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Doris Danger (vol. 1, Chpt. 6), page 059 MARIO HERNANDEZ – Commentary

[NOTE: PART THREE of THREE! As you’ll see if you clicked through the previous pages, I chose to publish these beautiful pieces by the Hernandez Brothers in this order – Gilbert, Jaime, Mario.  But I received them in THIS order: Mario, Gilbert, Jaime.  Rather than try to make narrative sense of these two disparate orders with these commentary pages, I will share the story in the chronological order it happened, with part three here on “Mario’s” page, even though I’m only talking about Jaime, and have a picture of Jaime and not of Mario. Read PART TWO on Doris Danger (vol. 1, Chpt. 6), page 058 JAIME HERNANDEZ – Commentary]

Ape-Con (2004) came around again — so this is six months or whatever later, and Mario and Jaime were sitting together. Jaime had a line, so I re-introduced myself to Mario, and Mario was real friendly and cool. He seemed genuinely excited to visit with me, after doing the pin-up for me. He told me I paid him better than Fantagraphics, and definitely seemed appreciative. I told him that I feel the artists who’ve given me such pleasure over the years deserve that much, at least. While I was talking to Mario, Jaime glanced over and realized who I was. I introduced myself, and he seemed honestly embarrassed that he hadn’t written me back yet. He pointed out that he’s always busy, and he’d be keeping an eye on my emails in his inbox, but they would just work their way down the stack of them before he had a chance to get back to me. He said he would definitely get in touch with me if I wrote him again.

I went home from the con and wrote him again, telling him to let me know how much he’d like as payment, and when he thinks he could have a piece done.

Finally he wrote a short, concise letter saying how much he’d like, and that if I wanted to keep the piece he wanted more. But he didn’t say how much more he’d like. The amount was quite a bit, though. He ended the note with, Bet you wish now you hadn’t heard from me.

So I wrote back to find out how much extra he would want if he let me keep the piece, and I suggested a price I could afford. He had asked for the high side of what I had paid for all the other artists I’d gotten up to that point — and he hadn’t added in his “keep the piece” fee. I told him if he wanted more money than the numbers I was looking at, it might take me more time to get the money saved up. And I wished I hadn’t made an offer, because it made me wonder if I’d insulted him, or if he felt like, oh, just forget this. He didn’t write me back again, and I got more nervous the longer I waited. So I finally wrote yet again, telling him to please write and let me know how much he would like, and I didn’t name a price this time. And he still didn’t write. So finally I wrote and told him, “I am in agony. I AM IN AGONY! Write me back and tell me how much you want, and I will send you a check.”

What else can you do, when you’d love a pin-up from this guy, and you have two Hernandez Brothers pin-ups and want to be able to include all of “Los Hernandez,” and the last one starts playing hardball? O, how he had me in his snare! …Or was he legitimately just not much of an emailer?

When I began the process of self-publishing, I designed an ad for my Tabloia comic, which I would use in Previews magazine as well as for a poster to send to shops. I was still waiting to confirm whether Jaime was going to do the pin-up or not. I had listed Mike Allred, Thomas Yeates, Gene Colan, Bill Sienkiewicz, Irwin Hasen, Sam Kieth, Mario and Gilbert Hernandez, and Russ Heath (who it turned out, I wouldn’t get a pin-up from for over two years!). I really wanted to include Jaime on this promo, but didn’t feel comfortable, since I couldn’t really get in touch with him in any way. I thought it might be risky if he saw his name on this ad before we had officially set it up, and opted not to list him.

Finally, he wrote back another brief, succinct note, and named a price, and it was of course more than the price I had asked, making him my most expensive pin-up yet. I would later learn that there are other artists who are worth more, or who ask for more. Of course it depends on the value of their name as an artist, how big they work, how much detail or work they care to put into the piece, what other projects they have going at the moment, how much they really want (or don’t want) to draw something for me, and how much drawing it is worth to them. Lots of factors. I try to pay an artist what they ask, but the simple truth is I can’t always afford what they ask. Every now and then I’ll try and negotiate, and see if they can afford to do something less expensive than their estimate. I ask if we can factor in any variables (size, amount of detail, or even the fact that I’m a lowly self-publisher who loses money every issue I put out). But in the end, they have to decide what it’s worth to them to draw me a picture of a monster that will see print.

So when he named his price, I ate it and wrote out a check, and soon his piece came in the mail. But when it came in the mail, it came COD. That bastard, I laughed. Even at that price, it wasn’t high enough to include the goddamn shipping??! He just had to stick it to me one more time!

ABOVE: At my Tabloia booth, at San Diego Comic-Con 2008, with my best friend, Jaime Hernandez.

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