December 5th, 2002


Should've, could've, would've...

This week has been, and will continue to be for the next two months, a ball-buster at the art table until I can safely put NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET #2 to bed under deadline. Need to prove to my editor and convince the suits in blue at Marvel that I can do the job and walk the dog. My talent isn't in question, it's the time in which I turn around said talent that is biting corporate knuckles. My first year at Marvel has been quite the learning curve. I quit working part-time and took the full-time freelance leap of faith and working steadfast yet lonely in my studio while hustling the next gig. So far, with the help of some friends, my editors, and SBX, I've managed to remain sane, but I'm teetering. Now is the time I take my golden opportunity and make it stick, in hopes to never return to a life of should've, could've, would've.

Spent Friday inking THING 2 [which is what I will call this project for the duration because A. it stars Ben Grimm aka The Thing, and B. it's easier to type out than NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET, every time I refer to it]. In the evening, I viewed my DVD of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3, at Mike & Marie's house, eating Mike's mother's delicious home southern style Thanksgiving leftovers [glazed ham, macaroni & cheese, gravy, turkey, stuffing]. PELHAM would make a dope double feature with WARRIORS, since they both show the seedier side of a 70s NYC, waxing much fond nostalgia of a city sprayed with graffiti, funny looking cops, and true blue New Yorkers with Brooklyn accents.

Saturday was its usual mish-mosh of this and that. I inked a page of THING 2 while watching Chris Rock's terrible BAD COMPANY movie with Mike. SBX swang by and gave me a surprise gift of TRIVIAL PURSUIT: 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. This version asks Americana queries from the 80s to the 00s, stuff I might actually know, ergo, possibly put myself within the competitive ring. Mike & Marie drove SBX and I in 'Little Man' over to Eric S.'s pad in Greenpoint where he cooked Paella and served red wine. Guests included: Bob Fingerman & wife Michele, Doug B., Lena and her pal, Sherry, Gabrielle & her pal Robin, Tom & Leela, and a few others. Boring conversation about -- I don't remember what -- ignited a naughty neuron in me and we all talked about better names for genitalia. I was trying to come up with good slang for penis and vagina. I remembered J-51 posse once made beer and called it PONUS, with a little magic marker drawing of a cock and balls on the bottle caps. As a group, we still dug "pussy," and agreed that "cock" was the strongest. Everything else sounded wrong and/or brought about upsetting images to our genitalia [another gross term]. I was talking to Gabrielle, who is half-black, about the term "poontang" and was taught by my father's insinuation that it meant BLACK pussy. I asked if this were so. She smacked me. Ouch. Am I wrong? Is poontang universal for all creed of pussy? I'm not so sure. Then, I suggested that Wu-Tang Clan put out an album titled "Poontang Clam."

Mike, Marie, Michele, SBX and I, scrunched into Little Man and searched for LaBrujah's nutty party in a part of Brooklyn I never go to. Larrondo and Pivovision were going to be there getting loose with Roger S. [who is 6 foot 6 by 6 foot 6]. Carload got antsy and, three blocks from the party, SBX realized that she was running late for the babysitter even though she was out and about and having fun. Sadly, SBX split for home and that killed our gumption to inspect unchartered territory, and had us looking for an alternative way to spend the rest of the night. We rendezvoused with Eric [and his gal Michele], Doug. B, Lena & Sherry at a lame party on Smith street where Goldenshlager, of all possible liquors, was the featured alcohol. The bright lit room, muffled music, and five hot Japanese girls sitting on the couch teasing me with their mouths, made for quite an uncomfortable setting. I felt like I was in an outtake of BLUE VELVET. We split David Lynch's cutting room floor and went bar hopping, looking for the perfect seat to drink the perfect drink. Wasn't gonna happen. Not with this crowd. The Smith street scene was dead. We wound up huddling at Bar Tabac, where Onion soup became my cocktail of choice. I was drunk and tired and wanted to go home. So, I did.

