Skip Harvey seems to have it all, at least from a karaoke fanatic's perspective. For the last few years, the Columbia, Missouri, resident has been the leading karaoke DJ at Eastside Tavern, one of the more bodacious places to emulate Freddie Mercury in Mid-Missouri. He also has lead karaoke sessions at other brewpubs around Columbia.
But Harvey -- who also has worked in television production for ten years -- desires more than cuing up songs and gazing at folks trying in vain to belt out "No Scrubs." Since he was very young, Harvey had long dreamed of working as a comic book illustrator.
"It's the only thing I've ever been passionate about," says Harvey, adding that as a child he used to pass out his artwork on the playground.
"Geek" culture is in Harvey's DNA. His parents met at a planning committee for a Star Trek Convention. And he's a regular at San Diego's Comic-Con, the epicenter for all that is fantastical and geeky. After a spell of cold feet, Harvey decided to get his portfolio reviewed at the annual convention.
His quest for acceptance is exceptionally public, as he was picked to appear in the Morgan Spurlock documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope. The film follows around a number of people during the 2010 iteration of the wildly popular convention.
"Out of the 15,000 people that applied, I'm pretty excited that I got to make the final five -- to make a Battlestar reference," Harvey says.
Harvey says his role in the Super-Size Me director's film is aimed at providing a realistic take on the people that attend the event.
"I'll admit, I'm not the best illustrator in the world, by far. I'm definitely not even the best illustrator in Columbia," Harvey says. "But I think they thought I was a good sampling of the kind of people that go to Comic-Con and a really good example of the kind of passion and talent people have for this kind of thing."
While he was being filmed at the convention, Harvey says he received everything from "really bad" to "really good" feedback about his portfolio. But even though the film has only been shown several times, Harvey said he's already getting noticed by adherents to geek culture.
"I got recognized in a comic book store in Austin, Texas, which was really weird," Harvey says. "I've run into the people on the streets at Comic-Con that recognized me from the trailer they showed last year. And we haven't even come out yet -- only a few hundred people have even seen it."
Spurlock's film -- which is expected to be widely released in the spring -- will be shown next month at Columbia's venerable True/False Film Festival. Spurlock is expected to be in attendance to answer questions from audience members.
Beyond exposure for himself (he's heard rumors that he may be getting his own action figure) and for Columbia (which he says is featured extensively in the movie), Harvey says the film is a celebration of a culture that's often misunderstood.
"We're living a golden age where there's a weird sociological shift where instead of being outcasts, geeks are now trendsetters and pacemakers," says Harvey, adding that Comic-Con soaks up attention from TV networks, film companies and celebrities. "When I was a kid, I used to get beat up for wearing my Star Trek uniform to school. But now, you see frat guys with Superman hats on now."
"I feel like I was born in the perfect era where I was able to watch that transition," he adds.
A trailer for the film was recently released on iTunes. Check it out by clicking here.