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Star Wars Experience – Celebration Europe
by Mark Dermul aka The Autograph Bounty Hunter

July 13-15, 2007

SATURDAY 14th JULY 2007

My first stop on Saturday was the Artist’s Alley. Many of the renowned artists were there, such as Steve Anderson, Randy Martinez, Dave Dorman, Jason Palmer, Tsuneo Sanda and my personal favorite: Matt Busch. They all sold beautiful pieces of artwork, but they also signed autographs and chatted away with interested people. It was obvious that they were all having a good time. At the end of the Artist’s Alley was a small exhibition of some of the nicer artwork for sale. Even though I saw a few items that I really liked, I’m afraid I really couldn’t afford it.

Then it was time for me to get in line myself to get those highly coveted Mark Hamill autographs. Needless to say that this was, for me and many if not all of my friends, the highlight of the show. We were about to meet Luke Skywalker in the flesh. Little did we know at that time that we would be spending about ten minutes with him instead of the regular two. He was very friendly, talkative and humorous.

This was the first time that I was able to start collecting autographs for the patrons of the Bounty Hunter. I met a few people that I hadn’t seen before myself and got all the autographs we needed. I missed only two, because the signers left their table, never to return: Jerome Blake and Jay Laga’aia. Pity! The thing that troubled me much more, however, was the quality of the photos used for the signing. The images were fine, to be sure, but the quality of the paper was a far cry from what we’re used to. These were obviously NOT provided by Official Pix. The photos were nothing more than a glossy paper like the page in a fashion magazine. Flimsy and fragile. I saw a couple of actors using a fine silver pen and simply making a whole in the photo while signing it. One of them – he’s asked not to be named – said he was embarrassed to be signing the photos. When I complained to him that we even had to pay £3 for a photo (the photos were NOT included in the price of the autograph), he took one, tore it in two and joked ‘I’ll give you this one at half price’. But all joking aside, the photos were soon the hottest topic in the Autograph Hall, but the vibe was far from positive.

After scoring my autographs, it was time for me to join the people of the Tunisian Tourism board, who had asked me to join them to promote Tunisia and it’s Star Wars legacy. I gladly obliged. My books on the Trip to Tatooine sold out in less than a day. Some people even asked me to sign the book for them and pose with them for a photo. They even said that I am a celebrity. Well, I begged to differ, but beamed nevertheless.

But the fun part was yet to begin. While most visitors returned to their restaurants and hotels, we joined the cast and crewmembers in the bar of their hotel, chatting away with the likes of Steve Sansweet, Jay Laga’aia, John Mollo, Paul Blake, John Coppinger, Kenny Baker, Jeremy Bulloch and his lovely wife Maureen who then introduced me to Robert Watts and Mark Hamill’s wife Marylou. Needless to say, I had something of an interesting, if short, night (21)(22).

Matt Busch Mark Dermul & Mark Hamill Rena Owen Autograph Hall
Autograph Hall Autograph Hall Tunisian Tourism Board Tunisian Tourism Board
Mark Dremul & Jay Laga’aia Mark Dremul & Mrs. Hamill

- Day 1 - July 13, 2007 -      - Day 3 - July 15, 2007 -

 

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