Inked another page of THING 2 on Sunday, and met up with SBX and her kids late afternoon. We ate a homemade Mexican lunch, courtesy of SBX, and the girls battled over gloves or some silly winter garment. SBX weeded through the anger and got them to kiss and make up in a really constructive way. It was cool to witness the process. A process I am not intelligent in. Least ways, not with kids. I took note. We walked through Prospect Park and I even jogged a touch to test the legs after crippling them over 14-years ago in a 3-story fall at SUNY Purchase. We played in the children's park and ran a few errands on 7th Avenue. SNOW DOGS, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and the late James Coburn, was the kids choice for movie night. Stupid movie, but man, I could stare at Cuba Gooding Jr's face in close-up for two entire hours, as long as he had something to react to off camera. No lie. An amazing mug. I defy anyone to deny. Later that night, I laid in bed nervous and paranoid. Felt emasculated. Worried about money, career, romance, and responsibility. This happens to me every 3-or-4 days. I think it's called "fear of success."

Monday was simple. I did two things: inked some of THING 2, and revised my screenplay, SWITCH TO KILL for Frank Pledge to read. Shoot me now.

Tuesday, was almost the same as I inked THING 2 [notice a pattern? It's called "work"], and procrastinated when I could. Jonathan Ames called wanting to see DIE ANOTHER DAY with me. I declined, due to plans to see SBX and the fact that I had already seen the flick. Got me to thinking who should play the next 007? I nominate Clive Owen to play the next James Bond. He's a tad girthier than the traditional 007, but can pull off the panache and suave demeanor. Check him out in GOSFORD PARK. Plus, he has kick-ass intensity. Check out any of the short BMW movies that are being made by all the action directors. The latest one stars Owen, with Gary Oldman, and James Brown.

SBX and I watched '24' at her house [I tried convincing her that the hyperbolic plot and over acting was like post modern, high-tech Shakespeare]. I love how hero Jack continues to freak Nina out. The last scene with the partner slumping over unconscious from the poisoned water bottle in the transport truck was great! Even *I* don't know now if Jack will murderize her! After all is saved and done, you know it's going to be payback time!

We hopped into the guest bed for a rawkus romp when a Charlie Horse attacked the bottom of my right foot. The cramp allowed for a pee break and SBX succumbed to the fog of exhaustion. I wished SBX were a little more desperate for some good loving over good sleep, but, she doesn't have it as physically easy what with her days filled running around offices and handling kids. Distraught but halfway under the Sandman's spell, SBX kissed me 'good night' and I was back on my bike homeward, like a frozen pop-cycle.

Wednesday morning I looked out my window and saw loads of free furniture and accessories. Somebody had moved out from across the street and left goodies behind. Two tall Ikea shelving units caught my attention and I strapped on my boots and flew out the door to claim stake. 15-minutes and a few trips back & forth up my stairs and I had new book shelves in my apartment. I know how to fill them [buying new comix, graphic novels, DVDs, and music every month makes towers of stacks] but I don't know where to put them.

Re-read an old Frank Robbins DETECTIVE COMIC from 1972, and the second to last panel on pp8 kills me. They don't make franchise comix like this anymore. Sure, Azzarello gets away with it today, but now they create adult imprints and slap a "For Mature Readers Only" label on the front cover. Back then, it was a way of life:

Spent all afternoon finishing pp8 to THING 2, the cover to 3, and a cover sketch to 4. Didn't nail the cover to 3 on the first pass because it was missing something I did in the original sketch. Going back to do it right!

Went to Jim Hanley's Universe late for new comix and saw that there was a signing with a few cartoonists. I didn't even bother to find out who it was as I scoured the shelves. Bumped into FF/THOR editor Tom Brevoort, and secured the notion that I was definitely going to be drawing that "Thor Smash" story I pitched awhile back. Brevoort's still excited and so is Mark Waid, who wants to write the script. They just have to schedule it for the regular THOR continuity, and/or depending on where Marvel is at, possibly publish it as a special or graphic novel. Big relief to know I have hustled and locked in a gig while in the midst of another. Damn the terrors of the freelance life! Thank the public rows of comix shoppes for such wheeling and dealing.

