SOUTH AMHERST — It was more than a little fitting that Michael San Giacomo was showing some relatives the newly refurbished Cleveland home of “Superman” co-creator Jerry Siegel when he got a phone call from a reporter wanting to talk about his “Tales of the Starlight Drive-In” bagging top honors in the Comics Buyer’s Guide mail-in/online contest for “Favorite Original Graphic Novel.”
“I’m standing in front of the house right now, it’s in the Glenville neighborhood,” the South Amherst resident and longtime Plain Dealer comic book columnist said. “They just re-dedicated it last week after completely rebuilding it. It was falling apart.”
The mosaic tapestry of “Tales of the Starlight Drive-In” follows the lives of five people led by Adam, a boy whose lifelong love affair with the Starlight eventually results in him owning the theater.
Each of the book’s 31 stories — which encompass every major movie genre from romance and comedy to crime saga and horror film — is paralleled by a similarly themed story taking place on the drive-in grounds as the movie unfolds onscreen.
Editors and readers of the 30-plus year-old bible of comic book buyers and collectors gave his “Starlight Drive-In” 53 percent of the vote to beat out the likes of Alan Moore, author of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” and a new “Joker” graphic novel published by DC Comics.
Getting recognized for his fanciful anthology of tales set at a fictional drive-in over a 50-year span was one thing, but winning in a competition with seasoned comics veterans including Moore was one trick San Giacomo didn’t think was possible.
“I’d have voted for Alan Moore. It’s amazing that ‘Starlight’ took 53 percent of the vote, which was more than the other four nominees combined.”
“That was the result of me begging and groveling everyone I knew to vote for me. I was shameless. I knew this is my shot and I ain’t gonna blow it,” San Giacomo said, laughing.
The award, which will be formally announced at this weekend’s 40th San Diego International Comic-Con. Billed as the world’s biggest gathering of comic book fans, writers, illustrators, buyers and sellers, the event drew 125,000 in 2008.
San Giacomo, who’s gone to several Comic-Cons in the past, will pass on this year’s gala.
“It’s a five-day orgy of comic books, but after the third day, you’re kind of saturated with it all,” he said.
Even as he basks in the glow of the big win for “Starlight,” San Giacomo is at work on future projects that include a collaboration with artist Dexter Wee about the “hitherto unknown bastard son” of famed western outlaw Jesse James.
San Giacomo plans to pitch the story, which incorporates James’ fictional progency with the outlaw’s real son, to DC Comics.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.