Saturday, June 13, 2015

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr.: Arizona's Ambassador of Comics

I’m taking on a title.  Stan was “the man.”  Kirby was “the king.”  I’m happily accepting the role of ambassador.  
And from that day forward, Russ Kazmierczak, Jr., creator of Amazing Arizona Comics, was also known as . . . Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics!

Arizona's Ambassador of Comics Ignite Phoenix

Some things about being an ambassador:

1.  If I steal one of your comics, I’m not accountable to the law for my crime.  I have diplomatic immunity.

2.  I am an ambassador of comics -- not the ambassador of comics.  A popular biography about Joker creator Jerry Robinson is titled Ambassador of Comics -- just knowing that affirms my title as an ambassador of comics.  Countries have multiple ambassadors, after all, and these ambassadors have embassies.  My embassy is Arizona, and I love living here.  Thusly, I am Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics.
3.  I may have a sash made.

4.  My job is simple: I am comics’ messenger and representative.  I understand the nuances of comics, specifically but not exclusively superhero comics, as a definitively American graphic language and mythology, and I really want to share that with people.  That inspires this mission statement:

As Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics, I will read, study, make, and share comics in a way that examines and celebrates their progressive importance to the individual, the city, the country, and the culture.

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. Batman Phoenix sketch

I’ve already begun my mission, specifically here in Arizona, by bringing comics to different forums like poetry open mics, First Fridays, Bookman’s, Ignite Phoenix, KTAR talk radio, and last night’s Galaxxy Show.  (Most of those were just in the last 60 days or so.)  Today, I talked about comics and drew Batman for these kids in a parking lot.  Next weekend, I’ll draw a comic in a furniture store window.  I am not preaching to the choir.  I’m deliberately foraying into foreign lands, most often in person, first and foremost as a fan.

5.  Shameless self-promotion is not the point, but a very happy perk in my position as Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics.  I’m talking about comics, in general, with a special emphasis on superheroes, and Amazing Arizona Comics epitomizes my points about comics’ potential, as my own talent and confidence grows as a creator.  It’s a major vehicle, but not the voice at full volume.

6.  AAC is an abbreviation for both my title, Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics, and the title of my comic, Amazing Arizona Comics.  Coincidence?  Absolutely.

7.  Ambassadors really aren’t in charge of anything, so, to my fellow creators, this title bares no threat to you.  Continue to call yourselves whatever you want; just know that I’ve happily claimed Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics, and that I intend to fulfill all of the work and responsibility that said title entails.  It’s about building relationships, not kingdoms.  It’s about putting meaningful words to the visual, to tell a compelling, entertaining story . . . and isn’t that just like comics.

Russ Kazmierczak, Jr., Arizona’s Ambassador of Comics
Phoenix, Arizona

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