Today, we at Blackbird would like to present to you one of our favorite customers. Ladies and gents, meet Dave Pifer:

Dave is the co-owner of an amazing boutique-style comic book shop called The Secret Headquarters, located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. This, of course, is cause for recognition in it's own right; his shop has received innumerable accolades from comic book fans worldwide for the eclectic selection of indie comics, graphic novels, classics, and a demonstrable devotion to the art of the comic book. You won't find any superfluous action figures, board games or those newfangled computer CD Roms—just comics.

So, the true reason we're writing about Dave today requires a bit of explanation. In late 2009, Dave purchased a pair of our Esquivel Hobo Shoes. We had the Los Angeles-based shoemaker George Esquivel craft these completely natural, untanned leather kicks for us, in the spirit of our raw denim pants, the Hazlewood jean. Each step taken in these shoes wears the leather in just a little bit and each path trodden upon lends a bit of its dirt to these shoes, ultimately producing a lived-in look that is completely unique to the wearer.

Little did we know, Dave had some big plans up his sleeves for our Esquivels: He would wear them every single day for an entire year—and unbelievably, he did just that. Fortunately for us (and for the rest of you "shoe porn" addicts out there), he blogged about his Hobo Shoes from the very first day of 2010 until the very last. Some choice photo excerpts come from the before and after shots at the end of the year-long run:

As you can plainly see, the difference in appearance that a full year of committed wearing can make is pretty astonishing. We were so pleased with Dave for so thoroughly documenting his adventure that we decided to talk with him about his experiences—among other things—and give him a little well-deserved time in the spotlight. Succinct as he is sarcastic, Dave didn't disappoint (to say the least):

BLACKBIRD: Wearing one pair of shoes for every day for an entire year seems like seems like the sort of idiosyncrasy you might attribute to a comic book character. There’s a bit of an obsessive quality there that seems to be reflected in a lot of comic book collectors and readers, too. Do you think this whole Hobo shoe idea was an extension of that type of mindset? You know, like your own superhero uniform or something.

DAVE: It was more like a Mad Scientist's experiment. Sans lab coat, cackle, inflated ego, and smarts.

BLACKBIRD: We heard that your friends slapped “The Fleshfoot” on you as a handle during the course of your 365-day-long Esquivel endeavor. So, with a name like that, are you a good guy or a bad guy?

DAVE: Depends on whether I've had breakfast or not.

BLACKBIRD: Did you know that there exists a network of real life superheroes? They have an online registry and are wholly devoted to the improvement of the world through actual crime fighting, advocacy, social activism and charity work. Looks like some of them are just oddly-dressed volunteers, but that’s hero enough in our book.

DAVE: But do they wear nice shoes?

BLACKBIRD: Coincidentally, the first hero in the registry is actually named Blackbird, but all details of his existence seem to be shrouded in mystery. Besides the fact that he’s out there "kicking ass" in Milwaukee, what do you make of this guy? Relevant link.

DAVE: I think I'd like to see a lot more people making their own bird-inspired uniforms. You guys should get behind that guy—"The Blackbird Blackbird."

BLACKBIRD: Tell us a little about your comic book shop, Secret Headquarters.

DAVE: We are actually a front for a small group of terrorists bent on making everyone more childish.

BLACKBIRD: What’s your favorite comic that you stock? Anything you’d like to recommend to our readers?

DAVE: Boys Club by Matt Furie. I recommend that everyone learn a new joke once in a while.

BLACKBIRD: What was the strangest place you took your Esquivels? Looks like you got a lot of mileage out of them out there.

DAVE: I wore them in my Parents peachy-pink house that sits in a gated community in South Florida. Bizarre.

BLACKBIRD: Do you think you’re any closer to saving the world now that you’ve completed your year-long odyssey?

DAVE: Don't you feel safer?

BLACKBIRD: Now you get to pick: What’s your superhero name going to be?

DAVE: "Just Wrecked an Expensive Pair of Shoes Lad"

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dave again for his time and unfailing devotion to our kicks. He's a likely candidate for the "Best Customer Ever" award (though we should add that there is room out there for more than one). To the Blackbirders out there: Be sure to check out Dave's blog, and stop by his store if you're ever in Los Angeles.

*NOTE: These shoes are SOLD OUT. They were part of a limited production run. Click here for an alternative suggestion.