SBX was 25-minutes late to our rendezvous in the lobby of her job and it pissed me off to no end. I took her to task for taking advantage of me, proposing that she wouldn't have done this to her kids but that it's unfortunate yet tolerable that she do it to me. She apologized and I felt that it wasn't enough. It made me want to go back home and chain myself to the art table for the evening. The very thing I was trying to escape from. I work for respite and recreation! SBX is unhappy at her job, so much so, she's looking into becoming a school principal. Education is her passion, whether it be medical, health, and/or university, SBX yearns for knowledge. It comes as no surprise that she would want to flex her innovative ideas and administration/managerial talents as an uber-authority in education of any sort. Suffice to say, until that happens, or she works for a fresh publisher, she must stay at her fucked up job so she can feed/clothe her kids. Shit Fuck Piss Karate, the sacrifice people, especially single mother's go through to support a modicum of middle-class, American life.

Pour out a little liquor.

We got to Dan Tucker's Birthday party at Bowlmor, an hour late, but they were just finishing up initial drinks before hitting the lanes. We got Tucker a copy of Bob Fingerman's BEG THE QUESTION, and he seemed pleased. Hit the lane and set up the order, and bowled rusty games with SBX, Tucker, his wife Megan, and some of their swell pals. Boy howdy, am I out of practice. Plus, I forget how bowling messes up your reflexes with all that pressure applied to the wrist and fore fingers. That, and I was in no proper shape to roll heavy porcelain balls, what with the recent car accident, freezing weather affecting my creaky arthritic bones and damaged ligaments, and general cigarette smoke bar room atmosphere. So, okay, it was made official last night: I'm old and cranky, kids. I'm sure I will continue to bore myself with such declarations every time I raise my arm above my head or attempt to squat, but it's true. I fart mummy dust.

Stretch man, stretch!

The middle of the game and the lights went out! Suddenly, we were Disco Bowling. Only, the deejay forgot to play Donna Summer and The Village People, and instead, we were listening to bad 80s music and a little bit of Iggy Pop. Pins turned fluorescent green, yellow, purple, and red, and the wooden floors lost their integral arrows, the ones that help aim your toss. Blinky lights paved the sides of the lane and our bowling suffered for it. Disco Bowling is better in concept than in practice. After a bunch of miserable turns, the lights came back up and the Disco party was over. Did somebody complain? I think maybe so. We set up a second game and, against her will, I floated a few tips by SBX's ear. By her final turn, she rolled a strike in one! We jumped for joy and it was time for her to go home. A quick birthday cupcake bite had us out the door and hailing a taxi. SBX dropped me off a few blocks from the 2nd AVENUE F-Train station and I was home in a half hour, wishing SBX sweet dreams on my cell phone and snuggling under my covers with new comix, next to my cats, like the old man I purport to be.

Fell asleep and woke up to Thursday. I was 90 years old. Looked out the window and, "Oh Snap!," it was snowing. Just like X-mas.

Lift here to open

A recent exchange with my Aunt Cathy, brought out a bunch of feelings about my father. Here's the boiled down version:

Part 1 --

I understand the parental concern and whatnot that my dad had for me re: my recent car accident with the vigilante [and previous mishaps], but he could take a better tactic and not get mad at me. Anger never produced healing feelings. It only adds tension and retaliation. Seeing as how I rarely ever retaliate, I get loaded up with tons of anxiety. Ergo, why I'm such a paranoid, neurotic, and single man at age 35. I am fully aware that mismanaged feelings come off with the wrong intent in sensitive situations, but Dad was never very good at mollycoddling an injured son. Only later can I separate the anger from the genuine care, but it's a taxing affair. Bottom line: Dad shouldn't yell at me when I'm down. It makes me not want to tell him when things go wrong. Last reaction you want is one of judgment and criticism when all you're seeking, at best, is a hug over a holler.

