Like I always say, when I think of Purgatori I think of Jim Balent. On account of this Jim has always been someone I was hoping to one day meet. I received my chance this past Sunday on August 2nd, 2015 at Beachead Comics in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
It all began with a post Jim made saying he would be going to the next Beachead anniversary party. For one reason or another I was not able to go previous years and so I was ecstatic when this new opportunity presented itself. I drove with my best friend (who is a Catwoman fan) two hours from our small state of Delaware.
When Jim finally arrived at Beachead, with his lovely wife Holly, we were overwhelmed with joy but calm. After he chatted with some familiars we walked up to him and introduced ourselves. I had previously messaged Jim and when he asked if he knew us I quickly and pointedly replied “I’m Purgatori and she is Catwoman” without thinking. He replied “Ohhh!!” and instantly knew who we were. We chatted with him for hours as he signed our comics and sketched our drawings. It was a fantastic and euphoric experience, this was one of my most pleasant meetings with someone working in the comic industry. He told us secrets and stories and we left after those three hours wildly happy and giddy. We had so many hopes in meeting Jim and it was everything we imagined and more.
Unfortunately we are not sure when we will next see Jim. Beachead Comics is closing at the end of the month because their owner passed away recently. It was sad to hear the news and it felt almost like being at a funeral when Jeff’s (the owner) wife talked about the shop’s end. We had never experienced a shop closing before and it was heartbreaking. The other cons that Jim went to in the past were Pittsburgh and San Diego. Sadly, he will no longer be going to Pittsburg and San Diego is a bit out of our reach travel wise. We counted ourselves lucky that we were able to see Jim this year and we hope to one day do so again.
I brought many things to get signed. There were The Vampire’s Myth comics (including my newly acquired Black Onyx edition!), two oversized chrome cards, two Lady Death centerfolds from Evil Ernie: Revenge, and two Purgatori posters. Needless to say I am a very happy person right now.
Jim was also doing free quick sketches at Beachead. This was an amazing opportunity for me to get a sketch by one of my favorite artists and at no expense! I feel extremely grateful that he took the time and effort to sketch this beauty out. It actually took him roughly an hour to do mine and I am honored that he put as much effort in this drawing as he did, I cannot thank him enough!