October 30th, 2002



Friday brought my brand new assistant, Mike Fiffe, into the studio fray. He came by to do the thankless labor of erasing pages and filling in blacks. Fiffe set up my second art table, scrubbed it down, and got to work without a hitch. Exuberant and confident, Fiffe did a great job doing the mundane work of a comix craftsman. We broke for chinky-winky and watched one of the many shitty afternoon "get a rotten date" tv shows that litter the second tier networks and chuckled a few. He showed me some of his latest work and we talked shoppe. Ended the work day on a high five as I split for the evening's Alternative Comix Caravan trip to Baltimore, sharing a 15-passenger van with:

Jason "Shutterbug Follies" Little
Lance "Narcissa" Tooks
Matt "A Fine Mess" Madden
Ellen "Blonde On Blonde" Lindner
Tomer "Bipolar" Hanuka
Brandon "Cat Master" Graham
Farel "Pop Gun War" Dalrymple
Gabrielle "When I'm Old" Bell

Took an easy 4-and-a-half ride through the opaque highways under Little's steady driving hand and came upon thunder and rain in midnight Baltimore, where we crashed in Jeff Mason's hotel room. Madden and a few of the convention rookies went for food and drink while Mason, Bell, and I watched random tv, read comix freebies, stared at the epicenter of Baltimore city from the 23rd floor window as the clouds wreaked serene havoc, grabbed shut-eye and counted sheep.

The weekend was a jumble of fits and starts/this and that's:
-set up my spot at the Alternative Comics table, alongside Madden, Lindner, Hanuka, & Bell, including Leela "Subway Series" Corman, Sara Varon, and publisher, Jeff Mason.
-gave hollers and hugs to Chris Staros, Brett Warnock, Wayne Beemer, and the rest of the Top Shelf gang.
-attended Rich Henn's panel and watched a preview of his amateurish THE ROAD TO SPX documentary [in which I'm interviewed about my creator-owned fare before I got hooked up with my recent Marvel gigs].
-talked shoppe with my mentor Walter Simonson, re: his current stint writing WONDER WOMAN, drawing a commission pin-up of MODESTY BLAISE, etc.
-waxed comix with Heidi MacDonald, Mark Waid [who is excited to write my "Thor Smash" pitch, Tom Brevoort [in which I confirmed a spot for my "Thor Smash" pitch], Jeff Smith [who's finishing up his magnum opus BONE to then do a 4-issue take on C.C. Beck's CAPTAIN MARVEL for DC], and shook hands with legend, George Tuska.
-I sketched in fan books. Drew a Geisha for the first time. A swell Diamond Distributor wanted a sketch of my pimped out Captain America from the "Capsploitation" story I drew to grace their RED, WHITE & BLUE hardcover.
-scored a special Sara Varon narrative in my sketch book.

Picked up some comix:
Mark Burrier's MEMBERS ONLY
Paul Hornschemeier's FORLORN FUNNIES 2
MEATHAUS 6 [the Williamsburg posse anthology]
Nick Bertozzi's RUBBER NECKER 2
GIRLS LOVE, and I LOVE YOU [two 60s/70s "romance" comics from Charlton & DC respectively for SBX]
Stan Lee's 70s Marvel collection, THE SUPERHERO WOMEN.

After a disappointing Saturday at the con [attendance was sparse and sales were near nil], I rendezvoused with SBX [who flew in to Baltimore from an afternoon/work related Cincinnati gig], and we went food and wine shopping and brought it over to her longtime pals; Caroline & John, where we had a delicious dinner, talked about snipers and bald-faced racism, and ended the day right by slipping into SBX's nocturnal silk.

Woke up to a splendid Sunday morning brunch w/SBX, Caroline, John, their son Benjamin, and daughter Hellen. We went shopping and I bought SBX a Western 'skinnie-minnie' cowgirl shirt and a pair of funky pink shades. SBX got sexy tiger striped shoes and did some early X-mas gift shopping for her family abroad. Moseyed on over to the Convention center @2PM [4-hours after I was supposed to be there!], and the lame scene was the same as tumbleweeds blew by. As Heidi MacDonald succinctly pointed out, it was a good con for scoring sketches and chatting with your favorite cartoonists, but otherwise, it was a declared bust. I parlayed with Simonson some more, finally met Rick Veitch, and promised Matt Wagner that I would contribute to his 3rd round of GRENDEL: BLACK, WHITE & RED anthology after having had to turn him down [due to schedule conflicts] on his current spin of "Hunter Rose" tales. As we packed up our stuff and gave hugs to Baltimore Comicon organizer, Marc Nathan, we chalked up the low turn out and general malaise to last months SPX [Small Pres Expo] being too close to this convention, and the nightmarish sniper murder spree that had terrorized Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia, for over 3-weeks, leaving locals with their first free weekend to go outside and smell the roses. Perhaps buy silly costumes for a Halloween they weren't sure was going to ever happen.

Could you blame them?

Post Disaster Adventure Chronicles, Part 3

SBX claims she wants to officially introduce me to her kids very soon. She has invited me to Thanksgiving dinner. This is a very big step. But, Mr. Ex has to go and ruin very big steps. He has a new girlfriend [an actress/model who was in the movie SCREAMERS, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, and a bunch of other B-Movie/TV shlock] whom he wants to introduce to the kids after only dating 2-months. Plus, he being a recovering alcoholic for less than 2-years, has started drinking again since March and this is a bad sign. Understandably, Mr. Ex's sudden relationship/drinking is freaking SBX out in more ways than one. It's caused her bouts of depression, crying fits, and low libido. SBX wants to spark an intervention w/Mr. Ex's parents and his therapist. Get him to admit his recent drinking breakdown and get back to that 'one day at a time' road to recovery before she feels comfortable signing separation papers for the divorce. I keep feeling like all I can do is sit back, nod my head, bite my tongue, and wait like a feeble chump.

Mr. Ex's power to take SBX's emotions hostage and create a world of fear is fucked up. Something SBX needs to admonish and be brave about. Gain courage and secure independence from. Of course, this would be a much easier transition sans children, and that's why it's a major catastrophe.

I am excited yet cautious to be made official in SBX's home. EXCITED -- because it will bring much needed freedom to our relationship. It will allow me to foist levity and creativity upon the fray. It will make us better partners-in-crime and inaugurate my foray into being a step parent. CAUTIOUS -- because SBX and Mr. Ex need to get their proverbial houses in order. I keep getting hit hard with their war and the repercussions are stifling. I'm no good when I'm a bit player. I was always a team leader and I need to figure out how to join them rather than beat them.