Part 2 --

I've felt bad for Dad for many, many years. I sometimes feel like I act/react the same way as he does in certain situations, and it's incredibly unhealthy. SBX recognized some of these demons in me and we're in the process of exorcising them. Will Dad ever change? Nope. Can we cope? Bah! We can try. Still, I feel like I'm enabling that kind of destructive behavior and it ain't no kinda good. Dad's not evil, he's just terribly misguided and obviously damaged and this affects immediate family & friends. He puts too much blame and guilt on his loved ones. An unfair way to parlay and get what you want. The worst kind of love. I sometimes wonder if the worst thing that ever happened to Dad was when he met his "angel" Marilyn Monroe at the tender age of 16 in the ghetto of 50s NYC. It has informed his station for his entire life. How was he able to move forward and get married? Raise two boys? Write books? He's always living in the past, during the MM years, basking in her glory. It's difficult to carry a modern conversation sans MM references and "back in the day" stories about old Hollywood. Sure, it's fun to revisit the past but you shouldn't live in it. He is so mono-fixated on MM, its kept him in a dusty time capsule while we all move forward and share life, grow stronger through new experiences, and beyond. We don't carry torches for the past.

Anyway, it's sad and I just hope Dad can be comfortable out there in the woods and beaches of East Hampton. At best, it'll bring levity and relaxation. At worst, it will kill him inside of a year. Only time will tell.

Part 3 --

I've resigned myself to the fact that my father is clinically insane. Possibly a sociopath and schizophrenic, but definitely suffering from high anxiety and attention deficit disorder. Not knowing their medical terms, I figured that out years ago and it allowed me to survive years of violence and child abuse. Knowing, it wasn't "me" that dad retaliated against. It's more likely a chemical condition informed by years of personal history and strife. I was just one of the recipients of his condition. At least I survived the physical punishment, if not the emotional trauma. Funny how the mental's catch up with you when you try to make a go at it sans the grip of family guilt and pain. The stuff that educates you yet you're supposed to lean on. As my mother put it so succinctly, "guilt turns to hatred." So, I try not to get caught up in Dad's web of guilt, especially since he often flexes such manipulation, because I really don't want to wind up hating him. I only have one father to love.

Speaking of mom and love, I've always loved my mother no matter the hardships our family went through. She always looked out for me when Dad went into the Red Zone and I'm glad she finally split when she did. Took her long enough! I don't blame nor fault her for my Father's behavior nor my fucked up childhood. Perhaps she is the reason why I managed to find a light at the end of that harrowing tunnel. Or, maybe it was my self-imposed job to protect my brother Mike, for what it was worth, that let me climb that proverbial mountain high. Yeah, that and getting a sense of perspective growing older. Maturing and getting on with the things that make us happy. My girlfriend SBX, has been a champion to me in those respects. She sees that I want to learn to get better, be better, and guides me towards redemption and harmony.

Lying to save face and make environments easier to contend with is no uncommon crime when it comes to my Dad. I've always been proud of that fact that I am as honest as I can possibly be [whatever that entails], almost to a fault, but I've only ever consistently lied to my father. Not petty lies, but ones that don't allow true confrontation and terror. It is rare that I have argued with my father about important matters, but when I have, I think he has gotten the brunt of my internal rage. He has a clue about how I feel. He must. As much as I enjoy my father's inherent candor, charm, savvy and wit, he is a 300-pound gorilla with a mighty axe to grind. A station I have unfortunately adopted but am aware to shed. Maybe it's genetic, but I can see how detrimental it is. How [I hate this word:] "inappropriate" it can be. Still, that's one of the things I actually admire about Dad. His 100% uncut raw purity, no matter how ill defined. I only wish he knew how to reign it in and apply it surgically. But, he is ill. Sick. Emotionally crippled.

Okay. Enough ranting and raving and psycho babble. Gotta get back to my first passion; drawing comix, and make some superheroes fall in love and save the day.