My Keynote Address at Mythcon was about my belief that one's life and work should be about finding - and seizing - those rare moments of Transcendent Joy that cross our paths. Some people have them all the time. I'm getting better at looking for them. And at Comicon, there was one such moment that surpassed all the rest.
I'd agreed to do a signing at Comicon for one of my favorite galleries, Every Picture Tells A Story. About an hour into the signing, the owner, Lee, came over to where I was sitting with the other authors and told me someone wanted to buy my book. I responded with a puzzled look (because that was, after all, why I was sitting in his booth), and he smiled and pointed to the other end of their floorspace.
"It's Ray Bradbury."
I jumped out of my chair and flew over to him. "Ray!" I said. "It's James Owen!"
He took my hand (with his left) and shook it. "But you do comics!"
(I've sent him copies of STARCHILD for years - to which he always responded with a counter-gift of his latest book.)
"Now I'm doing books, too!" I told him.
"It's a beautiful book!" Ray told me. "I want to buy it! Right now!"
"I have one for you," I said, and hopped back to my chair where I had a copy with a dragon drawing already done. I signed it to "Uncle Ray", and handed it to him.
"It's such a beautiful book," he said again. "Your drawings are wonderful! I can't wait to read it!"
"I hope you like it," I told him. "You're one of the reasons it exists. Thank you for the inspiration. Do you think we could get a picture together?"
"Absolutely, my boy!" he said. "I'm very proud of you! Such a beautiful book!"
I knelt next to him and he threw his arm around my shoulder and hugged me. I'm pretty sure I floated back over to my table.
My first exposure to Ray's work was the book S IS FOR SPACE, in the school library that's not 100 yards from where I'm sitting right this moment. Sending him my work was a way of paying him tribute - but his seeing and wanting to buy mine is the fulfillment of a ten-year-old boy's fondest dreams.
Thank you, Uncle Ray.