a crowded show like ECCC, that's f*cking impossible. That incident is what started me on my realization that there's no way Ivan is just ONE person. Want more proof? At the same show, let me emphasize this so you'll pay attention - AT THE SAME SHOW - another fellow artist, obviously not knowing that Ivan had a booth set up in Artists Alley, comes up to me and says, "Hey...24/7 VOLUME 2 just got nominated for an Eisner! Too bad Ivan is in South America hoofin' it, knee-deep in river water or else I'd give him props myself!"
I'd say, "You're f*cking high: I just spoke to the guy today and he's sitting behind his table."
I don't typically drop the F-Bomb this much, but this was the fifth or sixth person IN THIS SAME SHOW who claims that Ivan is in one place when I just saw him and TALKED TO HIM at another place. And this guy says he's in SOUTH F*CKIN' AMERICA?! This is ridiculous. Anyhoo...
"Naw, dood. I just saw pictures of him and he's smiling that ol' Ivan smile, pants folded up to his knees in some muddy river in South America. Funny thing is Jimmy ('Jimmy' is a stand-in name - if I start naming real pros, I'd implicate their involvement and I don't know what the 'Ivans' will do to them) just sent me picture of Ivan wearing a winter parka and he looked like he was at base camp on K2 a couple of days ago. Cool, yeah? Th' guy really gets around."
Cool? COOL?! It's f*cking IMPOSSIBLE! Not only is it ludicrous for him to be in ten places at THIS SHOW, it's even more ridiculous to think that he'd be on two different halves of the hemisphere - TWO DAYS APART! Why has no one ever caught on to this. More importantly, why has no one ever called this man out?!
Then... the second light bulb went off. Why has no one ever called him out? Influence. The man has influence.
"Eric, I think you'd be great on Iron Man. Marvel would have to be crazy not to put you on that book."
His words. A full year before I got the IM: ETM gig. It seems so innocuous, that statement. Read it again. It seems so simple and and throw-away, that you don't even think about it twice. As a matter of fact, I denied it could even happen! "What would Marvel want with me," I asked myself? So I left it alone. And that's how Ivan wants you to think. It makes his influence *seem* that much less significant. "The greatest trick that The Devil ever pulled was to convince the world he wasn't real." Keep that in mind when you re-read this blog entry. That's how he works. That's how they work.Why did it take a year if he has so much influence, you ask? That's how people with real clout work. They make you think it was all your doing, all of your decisions; that you had somehow controlled your own destiny and now you're doing the thing that you set out to do. Every industry has it - from business, to entertainment, to sports. Comic books has Ivan Brandon. He pulls the strings - little bit tighter here, looser there. He cranks down on pulleys and levers - all in the name of comic books. And it's not just for me.
If you go through... let's say, the Image Comics booth at this year's San Diego Comic Con, ask the other artists in Ivan's vicinity, and I believe they'll all say the same thing...or at least something similar:
"Ivan's a really cool guy. He helped me [insert kind act that's impossible for one man to accomplish here]. And man, it's been nothing but smooth sailing since"
Like a Rothschild or a Rockefeller, Ivan Brandon, along with an exclusive cadre of highly influential yet carefully secretive sect within this industry, have been pushing artists writers, colorists, et al - to the forefront. And they make it all seem like it's your idea. Or it was your blind luck. Or it was chance. Or it was some editorial office in NYC. It's not.
My recent count puts their at numbers at around 50 - all of them wear one mask.
Their name is Ivan Brandon.