By JIMMY LAWTON
CANTON -- A Canton man with plans to open a Comic Hall of Fame has received what he calls "favorable responses" from four major cities regarding his plans to open the hall.
Roger Rautio said officials from Chicago, Ill., San Jose, Calif., Cleveland, Ohio and New York City have all responded to his proposal to locate a physical comic book hall of fame in their respective cities.
"So far, Chicago officials are interested in meeting us as early as next month, the other cities are still reviewing the presentation and proposal. So far, and we are very grateful for the attention, it's been like 'We're interested but let's talk about this some more,' which is great by us," he said.
Correspondences between Rautio and city officials showed that his proposal was passed on to economic development or similar agencies.
Rautio said each of the cities was chosen due to its history related to the comic industry and because of the large populations. Ideally, he said, the location would be somewhere safe and accessible for families and children.
"The place that we are most interested in is the one that is willing to work with us to make the physical hall of fame happen because, the truth is, they are all great places for the Comic Book Hall of Fame."
Rautio said he has been in communication with a city councilor in Chicago and is prepared to make the trip if the discussion continues to move forward in a positive manner.
"We are going to keep reaching out and see where things go from here," he said.
Although Rautio remains far from his goal of opening the comic hall, he said connecting with and reaching out to potential locations is a major step.
"Last year we finished up our original five-year plan a year early and now we are working on the next step," he said.
Rautio's idea to open the hall began in 1989 when he and some friends were attending Brockport College. Over the next ten years the plan was treated rather lightly, but became more serious in 1999 when he secured a "Doing Business As" status for the Comic Book Hall of Fame.
Later Rautio took things a step further by securing the rights and starting his own limited liability partnership, The Comic Book Hall of Fame.
"That's when we really started promoting the idea and it has caught on," he said. “We have about 20,000 followers online,” he said.
Visiting various comic book conventions, Rautio and his partners have collected positive feedback from various big names in the industry including Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and Todd McFarlene creator of Spawn who among many others have signed his induction award.
Although no comic book hall of fame currently exists, an award ceremony and museum have been established.
Rautio has acknowledged that there may be some confusion between his company and the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, named after William Eisner, a comics artist, writer and entrepreneur.
The Eisner Award Ceremony began in 1987 at the Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego, Calif. and continues today.
While Rautio said he enjoys the Eisner Awards he feels the organization is more like the Oscars of the industry, rather than a true hall of fame. He said his vision would pay homage to the creators, artists and visionaries of the industry.